​What happens when you don’t give up

I couldn’t believe it. Someone had sneaked into my office and in the middle of my manuscript had written:

You are making a mistake.

You are a missionary. You should be spending your time evangelizing, not writing fiction.

You are wasting God’s time.

Yep.

And frankly, right then…I thought they were right. See, hubs and I and our four children were living in Siberia, working as church-planting missionaries. Sharing the gospel, assisting short term mission teams and helping local bodies of believers build church buildings. I was homeschooling our four children and teaching ESL to Russians using the Bible.

And, I was trying to get published. I’m not sure why—I loved my “job” as a wife, mother and missionary. But God had ignited inside me a desire to tell stories of faith, romance and adventure, and I couldn’t seem to douse it.

Still, I was getting nowhere. I’d written four novels. All got rejected. I’d recently sent in a novella to a contest, but with the mail service in Siberia, it probably got thrown in some circular file.

He was probably right. Rude, but right.

There comes a time in our writing life when it feels like we’re getting nowhere. We’ve written manuscripts that our friends love…and publishers reject. Or maybe we’ve indie published and we’re getting no traction with readers. We’ve written and rewritten and right now…well, maybe we need to admit we’ve made a mistake.

OR.

We could press on, believing that our moment, our dreams, will come to fruition.

Because if we do…we might just get here:

Image result for nick foles super bowl trophy

In case you’re not a football fanatic, (like me), that’s Nick Foles. The BACK UP Quarterback for the Philadelphia EAGLES. The guy who just led his team to a Super Bowl Victory. The MVP of the team.

Last year, Nick Foles almost retired from football. Because, see, although he played football at the same Austin, TX high school as Drew Brees, although he was a Pac-12 stand out QB for Arizona, (coming off the bench to score his starting spot) he wasn’t recognized as a NFL superstar. Although he had good ratings when he got in the game, football seemed to conspire against him. Injury, second-team starts, trades to the Rams, then the Chiefs, and finally as a backup QB again for the Eagles. He got his chance when starting QB Carson Wentz went down, injured in week 14.

Let me just add that, on average, Foles won games. He completed passes. He was very good at his job. (in other words, he told a great story!)

He just never got his chance to shine.

When the Chiefs released him as a free agent 2 seasons ago, (that’s football talk for a publisher’s rejection), he thought seriously about giving up.

Reflecting on his career crossroads on the biggest night of his career, Foles, 29, said: “I think as people, we deal with struggles. And that was a moment in my life where I thought about it, and I prayed about it. I’m grateful that I made the decision to come back.” (Evening Standard,02/05/18)

Yeah, I’ll bet.

I have always said that getting published isn’t magic—it’s hard work. It’s not giving up. It’s seeing the big picture that your journey is worth the fight.

Nick Foles, by the way, is a Christian. As is Carson Wentz, as is Zach Ertz, (who made the winning touchdown), as is the coach of the Eagles (as are others on the team). And they all thanked God for the win yesterday. Does God care who won the Super Bowl? I don’t think so. Does He care who gets the glory? You bet. I don’t think it’s a leap to suggest that Foles trusted in God’s plan for his success, and that God used his trust to do something amazing.

Do you believe that you’ve been called to do this? If so, then don’t listen to the rejection, the discouragers, the people who think: You could be doing something better with your time.

There’s no time better spent than the one following God’s call on your life.

Keep honing your skills. Keep playing. Be ready to be put in the game.

Congratulations, Nick Foles and the rest of the Eagles. Well done. Keep saying YES to God.

Your story matters! Go, write something brilliant!

 

Susie May

P.S. If you’re working on a story that contains romance—whether it be a thread, or a full out story—you need to know HOW to build it. Did you know that a great romance is layered on top of regular story structure? Or that knowing the 2 basic romantic structures can streamline your entire plot? Learn this and soooooo much more in our 6 hour seminar, Learn how to write a Brilliant Romance. ON SALE UNTIL VALENTINES DAY for $100 OFF! (and yes, we have a payment plan!) Get the BRILLIANT ROMANCE SEMINAR here.(Click on the Link. Or use the coupon code: LOVE18 at checkout!)

 

(And, if you want to read more about the Eagles and their faith: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900009342/nfl-players-using-super-bowl-spotlight-as-a-platform-to-share-their-christian-faith.html)

​Five ways to get the elephant moving (or overcome writer’s block!)

This morning, I dragged an elephant around my neighborhood for roughly 2.3 miles.

Aka, I went on my morning walk. But it felt that way because I’d taken three (yes!) weeks off during the cold snap of the century (read: year). And it was Christmas.

I left the house brimming with vim. Five minutes later, as I tackled the first hill, I slowed to a crawl, my legs burning, huffing breath hard into my lungs. Not so pretty. But I kept going, despite the elephant I felt like I was dragging and finished my walk.

Tomorrow, it will be easier.

Then I sat down to write. Alas, the elephant was back! Because I’d also taken a hiatus from writing, and my writing muscles had atrophied too. Each word seemed laborious, as if an elephant had sat on my brain.

Maybe you’re there too. Sitting at the computer, trying to get back into the discipline and flow of writing only to feel like an elephant has sat on your brain. Wrenching words, and often bad ones, from your frozen creativity.

Keep going. See I know your writing muscles are stiff, but tomorrow will be easier. And eventually, the elephant will get up and start moving.

One day, it’ll nearly run you over with the energy to be set free.

But until then, here are five tips to get the elephant off its duff and at least ambling.

  1. Read for inspiration. When I’m stuck, I turn to stories that get my storytelling and wordsmithing juices simmering. It might be a favorite author, or someone new, but someone whose voice is intriguing, beautiful and inspires you. Just one chapter every morning…(but don’t forget to put the book DOWN and write your own book!)
  2. Give your characters a problem! Ask your POV: what is the worst thing that could happen to you, next? Often, we’re stuck because we’re bored. We’ve solved all the problems, and our characters are busy napping. Wake them up! Give them a new problem—make their worst fear happen. Or at least a piece of those fears. If you’re characters are sleeping, the you and your reader will too. Sleeping is bad.
  3. Give your characters an urgent need! Besides asking what they fear, ask them how they feel about what happened in the previous scene, and what they want right now. Their immediate need/desire. This sets up your goal. Then, grab their greatest fear from above and create an obstacle to that goal that produces that fear. Whalla—you have the basic ingredients for scene tension!
  4. Talk out your scene. I like to call my writing partner, but I’ve been known to talk to my dog, a nearby child, even bribe my husband with a cup of coffee (or dinner…) Just discussing the events of the scene helps spark ideas of dialogue and action.
  5. Use SHARP – or our Scene Starter trick to get the first line. Gather up your ingredients: What’s at Stake in the scene, your Hero/Heroine’s emotional state, the storyworld (or Anchoring) and finally, the problem they need to solve (and the problem they will end the scene with!) Once you figure these elements out, ask: What is my POV thinking right now? Could you use that thought, or some variation of it as the first line of the scene?

Now, you’re in POV, armed with inspiration and with a loose blueprint of what needs to happen, and you’re ready to write.

Let the words be bad. And if you’re slow, just keep wrestling them out. You’ll eventually pick up speed.

And tomorrow, like I said, it’ll be easier.

Have a great writing week! Your story matters—write something brilliant!

Susie May

 

P.S. If you missed the Brilliant Year peptalk on how to create and plan a year that sets you free to write with joy,then you can watch the replay, for a limited time, here. And if you are looking for the planner we talked about, it’s on Amazon.

(And for those who want just the PDF)

 

P.P.S. Struggling to get the story on the page? Need help shaping it? Want to polish your wordsmithing? Need career help? We’ll be talking about all these things, and more, at our annual Deep Thinker’s Retreat, Feb 23-27, in Destin, Florida. 5 spots left! Check it out here!

When I Can’t Becomes I Can

by Kariss Lynch, @karisslynch

In high school, my band director erased can’t from my vocabulary. We had been a championship band, a finalist in the state for 4A high schools. But after two years, of mediocre performances, we were left wondering if we were has-beens that had become wanna-bes.

But he never settled for defeat. He delighted in giving us the most challenging routines and music while watching us rise to the occasion. And he tolerated nothing less than our absolute best, knowing that our greatest potential often lay just below our valid but weak excuses. It took training. Sweltering hours on pavement in Texas weather, running the routine over and over again until our clothes clung to sweaty frames. Then we hit the classroom, fingers meticulously skipping over the keys until we knew every note by heart and could play it standing or running in rhythm.

I remember trying and trying to get a note set correct and failing miserably (in front of fifty of my peers, by the way) on more than one occasion. After the fifth time, I quit trying.

“I can’t do it.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“I can’t do it, Mr. C.”

“I don’t understand that word. Try again.”

It’s amazing what I came up with in the absence of that word. I’m having trouble. This is hard. How in the world do I do this? I don’t know how. But not one of those gave me the option to stop trying. And every excuse carried with it the opportunity to discover a new journey in the struggle.

He never let me quit in the classroom or on the marching field. Slow down, sure. Take each note one finger at a time, yep. But NEVER quit. Because he knew I could conquer the struggle if I set my mind to it, no matter the challenge.

Success lay just below the I can’ts just waiting to come to fruition with the acknowledgment of “I can…somehow.” And that lesson has shaped my writing journey. Rejections became detours. Can’ts became other challenges to conquer.

There have been many moments that I have been tempted to say “I can’t” in the middle of writing or editing or even marketing. But somehow, I meet the deadline every time, proud of the finished product.

Much like with marching or learning music, I keep writing until the words become an extension and enhancement of the story instead of simply an exploration to jog my creativity. Every time I finish, I know I CAN. I just have to discover HOW. I determined that I wanted it much more than I feared it.

Talent and passion may come naturally. But success as a result of those attributes NEVER comes without hard work and a willingness to push past rejection, defeat, and redirection. As soon as you purge the excuses, the story blooms, and it’s only a matter of time before others outside your circle begin to notice the beauty of the finished product.

By the way, when we purged the excuses, our band went on to place first in every competition that season and ended the semester and my high school career as 4A Texas State Champions.

This thing you keep attempting that you think is impossible? That next step you aren’t sure about? They’re possible. It just takes placing one foot in front of the other until you see the results.

TWEETABLES:

Tweet: When I can’t becomes I can by @KarissLynch via @NovelAcademy #writing #encouragement https://ctt.ec/906Gs+

Tweet: “Every time I finish, I know I CAN. I just have to discover HOW.” by @KarissLynch via @NovelAcademy #writing https://ctt.ec/2d6XL+

~*~

Kariss Lynch writes contemporary romance about characters with big dreams, adventurous hearts, and enduring hope. She is the author of the Heart of a Warrior series and loves to encourage her readers to have courage. In her free time, she hangs out with her family and friends, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.

 

When The Journey Seems Long

I like to think of myself as a patient person. I think we all like to believe we possess the characteristic of patience. But what happens when we’re faced with a huge virtual stop sign that holds up our plans?

That’s what I’m facing right now as a writer. As I struggle with the daily-ness of raising my family, supporting that family – circumstances become an unsurpassable roadblock living out my writing dreams.

Mind the Timeline

When we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband planned a surprise weekend in the hill country of Texas. (Yes, we have some hills.) While there, we stopped by this amazing prayer garden called “The Coming King Sculpture Prayer Garden” in Kerrville, Texas. It’s 23-acres garden, that contains a 77-foot steel cross, along with many other works of donated art.

The garden has a huge sign that delineates the time frame from conception of the idea to its completion. I couldn’t help but notice the time span: December 2001 to July 2010.

Then I thought about Biblical heroes who had to wait for their promises. You know that guy Noah? He built an ark and waited for rain. Conservative estimates are at 75 years. He carried out the task of building the ark and didn’t even know what rain was! He served faithfully with a looooonnnnggg wait time included. Hmm … is my wait really that long?

Recently, I bemoaned how little time I have to write and my ever-present competing responsibilities. My writer-friends gently encouraged me to see outside my narrow gray-colored lenses. Okay, it was more like a loving whack upside the head, but hey, it worked. I thought I would pass their insights on to you.

  1. Write. Keep taking baby steps. Write that sentence. Write the next sentence. Write the paragraph. Write the scene. Write the chapter and then the next. You will soon have a book. Large blocks of writing time in this season of my life won’t happen. (I’m writing this as I wait for my daughter at the dentist.) Take whatever time you can. Write from your phone if you have to, but write.
  2. Don’t compare. Several friends started on this writing journey at the same time as me. Today, some of them have an even dozen books written and published. God had to remind me, my timetable is not His timetable.
  3. Prioritize your priorities. My Mom went to heaven when I was two years old. That event has colored every aspect of my life today. She had four young children and within a year cancer had taken her life. I know we are not guaranteed tomorrow and I cherish the time I have with my kids. For me, during this season, writing comes after time with my children.
  4. Leave the rest to God. I’m striving for obedience to the calling He’s placed in my life. To write the stories He’s given me. I’m working to do what I can, learn what I can, and leave the rest in His hands.