I’ll admit it. I read a lot of romance and have accumulated several favorite heroes in my book list through the years, but there’s just one that I claim in real life as my very own hero, and that’s my husband.
We’ve been married for 25 years now, and I have to say that romance novels have shown me new ways to appreciate bits and pieces that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.
This is what makes a true love match. This is what I mean when I talk about my own hero in my life.
And like in our stories, it’s easy to forget about this layer, especially when we get frustrated with the hero, which happens in our novels, too. It’s one of the things we enjoy when we read a story about two people who are finding out about themselves and this person who has grabbed their attention. And they don’t know where they are going in their journey, but we know they will at some point end up together.
As a new writer, I’ve worked through generic personality traits for the heroes of my books. But, as in our stories and real life, it’s important to find specific traits that make a hero unique. So to dig deeper I had to think about things from my own perspective a bit. I thought about my husband as how I would portray him in one of my novels and there are some specific things that came to mind.
And as I’ve learned from those book heroes, it’s not always about the things he does, it’s also about the things he doesn’t do – like leave the toilet seat up and he lets me turn the toilet paper roll the way I prefer – all the time.
Sure, my own hero and I are still learning and adjusting to each other, but the romances I read help remind me to take a step back and appreciate the blessings that I’ve been given.
I hope the stories and the heroes I write about are able to do the same for my readers. That’s our goal as writers, right?
If you’d like to find our more about the stories I’m writing, I’d love to have you visit my website at denisemcolby.com.
It’s important to develop strong decision-making skills when writing a novel. As a writer we have many decisions to make when writing our stories. For our characters we have to figure out names, color of hair and eyes, and flaws and strengths. We also have to figure out where they live, where they work, who they will clash with and whom they will love. Do they have a large family or small? And what was their family life like?
Many important pieces that, like a puzzle, connect together to create a strong story. And portray characters our readers can relate to. So, it’s very important for us to get it ‘right’.
But what does right, mean?
And what can we do if we get it wrong?
See, in the past, my own fear of getting it wrong, prevented me from moving forward. And I had a hard time making decisions, especially not knowing if they would work or not. And not having answers made it difficult to write my story.
When I first started this novel-writing journey, I would save every word cut and paste it in another file. I was terrified to erase an idea or phrase. What if I couldn’t come up with something better? Or I forgot the idea I originally came up with? I found myself unable to know how to make the right decisions.
And then I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted my heroine to be sassy or shy. Or what she even should look like.
Part of this was because I had never done this before. Another part of it was my own lack of decision-making skills. I needed to figure out how to become a strong decision maker and fast.
I’ve since learned I just have to make decisions, but that they can change if I need them to. It’s better to have a direction, than no direction at all.
Also taking workshops from other writers has helped me learn a variety of ways to approach the writing process. Yes, some of the decisions are still pulled out of thin air. You have to start somewhere! But I’ve since learned how to think through these points when writing.
I’ve also learned that I don’t have to save the words. Now I can trust myself to come up with new content that still fits my story. I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s better to start over with a new way of writing a scene. This decision has helped me try different approaches rather than adding patches and bandaids. And the practice has allowed me to apply new techniques I’ve learned in recent classes.
Now I can say with pride that I can rewrite my opening a 7th time and still survive!
A word that comes to mind when I think about this – everything we do in writing our stories is redeemable.
Did you know all the other words linked to redeemable in the thesaurus?
Rectifiable, improvable, restorable, fixable, reparable
Do you know what this means? Our writing is not permanent and frozen with the first things we write. It can evolve and grow and improve.
That’s huge encouragement to me.
So I can decide away, and then redeem what works. I don’t have to make ALL the decisions final each step of the way. There’s room for change and room for me to make strong decisions with each layer of edits I do.
This change in mindset has allowed me to change scenes completely and try them in a new way. Because, if I didn’t like it, I can change it back, or try again. It might mean more work, but that’s okay.
This is because the hard work isn’t what scares me, it’s the fear of not getting it right. There are so many different ways to put a phrase together!
I wrote a post Facing your Fear and I think I need to reread it every once in a while. I’ve come a long way in my writing, but my fears still can get in the way of my goals. And I’m not about to let my fears stop me now.
That’s why I wrote my blog post on Listing out Your Accomplishments. When I track the things I have accomplished, it helps me face my fear. Which in turn helps me make better decisions going forward. It’s like each decision I make, encourages me to make more.
I’ve come a long way from saving every word I cut and not knowing what I want for my characters. Now I sometimes try out a scene a completely different way just to see it from a distinct angle. And then I can redeem the words that work the best from either version.
Do you have areas that are difficult for you to decide on?
There are just some days I find it really hard to sit down and work on my manuscript. But, I have goals to reach. And somewhere, somehow, I have to find motivation to accomplish those goals. Otherwise I get frustrated and want to give up.
Writing a book is a longggg process. I’ve been working on mine for over seven years. Granted, I have a day job. I have a family. And I have volunteer requirements. And in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know what were realistic measurements or tasks I could expect myself to accomplish.
But I’ve learned a lot in the past seven years, including what works for me to keep moving forward.
Choose to track word counts or time. Sometimes just spending 15 minutes (Flylady anyone?) is enough to move forward and keep my mind in my story. My planner I use has little images in the front of each month. If I touched my MS that day, I color in the image. Didn’t matter how long or what I did. It sure helps take away the feeling of being stagnant.
Back in March when all of sudden my home became work and school central for the four other people in my family, I had to get really specific with the tasks I wanted to accomplish each week. Part of that was to show my family what I was working on, and part of it was for me to stay on task when there was a lot going on around me.
I was editing my MS and wanted to get through four chapters a week. So on an index card, I wrote out each week’s dates and which chapter numbers were assigned that week, and then I stuck it to my little bulletin board, where I could see it.
I’ll tell you, being able to check off each week when I accomplished those chapters was so encouraging. Yes, I will need to go through my MS again. But I’m not focusing that far ahead. I would derail myself if I did. Instead I focused on what I needed to accomplish that day (one scene or two) for that week. This makes it way more manageable.
And for full disclosure, I had to change some of the dates. There were a few weeks where I just couldn’t get it done. The chapters needed more work, and we had family birthdays to celebrate. So I adjusted and kept going.
Are you a morning person or a night person? I’ve learned that editing in the afternoon right now doesn’t work for me. I get too caught up with work and everyone else is up and making noise, having conversations, and it’s challenging to focus uninterrupted. I enjoy the morning when it’s more quiet.
Although with 7 and 7:30am conference call meetings recently, I don’t get to start my day working on my MS, before I jump into work. I try, but realize that it’s not realistic five days a week. Instead, for now, I’ve adjusted my hours and try to work only 1/2 day on Friday and then work on my MS the rest of the day.
This has given me momentum heading into the weekend to still accomplish goals. Sometimes our family dynamics make it hard to work on things all weekend, but by telling my husband I need some time to work on my book, it’s helped set up the expectation.
I find when life is crazy busy, I can’t slow down to focus on just one task. Too many things are screaming at me to get it all done, NOW. In my handy dayplanner each week, are two pages of daily inspiration. Some days I can only think of writing one word in the daily square – my word of the year. This year it’s courage and writing it out reminds me why I chose that word. Courage to keep going when it’s hard, courage to take risks, courage to trust God’s plan for my writing.
Other days I write other things in the daily spots, whether it’s a Bible verse, quote, thoughts, or recently I’ve been focusing on 5 things I’m grateful for each day. It’s amazing how taking a few minutes to slow down and pause helps my mental state and allows me to refocus my brain on the next task I’m preparing for. (And I’ll admit, some days it’s toward the end of the day and I hadn’t written anything down yet. I still pick it up then and recenter myself).
Sometimes I need to just create without thinking. With Washi tape I add color and design to my planner pages. Maybe not everyone is like this, but I find it really helps center me and I get to see something for my efforts.
I’m teaching an online course this month through ACFW on SEO Marketing. I love this topic. And so many people have responded to participate. As I reply to each one and read their comments of what they wanted to learn and their answers, I’ve gotten really excited. I get to share this topic with other writers, help them, and make a difference. With each email, I’m more motivated to keep doing what I’m doing.
There’s something to be said about having little wins in your corner that can help motivate. Interacting, helping and teaching other writers seem to be one of mine.
I could keep going, but I’m off to participate in a virtual writing conference. It seems talking and sharing with other writers is another motivator for me.
I hope one of these ideas helps encourage you to accomplish goals in your writing. When I set out to decide on my topic for this month, this one came to mind. I wanted to capture the positive energy that I’m feeling right now, so in those times when I don’t feel it, I can remind myself of what I can do to help myself through the more challenging times.
If you have other ways to motivate yourself to accomplish goals, I’d love to hear it. Write it in the comments below. We can all use new ideas to help motivate us to accomplish our goals!
If you are interested in more, I wrote a post in January for this blog, that talked about staying on task. And over at my own blog, I post monthly on various topics related to encouragement, writing, and anything Disney
Ever have non-existent ideas or too many that they are over-whelming?
Never fear, my brain can think of plenty of ideas when I have no time to flush them out but when I finally schedule time to write this blog post, they all have escaped my brain.
Anyone else have this problem?
Sometimes the blog creation process can be easy or hard. In searching for a topic to write about this month, I asked myself the question ‘what is the point of a blog post?’ and then decided to google it.
Here’s what popped up…
I love how google also provides similar questions on the same topic. Notice the different choices in words, but they all fit within the same topic. Obviously, people have searched this topic before.
And this is why SEO and keywords matter. Someone may not google your name or book directly, but they may google something you’ve answered in a blog post or on your web page.
All of these thoughts should go into your blog creation process.
These are all the pages that show up on the search’s first page. Notice all the different page titles. Those matter too.
So this leads me to more questions as I ponder my why about my blog creation process. (Yes, my family calls me the Question Queen)
As I formulate this into something someone would actually read, I’m asking the question ‘what would you like to read?’
Even though I picked a topic out of thin air to write about, as I asked questions and googled one, I was able to create something. It all connects. And that’s what it’s all about.
So, in essence, if we have a topic for a blog post, performing a search about it may wield ideas of phrasing or additional keywords to use so that your post would appear in these searches too.
As I wrap up this post, I now realize I have to figure out a keyword that fits the topic in order for me to have strong SEO. Why I make stuff challenging for myself, I’ll have to cover in an entirely different blog post in the future.
It’s much more fun creating content people enjoy. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
On a side note…I’m teaching on the subject of SEO during the month of July!
SEO Marketing for Authors in the ACFW course loop in July. If you are a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), these courses each month are FREE!
I’m also teaching a course on Branding, SEO, & Content, at the Virtual SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference July 9-11. Here’s the link to the conference website.
If you’d like to take a peek at some of my other blog posts, here is a link to my archive on this blog.
Since May is all about Star Wars, I thought I’d start with a famous Yoda quote and apply it to a building your brand message:
“Do or Do Not, There is no Try”Yoda
How does this apply to your author platform?
And sometimes this fear prevents us from doing anything about it.
But that’s exactly what I want to encourage you to do. Do something! Don’t just say you will try. And know, whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be 100% perfect. It’s most important for you to do.
Yes, I know, all the different variables to building your author brand can be stressful. But keep in mind, I’ve seen several small businesses evolve and grow in their online presence. It has opened my eyes to the fact that they did not get to their current place overnight. There’s not a magic switch that turns on everything perfectly. Most sites have evolved over time, trying things that work and don’t work and making adjustments as they work out the kinks.
Our author websites and social media are just like this.
That’s what happened with my Marketing for Authors newsletter. I saw a graphic I liked and wanted to make it into the brand for Marketing for Authors. But no matter what I did, it wasn’t working the way I pictured it. And so I put off sending out my newsletter, or doing anything else for that matter. Not very business-minded, was it? So, I too am right in the thick of it, challenging myself with starting over and moving forward.
I’ve since chosen a simple design (thanks Canva!) and color scheme that I can incorporate into my training materials easily. And if I need to change some things as I go, I’m okay with that.
Here’s my new logo.
What do you think?
I’m super excited about it. I didn’t overthink it like I usually do, and I can incorporate the colors into my training materials. The only issue is when I print it on my home printer, the color comes out a little more blue than what it looks like on the screen. Since most of my stuff will be digital anyway, I’m moving forward with it. And boy does that feel freeing.
I understand how much establishing brand and building content is complicated and time-consuming. That’s where I want to help you in figuring out what works and to offer encouragement.
For myself, I’ve written my first newsletter and I’m ready to send it out (you can sign up for my free newsletter here). I’m also preparing to teach my first online class and give my first zoom interview. I’m trying not to over think things, but just take baby steps, one step at a time.
I hope to encourage you in the same way.
If interested in learning more about brand and SEO, take a look at some of my past posts:
Or you can visit my website by clicking on the button below.
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