As I write this, I have just finished up a few days in St. Louis at the ACFW conference. Any other attendees feel like they drank from a fire hose? I’m still digesting all I learned. Still thanking God for orchestrating the meetings He did. As I talked to published and pre-published authors alike, a trend began to emerge.
Those who want it bad enough have the discipline to finish.
Unfortunately finishing doesn’t immediately equal a contract. Some pre-published authors have multiple completed manuscripts stuffed in drawers still waiting to be read. To you, I say, “Keep writing and keep pursuing publication!”
To those working on the first book and struggling to finish, life happens. It happens to those with deadlines. It happens to those with contracts.
In the publishing world, life revolves around deadlines, and somehow you have to find the will and way to “let your yes be yes” and fulfill your commitment. Editors want to know you can finish and finish well before they invest in you. Before you comment with the specific circumstance that hinders you from finishing that manuscript, let me just say that I get it! And I want to help.
My creativity is officially angled towards my third book now, and as I work to finish that one in the next ten weeks, I can confidently share with you what it took to finish Shaken and Shadowed and what it will take to finish Surrendered.
- Turn off your inner editor and write. I’m not a scientist, but I feel the tug of war in my brain when I try to think technically while thinking creatively. Write. Be creative. Edit later.
- Pick your favorite caffeinated beverage and keep it handy. I became a coffee drinker about a month after I signed my first contract.
- Select a time of day, place, and schedule that works for you! I’ve tried to become a morning person, but my best writing happens at night. Why fight my body clock? I love to sit in my room or on my patio in the quiet of the night with a candle burning and my creativity racing full speed ahead.
- Alert your cheerleading squad. I have a group of about 20 ladies who consistently ask me about my writing schedule. They know when I have a deadline. They help me process. They are my test subjects when I need a reader’s perspective. They see the tears, laughter, creative passion, and the frustration. They know and they encourage me. Find your team.
- Set healthy boundaries. I work full time, write on the side, volunteer in a young adults ministry, have Bible study, and time with friends and family. BALANCE is key.
- Know that life will happen and work around it. This year, I’ve experienced family emergencies, my brother’s wedding, ministry situations, work crises, and somehow the writing gets done. I set my schedule and adjust when necessary. If I miss my word count because of something I can’t help, I make it up.
- Cook ahead of time. Don’t forget to work out. Take care of yourself! Eating correctly and working out gives you energy to juggle everything.
- Prioritize what’s important. For me, it is making sure to focus on the relationships I currently have. The Lord has sovereignly placed me in my city, my family, and my job right now. I need to be present where I am while saying no when necessary to hibernate and write.
- Trust the Lord. He knows your journey. When you feel like nothing is happening, trust that He is working behind the scenes.
- Just do it! Finish strong! You will go from pre-published to publication. But it takes discipline. And chocolate and caffeine. But mostly discipline. And prayer. Tons of that.
What else would you add to this list?