Why Every Author Needs To Outsource

I was crying, shaking, and sick to my stomach. I put my face down on the desk and resisted the urge to scream. It was a familiar feeling; it was happening to me with far too much regularity.

The feeling came over me every single time I tried to fix my perpetually crashing blog.

Yup, I was having pre-scheduled breakdowns right along with my site. I’m embarrassed to admit how much it bothers me, but anything remotely technical turns my brain to mush and dials my emotions into overdrive. I’m just not any good at it, and it makes me unhappy when I’m forced to do something I am not equipped to do.

This is normal. Everyone has something like this: your brain and personality simply didn’t come wired for that ONE THING.

And, chances are, you are making yourself do it right now – even though it drives you crazy.

Indie authors are famous (or infamous) for “doing it all” – and the rumors aren’t wrong. We wear a dozen different hats and strive to do our best at each task because we either don’t (or feel that we don’t) have a choice. 

By necessity, we are some of the most flexible writers on the planet, skilled at juggling a dozen different balls.

But we all have our limits.

I can’t do it all, and neither can you.

We need to stop lying to ourselves that we can.


In the early years of publishing, I was in the red. Indie authors cover the costs of publishing and marketing out of their own pocket, upfront, and it takes a long time to see that investment pay off.

As I saw my very expensive hobby struggling to get off the ground and saw post after post of indie authors “slaying it” at writing, formatting, designing, and marketing – I felt an immense amount of pressure from without and within to be like them. 

I’m multi-talented, I thought. Surely I can handle it all. I’m good at multitasking, surely I can do it all. I have a brain, surely I can learn what I don’t know.

This was a stupid decision that resulted in mental anguish, emotional meltdowns and—consequently—physical pain.

I finally broke down and hired someone to run regular maintenance on my author website and troubleshoot all difficulties involved with that.

It’s one of the best and wisest decisions I ever made. Not once have I regretted or resented a single penny I have spent on this monthly fee – because it is a need.

The peace of mind I gained by turning over this problem to someone who was actually skilled enough to handle it was incomparable.

And, because of the time and mental space and energy that I saved by handing this task over to someone else, I was able to launch a small stream of income that pays for this service so that I am not paying out of pocket, but of earnings! 

By realizing my limitations, I was able to make smarter author decisions. By investing in one thing, I was able to create something that enabled me to pay off a monthly expense – and I was avoiding the thing I hated and doing something I loved! And I was supporting another small business owner, like myself.

Maybe taking care of yourself isn’t enough to motivate you. In that case, here’s another way to look at it. How about helping someone else?

That freelancer trying to make a little money to cover some of their bills? They depend on people like you and me. Just like you with writing, they are trying to turn something they love and are good at into a stream of income.

It’s frustrating when someone doesn’t buy your book, right? It’s frustrating for a freelancer when people pass by their services.

So, by refusing to outsource one (or multiple) pain points to trained professionals, you are not only tormenting yourself; you’re withholding support from someone else.

You’re hurting two people.

Don’t buy into the myth that an indie author can do it all. Don’t buy into the dangerous practice of saving money on literally everything.

Indie publishing requires a lot of capital: but far more costly than money is your health and well-being. I am here to testify that no amount of penny-pinching is worth it, if saving money comes at the cost of your health.

Don’t make the mistake I made. Sit down and make a list of all the things the indie author life requires of you and do an “energy audit.”

What is the number one thing that drains you? Is it writing blog posts? Is it website building? Cover design? Formatting? Then start doing some research and find a freelancer that you can depend upon and make the decision to let go of the thing causing you pain.


Of course, there are always exceptions. There are a few indie authors out there who are really so skilled they can cover every aspect of publishing (pretty sure they’re actually androids, but that’s a topic for another post). There might even be a few indie authors who claim that they love every single part of indie publishing (pretty sure they’re liars, but that’s an accusation for another rant).

But for most indie authors, you’re not good at everything – and that’s okay. Even if it means delaying publishing in order to save up to afford the services you need, believe me, it’s worth it.

Even if you are good at multiple things, you simply don’t have the time to do it all. 

Maybe you’re a student. Maybe you’re a mom. Maybe you work part-time or full-time. Maybe, like me, you are struggling to prioritize health and recovery.

You don’t have time to waste doing stuff that you hate. You don’t have the energy to spare working on things that drain you, instead of filling you up. You don’t have enough left-over mental space to tackle a certain distasteful task along with your burgeoning book.

Give yourself permission to invest not only in your writing business, but your own peace of mind and well-being.

Go ahead – free yourself from that burden. And, at the same time, empower and support someone who is actually good at and ENJOYS the thing you dislike.

You won’t regret it.

What is your favorite (and least favorite) part of the writing and publishing process? Let’s talk, glories!

Investment vs. A Poverty Mindset

I’m going to get a little personal and maybe a smidge uncomfortable in today’s post. 

It’s okay to invest in yourself. 

Not only is it okay, but it’s also amazing. 

I don’t have the fattest wallet. Never have. It’s been through seasons of extra leanness and I’m currently in one. 

But I’ve struggled with a poverty mindset. We grew up with very little in the way of any extra cash… let me rephrase… we had none. I didn’t realize how much that had affected me until as an adult, I started making my own funds and realizing that I had some problems.

I had a poverty mentality and was constantly trying to save, always feeling like I couldn’t get ahead, and worried about when the next emergency would arise .I was hoarding pennies like a selfish miser and it took some soul searching with the Lord to realize that reaction is out of fear. 

Please do not read this post and think that I’m a) telling you that frugality and wise spending is not important and good, or b) trying to get you to buy our services. While the second would be awesome, I ultimately want what’s best for you and want you to make the decisions and invest in the coaches, editors and service providers that are going to be the right fit for you, even if that isn’t us. 

But the Lord requires some investment. 

He taught me so much from two scripture verses. 

  1. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12: 22-24 
  2. The parable of the talents. 

We do not need to worry about what we will eat or wear or how much money will be in the bank. He will supply all of our needs according to His riches and grace. Guys. The King of heaven is wealthy beyond our wildest imaginations and owns the cattle on a thousand hills. You don’t think He can’t provide the funds to get an edit or a coaching call? 

And do you think the good stewards who were given their talents were freaking out about losing it when they wisely invested it and waited with faith for it to grow? No. Because the one who feared deposited his coin in the ground, scared to death that he would lose it and was chastised by the Lord for not investing it wisely. 

So pray. Ask Him for provision and guidance. But if He is asking for you to invest in your book and your authorship, do it. It will be okay. And more than that, but I truly believe that a life of provision and returned and growing investments is a part of His kingdom and His plan for you. 

I’ve invested more into my books and authorship over the last year than I thought I could ever afford… but He has returned it over again. 

Did this post resonate with you? Is this something that you struggle with?

Find Victoria Online!
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4 Things I Wish I Had Done Before Publishing

Young writers are amazing.

Never say I didn’t say that. More than that, they are capable of great things—like being awesome published authors who, yes, can make a career out of their writing!

However, new writers (whether they’re ten or ninety-two) often make a basic beginner mistake, and that is believing they are ready to publish long before they actually are.

When I was a newish author, I indie published several books—only to regret it later! Thankfully, I was able to take these books down, edit them, and relaunch them in a more professional way. However, I would’ve saved myself a lot of time and effort if I’d just started out professionally!

To some, this may seem like a mean post. But I’d define it more as tough love.

It all starts out with a simple fact: new writers aren’t ready to publish yet. And often, when you think you’re ready, you’re just not right.

There’s a huge pressure to publish. I get that. But writing is an important skill that takes a lot of honing, and so is indie publishing!

Here are some things I wish I’d done before I indie published.

Don’t Jump the Gun – Practice!

Write several full-length novels—don’t publish the very fist one you finish!

Granted, you may eventually end up publishing your first novel (with a ton of edits!). That’s more or less what I did. But it’s so helpful to write as a writer, gaining more and more experience as you go.

Seems obvious, huh? Yet so many young writers neglect it, never actually finishing more than one or two projects before diving into publishing.

Another rookie mistake is only writing novels from the same world/series. This gives you a narrow view of writing and doesn’t prepare you for a lasting career when you will, presumably, write many different books set in many different worlds!

It’s important to invest time in the craft of writing—including, of course, reading books and articles about writing and implementing them—and this all has to start with actually writing. The more you implement what you learn, the better writer you will be.

ASK YOURSELF: How many novels have I written? Are they from different series/worlds? Have I done a series of self edits yet? Have I had them professionally edited yet?

Pull out Your Indie Checklist – Edits, Cover & Website!

It’s vitally important as an indie author to pay for professional cover design, editing, and a great website.

These, nine times out of ten, make the difference between an indie author I know is going to make it—and one who needs work if they’re going to succeed.

Be sure to check and see who has worked with your editor and cover designer in the past, before you settle on working with them. Make sure you shop around for a truly professional option—and ask advice from other authors, too!

ASK YOURSELF: Are you ready, financially and mentally, to hire your cover designer, editor, and to either create (or hire someone to build) a professional website? Have you done market research to see what other book covers in your genre look like? What about other websites of authors in your genre? Is your editor a true professional?

Focus on Your Platform

It’s time to build an author platform.

This doesn’t mean ‘gain thousands of subscribers’ or anything like that. No, it just means get into the platform game BEFORE you publish.

At the very least, you probably need one form of outreach (social media, usually) and one form of private readership building (email list, usually). However, this can look different for each unique author.

This also includes doing things like figuring out your branding, though you will of course polish it as time goes on. This one element doesn’t have to be perfect—but it has to be started. Check out what other authors are doing to give you some ideas, and get on it.

It’s important to start building up a community early on. How do you do this?
By intentionally engaging in a self-sacrificing, Godly way in the writing/reading community. Do this by enthusiastically supporting other authors and readers however you can. This is as much a character-building exercise as a platform building one. Go the extra mile for people, and they will eventually (maybe) do the same for you!

Even if they don’t, that’s what it means to be an indie author. So get on it!

This also has an additional benefit—making friends with other indie authors who have been there before you! I also suggest doing things like joining Facebook/other groups for indie authors that will allow you to ask questions and join in the conversation about indie publishing.

ASK YOURSELF: Are you ready to start reaching out to readers and other writers in your genre?

Prepare Mentally

Mindset is everything.

Part of it is having the right mindset going into publishing.

Are you willing to be your own boss and take on ALL aspects of the publishing process?

Are you doing this because it’s a last resort (bad idea!) or because you legitimately value the indie process?

Are you going in thinking you’re going to make a lot of money off the bat? Will you be disappointed if you don’t or will you stick with it?

Do you take feedback well and implement it?

Do you have the discernment to not take ALL feedback—to brush some off as unnecessary for your project?

How do you do with rejection?

Are you going to be okay if this doesn’t immediately pan out? Do you have the determination and discipline to work toward making this happen even if it’s tough?

Do you understand, at least in part, the amount of work this takes?

There’s a lot to ask yourself. Some of these questions won’t have firm answers. A lot of the time, you have to find out by getting going. But preparing yourself ahead of time for indie publishing to not be all sunshine and roses is a great step!

ASK YOURSELF: Those questions! Be sure to prayerfully consider what it means to be an indie author before you dive in.

In Summary:

Starting small doesn’t hurt anything, and starting young is a great idea, but starting unprofessionally won’t get you far.

An unedited manuscript with a cover slapped together by your friend and a website that still has the “wordpress” attached to it just isn’t going to cut it.

Yet that’s not the end of the world. It’s how I started, and though I spent what feels like half my life fixing my youthful errors, I was able to do it. It’s not the end of the world.

Does that mean that it’s not important to start professionally? No, it doesn’t. It just means that it’s more important to keep moving forward from wherever you are.

I believe young writers are important. I coach them—and, really, I am them, if you’ll forgive my poor grammar! 😉 Your youth isn’t the issue here. It’s your lack of experience.

You could be fifty-five and have less experience than some fifteen-year-olds. Does that mean that the fifteen-year-old should wait until they’re fifty-five to publish? No. But does that mean you’re all right to publish just because you’re older? No again! It’s about doing the hard work, regardless of your stage of life.

And hard work, regardless of your age, takes time. Time that we’re sometimes pressured into feeling like we just don’t have.

However, we have that time, God willing. So take it. You won’t regret spending more time honing your craft and building your knowledge base before publication.

Find Kellyn Online!
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Writing the Character Behind The Genius

As the author of a mystery series which features an old school detective set in the early 1900’s in London, I speak from experience when I say that writing a detective can be a difficult task. In a lot of instances, or at least for me anyway, I had to create a character who was smarter than me without taking any reality away from the story. There must be a level of believability and reality to the genius of your character. All while keeping him human and giving him his own hopes, dreams, fears, and issues. It’s not easy, but it can be done, and I have to say, that he can end up being your favorite character of all time with the proper work put into it.

There are so many things I could discuss how to create a detective. But below, I will give you some of the most pertinent ideas.

Motive: When you create a detective, you should make sure that he or she has a motive for what they do. You hear this talked about for your villain, but your protagonist needs them as much as the villain. What makes him want to solve crime? Or murders? Or thefts? What makes him seek to see justice served? Why did he choose to be a private detective over serving with the police or vice versa?

Quirks: This is always a fun one. Give your character something that makes them unique. It could be as silly as them not being able to stand fish. My character had a pride in his mustache and he also can’t stand the idea of smoking, which is something that is pretty common in the people that he works with. Does your character hate having to be social? Do they need to be alone to gather their thoughts? Are they backward when it comes to technology? Could they not live without chocolate? Adding these quirks really makes your character something special that will intrigue the readers, make them laugh, or even just make your detective more relatable to the casual observer.

Real Genius:  You need to make your character a genius, without making him so smart that he is no longer believable. He needs to know things, but he has to figure them out by real observations. That really is the key to making it believable. He should be noticing things that the normal population does not.

Backstory/Personality: How is this character on an emotional level? Does he not do well socializing because of a) how he was raised, b) what is personality is like, etc. Backstory is really just a way to figure out what this person has been through in their life, where they have gone, what their schooling was, etc. Which will then funnel into what they are like as a person, because, all of our life happenings have formed and shaped us into who we are. And for the personality, if you want to take a Myers Briggs type of test for your character to determine their strengths and weaknesses, that is always fun and gives you a great basis for how they act and react.

Relationships: The secondary characters of your story can end up having a huge impact on who your character is and clueing the reader into who they are. What relationships are important to your detective? Are they incredibly close to their family? Do they have certain friends that compliment their personalities, or hit them over the head when they need it? Myers Briggs will also help with this if you are interested as it will tell you what type of personality your character gravitates towards. Is your detective independent? Or are they dependent on their friends and/or family? Who do they hang out with? Who do they merely tolerate, and who do they seek out for company?

There you have it! Some great starting places for creating your detective. One of the biggest things I can encourage you to do when creating your detective is to ask questions. Ask lots of them about every aspect of your character, and by answering them, you will have made a person who is well rounded and comes to life.

I hope you enjoyed my tips on creating your detective! I often share writing tips, tricks, and stories on my blog, victorialynnblog.com. Feel free to follow me there or on TikTok or Instagram!

Find Victoria Online!
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How to Plot Your Novel When You Hate Plotting

I feel you. I really do. Once upon a time, I despised plotting. I was a die-hard seat-of-your-pants writer. If a story idea came to mind, I immediately set to work and began drafting. I wrote a middle-grade fantasy rip-off of Narnia this way. However, as I grew and matured as a writer, I began to realize that SOP writing (“seat-of-the-pants”, or “pantsing” as it’s affectionately known) just simply didn’t work for me. Ninety percent of the story ideas I started drafting barely scratched a thousand words. Over time, I grew tired of feeling like I never could finish what I started, of staring at blank drafts with no idea how to move forward, of feeling like I’d never publish a book and be the bestselling author I’d always dreams of becoming. Pantsing almost killed my dream, because it didn’t give me the tools I needed to keep going when I hit a wall.

If you’re like I was, then this article is for you.

Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of plotting. You probably follow several big-name bookstagram influencers like CG Drews who boast their twenty-page, twenty-thousand word outlines for their stories. And you probably sit there with a wide-eyed look on your face, wondering how, exactly, you’re supposed to write a twenty-thousand word outline when you can’t even draft twenty thousand words to begin with… Well, I’m here to help you with that. Well, not with drafting a twenty-thousand word outline; rather, with breaking off the stigma and the stress surrounding plotting in general.

Do you hate plotting, or are you afraid of it?

For me, it was maybe a mix of both. I hated plotting, because whenever I had a new idea, all I wanted to do was just dive right in. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to meet my characters. And drafting an outline or some semblance of a plan seemed like a detour away from what I, as a writer, really care about. I was afraid of it, because I’d gotten into such a rut with my writing that I honestly didn’t believe in the stories I wanted to write. Actually, I didn’t believe in myself and my ability to write them. Simply put, I was insecure in my skill, my motivation, and my sense of discipline.

Now, this change didn’t happen all at once. Before I was a full-blown plotter, I was somewhere in the middle. It started with my second novel, Every Bright and Broken Thing. I had finally published my debut, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between. There was this sense of release and breakthrough as I let go of a story that I’d been holding onto for nearly four years. At long last, I realized that I really was cut out for this. That writing and editing and publishing a story was something I really wanted to take seriously. Not only that, but my mind was on fire with inspiration for story after story after story. I wanted to write. I was excited about writing. For the first time in my life, it didn’t feel like some unattainable pipe dream; it was real.

So, in November of 2018, I dove back into NaNoWriMo and began drafting a new story about an indie rock star high schooler struggling with trauma and grief. But something was missing. About halfway through the first draft, I realized that what the story really needed was the dual perspective of my Main Character’s brother, Ezra. But I’d already written so much. What was I to do?

So I sat down at my computer, stared at the screen and decided to break down the chapters one by one to help orient myself as I want back to draft Ezra’s POV (point-of-view) chapters. This was the first time I’d ever done any sort of note taking for a manuscript that wasn’t within the narrative itself. To be fair, they were just one-line synopses of each chapter. Nothing huge.

But I was hooked.

What I learned about plotting…

All of my preconceived ideas about what plotting looked and felt like were wrong. This whole time, I’d thought it was just getting in the way of the story, but I began to realize with each new story idea – from Every Bright and Broken Thing to Sons of Slaughter to We the Wild Things to Mammoth – that there was this aspect of plotting that actually allowed me to live inside the story before ever setting my nose to the grindstone. That’s what I really wanted, after all. To just dive in. Get to know my world and my characters and the themes and the aesthetic. With each no story idea and each new plotting technique employed and each new draft written, I fell in love with the process of plotting.

Don’t get me wrong, plotting is just the beginning of the whole affair. But if you change your perspective, you might realize there’s something just as rewarding about plotting as there is about drafting or marketing or publishing.

Plotting your novel before you start writing is like a literary meet cute. By that I mean that it’s almost like this slow, gradual, organic, getting-to-know-you phase between you and your novel. Everything is chemistry. Everything is electric. You’re excited. You’re in love with the concept in your head, and now you’re getting to explore it without the gritty work of drafting. You’ve dropped your story concept like a stack of school books, and now you’ve bumped heads with the full on story. You’re staring into each others’ eyes, and all of the sudden you find yourself daydreaming about your characters everywhere you go. You find yourself staring out the window absentmindedly, because mentally you’re living in your story world. Dramatic? Sure. Then again, so is writing!

Plotting your novel before you begin drafting helps you to develop your story’s themes, perspective, and voice. That last point especially – your story’s voice – is important. If you go into a story without a sense of voice, those opening chapters will be rough. It’s almost like your story suffers from an identity crisis.

Plotting empowers you! Think of it like a treasure map. Without the map, all your left with is the disappointing knowledge that there’s a treasure out there that you’ll never be able to obtain, because you don’t know where it is or how to get there. Like most treasure maps, plotting doesn’t tell the full story. It doesn’t show you all the pitfalls and snares and trials along the way, but it does keep you on track! Plotting empowers you to finish what you started!

Make plotting fun! If you’re a tactile writer, use a bulletin board, or a binder portfolio, or a white board, or index cards to sort through everything. If you’re like me, create a file specifically for the plotting of your novel.

For myself, I compile what I call a “Portfolio” for each new project. My portfolios contain: 1) Rough Synopsis, 2) Character Profiles, 3) Rough Outline (both part-by-part and chapter-by-chapter depending on the story; this is not an exhaustive outline as it doesn’t reflect every twist and turn, but I do list the plot-relevant things that occur in each chapter), 4) Word Guides (this is a compiled list of words that speak to the aesthetic of the story), 5) Inspirational Material (books, movies, shows that speak to the tone and themes of my project; if I’m in a rut, I’ll turn to these favorites to shift myself back into gear!), 6) Setting Profile, and 7) Theme Map (these are the themes I aim to tackle throughout the story.)

If we approach it with the right mindset, plotting can be just as fun and just as rewarding as drafting, or any other stage of the process! The key is figuring out what works for you and your story, and knowing that each story may require a different approach, and that you may have to approach it in a different way in any given season. Plotting could be just the thing you need to take your literary lifestyle to the next level and begin writing stories with a sense of voice, a sense of direction, and a sense of clarity.

Find Brian Online!
Instagram // Website // TikTok

8 Ways To Market Your Book This Christmas

I know, I know. Learning how to market is at the BOTTOM of your Christmas wish-list this year but, I promise you, everything on this list is FUN.

So grab some coffee and a notebook and let’s explore eight ways for you to market your book in the coming month: eight marketing methods to represent all eight of Santa’s reindeer. 😊

Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. Make A Book Trailer:

Everybody loves a good trailer! This can be as simple as putting together some aesthetic photos with cool music and punchy text. And if editing trailers isn’t your thing, you can always hire someone to whip together a book trailer for you. Our founder Victoria recommends this Fiverr service.

2. Make A “Meet The Characters” Series

You can do this as a reel or as a traditional post! Set aside a week or month to focus on introducing your characters to your social media followers. Post some character art or graphics themed around the character of your choice and whip up some posts. You can do as many or as little as you want on each character. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Maybe describe how each of your characters would celebrate Christmas, or what they most want to find under the tree!

3. Christmas Wish List Ideas

Create some graphics, run a promo, and advertise your book as the perfect digital stocking stuffer! There is no greater gift than books, am I right?

4. Post Something That Reminds You Of Your Books Or Characters

You’ve all seen those amazing Polyvore graphics on Pinterest, right? Collages built around a theme are always eye-catching. But your graphics don’t have to be that complicated. A quick snap of a special treat or some bright flowers will do the trick, so long as you tie it into talking about your character or book!

5. Write A Short Story That Ties Into Your Main Novel & Include It As A Freebie In Your Author Newsletter.

If you can swing it; write a short story that will entice new readers into trying your main book AND delight the people who have already read your book.

This promotes your book and, at the same time, gains more newsletter subscribers. A win/win!

6. Host A Read-Along Of Your Book.

I’ve hosted one of these before and they’re so much fun. Break your book down into manageable chapters and invite your followers to read along with you then join at a pre-appointed date for a live discussion. Whip up a quick graphic with your schedule of how many chapters you will be reading a week and when the live discussion will take place. (hint: it’s better to pick the same time of day for each live discussion, if you can).

7. Organize An Online Christmas Party.

A Christmas party from the comfort of your own home! Come on, even the worst Grinch out there couldn’t say no to that!

I’ve participated in numerous Facebook parties and they are a ton of fun. You can do live stream events or stick strictly with posts and polls.

Host games, giveaways, Q&A’s and more to keep your followers engaged. Maybe you and your fellow authors could put together some Christmas-themed fun throughout the event: like singing Christmas songs, or playing Christmas Charades – there’s no limit.

Invite people to wear their favorite sweater, grab their favorite holiday drink and tune in on the platform of your choice (Discord or Facebook work best for group events).

8. Host A Giveaway.

It is the season of giving after all! Christmas is the perfect time to give away some copies of your books to social media followers or newsletter subscribers. Giveaways gain you more followers and subscribers and put your book in front of eyeballs that might not have ever seen or heard of you because, let’s face it, nobody can resist free books.

And there you have it! Eight ways to market your book, and all of them as fun as a ride in Santa’s sleigh.

Which suggestion on this list was your favorite? Tell us YOUR preferred method for marketing your book!

Get to Know Allison!

9 Unusual Ways To Motivate Yourself To Write Your First Draft

For non-writers November means football and Thanksgiving (and possibly Christmas decorating).
But for many others, November means the event where thousands of writers gather around their word processing units to lose their minds—aka NaNoWrimo.

NanoWriMo is an international creative writing event in which participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript during the month of November.

While I no longer participate in NaNoWriMo, I have tackled it in the past and know many people who are planning to write a novel this month. Perhaps you are one of those people!

Believe me, I know it can be intimidating. It’s all fun and games dreaming up stories, but actually forcing ourselves to write it down? That’s a whole different breakdown.

There are a lot of blog posts on the Internet about how to achieve your novel dreams, most of them with excellent tips: don’t edit as you go, brainstorm regularly, set attainable goals, try word sprints.

So I’m not going to tell you to do those things. Chances are, you’ve already heard about them.

Instead, here are some helpful (and weird) tips on how to overcome procrastination and lack of motivation and plant yourself in your chair (or on your floor) and DO THE THING.

Since NaNoWriMo is a topsy-turvy month where thousands of people abandon their sanity and sense of the serious, I decided to enter the spirit of the madness and write a blog post that will hopefully bring you a smile and a chuckle during this writing marathon.

For your convenience, I have separated these tips into three categories, to allow you to select the tips that most suit your personality.

For The Disciplined

1) Don’t Eat Until You Hit Your Daily Goal.

If you’ve ever wanted to give intermittent fasting a go, this method may be the process you’ve been waiting for. I have a healthy appetite, so believe you me, this would be a strong motivator for me to churn out my daily word count as fast as I can so that I can partake of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Note: If you have health concerns, this is not the the tip for you! We want our writers to take care of themselves!

2) Read Some Fan Mail.

This predominantly works for published authors, but even unpublished authors can keep a journal or notebook with compliments or kind and encouraging statements that have been made about your writing! I used to keep a lovely fan letter from a fan on my desk so that I could see it while I wrote. Her love for my books and eager anticipation for my next story kept me going even it was hard. 

3) Write Your Book For Someone Else.

When I was really struggling with the second book in my Tales of Ambia series, I used the enthusiasm of three of my youngest fans to push me forward. It is desperately important to me to provide clean, fun, well-crafted reads that are safe for young people, so the knowledge that these girls were getting older while I dilly-dallied and doubted motivated me to plant myself at my desk and get on with the thing. My passion to provide these three young readers with a quality story in a world full of garbage fueled me through all obstacles. These girls deserved and NEEDED a good story, and I was determined to give them one.

You don’t have to write your book for a child; it can be for a friend, a parent, a grandparent, a neighbor. Any relationship where you feel the urge to hurry up and give them something that they will never forget—a book dedicated just to them! 

4) Tell People You Are Writing A Book On A Deadline.

Confess it to your family and friends. Shout about it online. Tell that librarian you see every week. But it’s not enough to confess that you are writing a book, tell them you are hoping to have your book done in a certain time-frame. 

Peer pressure and expectations are true powers in this universe; nobody likes looking everyone they know in the eye and admitting they failed. 

So, tell everyone you know (or even people you don’t know, and don’t forget your neighbor’s dog). Then smash that deadline! Remember, it doesn’t matter if it’s messy, all that matters is training yourself to push through to a deadline and learning the discipline required to just sit down and draft the silly thing.

For The Undisciplined (Requires A Partner)

1) Bribe Yourself With Chocolate.

While this tip could also fall under the disciplined category, for some it might be simply easier to have someone living with you to buy some candy and then hide it. Said person gets to dole out a portion to you once you report that you have hit your daily minimum. You can even add in daily candy bonuses if you exceed your limit!

Note: don’t walk away thinking I’m telling you to eat an entire bag of candy corn if you type 5,000 words in one day—that’s never a good idea.

Here’s my disciplined variant. I like to buy a box of really fine truffles and I allow myself one a day if I hit my daily minimum. Sometimes I will even set the beautifully wrapped truffle beside my laptop as an extra incentive. It required a lot of control, but it works, and it’s much more satisfying than simply emptied a M&M packet into your mouth.

2) Bribe Yourself With Money.

If I’m really stuck or unmotivated, I will give a family member a dollar bill and tell them that they can keep it if I don’t write a thousand words in the next hour. If I accomplish said goal, I get my dollar back.

I am a skinflint, so I will write fast to get one measly dollar returned to me. But if you aren’t as cheap as me, ante up $5.00 or $10.00, or whatever you are brave enough to wager!

For The Slightly Immature

1) Competition.

I’m guessing most people have that ONE PERSON who likes to compete with them (for me, it’s my twin or my dad). Maybe that other person might want to write a book too. Or maybe they have some other crazy goal they are trying to accomplish in a short amount of time. 

If so, great! Use that relationship to motivate both of you to write your book (or hit your goal) and set up a deadline that works for both of you.

If you can, write together: there is nothing like the sound of the other person’s keys flying away to incite you to type faster. Have brainstorming sessions. Make weekly reports on your progress. Taunt one another, if necessary. Keep going until both of you hit that goal!

Or, you know, you can totally cream your buddy and leave them in the dust. You go this.

2) Get Angry.

I know, I know. But I did put this under the immature label. Believe it or not, anger is one of my chief motivations in my writing (not sure what that says about me).

But, in all seriousness, it’s very often righteous anger over some injustice or sin in our world that motivates me to write certain stories! 

And, other times, it’s simply an obsessive aggravation over how much I hate standardized love stories or how much I dislike it when the redeemed villain gets killed off every single time—things of that nature. Get a good head of steam and then bend your will to addressing this problem or fixing a trope. 

If you find your interest or resolve flagging, remind yourself regularly of how angry the subject makes you or how annoying that botched trope is. Shovel coal on that fire and write mad. 

Or just write like mad – whichever.

For The Crazy

1) Don’t Drink Coffee Until You’ve Hit Your Daily Minimum.

If that doesn’t get you writing, nothing will.

And there you have it! Nine unusual ways to motivate yourself to write your first draft.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Tag The Glory Writer’s on your blog or social media accounts. We would love to cheer you on.

Nobody will be happier than us when you finally accomplish your goals and write your story.

Get to Know Allison!

Writing Success: A Different Definition

“What does success look like to you?”

I’ve been asked this question multiple times in interviews and it’s easy for one’s mind to leap to dollar signs. I freely admit that I have the same dream as every other author out there: I want to make a full-time living from my writing. I would like my book to be in major bookstores across the nation. Who wouldn’t?

But there’s a problem with this idea of success. This is a very hard goal to attain and, if this is our only measuring rod, the majority of writers are going to be frustrated and disappointed when reaching that goal takes longer than we envisioned .  . . or never happens at all.

And, even if some of us do achieve this dream, I can testify that dreams coming true aren’t always all that they cracked up to be. The money will be spent, accolades will be forgotten, sweet gratification will waver under the battering of hard work, and accomplishments must always be topped.

When monetary success and some semblance of fame are the only goal, the harvest of satisfaction from the writer’s life is small indeed.

It is only when we look at an author’s success as something more than book sales and seeing our novel in Barnes and Noble that the measuring rod becomes more reasonable. And this perspective comes only when we start thinking about other people.  

One day, every book we have ever written will disappear. But people, and how our words and stories affect them, endures. It is easy for a writer to be caught up in a world of words or in dreams of big royalties, but the riches of the writer’s life lie not in KDP reports, but in uplifting the human heart.

Let me give you an example.

My biggest release to date has been a book called The Goblin and the Dancer. This novel opened a lot of doors for me, one of which was an invitation to the fairy tale panel of SheaCon, an annual Discord event run by K.M. Shea.  (If you don’t know who she is, she’s essentially the queen of all fairy tale retellings).

It was an immense honor to be invited. I was absolutely dumbfounded to be paired with so many accomplished authors that graciously accepted me as a peer. As an author and an extrovert, to say that the event was an “epoch in my life” was an understatement.

But being with these rock star writers, sitting on an author panel, the adrenaline of a live event, the thrill of increased book sales . . . . at the end of the day, none of that was the highlight. There was something much smaller that was my biggest takeaway.

As I was scrolling through the Discord conversation, responding to listeners, I paused at one particular comment.

One of the questions earlier on in the panel was “biggest obstacle you’ve faced as an author.” I hesitated before answering, and then decided to be honest and very briefly mentioned that chronic health issues were a daily obstacle, though I assured listeners that everything I have done as an author has been during my health crisis, not before, and that it is entirely possible to push through pain and make writing dreams a reality.

On the Discord server, amidst a lot of other chatting, one person had thanked me for sharing that I struggled with health issues. They said my brief testimony had given them hope that being an author was possible, despite their own limitations.

I walked away from SheaCon rewarded by everything I had expected, more exposure, more accolades, more sales . . . but the most valuable part of it to me was that one person, and my gratitude for how God could use my words to touch them. 

It is moments like this that have made me believe that I have achieved success as an author . . . and many more. Such as:

A video of a little girl opening up a birthday present and discovering that her sister gave her signed copies of my books. She gasped and squealed aloud. Her eyes shone as she jumped up and down and hugged my book to her chest.  This video—kindly recorded by the older sister—did so much for my heart that I dedicated the second book of my Tales of Ambia series to this young reader.
A mom messaging me to thank me for writing clean and fun books that she can not only give to her young daughter without qualms, but a book that she can read with her daughter with equal enjoyment.
A young reader letting me know that my book was the first book that got them into reading in the first place.
A friend messaging me to let me know that her little sister was distracted in the waiting room of a difficult doctor’s appointment by my novella; a book that kept her laughing during a scary moment.
Another reader shared how she was without power during a storm, stressed and overwhelmed, and found comfort in The Goblin and the Dancer, where a trio of characters who also find themselves in the dark, but still discover something to celebrate.
A young mom, stranded by the side of the road, waiting hours for a tow truck and on the brink of a melt-down messaged me later to let me know that it was only after remembering A Royal Masquerade was on her Kindle that she was able to find some respite. The antics of my main characters had made her laugh in a hard moment, and believe that everything was going to be all right after all.
The pleasure and excitement of a librarian who had known me for years working with me to get my book accepted onto the shelves.
Having my book in the library. The library was a magical portal to me as a child. I would often check out the same books; those books were my dear friends, always waiting to enchant me over and over again. The idea that my novella might be THAT book for some other reader fills me with inexpressible pleasure.
Hearing from multiple readers that my book was enjoyed as a read-aloud. The knowledge that sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, cousins and friends, moms and daughters gratifies me more than I can express. Being read aloud to by my mom was one of the most precious and formative gifts that was ever given to me. There is something special about a book that is read aloud; not all books lend themselves to it. The fact that my book might be one of these is a true honor.
Having my novella included in a themed book box. One of my main motivations for writing is to provide readers with magical moments. There’s something about finding a new read tucked inside a package that cannot be replicated: there’s a sense of wonder and discovery that you don’t get when you’re simply ordering a book online. The idea that my book might be a part of giving individuals that serendipitous experience thrills me.
Hearing from newsletter subscribers that my writing tips have changed their writing lives, or emails from clients telling me that my developmental editing services that my words had encouraged them and given them story breakthroughs.

These are only some of the special and intimate things that have happened to me as a published author. Though making a full-time living from my writing is still a goal I pursue, I stop regularly to remind myself that the true harvest is not in money or fame.

Recently, I tore one of my books to pieces as an experiment. It was quite painful. I love my book and worked hard on it, but I did it as a visual reminder to myself that every single book ever written will be burned up in God’s final judgment. Our writing is finite, but the souls affected by our writing are eternal.

With that in mind, I trust the Lord for the increase and do my best to sow good stories into the hearts of my readers. Making a living as an author may or may not happen, but a harvest of joy, laughter, and clarity is the best crop I could possibly ask for.

And the harvest has already begun. 

Get to Know Allison!

Writing as a Ministry: Can Our Books Make an Eternal Difference?

I was thirteen years old when God placed it on my heart to write Christian stories for teenagers. At the time, though, I wasn’t even aware that the Christian fiction market existed. I grew up reading books that every elementary school kid read. So why did I feel so compelled to write faith-based stories for teens?

One day I decided to do a Google search to see if it was even possible to write in this genre. And guess what? I found endless Christian YA fiction books–most of which were written by Melody Carlson and Robin Jones Gunn. You better believe I read as many as I could get my hands on! 

As I read these books, I felt a stirring even more to write in this genre. These were the books teenagers needed. Not the trashy and profanity-laden contemporary YA books that I always seemed to neglect midway through reading. 

Not only were these YA Christian fiction stories entertaining, but they were spiritually rejuvenating. I found myself relating with the protagonists–their insecurities, struggles, and imperfections. And as these characters conquered faith-building challenges, I was inspired and motivated to develop faith muscles in my own life.

No, these Christian fiction YA novels weren’t cheesy or preachy. (Well … not the ones I finished reading, at least!) I didn’t feel like I was reading a sermon. Rather, I felt like these books included an element that so many general market YA books seemed to neglect. 

The spiritual element. 

We are, after all, spiritual beings at our core–even nonbelievers. So when a character’s internal arc lacks this spiritual journey, then the book may lack true depth as well. Sure, it may be entertaining to the senses. I might feel an adrenaline rush during the car chase scenes or butterflies in my stomach during those adorable meet-cute scenes. 

But as Christians, we can write books that dive deeper than surface-level entertainment–yes, even if we choose to write for the general market. 

We can tactfully embed a spiritual element within our page-turning plot in a way that doesn’t come across as overt or preachy. 

When we do this, we have the potential to change lives for God’s glory. To plant the right kind of seeds within the hearts and minds of our readers. To whet their appetites for more of His light and His Truth and His love.

So, yes, I do believe the books we write can serve as a form of ministry. 

Stories are powerful, after all. Isn’t that why Jesus often used parables rather than sermons to illustrate truth? 

Stories have a way of sticking with us. Our characters can be more than merely fictional human beings when they’re combined with the imagination, emotion, and experiences of our readers. The books we write can serve as a mirror so they can reflect on their own lives. Our carefully-crafted themes can be immersed with the truth our readers may be so desperate to hear.  

And it’s this truth that can usher freedom and healing and hope into their lives. 

Then, when readers witness how our characters are rescued from flames by clinging to the hand of Jesus, perhaps they, too, will be encouraged to reach for His hand as well.

So if you feel called to write faith-based stories–just like I did when I was a teen–then I leave you with this challenge:

Devote your pen to the purposes of God’s kingdom. 

Saturate your writing sessions with prayer and surrender this gift to be used for God’s glory rather than your own.

Then, as we follow His guidance while we write, He can use our stories in ways we’ve perhaps never imagined. (Don’t believe me? Check out this short film “Miracle at Montford Prison.”)

No, our books don’t need to be just another book people read for pleasure and then forget about. There are plenty of good books that provide that kind of entertainment and escapism. 

But we are glory writers. We are called to infuse hope into this world through our pens. Our pages can burst forth with God’s light, illuminating the darkness with His life-changing presence.  

If we’re up for the challenge, we can write books that mark a turning point in the lives–and spiritual journeys–of our readers. Stories that magnify God and advance His kingdom.

Books that make an eternal difference.

“You hold the pen of hope and healing,
you who tell of fear and feeling.
Power to touch the jaded soul;
power to make the broken whole.
To entertain, to intertwine,
to take us back in tests and time.
Write you must–now go from here;
write and keep the Savior near.
Now, Spirit, lead us every page;
through our words, be center stage.
Give us love for those who read;
give us words so they might see.
Author God, now through your power
guide us from this very hour.
Let us tell of love and light
and grant us strength so we might write.”
~Karen Kingsbury

Find Tessa! Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter

Glorify God & Enjoy Him

When I graduated high school, my family threw a graduation ceremony at the little brick church I grew up attending.  If you were homeschooled like I was, maybe you can visualize the scene.  It was at that ceremony where my dad gave a tear-jerking speech that had everyone talking for weeks.  I suppose I get my writing abilities from him 😉

At the end of his address, while we all wiped our running noses with tissues, he called me to the stage and told me I couldn’t graduate unless I correctly answered one final question… in front of everyone in attendance.

Talk about pressure.  I stood with knees shaking beneath that stifling hot, black gown, praying he didn’t ask me anything to do with algebra.

“Abbey, what is the chief end of man?” he asked.

Que the exhale.  That, I could answer without hesitation. 

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” I replied.

Maybe you’re familiar with that catechism—it’s a series of biblical questions and answers used to teach children about God, His word, His plan, and our purpose since 1646.  That’s the very first question and answer, and it’s one that my parents made sure to instill in me throughout my childhood.  Even more than algebra.

Dear Glory Writer, you are first a son or daughter of the King.  And you have been given a mission—to glorify and enjoy your Father and King.

Personally, I think it’s absolutely captivating to ponder this mission.

A King—a storyteller Himself—arranges the most powerful story ever imagined.  One of great redemption, grace, and restoration, brought about by His own Son through a sacrificial death for those who never deserved redemption in the first place.

And we are grafted into that redemption, thousands of years later.

Those who were once against the King are made new, given the opportunity to enjoy the riches and blessings found through an intimate relationship with Him, and are instructed to lead lives that tell of His story, so that others might be drawn into that redemption as well.

You see, we are all storytellers.

But some of us are not only storytellers; some of us are lucky enough to also be writers.

Stories have power.  They can evoke emotion, draw us to new conclusions about our worldview, prompt our minds to ponder, and so much more.

And we get to write them.

The power of stories combined with our mission to glorify God, is truly incredible.

The passion of our hearts can reflect the passion of His.  Our prose can remind others of His voice in His Word.  Our fictional battles can cause readers to draw courage for their own real ones.  Our characters can display His great plan for mankind to bring Him glory.

And I don’t know about you, but as a writer, glorifying God through penning these stories, truly makes me enjoy Him more.  It teaches me—the author—something valuable about my King, every single time I create a story for His glory.

So, Glory Writer, you have been given a mission and a gift by which to fulfill it.  How will you use your writing to compel others and yourself, to glorify and enjoy your King?

It’s such a beautiful endeavor, is it not? 

Find Abigail Here!