Sue Viders: A Master Class in Creativity

Sue Viders: A Master Class in Creativity

Sue Viders is an author, teacher and lecturer on the art and business of writing. Her new Circa workbook, Writing a Novel, is an accumulation of knowledge gleaned from over...

Feb 22, 2024

By Christopher Cooper

Sue Viders is an author, teacher and lecturer on the art and business of writing. Her new Circa workbook, Writing a Novel, is an accumulation of knowledge gleaned from over 40 years of teaching and helping aspiring writers bring their ideas to fruition.


You can tell just by chatting with her;  Sue Viders is a dynamo. Brimming with energy, passionate about her work and immensely productive and prolific, she is the epitome of the fully actualized creative professional. She is a master of generating ideas—and making things happen.


Her unique methods and techniques for unlocking her students’ creative resources have been described as “brainstorming on steroids” and hailed as “a cure for writer’s block.” Now, as Levenger proudly presents her new Circa workbook for budding novelists, Sue Viders shares her own creative journey, along with some inspiration and wise advice for anyone who has a story to tell.




Sue’s First Frontier


Born in the suburbs of Chicago, Sue escaped the extreme midwestern weather when she attended college at the University of Colorado, where she earned a BFA in Fine Arts with a minor in Education.


She fell in love with the mountains, wide open spaces and outdoorsy lifestyle and has lived in the suburbs of Denver ever since. (She also fell in love with an attorney there and raised a family of five children.)


This is where her genius began to blossom fully as she embarked on the career she was born to undertake—a winding path to becoming a creative guru for both aspiring and established artists. Throughout her life, artists and creatives always seemed to gravitate toward her.


“I have always been that person that people come to and say, ‘I have this idea and I don’t know where to go with it’...and that’s how I started to formulate my methods for stimulating their creativity and getting their unique ideas to flow.”


The Soul of an Artist, a Talent for Teaching


Sue’s chosen medium of expression was not initially writing at all, but the visual arts—she worked chiefly in watercolor, pen and ink. “I love the combination of the contrasting elements;  the precision and exactitude of the pen and pencil against the splashy and more indistinct watercolors.”  She sold some of her works and participated in numerous gallery shows.


“I was always good at getting groups of artists together for exhibitions and shows, and they started to ask my advice,” she remembers. She realized she was a natural-born teacher.


“I have a passion for helping people to make things happen, to bring their ideas to life,” she says. “I love to see their eyes light up with recognition and understanding—a light goes on behind their eyes. That’s what I love most about teaching.”


She developed a curriculum for teaching artists how to market their work, and it became a class she taught for years. Then she began writing books on the subject and doing lectures and seminars at colleges, universities and venues all across the country, both in-person and online.


After writing so much non-fiction, she thought she’d try her hand at a novel, and that’s how the first impetus for the Writing a Novel workbook came about. She did exhaustive research to learn “how to write a novel” but found the resources available to be too theoretical and not practical.


So, naturally, Sue Viders decided to create one herself.



The Circa Writing a Novel Workbook


Her Writing a Novel Workbook is the culmination of a lifetime of experience in teaching the elusive art of writing.


“It took me about 6-8 months to put it together in the form that’s now available. It’s different than any other ‘how to write a novel’ book that’s out there, because you have to get your pen or pencil out and start writing immediately. It truly is a hands-on workbook.”


It’s no coincidence that Viders chose Levenger and that her workbook is the first-ever “how-to” Circa notebook for creatives. It’s packed with exercises and techniques for formulating all the elements needed to start writing that novel, in 14 tabbed and color-coded sections.


It would not surprise Levenger Circa customers that Sue has been an avid Circa user for years. “I have 31 Circa notebooks so far filled with my work,” she says.  “Circa is the perfect system for gathering ideas and keeping them organized in one place. And with a Circa Punch, you can secure clippings from newspapers and magazines, note cards, even scraps of paper. Some of the best ideas have been written on envelopes or cocktail napkins.”


Adding, removing and replacing pages, the hallmark of the Circa system, lends itself perfectly to any creative project.”



An Out-of-the-Box Thinker


Today, Sue continues to write as well as teach both in-person and online.  She has published two volumes of humorous, touching and relatable articles about life in the modern world, titled Out-of-the-Box Essays, and is currently at work on the third.


“They’re very short, lighthearted articles of about 500 words or so each—that’s about all the attention span most people have left,” she notes, only half-jokingly.


Another of the brainstorming tools she is currently continuing to refine and develop is a card game for writers based on the workbook, another out-of-the-box creation that uses archetypes as a way to mix and match story elements. “They can be used by writers to unlock the imagination, as an interactive classroom exercise or even a fun parlor game.”


And her next project, another workbook titled Writing a Memoir, is also in the works. (Look up the word ‘prolific’ in the dictionary and you may see Sue’s picture there.)


Advice for the Novice Writer


If you’re a beginning writer, Sue Viders has the following advice for you: “To be a writer, you have to write. You have to be bold enough and brave enough to put something out there and not be afraid of criticism. That’s the first step.”


“I always tell my students, ‘That idea does no one any good just bouncing around your head—you have to get it down in black and white.’ Get the words out of your head and onto the paper, where others can see them and give you input and suggestions.”


“Don’t worry about spelling or where the commas need to go ... that can all be fixed and dealt with later. Just concentrate on getting those ideas out of your head. ”


What about using a computer? “Computers are wonderful for creating first drafts, but I recommend that for generating ideas, use pen and paper. Seeing your words on paper really gets the creative juices flowing.”


“Bottom line... I really want to help motivate the writer to start writing.”