At hope*writers, we’ve found that one of the main reasons writers struggle to make progress in their writing is not that they lack ideas, but that they’re doing all the right things in the wrong order. It can be difficult for writers to figure out their next steps when they’re lost in random advice found on the internet.
In our work supporting writers, we’ve found that there is a six-stage path to making progress in your writing life. The good news is, you’re already on it!
The purpose of the six-stage hope*writer path is to help you pause, take inventory of where you are, and give yourself permission to ignore all the other stuff for now. Do you recognize yourself in one of the following stages?
In this stage, you’ve begun to call yourself a writer. You’re focused on establishing a daily writing routine so you can write with confidence. In Stage 1, your goal is to practice your craft.
Goal-setting guru Lara Casey recently joined hope*writers to offer words of wisdom and grace for the writer with big dreams and a fuzzy idea of how to make them happen. Lara is a three-time author, the creator of the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner, and the founder and CEO of Cultivate What Matters.
She’s both a writer and an expert in grace-filled goal-setting of all kinds, so we asked her how we can apply her grace-filled goal-setting techniques to the writing life.
Lara shared three key tools that we can stick in our toolbox and use to structure our writing goals in a way that is both kind to ourselves and productive.
When she set out to write her first book, Make It Happen, Lara planned to write as much as one chapter a day. She soon realized this goal wasn’t realistic for her writing habits. Instead, she decided to embrace the power of little-by-little progress and adjusted her daily word...
When novelist Robin Jones Gunn began writing her second Christmas novella, she had already published fifty books in her decades-long career as a fiction writer. When Robin’s editor asked her to rewrite the book to include an element of romance, she leaned into the skills she’d honed as a professional writer and produced a fresh manuscript.
Robin rewrote the book four times before it finally went to publication, and she jokingly says she hoped to never see the book again after spending so much time developing the story. She moved on to her next project and didn’t think about the novella again until the Hallmark Channel showed interest in developing her Christmas novellas into a movie for the holiday season.
Over the next few years, Hallmark filmed three Christmas movies based on Robin’s books, and each movie became the most-watched and highest-rated film that year.
Hope*writers spoke with Robin specifically about writing fiction, and she shared her...
Allison Fallon, author and writing coach, believes a daily practice of writing is beneficial for everyone, whether or not they consider themselves a writer.
“Writing is not an elite activity. Writing is communication and self-discovery, writing is spirituality, writing is curiosity, writing is exploration. Writing is a human instinct.” — Allison Fallon
Based on her experience working with writers, Allison offers a tried-and-true method for developing a daily writing habit. It applies to those of us in the early stages of exploration as well as seasoned writers who struggle with creating and clarifying content.
Allison sat down with hope*writers to share her thoughts on writing, plus her favorite prompt to help writers get writing on a regular basis.
Research shows that all of us can benefit from a daily writing practice, whether or not we call ourselves writers. Writing regularly for twenty minutes a day has been...
How do we live a soulful life in a world of media overwhelm, hustle, and increasing complexity? This is the question author John Eldredge answers for hope*writers in our conversation about how to care for the soul of a writer. An author of multiple books, John discovered that his writing suffered when he didn’t pay attention to his own needs during the writing process. He realized how easy it is to live in the shallows of life, moving from one thing to the next, while forgetting to care for his heart.
As writers, we have to be especially intentional and deliberate about soul care so that we have something to offer the world out of the wellsprings of our own lives. John recommends three practices for healing your writer’s heart if you’ve been swept up in the hustle of life.
When the pace of life and the constant barrage of information overwhelm us, beauty is good medicine. It heals, nourishes, and calms the soul, while also awakening...
Author Felicity Hayes-McCoy's latest novel, The Transatlantic Book Club released in November 2020.
When writer Felicity Hayes-McCoy senses a block in her focus while writing, she checks in with her body by asking herself, “What are my toes doing?” If she discovers her toes are tense or clenched, she realizes she is writing from a place of fight-or-flight. Tense toes indicate that a writer has given too much power to the rules of writing.
A strict adherence to the rules of writing without the freedom to explore may contribute to a case of writer’s block. Writing isn’t about getting it right or trying harder. Instead, Felicity recommends writers try soft instead.
Trying soft, or being kind to yourself as a writer, is an act of generosity to your inner artist. Being kind to ourselves allows us to approach our work with reverence for ourselves and for the work by eliminating the pressure we may feel as we...
Growing a robust platform through online marketing is most often a task associated with nonfiction writers. However, novelist Katherine Reay believes this is the job of the fiction writer as well.
In a conversation with hope*writers, Katherine gives novelists the following advice, based on her own personal experience, for growing platforms and building a loyal readership.
When it comes to a strong social media following, a large subscriber list, or other marketing metrics, the starting line is the same for all of us. No one has a built-in platform, and all writers have to work hard to build a following or readership from scratch.
Rather than waste headspace lamenting a small beginning, we can embrace our platforms for what they are right now while still holding on to hope for growth. Our modest beginnings will grow as we continue to build our platforms with equal parts fun, effort, and strategy.
A common lament among writers is how difficult it can be to maintain a regular rhythm of writing. For many of us, our attention is pulled in multiple directions with various commitments to our day jobs, families, marketing tasks, or community responsibilities. These are often good and necessary diversions from our writing work; however, if we want to make progress as a writer, we need to develop and stick to a plan.
The key to finishing your work is simple, but it’s not easy. Hope*writers asked children’s author S. D. Smith how he commits to deep work.
He encourages writers to “stop not writing” and offers the following tips on how you can commit to your own rhythm of writing.
We are finite, and so are the hours in our day. Our energy and focus are limited, and no two writers have the same inner or outer resources. By recognizing our personal limitations as well as our strengths, we’re able to make informed decisions about...
As a ghostwriter, nonfiction author, and novelist, Shawn Smucker has a lot of experience collaborating with others. In his own work, he makes it a regular practice to invite others into the editing process by asking beta readers to read his manuscript before the final draft is written.
In an interview with hope*writers, Shawn shares some of his pro tips for finding readers who can help spot a manuscript’s weaknesses before it goes to press. Beta readers can be an integral part of the writing process for any author.
The first step in choosing beta readers is deciding how many readers to ask. Recommendations vary among writers, but Shawn suggests asking between three and five readers who belong to your target audience for their feedback. The more readers involved, the more widely the opinions will vary. With too many beta readers, it can be difficult to find a consensus on what needs revising in your manuscript.
There are three important...
When serving as a fiction judge for the Christianity Today Book Awards, the number one skill author Sarah Arthur looks for in a winning writer is great writing. The definition of “great writing” is, of course, subjective, but as avid readers and writers ourselves, most of us have a sense for what is mediocre, good, and great when it comes to storytelling.
One key to great writing is the ability to edit and revise your own work with fresh eyes. We can aim for great work by putting Sarah’s top five tips for revision into practice.
Some writing experts recommend writing a terrible first draft in order to quickly get your words on the page, leaving the bulk of the editing for later. This may work for some, but it can also build poor habits and train us to write badly from the beginning.
If we give the first draft our best effort, we will inevitably become better writers through our commitment to excellence...