How To Keep Motivated To Write

Rachel Hauck, Princess Ever After

How do you keep motivated to write when you’re 1) burnt out 2) tired 3) haven’t heard the best writing news and/or 4) your muse has gone on vacation to Tahiti?

I asked my friends because I recently went through each of these scenarios. The answers were inspiring. I hope they help you as well.

“Daily goals. I’ve found I need to decide beforehand what I’m going to do, because when the time comes, and I don’t “feel” like writing, I’ve already decided I’m going to write anyway. I may be tired, burnt out, feeling uninspired, etc., but words on the page can be fixed, so I write them. As for writing after receiving bad news, I use it as fuel to improve–especially if I’ve been given specific feedback. I have to let myself wallow for a couple of days, but then I pull myself up and remember that I’ve been called to this ministry by God, and if I’ve been called, I’ve been equipped and I have what it takes.”

Gabrielle Meyer, Author

“Deadlines. When you’re on deadline, you don’t get to say, “Oh, I’m not inspired today.” You just have to push through. And that can, quite honestly, be hard. But knowing you’ve got an editor waiting on you is darn good motivation.

What has helped me when I’m burnt out is to jump on my elliptical for twenty minutes or go take a walk. Doesn’t have to be a long walk. That space to breathe and relax and restock your creative energy is so important.

When bad writing news comes, I think one of the best things to do is step away. Maybe tell a couple trusted friends or family members. But don’t talk and talk and talk about it. Don’t open up the computer and obsess over whatever project got the bad news. For me, I need to close the laptop and go watch a movie or hang out with friends or take a bubble bath. Naps are amazingly soothing too. And then pray. And feel…I’m BIG on letting ourselves actually feel the weight of our dreams, and that includes both hope but also grief when we hit bumps.

And when the muse is gone, here are two tricks given to me by two friends. The first is from Susan May Warren. She told me once when I’m stuck in the story or feeling uninspired, to just tell myself the story out loud. Just recite the story from beginning to end…it sounds simple but it’s an amazing way of rekindling what sparked your story in the first place. The second comes from my friend Hillary Manton Lodge–she gave me this advice when I was having a blah writing day a few months ago. She suggested I journal…about the story, how I was feeling, whatever scene I was in. And she was so right, there was something about putting literal pen to literal paper and just journaling it out…within an hour, I was back at work.”

Melissa Tagg, Author

I brainstorm with a buddy or watch a Peptalk. Sometimes I make myself write even if it is bad and eventually it kicks my juices into gear. But there are times I feel as though I am spinning my wheels and it is almost painful. Those times I use my designated writing time for prayer.

Tari Faris, Writer

A publisher’s deadline will definitely motivate you. They don’t understand I didn’t feel like writing one week, so I’m going to miss my deadline. When I experience burn out, or I’m tired, or receive a rejection, and even when my muse goes on vacation without me, I’ve learned

1) Take a 30-minute nap.

2) Often the hardest part of writing is starting. So I set a timer and write for 10 minutes. It can be anything, but preferably your WIP. I figure anyone can write for 10 minutes. I give myself permission to stop at the end of 10 minutes if I want to, but I never have.

One thing I’ve learned: I’ve written six books now and each one has been different. At some point on the first four, there was a struggle to get the book finished. Books 5 and 6, I had to depend on God to give me the next paragraph, sometimes even the next word. But He called me to write, and he was faithful to give me the words. Every time.”

Patricia Bradley, Author

Isn’t that inspiring? It’s September and many of you (especially me) made goals at the beginning of the year. If they haven’t happened yet or 2015 hasn’t turned out as you’ve expected, I hope this has encouraged you. God has got this! He is faithful. What motivates you to write when your discouraged?

 

 

To be Published you have to Kill the Wimp

Hey friends! Something cool is on the horizon! I partnered with amazing writing coaches — James Scott Bell, Mary DeMuth, Karen Ball, Erin Taylor Young, Tricia Goyer, Cindy Coloma, Erin McPhearson, and Allie Pleiter, to create an AMAZING  book on how to have writing success called…well, Writing Success!  It’s only 99¢ during PREORDER!  (comes out October 27th!)  Pick it up here!

 

Today, I’m excited to feature a guest post by one of the authors (and my great friend!) Mary DeMuth

 

Seasoned and nubile writers scribble notes while the lecturer shares her publishing expertise. Both a magazine editor and a creative writing professor, Sandra Glahn teaches the workshop “The View from the Editor’s Desk” where she extols the benefits of beefy verbs and pines for the demise of adverb overuse. She finishes her time with the writer’s group by asking, “Any questions?”

 

A woman in the back raises her hand. “You mean I need to go through all my past manuscripts and make the changes you suggested in your lecture?”

 

Sandra nods. “Yes, if you want to be published.”

 

“That’s too much work,” she says. She never returns to the group.

 

Writing isn’t for wimps. It’s an arduous adventure where writers scale an ever-increasing learning curve. For beginning to advanced writers, the question remains: What do you do with the new knowledge you’ve gained from that writing seminar, book, or lecture? Stop learning? Embrace your inner wimp? Push through and improve the craft? The following are four ways writers can react to learning new techniques and skills. Two ways coddle the inner wimp; two others kill him.

 

Embrace your inner wimp by giving up. Those editors and educators don’t know a thing about your genius! They can’t recognize stellar, winsome prose, or seize upon your raw talent. What do they know?

 

George starts writing, believing his second grade teacher to be a prophet. “You’re a terrific writer,” she penned across his summer vacation story in happy red ink. He’s coddled that affirmation all these years—something that’s hardened him to actual feedback. After several attempts to convince fellow writers of his abilities, he gives up. George stores his spy thrillers in a box in the garage, spending his days looking up his second grade teacher on Facebook. He’s embraced the wimp, lazing around the Internet, murmuring about what could have been.

 

Feed your inner wimp by submitting subpar writing. I call this the delusional, yet hopeful writer—one who believes she’ll break through by submitting, submitting, submitting.

 

Edna comes to writer’s group month after month, bringing the same story in increments of five pages. Although the group has kindly reminded her to flee passive voice and curtail her purple prose, she continues to stubbornly adhere to her ways. She submits faithfully to contests and the occasional publisher who takes unsolicited manuscripts, and she garners rejections aplenty. She never learns; it seems beneath her. She will never be published, but she is sure she will be. She feeds the wimp, preferring lazy writing with a kick of tenacity to genuine improvement.

 

Kill the wimp inside by grunting through your old drafts. If you’re wondering what the publishing process is like, take an old piece of yours and rip it to shreds in light of what you know now. When you sell your first book, you’ll experience the same kind of work—agonizing over run on sentences, discovering, then slaying, your pet words and phrases, killing clichés, cutting paragraphs and chapters that don’t propel the reader forward. It’s never too late to go back and fix things, but be warned: sometimes it’s better to let those stories and articles go. You could mire yourself in your inadequate past.

 

I’ve taken unsold articles, revamped them, and sold them. I’ve tried to resurrect my first (yet unpublished) novel several times, resuscitating my flabby descriptions and plot flaws, only to tangle myself inside the story, weary and unmotivated. I’ve killed the wimp by grunting through, sometimes with success, sometimes without.

 

Kill the wimp inside by forging ahead. When you’ve discovered your penchant for adjectives, instead of slaying them in the cobwebs of past documents, move boldly forward, writing clean, powerful sentences chock full of strong nouns and verbs. Sometimes it’s right to turn the page of your past body of work in order to construct better pages today. Give yourself permission to say goodbye, so you can say hello to great writing in the present.

 

Mayla wrote four good novels. During the process, she read writing books, attended conferences, and welcomed hard critique. She views her books as stepping-stones to publication, but she won’t resurrect them. Instead, she pens a new novel, armed with new expertise. The result? She’s a finalist in a prestigious first-novel contest, and an agent has requested the full manuscript. She has successfully killed the wimp by moving forward.

 

Place yourself in a writer’s group. Hear a lecture about strengthening your prose and take notes. Raise your hand. Instead of lamenting all the changes you’ll have to make now that you know better, simply tell the lecturer thank you, and vow to kill the wimp lurking inside.

 

(Did I mention that Mary’s Book: Th 11 Secrets of Getting Published is included in the AMAZING collection: Writing Success–6 books by 6 writing coaches for 99¢!!  Preorder it here!)

 

Mary DemuthBIO:  Mary is the author of thirty books, including her latest: The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels. She has spoken around the world about God’s ability to uncage a life, bringing needed freedom to her audiences.  She’s been on the 700 Club, spoken in Munich, Cape Town, and Monte Carlo, and planted a church with her family in southern France. Her best work? Being a mom to three amazing young adults and the wife of nearly 25 years to Patrick. She makes her home in Dallas alongside her husband, and two dueling cats. Find out more at marydemuth.com.

Connect with her at: (@MaryDeMuth, MaryDeMuth.com, Facebook.com/authorMaryDeMuth)

Featured Fiction Friday with Bonnie Leon

Today we’re continuing our Featured Fiction Friday series, and celebrating one of the authors that helped make the our contest possible. Introducing Bonnie Leon!

Q: Bonnie Leon, can you tell us a little bit about your new book?

Twenty-two-year-old Claire Murray has suffered from a mysterious disease for years. Her social circle has shrunk to a small support group for people with chronic illness and disability. But what if life could be about more than doctors, pain, and medications?

Claire and three others—old grouch Tom, hippy-holdout Willow, and moody Taylor—hatch plans for a cross-country trip to swim with the dolphins in Florida. Only a day into the trip, they unexpectedly need help. And who happens to be hitchhiking along the highway but a young, good-looking loner named Sean Sullivan? However, the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a bunch of ailing travelers.

Though the journey proves difficult, following God’s plan might be even harder. Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?

Q: Do you have any writing advice for the MBT Audience?

I’d like to share a quote from my book, To Dance With Dolphins.

One of the characters, Willow, says this. “We need to live in the now of life, it can’t be about how much we suffered yesterday or what we might face tomorrow. It’s about today. And today was good”

In a writing career there are mountain tops and valleys, some valleys are deep. We need to take whatever lesson we can from the difficult experiences and leave the rest, then move forward unafraid, and enjoy the moment.

Bless you in your writing journey.

*     *     *

Bonnie Leon is the author of more than twenty novels, including the recently released To Dance With Dolphins and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
June 11, 1991 a log truck hit the van she was driving, and her world changed. The accident left her unable to work, and after months of rehabilitation she was told by physicians that she would never return to a normal life. Facing a daunting fight to reclaim her life and in search of personal value, she discovered writing. She has been creating stories ever since.
Bonnie is familiar with the challenges of disability beyond her personal experience. Her sister endured the debilitating illnesses of lupus, MS, and Bi-polar disorder. And her daughter is grappling with the chronic progressive disorder of syringomyelia.
Through chronic pain and disability Bonnie found new purpose. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups, teaching at writing seminars, and mentoring young writers. She also administers an online support group for those living with chronic pain and disability and is a participating member of the Syringomyelia and Chiari Network.
She is married to her teen-age sweetheart, the mother of three grown children, and grandmother of eight. Bonnie and her husband Greg live in the mountains of Southern Oregon.

Lessons From the ACFW Conference

Rachel Hauck
Robin Carroll, Me and Susan May Warren. At the 2015 ACFW Gala.

Back from the ACFW conference, I am still recovering. Man, every day is a slow start.

I had a blast seeing old and new friends, and the MBT crowd.

I was able to make a few classes and pick up a few tidbits.

The keynote speaker, Bill Meyer, was fantastic. Very animated, sincere and full of wisdom.

I thought I’d recap some of my take aways from the conference.

What about writing in the general (ABA) market?

Three agents, Sue Brower, Natasha Kern and Karen Solem, presented a workshop on considering the general market.

There is a lot of room for authors who want to write without giving up their faith.

Sweet romances are popular in the general market. Among other things. Spec fiction, etc.

What about Debut authors?

I was encouraged to hear Daisy Hutton from Harper Collins Christian Publishing they are actively acquiring debut authors.

The team feels a responsibility to find new voices.

If they are, then you know other publishers probably feel the same way.

Is the market dying? 

Nope! It’s changing but it’s not dying. Print stales are still strong. But the average CBA reader is aging so there is a push to draw in new an younger readers.

Never know what God will do!

I loved Bill Meyers and his stories, his testimony of all God did in his life.

One thing that really stood out to me was Bill’s willingness to be used by God when he didn’t feel confident or qualified.

Get the recordings to hear his engaging testimony, but at the end of the day, it’s about knowing God and making yourself available to Him.

A few years ago as I prepared for Sunday morning worship, I was keenly aware of how much I needed the Lord to help us with worship.

On my own, I’m not good enough. I’m not musical enough. For a worship leader, I’m not qualified. In the natural.

But in God’s eyes, I loved to worship Him. I used my voice to do so.

I offered Him my weakness.

As I prayed about it the next few days, the Lord said to me, “Most people will not offer me their weakness.”

Meaning, we won’t do something unless we’re really good at it. Or uber qualified.

Bill detailed all the fun things he’d done in his life, the things God was currently doing in his life from writing novels to forming a movie production company.

All because he said, “Yes.”

What does this mean for you?

Finish that manuscript. Get your book submitted. Did you go to conference? Follow up on agent or editor request. Take what you learned and put it into play.

Believe in yourself. Even more, believe in God’s ability to use you!

No more recognized publisher in ACFW.

ACFW lowered the barricade on publisher requirements. There is no more recognized publisher list. If you write from a Christian world view, you can enter the Carol and put you book up on Fiction Finder.

There are also no loop guidelines BUT there is also no more loop self promotion posts allowed.

The loop will be focused on craft and the publishing industry. So be sure to check that out.

I know this is a rather eclectic recap. I don’t get to a lot of classes at conference.

At it’s 9:30 at night and I’m a bit tired. But I wanted to share what I remembered.

Frasier Winner!

Of course it was good to see the Frasier Award given on Thursday evening! Congrats to the Frasier winner, Megan Menard!

Genesius Winner!

It was so fun to be at the table when Lindsay Harrell won the Genesis Award! We were all up on our feet, cheering our hearts out.

Of course we were also proud of Genesius finalist, Jeanne Takenaka.

MP3s.

Okay, don’t forget the MP3s will be available soon. Check them out.

Go write something brilliant!