What does it take to be a Writer?

I just returned from the Write to Publish conference where I spent the week with some amazing aspiring authors.  I’m always impressed with the ideas out there, and I leave praying that they will take the information they’ve learned and press on in their writing journey.

I always meet a few, however, who have stalled in their journey.  People who have fabulous ideas but just can’t seem to finish their project.  My heart aches for those who have been working on the same book for ten years, unable to move forward. 

I served on a panel entitled, “Where to go from here,” and thought it might be one of the most informative panels I’ve ever heard.  I came home contemplating my to-do list, and realized that before any of these writers could apply what they learned, they needed to grapple with a truth:

It’s not easy to be a Writer. 

I know you all know that, but the truth is, as I squirreled myself away during the down times to write a book for which I’m on deadline, I realized that it doesn’t get easier.  As a Writer, you’re always pushing yourself to write better, to write deeper, to write stories that will leave your reader with profound, life-changing truths.   And that means you have to develop some skills to press on in the journey, wherever you are. 

What does it take to be a Writer? 

Perseverance – Writing a book doesn’t mean quitting at chapter five, or ten or even seventeen.  A writer pushes through to the very end.  Even when the story starts to drag and you feel as if you’ll never leave your computer, a writer must stay committed to the task of finishing their project.  An unfinished book is an unpublished book.

Resilience – A writer must be willing to take criticism without letting it touch their heart.  Edits and critiques are not personal – they’re meant to help you grow, and if a writer views them as a critique of themselves it will cripple them.   Learn to find the constructive in the critique and apply it your work.

Support – A writer must have someone who believes in them.  Someone who understands that the house won’t be cleaned for six weeks and who can cook for themselves.  Someone who doesn’t look at them strangely when they say, “Shh, my character is talking to me.” And most of all, someone who cheers them on when they get a rejection letter.  (By the way, this is also the person they celebrate with when they finally get the call!) 

Balance – A writer can’t just write, even if they want to.  They need to be refilled – spiritually, emotionally, physically.  Spend time in God’s word every day, pray.  Spend time with the important people in your life – make them a priority, and they’ll do the same.  Exercise – walk, play tennis, go dancing.  You can’t pour out until you’re filled up.

Priorities – A writer, however, has to write.  Which means that, at the end of the day, writing has to be a priority. How badly do you want it? Are you willing to cut out something in order to pursue your dream?  Do what it takes to land at your desk consistently, pouring out words.

Determination – A writer doesn’t quit.  Sure, you may take breaks, but if you really want to write, you don’t let the voices of failure into your head.  You believe in yourself, in God’s equipping of you for the task and you keep moving forward. 

Passion – A writer digs deep to tap into what they are passionate about and lets that on the page.  A great book or article or devotional is written from the wounds and joy inside.  Don’t be afraid of big emotions – just channel them onto the page.

Insight – A write has to look at life and find truth.  Which means spending time alone to hear your thought, and the thoughts of God.  Take walks, listen to the waves, breathe in the wind, and ponder life and the lessons that come your way. 

Pursue faithfulness and you will find significance.

God Bless you on the journey,

Susie May

MBT Frasier Finalists Announced!

I am so thrilled to announce the five finalists for the My Book Therapy Frasier Contest!  Not only did they have to compete against 42 other entries, but they competed on straight storytelling elements.  Which story had the strongest opening, with all the key storytelling elements?  

My Book Therapy believes in the power of feedback to help writers grow in their writing craft — which is why we designed the “Frasier” writing contest for unpublished members of the My Book Therapy Voices…  with a grand prize that is more than a certificate or a plaque…it’s a TICKET. Or rather, a SCHOLARSHIP to one of the My Book Therapy’s intimate yet intensive writing retreats. (A $500 value.)     





The Finalists of the Frasier Award

bethvogtBeth Vogt 

Wish You Were Here
Can the wrong kiss lead to Mr. Right?
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Website: http://www.bethvogt.com/  &  http://thewritingroad.blogspot.com/
 E-mail: beth@bethvogt.com

photomarciegribbinMarcie Gribbin 

Where Freedom Creek Flows

Patrick McGowan is wanted by the law, but love might catch him first.

Genre: Historical (1894) 

email: mggribbin@gmail.com


melissa-taggMelissa Tagg

Tuesdays with Cully

She thought she knew him better than anyone. Now she wishes she didn’t

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Contact info: www.m-tagglines.blogspot.com, melissatagg@yahoo.com


pat-trainiumPat Trainum

Shadows from the Past

A strong-willed psychology professor and a grieving mystery writer find danger and romance as they join forces to investigate a murder.

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Email: ptrainum@comcast.net


paula-boireDr. Paula Boire

Samoan Hearts

He’ll have to sacrifice a nation in order to save his son.

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Email:  paulaboire@yahoo.com


We also understand that writing is a craft, and wanted to include a way to encourage authors as they improved their craft…so while there are only 5 finalists to the Frasier Award, there are a number of entries whose writing showed great promise and merit.  Therefore, the following people, whose entries netted 70% of the total score, receive the Bronze Medal distinction for writing excellence and a 15% discount on any MBT Writing Conference for 2010-2011. (a $50+ value).

Bronze Medalists  

Terri Lynn Thompson

Arlene K. Coulter

Amy Lindberg

Jessica Purser

Dr. Paula Boire

Cathy Fiorello

Edie Melson

Elizabeth Schultz

Sarah Witenhafer

Michelle Weidenbenner

Michelle Lim

Stacy Monson


The Frasier Winner will be announced at the My Book Therapy Pizza Party, September 18th, at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis, IN.  Join us! (and get the details here!)




Susie May and the MBT Team