I was honored to be featured on “The Readers Blog” yesterday. If you’re an aspiring author but have hit a dry spell in your writing, perhaps some of these tips I offer may help.
Click here to read the article on my friend KyLee’s site.
And here’s the article in its entirety:
Hello there, I’m an indie author from the great Pacific Northwest, and I write under the pen name of Dawn V. Cahill. I began my self-publishing journey on Kindle Direct, then branched out to Smashwords. I’m here to share a little of my journey and some words to encourage you on yours!
First, let me tell you a little about my books. My “brand” is Hot Topic Fiction. As my website describes it, the characters in my stories face situations that would have been unthinkable twenty years ago. We live in a vastly different world than our parents did, and that’s the world I write about. “Hot Topic Fiction” isn’t afraid to explore the question, how does God want us to live out our faith in this not-so-brave new world? Without insulting the reader by offering pat or easy answers–because there aren’t any–HTF tells stories of ordinary Christians following hard after Christ in an upside-down world.
A few summers ago at a writers’ conference, I met an agent who showed interest in my debut novel, Sapphire Secrets, and asked me to send the entire manuscript. Excited, I did so, and concluded that, although not a guarantee that she would take me on as a client, it meant my writing was good enough to draw attention from a publishing professional. A few weeks later, I received her response. She did enjoy my story, but unfortunately the edgy factor made her decline. But by then, I’d gotten enough positive feedback, lifted enough “what-now” prayers to the Lord, that I felt it was time to go ahead and indie publish. I had heard of too many wannabe published authors who had been waiting for years for either a book deal from a trad publisher, or even an agent to pitch for them. I’m the kind of person who goes after what I want, and I didn’t want to wait untold months to get my story out there. So the DIY option turned out to be the perfect solution for someone like me.
Some new authors find that after their debut hits the market, burnout can strike. After all, writing is hard work, and takes a lot out of you. What if you become weary of it all? I would say, a mini-sabbatical might be just what you need to infuse new life into your writing. Put away your manuscript for, say, a week, along with your writing books and your writer loops, and just read some good Christian books. This will give your mind a rest from the strain of putting words on paper…er, screen. There’s nothing like a mental break that can revive a weary writer. As long as you stick with the time-frame you’ve promised yourself.
When I need inspiration, or I’m “stuck”, a hike up my favorite mountain trail almost always gets those brain juices aflowin’. I’ve had some of my best “epiphany” moments on a mountain trail. Now, not everyone has access to a mountain trail. But do you have a happy place, or a favorite outdoor spot, that calms and soothes you? A place where you feel close to the Lord? Meditate on His presence, and wait for His reviving touch!
“What about those lazy days when I’d rather do anything else but write?” you may be asking. Here’s where an accountability partner can give you that push you need. I encourage you to make some goals and share them with that person. Another place to find accountability is through ACFW’s Novel Track. When I make a monthly goal and make it known to my fellow loopers, I write a lot more than I would have without them. Accountability is key!
For you perfectionists out there… A long time ago, I resigned myself to the reality that I’ll never achieve perfection. Instead, I downgraded to “excellentist,” which is, unlike perfection, attainable. The more we keep learning, the closer we get to excellence. Fortunately, the resource reservoir for writers is full to bursting! Nearly to the point of information overload, in fact. Before I finished my first novel, I took an online fiction-writing course from a well-known Christian author. If you have the monetary resources to do so, it’s a smart move. If not, I highly recommend one or two novel-writing books which contain exercises to hone your skills. Also, join a writers group—local or national—if you haven’t already, and get plugged into a critique group. I can’t tell you how valuable other authors’ feedback is. They spot things we can’t see ourselves. For me, entering writing contests generated additional feedback. Before I published my first book, I entered about five contests for unpublished authors, and it seemed that in each one I received better scores and more favorable comments than the last one. It was encouraging to track how much I’d improved! If not for professional coaching, I doubt my debut novel, Sapphire Secrets, would have received the glowing reviews that it did!
If you want to know more about me and my books, come visit my website at www.dawnvcahill.com/mybooks. Thank you for sharing my journey today.