Step 2: Pray About It

I am a Christian, and my faith permeates every facet of my life (or at least it should!). When it comes to my writing there is no exception. My faith in God has everything to do with what I write.

The first thing I do when I begin is to pray that the work that I do will be pleasing to God. In the end, I am His and my work will in a small way be a reflection of Him. So I hope it would please Him, but also that it would not offend.

That will affect not just what I write, but also what I won’t write. My characters are still flawed creatures, but there are certain situations that don’t need to be spelled out in a crude way. I also try to avoid inappropriate language while still staying true to the characters.

As Christians our work often becomes part of our sanctification, no matter what we are doing. The same discipline it takes to see a task through, to keep your calm, or to press hard when necessary will mold us into better disciples.

When it comes to writing there is an added layer to it. In Genesis God speaks and the world is formed. From thought comes substance. In that regard we ought to use our words carefully, recognizing a bit of the divine in what we are trying to achieve- creating something out of nothing.

It is not we who are divine, but our desire and work is a reflection of Him who is. So we must choose our thoughts and words carefully and with much prayer that they are pleasing to Him.

So take a minute to get yourself in the right mindset, and then on to Step 3: Make a Thorough Outline!

Step 1: Stop Talking About It

If you read my last post, then you already know that the difference between wanting something and actually having it is making a plan. In this article I’ll go over the plan that I used to self-publish my work through Kindle Direct Publishing.

I think we all know at least one person who just talks endlessly about something they are trying to achieve. Let’s be honest, you are that person! At first, people are supportive, but after a while they begin to wonder why you aren’t making any progress. In a weird way, just talking about it makes you think you’ve achieved something. Don’t be that guy!

This is true of anything in life you hope to achieve, but the first thing you need to do is decide that you are not going to brag, mention, or even hint about what you are up to until you are done. This requires a great deal of will power, but you’ll need that same will power to keep yourself motivated when the going gets tough. Besides, most people don’t really want to hear you talking endlessly about how cool you are going to be when you achieve your goal.

Instead, to keep motivated think of things that would be nice rewards as you go along. I’m a writer so for me it meant watching my favorite movie after I finish a chapter, or sitting down with a hot cup of tea and just staring out the window. I know it looks like I am wasting time, but more likely than not my mind will soon be wandering through the next chapter.

Waiting to tell people will also make it that much more rewarding when you do have some positive results to announce. That will look different for everyone depending on what your goal is, but for me it was when there was a link available to my work and not a moment sooner (unless it was for some reason absolutely necessary).

Ready for Step 2: Pray About It?

My Journey From “Wannabe” to “Sort-of-is”…

For several decades now I’ve wanted to be a writer. It became one of those dreams you have that you never really expect to achieve, because it seems too great a thing to ask.

Besides, achieving it is not its purpose. Rather it is what drives you to keep going even when you’re emotionally and physically exhausted. Let’s face it, life is mostly full of an endless list of unpleasant tasks. Everyone needs something, some dream to aim for.

I wouldn’t consider myself artistic. I had a short stint drawing portraits in High School. I tried to learn to play the flute. I can dance the macarena. I know, impressive. Add to all of that the fact that every once in a while, I write.

Okay, not ‘every once in a while’; more like anytime I had more than a few minutes, my mind would wander back to Arden. Thoughts of far off places would replay themselves over and over again until I wrote them down. It was like they had a life of their own, so writing was more to save my sanity than anything else.

I wonder if art is supposed to be that way, that an artist doesn’t create so much as gives life to something that is already out there looking for a voice. In that sense I feel like a bit of a fraud. I’m no artist, just someone trying to give a voice to something I don’t really understand, but I digress.

That is why finishing my book, or even dreaming of doing so, was something I decided to just stop talking about. It wasn’t that I had given up, per se, but if I was never going to achieve the dream, then expecting praise from people for not actually having done anything was likely counterproductive.

So, for several years I worked quietly on ‘The Myth of Arden’. I found that as I got further along, I began to get in my own way. Was it any good? What if no one liked it? What in the world was I even bothering for? Overwhelmed with doubt, I began to consider just giving up.

For some reason, just when you decide not to do something is exactly the moment it happens. For me, that pivotal moment occurred over a year ago when I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child. I was scared and elated all at the same time. It was something I had wanted for a very long time, but it was also not meant to be. I lost the child, and it was so painful that I am still unable to really talk about it.

Even though I had never met my fourth child, I still had a relationship with them. I promised them that I would finish the book. This journey had been cut short, but another was beginning. One dream ended, but for another it was not too late. I had to keep going. Every little step felt like my heart was being ripped out, but there was no other choice but to walk through the pain. Letting go is often harder than holding on.

I still remember the moment I finished the first draft of the book, I just sat there surprised. I’d just been plugging along, not expecting there to ever be an end, yet here I was. It was only the beginning though, there was still a lot of work to get the book ready for publication.

Publishing what had, until then, just been in my mind was a humbling experience. It isn’t as glamorous as I expected. Who knows if anyone will read what I have to say or even care, but to me being a writer, even a terrible one, is the fulfillment of a promise. It seems better to have people say, “Gee that is awful” then to say, “Well she only spoke about it and never did it.”

What is your dream? What is that thing that you never expect to achieve because it is just too great a thing to consider? As cliché as it sounds, the first step is to just stop talking about it. Don’t tell anyone. Make a detailed plan, and if that doesn’t work make another one. Research, reevaluate, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Don’t do what I did and wait for something catastrophic to get you going. Even being a failure at your dream is better than successfully avoiding failure.

The Myth of Arden Sequel Update #1

Howdy all! It’s Susan Marie here! Since literally dozens and dozens of fans (ie: no one) asked, I’m happy to announce that there will indeed be a sequel to The Myth of Arden!

I’ve been working hard lately, and am currently into what will become Chapter 5 in the new book tentatively titled, The Myth of Arden: The Empress of Nasairre. That means we can expect to continue our journey through Arden (hopefully) sometime in 2020.

If you are interested in finding out what happens next, feel free to subscribe to our webpage and also join our mailing list (link below!). As always, thank you so much for your continued support!

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Finding the Time to Write

Before I became a mom, I was a graduate student. Back then I remember being overwhelmed by the workload, only to have a professor assure me that when I had children it would be even worse. I was terrified and skeptical at the same time.

It turns out, he was right.

Between cooking, cleaning, and hiding snacks in my closet there is hardly time to have the nervous breakdown I so desperately need. So how do you find the time to write (or whatever your passion is) when you barely have time to breathe?

Idea 1: Just never sleep!

I recall in grad school anything over four hours of sleep was considered superfluous. I’m sure it was said tongue-in-cheek, but honestly if you’re going to find time to pursue your dream it might mean waking up an hour early or going to bed an hour late. Which you choose likely depends on if you are a morning person or a night owl. I’m more of the latter, so sometimes once the kids are in bed I’ll get out the old laptop and pluck away!

That goes double for those nights insomnia hits and you just can’t get to sleep anyway. You might as well do something that will help tire your mind out.

Idea 2: Use that long commute!

When I was an undergraduate I regularly drove an hour each way to get to school. So if I wasn’t preoccupied with an exam or term paper I’d plan out scenes in my head while I was driving. Obviously, don’t do anything reckless like try to write while you drive. Wait until you’re home and then sit in your car for five minutes with a pen and paper and jot down the gist of what you were imagining during your commute. Use these notes the next time you have a spare moment to flesh out the scene.

Idea 3: Lunch is unnecessary!(?)

Eating might be mandatory, but multitasking your way through lunch might be essential. If you eat with your left hand, you can still write with your right. Even if all you can manage is ten minutes, you’d be surprised how that adds up over the course of several weeks.

Idea 4:Make a date with yourself!

When I was in school, the only distraction I had when I got home was my cat. As much as she liked to cuddle up on my lap, I could still work around her.

With kids, it’s completely different. They might need to be reminded several times that “mommy is working” before they get the hint. If that doesn’t work, plan a date with yourself. Get your spouse to watch the kids while you take off for a while. This will likely only work once a month, so save this for a really important part of your writing that requires the most concentration. Don’t forget to return the favor either by offering your partner a night out too!

Idea 5: Bribery

Okay, so sometimes (maybe even all of the time) it’s impossible to get away from the kids. In that case, a little bribery might be in order. It’s really hard for your kids to interrupt your work when they’re mouths are full of candy. Just saying…

Idea 6: Private yacht

Not a lot of moms remember that they can just get on their private yacht and sail around the bay a few times. The internet reception might not be so good but the endless peace and quiet more than makes up for it! Just be sure to ask your butler to keep his phone on silent mode. Pro-tip: pack some Dramamine if you get seasick.

Idea 7: Let something else go

Take a careful inventory of your life and see if there isn’t something you’re doing that you could cut out to make more time. Maybe you’ve been volunteering too much or spreading yourself thin with extracurriculars. Maybe you even have friends always wanting to hang out (hahaha, just kidding!).

Really take inventory of your time, and see if there isn’t someway to make a little room. It might mean that one night a week is frozen pizza night, just so you have a little more time to focus on your writing or whatever.

Idea 8: Let some of your stuff go

Just like things you do, stuff you have will take up valuable time to maintain. Really consider if the items around you are adding to your life or if they’ve become a burden.

Try to keep things tidy. The less you have the easier this will be. If things are well organized it will save you a lot of time in the long run!

This is perhaps the area I struggle the most in. I am extremely sentimental, so deciding what to hold onto and what to get rid of can be overwhelming.

I still remember the moment it occurred to me that I was never going to get to all of the little projects I had been saving. I suddenly felt old, and like I was having to let go of what might have been. But alas, such is life. Ask yourself if you are going to enjoy doing the projects you keep holding on to, or if you just feel obligated to complete them because you spent a lot of money. If it’s the latter, let the project go!

Do you have any more suggestions? Drop your ideas in the comments below!