Finish Your Writing Projects: Make a Plan!

By Denise Miller Holmes, Director, Words for the Journey

I had an epiphany over the summer: I was tired of not finishing my projects, and I was lamenting my blogs that lay derelict along the roadside.

How could I change things?  I saw two things that I could do immediately that would revive my writing and make sure I finished my projects. Here they are:
Make a Plan
As soon as I realized my problem, I made an inventory of all my writing projects and blogs. There are a lot. I also had to add writing lessons for my writers group –at least one a month.
Whew. The list looked daunting, but before I caved to feeling overwhelmed, I saw one bright dot on the horizon–I could make a schedule.
Okay, for some people that’s a no-brainer, but I had gotten out of the habit of scheduling my time, and was letting life take over. I felt like I was just putting out fires.
Books, short stories, and blogs do not write themselves. You must plan them.
In order to make yourself feel like you can breathe, make sure you make a schedule that allows you to accomplish your goals for that day.  In other words, don’t over-pack your time. Give yourself realistic goals for each day.
In that vein, when you work your schedule, pay attention to what feels like too much. For instance, I found out that on several of my blogs, weekly blogging made me feel overextended, so I’ve reduced one blog  to twice a month and one to once a month. The main blog I will write for weekly.
So feel free to test your plan, but once it’s right, stick to it like tar on a roof.
Write First Thing in the Morning!
I read an article over the weekend about what successful people do first thing. First of all, statistically, successful people get up early. It’s just a fact. The next thing they do is exercise. And the next thing they do is…work. They start right away tackling their projects.
Now here’s an important detail–what successful people don’t do when they first get up is check their emails or Facebook or Twitter. They delay those tasks and instead they work on their projects!
I see why this makes people successful. Those other things are time suckers that take away the time we can be writing. And yet, when I make sure I write first and delay emails/Facebook until later, I somehow get my writing done and all the emails and Facebook tasks as well.
Just Do It!
Both the above points together say one thing: make your writing a priority. If you don’t, it won’t happen. As writers, we all need to combat the mystical force of Resistance, sit our butts in our chair, and quote Captain Jean-Luc Picard when he said, “Make it so!”
This blog post was originally posted on Red-Hot Writing Tips under the title Just Do It: Make a Plan and Stick to It
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Member Accomplishments, June 2013

Member Terri Michel has just released her book Tales in a Bottle. Congratulations Terri. You can go to Amazon and buy her book there.

Also, Terri is hosting a book signing of her new book this Sunday, June 9th, 2013, at the 8th Annual Taste of Puerto Rico at Stapleton Central Park, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Terri would love to see you come to her book signing and to experience the exotic atmosphere of the festival. She would also appreciate your prayers for good weather and lots of sales!

For general info and parking instructions for the festival, go here

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Member Accomplishments, January 2013

Congrats to Diane Shaw for her story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us. This anthology is available on Amazon right now!

And many kudos to Bonnie Doran for her book trailer for her new book Dark Biology, now posted on YouTube!

We are all so proud of both of you! 

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Writing Opportunity: James Stuart Bell’s New Anthology

James Stuart Bell is asking for submissions for his next anthology, Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters 2

The following is a letter from him describing the opportunity along with where to send for detailed guidelines.

Dear Contributor,
You may recall my role as editor for story collections such as: A Cup of Comfort, Life Savors, Extraordinary Answers to Prayer, and Love is a Verb. At present I am putting together a sequel volume of stories that will follow Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters, published by Bethany House Publishers in the first half of 2012.
The content will be similar to the original volume. The supernatural realm consisting of God and His angels, as well as evil spirits, is ever present in our midst. On rare occasions this realm becomes visible or we see its direct effects that can in no way be explained in the natural realm. These stories will cover the gamut of supernatural encounters: from supernatural miracles including physical healing, angelic visitations, near-death experiences of the afterlife, manifestations of evil, apparitions, and miraculous rescues. For the sake of authenticity, we are interested only in first-hand accounts in the first person. The stories need to go beyond subjective or speculative interpretations of events and be as concrete as possible, so if presented in a court there would be no human explanation of hard evidence.
We’ll consider original, unpublished stories from 1,000 to 2,000 words. The stories should have a creative title, an attention-grabbing introduction, main body with a conflict or challenge, and a clear, satisfying resolution. They need to be descriptive, rooted in time and place, with a realistic portrayal of the characters involved. They need to be substantive stories rather than mere testimonies or teachings, and the focus should not be on the supernatural realm alone, but rather the spiritual lesson learned. Please include a personal biography of 30 words or less at the end of each manuscript.
The book will be released by Bethany House Publishers sometime in 2014. Your manuscript will be due no later than July 1, 2013, but we would prefer it much earlier. Please send your manuscript attached to the e-mail rather than pasting text in the email window as a Word document. Send your manuscript in normal manuscript formatting, with your full contact information–name, address, phone number, and e-mail address on the actual manuscript, not just in your e-mail. We are offering a one-time fee of $50 for stories 1,500 words and over, and $25 for stories under that word count.
We will send you contracts upon the publisher’s acceptance and would need them back promptly. Payment will be made after all contracts have been received. Please direct all inquiries and manuscript submissions to my colleague, Jeanette Littleton, at  If this e-mail has been forwarded to you, and you can’t submit to this call, but would like to hear about other editorial needs as they arise, please send us your e-mail address and we’ll add you to our notification list.

Blessings to you and yours,

James Stuart Bell
Supernatural Stories (Bethany House)
A James Stuart Bell Project

Posted in Announcement

Member Accomplishments, December 2012

This month, Words for the Journey has two, count them two members who have projects up and available for sale!

Donna Lee Loomis wrote a piece for the anthology Grandmother, Mother and Me: Memories, Poetry, and Good Food, edited by Donna Clark Goodrich.

Robbie Iobst released her Joy-votion book called Joy Dance: 52 Joy-votions that Free your Heart to Grow in Jesus

Congratulate these members as soon as you see them. These are great accomplishments!

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National Novel Writing Month, Part 2: …Or Not to NaNo

By Chris Richards, Assistant Director

In part one, we explored reasons to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This blog is about reasons why not NaNo.

  1. I’m in the process of moving to another state. This actually didn’t happen to me, but a good friend was packing up her house during the month of November for a cross country move and tried to take the NaNoWriMo challenge. There just aren’t enough hours in a day to do both projects and still get a nap in the schedule.
  2. I’ve learned from experience it can drive me insane. I lose sleep. I have the pressure of a looming deadline. And worst of all, I willingly chose to put myself in that position.
  3. Every time a family member wants me to stop and do something, I give them “the look” and they roll their eyes thinking “She’s at it again.”
  4. I turn into a person who talks to complete strangers about my book and every interaction becomes a potential plot twist.
  5. I’m having major surgery. One year I tried to do NaNo at the same time I had gall bladder surgery. I know there have been writers who used drugs, but I’ve learned I am not an author who can do that.
  6. If you’re a writer who writes from a planned plot outline. As a “pantser” who likes to write from the “seat of my pants” I enjoy this format, but many of my writing friends who like to be more organized and have everything plotted out in advance find NaNo to be very hard and very frustrating.

So, think as you can see from these two posts, I can think of more reasons to NaNo than reasons not to. I encourage everyone to give it a try. For more information about NaNoWriMo, go to
This post is also posted on Chris Richards’ website Passing the Quill, under the title … Or Not to NaNo.

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National Novel Writing Month, Part 1: To NaNo, . . .

By Chris Richards, Assistant Director

It’s almost November and my writing friends and I are talking about NaNoWriMo.

For those who don’t know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. When I first learned about the challenge I thought “no way can I do this.” But thanks to my pushing, prodding, shoving, and daring friends, I finally tried it one year. After participating for several years, I’ve learned some good reasons to NaNo and some good reasons not to NaNo. This blog is why authors should NaNo.

  1. It teaches me to free my mind. Any good author edits his or her work. In fact we spend so much time editing it can become difficult to read anything or even to write without editing. The concept of NaNoWriMo is to just get the novel done. One of the primary instructions is to turn off my internal editor and just write. Editing comes later.
  2. It teaches me to meet deadlines. To write 50,000 words in 30 days requires writing an average of 1,667 words a day. Now I know many writers who are disciplined enough in their writing that this is not a problem but I have to work at it. Therefore, this is good training for me. The NaNoWriMo website includes a place for me to enter the number of words I’ve written so I can track my progress and know whether or not I’m on schedule.
  3. It helps me connect with other writers. Authors all over the world participate in NaNoWriMo and through the website I can connect with them and enjoy their company. Even throughout the year I find myself in situations where the topic of writing comes up and NaNoWriMo is mentioned. This leads to discussions of what various authors did or did not do, as well as wonderful stories of the adventures of the challenges of getting our word count completed midst the responsibilities and demands of life.
  4. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. The prize for completing the 50,000 words during the month is a certificate and a ribbon that can be posted on my website. That is pretty lame as prizes go. But I the emotions around completing are amazing. I print out the certificate, and jump up and down with joy as I show it to my husband and other members of my family and friends—and even some strangers who probably think I am very weird and they want to run away from me.
  5. I rediscover the sheer freedom of writing unrestrained.
  6. I let go and embrace the story.
  7. I create more than I ever thought possible.
  8. I feel like I’m part of something big and amazing which makes me feel powerful.
  9. I try things I’ve never tried before.

So this is why I NaNo. My next blog will be about why I have learned I shouldn’t NaNo.

This post is also posted on Chris Richards’ website Passing the Quill, under the title To NaNo . . .

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