5 Motivational Writer Hacks

By Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

The first few weeks of NaNoWriMo are drawing to a close. Some have already crashed and burned in a fiery explosion of defeat. Others are limping along, hoping to make it but wondering if they’ve got what it takes. That’s who this post is for. The dragging. The lame. Those with the sweet-mercy-I’m-going-to-fail demon screaming in their ears. Here’s a lifeline for you. Grab on.


1 – Play some music.

There’s a reason movies have soundtracks. It’s inspirational. Put some moving music on in the background while you write. Don’t have any? Pop over to Spotify or Pandora for some free online music (as long as you don’t mind advertisements every half hour or so). Or toodle over to the library and get some CD’s.

2 -Shut off the internet. 

Facebook, Twitter, Drudge, YouTube . . . these are the giant, sucking leaches draining your creativity. Stop the madness. Shut off your WiFi connection. Don’t worry—your social media buddies will still be there in December.

3-Take a walk.

Staring at a screen for hours on end isn’t healthy. Stretch your legs while you work out a plot point. Breathe in some fresh air when fleshing out a quirky character. You’ll be surprised at how just a short walk can get the ol’ writerly juices flowing again.


Question: who can think straight when careening through life on only a few hours of sleep?

Answer: no one

Lesson: Don’t stay up late writing thinking you’re going to pound out a great novel. Your productivity will be compromised.

5-Psych yourself up.

Don’t just walk away from the keyboard when you’ve finished today’s word count. Think about tomorrow’s. Rev yourself up about the next scene. If you’re not excited to write it, your reader won’t be excited to read it.

Perseverance is the key to making it to the NaNoWriMo finish line. Keep plugging away.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.

Starting Over

by Normandie Fischer

A recent post on Writer
quoted Donald Maass: “Since this proposal has been so hard to write,
ask yourself whether you are telling the right story.”
Sometimes our best laid plans falter. We assume we’re to
focus on one thing, one plan, and then it implodes, fizzles to nothing. And
we stare at a blank screen.
Has this ever happened to you? Has a critique partner or the voice in your head suggested you might not be telling the right story?
Just to keep things interesting in my writing world, I’ve spent years writing in one and a half genres (thinking they were two separate ones) with two series
and a stand-alone. Right now, my Carolina Coast novels seem to be my sweet spot. The characters of small-town Beaufort wave their hands to grab my attention just so they can introduce me to new neighbors. Neighbors with problems for the crew to fix.
Good, right? So, after Heavy Weather (Book 2) connected with readers, I knew I
had to finish the love story I’d begun in it.

So, enter Book 3. Six chapters in, three new characters and another big issue wiggled into the story, screaming for attention. That made three plots, which was at least one too many. The new wiggler became the genesis of Book 4 and caught my attention long enough for me to write eight chapters and imagine that Book 4 might actually morph into Book 3. Who cared? Flip one for the other. But then my daughter arrived needing help with her babies. Life intruded.
Two months away from writing may be nothing to some folk. I
thought it would be nothing for me.
I was wrong. When I once again sat staring at my screen, Book
3/4 had stalled. So, I reclaimed Book 4/3. Two more chapters in, and that one screeched to a halt. Oh, I
could write about 100 words a day, at which rate I’d finish one book in two
years. Two. Years.
Yes, I’m a slow writer, but that was absurd.
Then came the push for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writers
Month, and the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. With time off for the holidays,
right? My head hurt, but what if? I’d done it before when trying to finish Sailing out of Darkness. Could I do it again?

For someone who had been slogging away at 100 words a day, this would mean an increase in production that made me jittery. But a
goal is a good thing, right?
I signed up.
And on October 31, I woke to an idea. What if one of my
problems with Book 3 had to do with the clutter of too many story lines? What
if I nabbed the most pressing one (that holdover from Heavy Weather) and started an entirely new book with it? And
what if I tried writing a Christmas novella using those characters? The thought
caught my interest. I pulled those chapters out (8K words) and… then?
Oh, my, look what I found! Two new characters! Kids in need
of rescue!
Which is a favorite topic of mine. I want to rescue all
children. As I can’t do that in the real world, I do it in my stories.
I had found my sweet spot. And just like that, the book
wrote itself. I went from 100 words a day to 4000 words, then to 5000 words. Every day. Add
these to the 8000 words I’d already slid into place and I had the first draft
of a 35K novella completed by Day 8 of my marathon.
That has never
happened to me before.
But it happened because I was willing to change direction.
To imagine a new plan. To pay attention to the voices in my head whose story
cried out to be told.
Suffice it to say, my team rallied. My crit partners dug in.
I rewrote and polished and honed and sent it off to them again. Their edits
were swift and brilliant. I polished once more. And from my fantastic street team, four
angels offered their eagle eyes for proofing. While the manuscript was out with
them, I designed a cover, made a book trailer, and formatted the thing for
print and ebook. (I love Vellum, which formats ebooks for me.)
And on November 27, Twilight Christmas released.

Have you ever done that? Reversed course? Quit what wasn’t
working so you could shake off the cobwebs and create something that actually
did work?

I’d love to hear what process you used when you felt stuck.
Did it involve a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo? And how did the shift work for you?


Starting Over by Normandie Fischer (Click to Tweet)

It happened because I was willing to change direction~ Normandie Fischer (Click to Tweet)

Normandie Fischer studied sculpture in Italy before receiving her BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. Known for her women’s fiction—Becalmed (2013), Sailing out of Darkness (2013), and Heavy Weather (2015)—she ventured into the realm of romantic suspense with the release of Two from Isaac’s House. In early 2016, a novella, From Fire into Fire, will continue the Isaac House saga. Normandie and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. They now live in coastal North Carolina, where she takes care of her aging mother. You can find Normandie on her website,Facebook, and Amazon.

Hey, Maybe It’s Time To Move On…

by Rachel Hauck

While everyone is in the throws of NaNoWriMo, some times we have to pause and take stock of where we are in our current WIP. Some of you… it’s time to move on.
“How do I know when it’s time to move on from a story I’ve been working on for so long?”
Great question! I worked on my first book for two years. I tell you, it discouraged me because I wondered how I could ever make any kind of living if writing took so long!
But it was my learning book and at least half of those two years were spent with me editing the book from a complicated, multi-plot story to a straight up romance.
I sent it out and received rejections. It was in the late ‘90s and there weren’t many options, but the doors I knocked on replied, “No thank you.”
By then, I was tired of the book. I didn’t know what else to do with it. It was time to move on.
Another idea came to me while sitting at a high school football game and I got to work on that right away. It was fresh, fun, alive in my heart.
I also changed my strategy. I decided to write a Heartsong Presents. With the first book, I tried for a Bethany House WWII saga. Rightfully, they turned me down.
So for my skill level, maybe a smaller, more focused story – romance – was the answer.
That story became my first published novel! In e-format. Yep, I sold it to an e-publisher.
By now, the Lord had connected me with a published Heartsong author and we collaborated together to create the Lambert series.
So, I was on my way.
The first book slept peacefully in my closet. Later, when I needed parts of a novel for Love Starts With Elle hero, Heath McCord, I pulled from that book.
So, where are you with your novel? Is it your first? Your fifth? Tenth? Are you struggling to keep going? Do you have vision or a passion for the story?
Is it time to move on?
Here’s some guidelines for sticking with a story:
  1. Good feedback from editors, agents or other knowledgeable writers?
  2. Your vision and passion remains high for the story.
  3. You can see clearly how to improve the manuscript.
  4. You’ve not rewritten it so many times – based on feedback – you can see the original heart of the story.
  5. You final in contests or get manuscript requests from editors or agents.
Here’s when you need to move on from a story:
  1. You’ve changed it so many times – based on feedback – you don’t recognize the original vision.
  2. You’re heart and passion for the story couldn’t fill a thimble.
  3. You have no idea how to improve the manuscript. If you have an idea, you’re not sure you want to do it.
  4. It’s been rejected by everyone you’ve submitted to and your mentors are suggesting a new, fresh idea.
  5. Your contest scores indicate you have a long way to go.
  6. You’ve learned much more about the business and know your book will not readily fit into the current market. That’s cool! Move on.
There are stories all over the map about the publication journey. Author Tamera Alexander worked on her first book for four years before it got published. On the other hand, author Jill Eileen Smith had ten or more closet manuscripts gathered up over twenty years.
Charles Martin had 120+ rejections before he sold The Dead Don’t Dance. Susan Warren wrote four or five novels before she sold a novella to Tyndale. When they asked her, “What else do you have?” She pulled out and polished those closet manuscripts.
There’s no end to possibilities. To closed and opened doors.
What is God saying about the book that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? It’s okay to put it away and start over.
Here’s what I find on a rewrite – when I try to edit what I’ve already written, I tend to stick with that story and accept the weaknesses. But when I start over from scratch, I craft the story with stronger elements. I work through the weaknesses. The story isn’t as fun or flowing as the first draft because I’m actually thinking through and working out the problems.
So often, when trying to rewrite or improve a first novel, or a well-rejected novel, we can’t see what really needs to be changed to make the manuscript sellable.
If that’s where you are, start over. Sometimes we don’t want to start over because we don’t want to wait for publication. But it could be on the first or rewritten-rejected manuscript, we could find ourselves waiting forever.
Only you can determine if it’s time to set a manuscript aside, but if you do, do so with confidence and give your whole heart to your next work!
Happy Writing.
New York Times & USA Today best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She is on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship for their annual conference. In 2013 she was named ACFW’s Mentor of the Year. She lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

5 Reasons to Keep Writing

by Lisa Jordan 

NaNoWriMo is winding down. Many of you may be writing strong closing in on that word count. Some of you may have stopped. Others may want to continue, but you’re discouraged.

So what’s holding you back?




Novelist E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Sometimes even seeing beyond the dashboard can be a challenge. So I’m giving you five reasons why you need to keep writing.

1. You have a dream. Cinderella sang, “A dream is a wish the heart makes.” If you’re like the majority of writers I know, you have a dream. A dream to be a writer. In order to fulfill that dream, you need to write.

2. You were created for this. God instilled the desire to write within you. He gave you the ability to create characters, come up with plots and put them together in a story to share with others. He did not say you have to go it alone. He didn’t give you this dream to take it away.

3. You have a voice. Like your handwriting or fingerprints, your writer’s voice is unique. You can learn the craft alongside your peers, but only you can write the same story in your voice. As literary agent Sandra Bishop says, “Voice is your personality on the page.” It’s how your characters are defined, how they speak, how you describe your storyworld, how you plot—that’s all about your voice. Keep writing to allow your Voice to be heard.

4. No one else will do it for you—unlike running the dishwasher, gassing up your car or folding your laundry, no one can write a book for you. Okay, yes, ghostwriters can, but those words aren’t yours. Your head is full of characters begging to be released onto the page. Give your head a rest and let your characters have their say. 😉

5. Personal satisfaction. Do it for yourself—if you stop writing, will it affect your family? Will your friends stop talking to you? Will time stand still? Most likely not. However, if you stop, how will you feel? Only you can answer that question. Believe in yourself and your abilities. You can do this.

Author Phyllis Whitney said, “You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist, you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.”

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of writing novels. She tried and tried, but at times, wondered what was the point? Ten years ago, she challenged herself to attempt NaNoWriMo. In thirty days, she wrote a novel. A bad novel, but she still did it. She proved to herself she could do it. Two weeks later, her husband bought her a laptop since he realized this writing thing wasn’t going away.

She studied the craft, wrote, revised, screamed in frustration, deleted, quit for a day or two, joined My Book Therapy, revised, wrote and finally entered another contest, which became a turning point in her writing journey. She finaled and scored a top-notch agent who eventually sold her novel to the publisher of her choice. That NaNoWriMo manuscript released in August as her fifth published novel. She’s been where you are. She knows your pain. She believes you can do this.


5 Reasons to Keep Writing by Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of writing novels~ 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.comlisajordanbooks.com.