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Mental Reset for Writers After Receiving Contest Results

May 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

I always have to pause and reset after receiving contest results. Am I the only one who experiences this?

blog post title graphic with picture of a blank journal with hand ready to write and words underneath that say mental reset for writers after receiving contest results

Contests are wonderful ways to get feedback, get in front of agents or publishers, and stretch yourself as a writer. I have entered many and have grown as a writer because of the them. 

But every time when the contest results are out, I’m so afraid of opening up the email and reading the comments. And this year was no different. 

Last week I received my contest results email from the 2022 ACFW Genesis Contest. I did not semi-final like I did back in 2019. For a brief moment, that right there makes it hard. Did I go backwards? Shouldn’t I have not made the changes that were in the suggestions?

But alas, I can’t do that to myself.

Contest Results Do Not Tell The Entire Story

I’ve had many pairs of eyes look over my entry and the overall feedback has been positive. And as I look at the scores from the three judges, two loved it and had very little comments (one even scored it a 99 out of 100, which is something to celebrate). But the third judge. It was obvious, my style of book is not their cup of tea. And even though two out of the three were positive, it’s still such a hard pill to swallow.

Is this what it feels like to read reviews of your work?

It probably is, and maybe you have to have a mental reset after reading those too.

But keep in mind some things. What’s being judged is such a small snippet (for me it was 15 pages). Not everyone will have the same opinion (which is why there are so many different authors and books available).

So What Do You Do To Move Forward?

I’m still figuring that out. For me, I needed to give myself a few days. Then dive right back into my manuscript. Keep editing, keep writing, and work toward the next opportunity when it presents itself. Pay attention to the things where multiple people gave similar feedback. And remember the positive comments (and the fact I earned a 99 from someone!).

I even wore this shirt to help me get back into a good frame of mind.

T-shirt with the words write on

I think it’s also important to relook at the comments and feedback a few times over a period of time. Each time they sink in more. They are not as personal. And there’s something in there that you can use. After a little while, you are ready to figure out how to adapt the feedback you want to include into your manuscript.

If any of you are struggling, I encourage you. You are not the only one. And as a seasoned contest results receiver, it is never easy. But putting our work out there is never easy. Yet we trail on, because our stories are more than our feelings. They are our work (my word for the year!). And it takes work (lots and lots of work) to get them into the best shape possible before we release them.

Hang in there. Keep writing. Write On!

Denise

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. Her 2021 word was Wisdom and her 2022 word is Work. She talks about how one turned into the other in her blog at denisemcolby.com. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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When Our Confidence In Our Writing Wavers

April 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , , ,

Have you ever had your confidence in your writing waver? Years ago I wrote something that really helped me in a very heavy doubt period. As I was discussing confidence in his artwork with my college-age son recently, I went and found this to encourage him to believe in himself. I needed the reminder as well. And I decided to share it with all of you too.

Blog Header with laptop computer, notebook, and person writing, with title When Confidence In Your Writing Wavers

Originally published on denisemcolby.com on June 6, 2017

This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians and the following verse made me stop and pause, so I wrote it down on my handy 3×5 index card for future reference:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.     2 Corinthians 3:5

I want to be a writer. Notice I said I want to, not I am.

I’ve only been writing things for over twenty years – either marketing copy or fiction stories. No matter which, the reality is I struggle with believing in myself. Having confidence in my writing. My takeaway from this verse is God’s telling me if I believe in him, I need to believe in myself.

After getting the kids off to school, I took a walk and the verse rattled around in my head. But for some reason the key word competence turned into the word confidence (I wonder who put that there?). As I mulled around thoughts about confidence, I knew I needed to come home and look up the word in the dictionary.

I love words. Definitions, synonyms – all of it. I also love seeing connections words have with other words.  So here’s what the website http://www.dictionary.com says about

CONFIDENCE: full trust; belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

And I love the example they gave in a sentence: His lack of confidence defeated him.

Is my lack of confidence in my abilities as a writer defeating me?

I think about my writing and the nudges I have had over the past five years and I know without a doubt God wants me to do this, otherwise doors would’ve closed on me long ago. However I’m not fully doing what he wants me to do because I have not had the confidence to just do it.

I’ve been saying for a while now, I would like to write devotionals. I have this strong innate desire to share hope, encouragement and God’s Word with others. What I haven’t been sure about is the how and what. So I haven’t done it, period.

When I took my walk this am something clicked and I couldn’t wait to get back home because I needed to do this right now. God has confidence in me. He has given me the desire. He’s nudging me to do this. Why have I not done this? Why?

I’m afraid – that’s why. What am I so afraid of? Putting myself out there? Looking like an idiot? Is that confidence then? I know I’m not looking for accolades, not looking for stardom. I just want to write and share my heart. But I’ve been too scared to do that. I have lacked confidence to go for it.

Then I saw the Synonyms for confidence – 1. faith, reliance, dependence.

And the Antonym – 1. mistrust.

Wow!

In a nutshell, my lack of confidence in myself (lack of faith) and the abilities God has given me (lack of faith, dependence) are holding me back from sharing something he wants me to share.

My lack of confidence is holding me back in my writing

I’m not really trusting God then, am I? If I have faith, I should have confidence in what he’s asking me to do. And I need to depend on Him when I do it.

So here I am today. Writing a devotional and setting up a specific devotional page on my website. Only God knows what will happen. I just need to have the confidence to do it (already the nagging doubts are creeping in). I must rely on God with the rest.

But wait, there’s more. When I grabbed my Bible to write in the verse, I realized I made a mistake (was it really?) and the word was competence not confidence. Oh no! Do I scrap what I just wrote? Does it even relate? See maybe I shouldn’t be doing this after all. I paused for a moment then decided to look it up:

COMPETENCE: having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified:

And the Synonym: 1. fit, capable, proficient.

No antonym. Interesting. There is no negative/opposite of being competent.  You either are or you are not. I may not be the best writer, but I know I am proficient. So what am I waiting for?

Then I looked at 2 Corinthians 3:4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.

If God has given you skills – you are capable to use them for his glory. You just need to have the confidence through Him to do it. 

What abilities (competence) has God given you?  Where do you put your confidence?  In your own efforts, schedule, skills, voices in your head? Or do you trust God?  Do you have the confidence to put yourself out there with whatever it is?

God has given us all skills. We are all competent in something. Being competent does not need to mean you are the best at something.

Being competent means you are proficient. You can get the job done.

We should have confidence in our writing if we are proficient enough

We let our own voices tell us we are not competent because we think we need to be the best or someone does it better than us and we let it affect our confidence which in turn affects what we do.    

Everyone’s path is different and God has one he wants you to follow. He has given you these skills for a reason. You just have to have confidence in Him that He is with you every step of the way.

God believes in you and I believe in you too!

Denise M. Colby loves to write encouraging words. You can read other posts by Denise in her archives here on A Slice of Orange

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A LOVE STORY

February 15, 2022 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , , ,

45 Years and CountingWe are fresh off Valentines Day, so I thought I’d share a little love story.

In November ,2021 we traveled to Albania – a country we fell in love with ten years ago and where our youngest son now lives – and to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Our son arranged the party and the details were kept secret. On the day of the party we were picked up by a driver who didn’t speak English, could barely understand my few words of Albanian, and seemed confused as to his destination. Finally, the car turned up a dark and winding road and delivered us to our party destination—an ancient castle.

People we didn’t know greeted us like old friends; those who didn’t speak English blessed us in their language. We danced for five hours to Turkish and Albanian music with a little Roy Orbison and The Doors thrown in for good measure.

That night was  joyous, exciting, and exactly the kind of adventure my husband and I love. But it wasn’t until I was back home and writing again, that I understood what made the trip so magical. It was like a good book long in the making. My husband and I had 45 years of a backstory, so our sons had a lot of information to draw on. They intimately understood our individual characters and loved us quirks and all. They also had an appreciation for drama, and pitch perfect pacing. Together they crafted the perfect narrative with a very happy ending.

I’m going to remember that night forever. I will also remember the lessons I learned because of it.  If I love my characters, so will my readers; if I’m excited by the adventure, the reader will be too. I’m not sure if my books are as perfect as our anniversary adventure, but the fun is in trying to make them so.

Stay tuned for the sequel, watch out for the next book. Meanwhile, happy belated Valentines Day. Here’s to the next chapters of all of our love (and life)stories.

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Being Out of Balance Stifles Creativity

January 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

Do you ever feel out of balance in your life? Where you find your days lopsided in your to-do’s, and you aren’t able to dig into your well to do what you really want to do? Have you found yourself with the desire to create stuffed inside but no way to come out? Am I the only one who needed a mental and creative break at the end of last year?

Blog header with rocks stacked on top of each other and words Being Out of Balance Stifles Creativity by Denise M. Colby

When I say creative break, what I really mean is giving my brain a chance to catch up with itself. Taking the time to organize thoughts, goals, wins, and losses, and get out of the funk I found myself in.

Time to conduct a Sacred Rest Assessment

Susan May Warren added the Sacred Rest assessment in her 2022 Brilliant Writer Planner (that I love!). It’s a way to determine the rest you are lacking (and what you are not). It’s all about balance. And she organizes our needs into these buckets:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Creative
  • Spirutal
  • Social
  • Sensory
  • Mental.

When you find your life is out of harmony

For me, my mental and creative areas are sorely lacking. And taking time over the last two weeks to purge through some to-do piles, evaulate my year, and write out thoughts, made me realize I don’t schedule this type of downtime for my brain enough. 

And that’s exactly what the assesment is supposed to do. 

Help you figure out areas you should focus on this year.

For me, I like time to let my mind catch up with my inputs. Let my mind wander. With my scheduled life, I don’t get a lot of time to do that. Yet when I did recently, I found the creative juice I’ve been missing.

Ideas began to pop into my thoughts. Energy to dive in and get to work.

Finding Symmetry

And that what was so exciting, because WORK is my word for 2022. Something I chose because God isn’t finished with me yet. And I am not finished with this writing journey. 

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Philippians 1:6.  

Noun: exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something

Dreams don’t work, unless you do.

My manuscript is a work in progress

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart….Colossions 3:24-25

Which is exactly what I plan to do for 2022.

I process my thoughts by writing. I explore what’s in my brain by writing. And what I found myself not doing at the end of 2021 was writing.

It takes work to write. And I’m now ready to get to work.

Figuring Out Balance

In her Sacred Rest Assessment, Susie May asks three questions at the end 

1. What areas do you need to focus more on this year?

2. Why do you feel you are depleted in those particular areas?

3. What activities can you pursue to refresh your life with Sacred Rest?

And just like that I figured out how and what to schedule (what I need to bring balance back to my life) into my week.

How about you? Are you in balance with your Sacred Rest?

You may want to schedule some time to assess to help you bring yourself back into balance this year and together, maybe we can help each other do just that!

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. Her word in 2021 was Wisdom. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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The Wisdom of This Year’s Focus Word

August 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

As I’ve mentioned in my January post, my word for 2021 is Wisdom. And as usual, I realize now how perfect this word has been for me this year. That there was wisdom in selecting wisdom as this year’s focus word.

The Wisdom of My Focus Word 2021 Blog post Title page by Denise M. Colby

I selected this word because this was the year. The turning point year where I’d apply the wisdom I’ve learned thus far, and also seek out others’ input for my next step in my writing journey.

Wisdom, I’ve learned, encompasses the integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding; and how you apply those three in your decisions.

This is exactly what I wanted to explore in my writing. To make final decisions about how it’s written and get it published.

And that has given me focus.

I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten my manuscript to a point where I’ve shared the entire thing with a select few. And have received positive feedback. That’s a huge step for me!

So as I reflect on this year so far, I think choosing the word Wisdom has helped me reach that goal.

Which is the entire point of choosing a focus word for the year.

But as always, choosing this focus word has not just been applicable to my writing.

I’ve thought a lot about how I apply wisdom in my decision making skills in my life too.

And in my search for quotes and phrases and wisdom about wisdom, I realized some things.

Quote about wisdom from dictionary.com

Each word I’ve selected has been building on each other.  Hope, believe, strength, steadfast, purposeful, courage, and now wisdom. I needed to glean the knowledge of the other words first before I could truly embrace the word wisdom. 

That was a huge aha moment for me. A small dash of wisdom, which has altered how I look at myself, my writing journey, and my life.

That’s why choosing the word that fits where you are and where you want to go is so helpful.

Other thoughts about my word Wisdom

Did you know that my name Denise means wisdom?

Photo of card that states Denise means wise discerner with bible verse on it

When I found these cards amongst some old papers, it was quite the aha moment. The timing was right for me to select the word wisdom as my focus word.

Denise M. Colby

Because quotes are all about invoking wisdom, I have had to purposely search for quotes and phrases using the actual word wisdom in it, vs finding quotes related to wisdom itself. 

It took some time, but I found some. And they have helped me explore this word further.

I really like to study words and share what I learn.

And I’m excited to have a few more months to explore my focus word, wisdom.

I’m never really ready to let go of my words, which is why I’m thankful to have learned that the words you choose don’t really go away. They are a part of you, like building blocks, helping you grow into the person you are meant to be.

Last year I had so much on the word Courage, that I built a page dedicated to the word to put everything in one place.

I’d love to hear what have you learned about your focus word this year. Please share in the comments.

Blessings,

Denise

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