Friday, May 11, 2012

Your Turn to Talk (and a Giveaway)

We do a lot of talking about writing around here.

Like this set of posts on character emotions.

Or how to network and make friends.

How about adding the spice to our writing?

Avoiding (or maybe accepting) flat characters.

And always being aware of our plot points.

There is a wealth of posts to pull from and scan through for writing advice. Most of it comes from the experience of taking this journey one step at a time.

Yesterday, I spent several hours working through The Book Buddy for plotting my latest novel. A story about living your dreams, taking each day and making the most of your life you possibly can. It's a story of bucket lists and relinquishing our dreams to God all at the same time.

And I kept learning new things. Not just about my characters, but also about this novel process. None of us are ever "there". We never reach the point where we can say "ta-da!" I've made it and now everything is just going to fall into place. 

Wouldn't it be nice, if we knew that would happen someday?

But you know the nice thing, as Christians, someday it will happen like that, we leave this earthy domain for our heavenly one. 

Which to me, that makes the process of novel so very exciting. With each new story I write, I notice new things about myself and my writing that continues to improve. I'm not staying stagnant, I'm not stuck where I'm at in my journey. I'm always getting better.

All of us are trying so hard to get to that "ta-da!" moment of freedom from trying so hard to improve our POV, show-don't-tell, character depth, plot, dialogue, passive voice, setting, senses and the list goes on and on and on...

We get discouraged. We find despair, realizing we can never learn it all, we can never apply it all, so why keep trying to succeed in something we are bound to fail at?

Knock, knock? Are you still there? Take a deep breath and calm that hyperventilating, because I'm not done.

Do you ever stop and realize how far you've come? Really? Do you? Do you go back and read that first chapter of your first manuscript and then read the chapter of the one you just finished and realize how far you've come??

Even if you're still working on that first novel, stop where you are, back up and read past edits and what it looked like before and don't worry about what NEEDS to be fixed and be thankful for what is RIGHT.

God wants our best exactly in this moment. Not ten minutes or ten years from now, we'll worry about that when we get there. Give Him your best, right now and be encouraged by how far you have come.

So today, in celebration of how far YOU'VE come, I want you to join the conversation! All those that share in the success of how far they have come, either by personal experiences, contest news that has been especially encouraging or comparing past and present projects, will be entered to win a brand new novel from my stash of well-treasured authors. Including: Susan May Warren, Julie Lessman, Tamera Alexander and Beth Vogt. 

YOUR turn to share. We'll be sharing snippets of success in the weekend edition, so don't be shy! Winner announced tomorrow in the WE.


Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I'm working through My Book Buddy too! And as much as I want to say I've grown since I've started writing, I never feel like I have. The more I learn, the more I realize I have so MUCH to learn. But the more we write, the better we least I'm hoping that is the case.

Joanne Sher said...

To me, the most exciting thing about my writing growth is KNOWING that I've learned.

I'm reading through and fixing what I wrote for NaNo, and I'm split between discouragement for how much I need to fix, and encouragement that I am actually SEEING where I need to improve - and that I have at least an INKLING of how to fix it.

I remember when I used to think I was so good at writing - when critiques made me think it was the CRITIQUER who didn't know what s/he was talking about. Now I know that I am learning SO much - but that I'm SO much better than I used to be! And, of course, that I have SO much to learn yet.

Jeanne T said...

Casey, great post. I L-O-V-E the Book Buddy! I've learned a lot since my first attempt at writing a first chapter. My story has change, and I hope, improved since that first 3,000 words in one POV. I've learned so much in developing characters. :)

I'm also learning how to balance writing story world with action (yes, I got accused of writing purple prose in my first contest entry). And, I'm learning to write dialogue.

Yes, I'm learning and improving in the craft of writing. I thank God for placing wonderful people and blogs in my path to help in the learning process!

Unknown said...

Love the Book Buddy. Love it, love it. :)

It is fun to look back and see how far I/we've all come...though, I think I might need to hide under my pillow if I went back and read my very first attempt at a first scene. :) But yeah, I've had fun happenings writing in the past couple years, and especially the past few months, but I think my most favorite area of growth is in greater peace and trust that God is in control of my writing journey...which, yeah, I know may sound trite or cliche, but it's sooo the truth.

Sarah Elisabeth said...

God gave writing back to me in August, 2010. I discovered and committed to entering the Writing Challenge every week until I reached the Master level. I achieved that in just under a year, but kept going for a total of sixteen months straight.

The other achievements are harder to measure, it's more of a feel. I no longer feel in the dark now, and felt at home in Elizabeth Sherrill's Master's Writing Workshop a few weeks ago.

None of this is to boast. It's just to say that if I can become the writer God's called me to be, you can too.

For Him,
Sarah Elisabeth

Lindsay Harrel said...

Aw, I love this post. It's important sometimes to focus on our successes and how far God has brought us. It helps us in the discouraging times to look at the list of successes. A mentor of mine told me to write those successes down for times of doubt. I need to do it.

I look at how far my story/plot idea has come, and that makes me happy. I've also gotten a better vision for who I'm targeting with my writing. This has just really happened in the last month.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Oh, I'm so glad you started plotting. Fun, fun.

When I finished my MS and read my first chapter I wanted to cry. That's when I put it away for 6 weeks and did other writing stuff. Then I realized I was overwhelmed with noticing stuff BECAUSE I had improved. Sort of like in our spiritual life hitting the broken points is a good thing. God can work with broken people and he can help us work with broken manuscripts.

Awesome post, Case!

Casey said...

SHERRINDA, you are getting better! Think about when you first started out. You're getting better, there is NO doubt. You're willing to learn and grow, you simply can't get worse. Congratulations on how FAR you've come!!

JOANNE, Yay!!! That is so fantastic! You're not only seeing what needs to be fixed, but I bet you have a better idea of HOW to fix it right? And always be sure...and take the time to see what you've done RIGHT and give yourself a pat on the back. :)

Casey said...

JEANNE, oh join the world of Purple Prose. I'm a master on too much description. Ever need an extra dose, just let me know. ;-) TBB has been great for asking me the right questions, though I'm sure I don't have the right answers...yet. Enjoy this process, and watch your strengths continue to grow!

MELISSA, well of course you would, girl, you endorsed it. ;-)

Oh yes! I can completely agree with you! I was so stressed about hitting a certain goal at a certain time and now, like you, am simply glad to be doing something I love and something God has given me a passion for. I love His peace!

Casey said...

SARAH, you're not boasting, you are celebrating and I'm so glad to celebrate in this with you! It seems practice and more practice helps keep that darkness of unknown further at bay, don't you think? I completely agree with you!

LINDSAY, oh incredibly so! If we only ever think about how much we still have left to do, we forget about how far He's brought us. What a GREAT idea, I should write them down too. Love that idea.

JULIA, only as much as TBB guides me. I'm still flying by the seat of my pants. Plotster, that's me! ;-) YES!! And the comments from your crit group should be an awesome motivation and encouragement. You can ONLY get better. Never forget that.

Patty Wysong said...

Just yesterday my agent had me change my proposal because my writing had changed a lot. =] It made working on that proposal a lot easier to deal with. =]

Casey said...

PATTY, what a FUN success story! Oh, that must have been so encouraging. :-)) I'm so glad you shared your good news. Keep getting better and someday we'll be giving away YOUR book!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

I used to have to measure my improvement by my disappointment-- like Julia said.

Now I (like to) think I can measure by how much I forget to be critical-- that is, if the action wraps me up too much to notice something.

I'd gotten positive feedback from six readers before *I* discovered a painfully BLATANT contradiction that *no one* else had noticed (including me for 5 revisions).

It was embarrassing, but it made me hopeful my story was strong enough to survive.

Unknown said...

This is such an encouraging post. Exactly what I needed today. Thank you, Casey!

I received my first rejection yesterday, but I thank God for the opportunity to learn from the editor's gracious comments and start anew. I have been thinking (since I read that fateful email) about how far I have come since writing the first draft of the novel I's been a wonderful journey and one I don't intend to halt any time soon!

Casey said...

AMY, that has been happening to me too! I've found that I get caught up in my own story and am loving spending time with my characters. Definitely a reason for me to celebrate!

RACHELLE, you know a good thing in that rejection? You were brave enough to submit, so kudos to you!

Joanne Sher said...

Okay - I'm back, cuz I gotta ask (meant to before, but got sidetracked...) - WHAT is THE BOOK BUDDY?? This inquiring mind DEFINITELY wants to know :)

Casey said...

Absolutely, Joanne! The Book Buddy is a handbook Susan May Warren put together to accompany her other previous craft books. It helps you go through your story and understand characters, theme, story structure, how you want to plot your story, etc. It's a GREAT handbook. The title is linked to the store in my post too. :-)

Angie Dicken said...

Good idea, Casey! I have learned so much more than how to write a novel through this writing journey. Yes, my writing has evolved tremendously, and what I had written three years ago is embarrassing to say the least! BUT, I have grown to understand this journey as one that is relative to each person, and to not compare myself to others. I have also found that, while it's exciting to have an agent or editor interested in seeing my work, it doesn't mean that I am ready for that next step...God orchestrates my path and the interest gives me hope, but the rejection gives me perseverance... so with each I gain something. I feel like I will go to ACFW this year with less of a giddy competitor mentality, trying to woo an agent or editor with my book...of course, I hope to do that...but I feel more grounded, more content with understanding that it will happen one day, and in the meantime I just need to continue to learn, write, and connect with others on the journey. The anxiety isn't there as much, the joy is ever-present, and the fine-tuning will always be needed!

Casey said...

ANGIE, I flat-out love, love, love your comment. It sums up SO MUCH and I nodded and wanted to say "amen" as I read it. Wonderful way to put the writing life into perspective. I cringe to think that when I wrote my first novel it would win any contest I entered it in. Thankfully now, even with good-news contest behind me, I'm more realistic about how I'm going to do. It's a good place to be. :)

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

firstly, TY for this encouragement to review - personally!
for me, the journey began with the step frm journalling to blogging - magazine submission to magazine publication, and now a wip..
just look how far we've come is a new refrain for me :) a grateful one to the God Who Leads and Opens Doors!
i am truly inspirited by this reflection today ~ TY!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Can I just say AGAIN that I love The Book Buddy? It's a PDF and I printed it out and had it bound. I did it at work, but I've had it done at Kinko's. They do it for $5. :) It's awesome.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Coming to this post at the end of the day and reading all the comments.
And just celebrating the community here.
And each person who commented -- and their journey along the writing road.
To me, that's one of the greatest joys of the writing life: the relationships.
Yes, achieving the dream of publication is wonderful. But contracts come and go.
Relationships are eternal.

(I'll also "Here! Here! all the comments about the Book Buddy! Gotta love "Buddy" -- and mine is named Weston.)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Wait a minute, Beth! We are supposed to NAME our Book Buddy????

Well, this could be fun!

Of course it would be MALE, since I write romance and need a good romantic buddy.

I could go for masculine...

Maximus...Max for short, of course.

Or how about the funny...


What do yall think?

Becky Doughty said...


This post was tough to even respond to because I KNOW I've improved in a million and one little ways but those little things seem to be the hardest to measure. Looking back on work I did ten years ago: I use dialogue much more freely and fluently now. Looking back on work I did 5 years ago: I use fewer adjectives and I'm learning to let my characters tell their own back-stories. Looking back on work I did 3 years ago: I use fewer words to say more (you'd never guess from this post!). Looking back on work I did 1 year ago: I'm creating a clearer "brand" for myself and learning to focus on a more specific genre. These are all technical changes for the better...but the biggest change is that my writing is now directed by God and not by my feelings, my way, my mood of the day. And my husband, who used to consider this my "little hobby" has become my biggest ally and support.

Whew! I have a lot to be thankful for. Thanks for reminding me!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Angie. Your comment resonated with me because I heard the phrase "fine-tuning" this week. :) Held a special meaning for me to see you say it. Thank you!