Such a Fraud

by Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock

Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome

Neil Gaiman once attended a gathering of some very important people. “I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there,” he said. Later he chatted with another Neil who felt the same. “They’ve made amazing things,” he said. “I just went where I was sent. Mr. Gaiman replied, “Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

Many writers, and I include myself in that number, feel this way at some point – inadequate, even hypocritical. We know the struggle we’ve had to get to the place where we can call ourselves writers. We know there are many who have accomplished more, writers we would consider far beyond our level, and we sometimes feel that even our best work just isn’t good enough. I think this is the same ‘syndrome’ that hits people who are applauded for doing some kind of heroic act. Often their first thought, their first words, are, “I’m no hero.”

This can be a serious barrier to creativity. It is the same barrier that blocks many believers in Christ. We are taught that we are dust, that we are sinful, that we just don’t measure up to the holiness of Christ. All true, but we are also called children of God (John 1:12), a holy people (Colossians 1:12) and priests of the kingdom (1 Peter 2:9). The dichotomy is sometimes hard to sort out.

My husband once addressed this in one of his sermons dealing with positional sanctification and experiential sanctification – we live in the world and therefore live with our failings and our sin, but in the moment we accept Christ as our Saviour we receive the Spirit of God and are made holy and yes, perfect in Him. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). Experientially, we don’t live in perfection. But positionally we are “perfect … as (our) heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

It is important as believers and as writers of faith that we understand the difference and live our lives in that balance, with humility and grace. Someone once said that humility is confidence properly placed. Confidence comes from knowing who we truly are as sons and daughters of our Father. It is properly placed when we recognize who He truly is.

Believing we and the work we do has value because of our connection to Christ releases us from all the uncertainties and false humility that keep us from doing the work we are called to do. In Christ, we are released to do God’s work for God’s kingdom.

Satan’s scheme is to keep whispering that we aren’t good enough. When we hear that sibilant voice, we would do well to swat it away and remember the truth: God values us and what we do. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).


TWEETABLES

Such a Fraud by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Remember the truth: God values us and what we do.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

The Best Things About Being a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

We all know there are aspects of choosing to write for a
living that can make life tough. It’s easy to get focused on just the
negatives. Today I want us to celebrate the best parts of being a writer!

My 15 Favorite Things
About Being a Writer
1. We get to use our own
experiences—good and bad—to impact others.
I’ve learned that we all share a
lot of the same fears, hopes and struggles. Writing gives me a chance to share
what I’ve been through and watch it impact others.

2. We hear voices in our
heads and it’s completely normal.
Not only is it normal, but it’s downright
scary when our imaginary friends stop talking to us

3. I can buy books and
write it off.
Books are some of my favorite things in the whole world. Now
I need to buy them to further my career.

4. We can take revenge
on those who irritate us.
Of course we don’t make them recognizable, but it
makes us feel better when we can expose their actions in our books. After all, there’s a reason for that old saying, the pen is mightier than the sword.

5. We get to work in our
pajamas.
Or at least in comfy clothes. There’s something to be said for
working at home where we don’t have to worry about how we look.

6. I get to be the boss.
I’m a total control freak, so being in charge fits my personality
perfectly. I’m in charge of me, my schedule (to a certain degree) and I get to
tell my characters what to do.

7. We get to be friends with
other writers – and some of them are famous.
Some of my first heroes were
authors. Now, I’m friends with other writers and get to hang out with the
people I’ve always admired.

8. We get to research
anything we want.
I like to think of it as a healthy curiosity. I refuse to accept my husband’s description of me as nosey.

9. We get to hang out in coffee shops and libraries. I love the atmosphere of coffee shops and libraries. As a writer, I have a legitimate reason for hanging out there.
10. I get to buy pens and
paper.
Again, these are some of my favorite things. But since I earn my
living as a writer, I have to have them for my business.

11. We get paid to make
things up.
No, not when we’re writing articles and things like that. But
for those of us who write fiction, we get to create everything from our
imagination.

12. We get fan mail. It’s not the fan mail exactly that’s the best. For me it’s hearing from someone I don’t know that has been touched by the words I wrote. I love getting to see glimpses of God working through me.

13. I get to be weird.
Writers look at the world a little differently. We can embrace that because
people expect it. No need to hide behind a mask of normalcy.

14. All those hours of
daydreaming are legitimate work time.
Even if we write nonfiction, we still
have to come up with new and different ways to present the information. That
means time spent thinking and dreaming is a workday requirement.

15. We are courageous
enough to follow our dreams.
We talk a lot about the fears that come with
being a writer. It’s important to never forget the courage it takes to
following our dreams. That’s something we should celebrate!
These are my 15 favorite things about being a writer. What’s
your favorite thing? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section
below.

TWEETABLES
The Best Things About Being a Writer by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

My 15 favorite things about being a writer~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

It’s easy to get focused on just the negatives. Today I want us to celebrate!~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

Story Foundations for the Serious Writer

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnn Mills

Story ideas can be like fireworks. They soar and explode in beautiful colors…then their dance fizzles to the ground and we turn our attention to the next one. But story ideas don’t have to fade away. A writer can take those wild moments of inspiration and build a credible, colorful, creative, and compelling story.

Where do story ideas come from when we’ve spent hours brainstorming and feel like giving up? Buster Moon from the movie Sing says: “When you’ve reached rock bottom, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up!”
Here are suggestions to give your story idea bestseller (up) status.

  1. Pieces of a conversation…juicy tidbits that move us to explore story and character
  2. An article in the news that grasps our attention
  3. Books we’ve read—fiction or non-fiction
  4. Music—including lyrics
  5. Poetry
  6. Nature—with all its beauty and danger
  7. A movie you’d have written differently
  8. The behavior of family or friends
  9. Historic events about people and places
  10. Genealogy
  11. Personal experiences
  12. Dreams – Deep within our subconscious activity lies this realm where plot problems find answers, character situations resolve, and new characters are born.

I know you have a story idea. It’s banging against your head and heart, keeping you awake at night. You’re not sure what to do with all the information, and you fear you may lose it. So, let’s turn your burning thoughts into a book project.

Ready? Are your fingers poised on your keyboard? The exercises below will take a little time but so worth the effort.

Step One
 
Write your story idea in one sentence. Don’t concern yourself with character names, setting, and genre.
 
A few examples:
1. A young mother confesses to her police officer husband she is not only addicted to drugs, but she also deals them.
2. A businessman discovers the owner of his company is smuggling assault rifles into the country.
3. A newly married couple is left behind on a wagon train when the husband is suspected of carrying a terrible disease.
4. A young woman travels west to marry a man she’s never met—only to discover he doesn’t exist.
5. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s means a middle-aged woman must become the caretaker for her mother, with whom she already has a strained relationship.
6. A couple is awakened by thieves in their home. While the husband attempts to overpower the intruders, the wife is killed.
7. During wartime, a prince is forced to take the throne for his ailing father. Then the prince learns he’s not the real heir, but the son of the warring king.
8. The inhabitants of a planet wracked by pollution face extinction. Their only solution is to exterminate half of the population.

Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself. You’ve given your story life.

Now perfect your one-sentence storyline. Tweak it until you’re satisfied. Do you envision your protagonist(s) and antagonist(s)?

Step Two
 
Take your one-sentence idea and write at least one paragraph about your story. Extend the idea to include what you know about your characters and the storyline. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. Simply envision the story. When you’re finished, save and edit your paragraph(s).

Step Three 
 
What is your story’s genre? Consider the list below and find a home for your idea.
1. Contemporary
2. Historical
3. Romance
4. Suspense/Thriller
5. Mystery
6. Western
7. Women’s Fiction
8. Speculative (includes science fiction, fantasy, allegory, etc.)
9. Young Adult

Story ideas often mix genres with romance, such as:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Historical Romance
  • Romantic Suspense

By including a thread of romance, writers increase their readership. It’s been said that 80 percent of book buyers are women. Half of them buy romance. Do the math and consider adding a spark of love to your project.

Where do you find the foundation for your story ideas?

TWEETABLES

Story Foundations for the Serious Writer by DiAnn Mills (Click to Tweet)

Three Steps to Turn Your Story Idea into Book Project~ DiAnn Mills (Click to Tweet)

Story ideas can be like fireworks.~ DiAnn Mills (Click to Tweet)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers

should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Help! I’ve Fallen Out of Love With My Story!

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

As I wrote out my synopsis, I came to a heart-sinking realization—I wasn’t in love with my story anymore. When I brainstormed the initial story, I was so excited and on fire to dive into character development and plotting. And yes, I still like certain elements of my work-in-progress, but the crux of the story left me feeling a bit…meh. If I didn’t love it, how could I champion it to my agent, my editor, or most of all, my readers? So I asked a group of writing friends for some advice. I’ve compiled their responses to help other writers who may be struggling with story love as I have been. 

  • Make a list. Go back to the basics of your story development. If you still have your brainstorming notes, review them to see what created that initial spark of excitement. Did someone else’s feedback change the trajectory of your idea, causing you to change your story vision to match someone else’s? Take time to list what you like and dislike about your characters, plot, setting, and dialogue. Perhaps that will enable you to see what has caused your story excitement to fade.
  • Evaluate your story arc & character development. Have you taken the time to get to know your characters? My Book Therapy teaches how to get to know your characters by using the story equation—character development based on a character’s dark past moment. If you’ve gotten to know your characters, but you’re still struggling, perhaps you’ve made them too perfect or too flawed. Go back to their dark past moment stories and see how you can make them more likable or three-dimensional. If your characters are strong, then consider your plot. Do your characters have strong external intertwining goals driven by their internal needs? If you’re anything like me, be careful of parallel plotting—hero and heroine’s external goals that don’t compete or intertwine with each other. Their goals need to be interwoven in order for their stories to intersect and for their story arcs to be fulfilled.
  • Talk it out. Once you’ve thought through the basics and made your list, phone a friend or craft partner. Talking it out with other writers offers many benefits—they aren’t as emotionally invested in your story as you are, they may offer something you haven’t considered, and they can see the plot holes better since they are viewing the story with fresh eyes and ears. 
  • Talk with your editor. If you’re published and struggling with your story, contact your editor and ask for some chat time to help figure out the right story to fit within your publishing house’s guidelines. This is particularly important if you’re on deadline and the dates are flying off the calendar faster than you’d like. Your editor knows the pulse of the publishing house’s readership so she will be able to give keen insight into what works and what doesn’t.
  • Fight the fear. Every writer, published or unpublished, who submits work deals with rejection from agents, editors, and readers. Sometimes we allow that fear of rejection to become a stumbling block for our creativity. By fighting the fear with a spirit of courage, you’re empowering yourself to gain the confidence in your abilities when you do submit your best work. As my agent reminds me—if you’re told no, then you move forward and submit something new. 
  • Take time to recharge. If you’re not under contract or meeting a deadline, take a writing break to recharge your creative juices. When writers struggle with the stress of deadlines, often back-to-back, they drain their wells of creativity, inhibiting their abilities to craft strong stories. Even if you’re on a deadline, force yourself to walk away from your computer and do something fun to relax. Spending quality time with family and friends lifts your spirits and enables you to reframe your thought process so you can return to your story with a calmer, clearer vision. 
  • Spread your wings. If you’ve done everything you can, and you still aren’t feeling your story, maybe it’s time for a change. Have you considering shelving and starting with something fresh? Do you feel you’re being hindered by a publishing house’s specific guidelines? Or maybe you’re feeling caged into a particular genre? Perhaps it’s time to spread your wings and explore new publishing opportunities. If you’re struggling with the non-fiction realm, consider writing a piece of fiction. If you’re displeased with a particular publisher, study other houses’ releases and see if your writing may be a better fit with one of them. Tired of stressing over publishing deadlines or long waits between releases, consider indie publishing. Yes, even with indie publishing, you have deadlines, but you have more control over release dates that may fit better with your lifestyle and schedule. 

Writing for publication isn’t easy. It takes a lot of patience and fortitude in order to build a career. Even though you’re the only person to write your stories, you don’t need to struggle in silence. Reach out to other writers. You’ll find you’re not alone. And you’ll be able to gain the necessary insight to fall back in love with your characters and story. After all, if you don’t love your story, you can’t expect your readers will, either. 

TWEETABLES

Help! I’ve Fallen Out of Love With My Story! by Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

7 Ways to Reignite the Spark of Your Story~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

If you don’t love your story, you can’t expect your readers will~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. She is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, crafting with friends and binging on Netflix. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.com.