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Hey, everyone!  I'm looking for a bit of advice and know that I'll get plenty of insight from my friends at Christian Writers.  So, here's the question...  What do you do to stay accountable concerning the task of writing?  I'm especially thinking in terms of finishing a book manuscript.  I've begun at least four books now, but have abandoned each of them.  Do I need an accountability partner to hold my proverbial "feet to the fire"?  Is there some other strategy I'm not thinking about?  Any help is appreciated!  

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I write a lot of devotions, but am trying to write a nonfiction book.  I feel like my writing is pretty "compact", not too wordy, which makes it difficult for me to write long pieces.  Anyway, thanks for the response.  I appreciate it.  It makes sense.

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51 minutes ago, Chuck Kralik said:

Do I need an accountability partner to hold my proverbial "feet to the fire"? 

If you think you'd work well with something like that, it might be a good idea. 

51 minutes ago, Chuck Kralik said:

Is there some other strategy I'm not thinking about? 

You could try an outline.  That way you'd know when you're finished.  Or you could decide on a set number of words you'll write per day.  I know that helps a lot of people.  I think the key is to work on your project every day.  Consistency is key :) 

 

Hope that helps!

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5 minutes ago, Chuck Kralik said:

I guess I'm mostly just lacking the discipline to complete my work.

Keep at it!  You'll get there!

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Like @HK1 and @carolinamtne, just keep writing. What ever helps you to do it, do that. Everyone is different. I don;t always write everyday, but when I do ...  LOL No maybe set a certain amount of time just for writing. an hour a day, week, month whatever works best for you. The short stories may be best. Or perhaps a set of devotionals about a particular subject for a small collection to publish.

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ok, this is coming from an unpublished author who has completed short stories, but is still working on longer ones.  I find these questions apply to me.  maybe they do to you, too. do you get bored very easily? do you get easily distracted? are you stopping at a slow point in your stories and picking up on another story? is it difficult for you to find the time and quietness you need to write?  are you a little bit scared of what to do with them and how to tackle the  technology and social media to get them out there once they are done?  if the answers to any of these questions is "Yes", you might be able to pinpoint your problem and develop a strategy to conquer it.

 

I read where a famous author, don't remember who, worked on one book in the mornings and another in the afternoons.  of course that would only work if he didn't have an outside job or pressing family needs.

 

short stories are easier, especially if there is so little time to devote to writing.  but writing, no matter what kind it is, is definitely a commitment.  how are you at working out a schedule and sticking to it, including letting family and friends know when not to contact you and shutting off your phone?

 

you might ask yourself why you want to write the books.  for instance, I really love my stories.  they are my gift to God and my way of witnessing.  aside from that, I am 66 yrs old.  I don't want to be cleaning toilets for a living for the rest of my life. I need to be a full time writer and artist to the point it almost hurts.  that's what really drives me to find time each week to work on my books.  is there a compelling reason that would make you finish your work?

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Hi, Becky.  This is a lot to think about.  I like your idea of getting to the root of what is or isn't motivating me to write the book(s).  I do have plenty of time, I think, despite being a full-time pastor.  Thanks for your response!

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You are welcome. what an honored profession. :D  just as God is blessing the works of your hands when you write your sermons, he will bless them in your other writing ventures, too.  God keeps his promises, remember? :D  Deuteronomy 28:12

 

have you thought about including a little of the subject matters from your books (if applicable) in your sermons and seeing what the reaction is from your congregation?  their response may be what your soul needs to pursue your books.  then, if you tell certain members your dreams, their on going encouragement may be your motivation.

 

just a side note--I wrote one of my favorite short stories from a funny, but memorable analogy the Holy Spirit gave to one of my old pastors in a sermon.  I have no doubt I was suppose to hear it that day and, after getting the pastor's permission, apply it to paper.

 

God's blessings tomorrow as you preach.

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Thank you, Becky!  My writing has definitely bolstered my sermons and vice-versa.  I get a lot of great feedback and encouragement from folks who have read my material.  Just need to get after it, I guess.

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Start a blog. Then give daily or weekly updates about your writing journey.  It will help you keep accountability. And you might gain interested people following you.

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17 hours ago, Chuck Kralik said:

I write a lot of devotions, but am trying to write a nonfiction book.  I feel like my writing is pretty "compact", not too wordy, which makes it difficult for me to write long pieces.  Anyway, thanks for the response.  I appreciate it.  It makes sense.

I've written articles before. I'm working on a series of novels now, but can't say I've ever written long nonfiction. (Even managed to go through college without ever having to write more than 17 pages double-spaced. :$) So this is something I can suggest from my experience that may, or may not, apply to you.

 

I write as long as is needed to get the point across. If it's a simple, easy-to-understand point, that means it's a simple, easy-to-understand article/short story. If it is more complex, the writing gets longer. Super complex and... well, let's just say that's why I'm writing a heptalogy. The story demands it. But a bridle I will never put in my mouth is to decide on the size of what I'm writing, and then go for that length. Let what you have to say determine the length of the writing. Never let length dictate your choices.

 

If what you're writing is 75 pages? Okay, let it be 75 pages. I get that's too long for an article and too short for a book, but anymore or any less defeats the purpose of your writing at all.

 

A.W. Pink did too-short-for-a-book, and they're still books. He also did too-long, and they're still books.

 

And if those writings are connected? That can be "the book." Pulpit Commentary proves that's doable. James Boice did it. G. Campbell Morgan did it.

 

And other advice to turn up that fire under you a bit. How important are these writings to you? If you're just testing the water and seeing if you can write longer, don't. If you really need to write it, do.

 

You're a pastor, so I'm assuming you understand deadlines for getting your sermons ready. Because of that, you already know how to add your own fuel to this fire. Set a date to get-'er-done. You know how to motivate you, or you would have a history of standing at the pulpit every so often and telling the parishioners, "Meh. Got nothing." (I am now chuckling at that one, because I'm imagining my pastors doing that.) And if you get side tracked because someone in your church needs counseling, or simply a compassionate ear, well, count that as your version of sick-days, and reset your deadline to accommodate sick-days.

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3 hours ago, Bob Leone said:

Start a blog. Then give daily or weekly updates about your writing journey.  It will help you keep accountability. And you might gain interested people following you.

Great advice, Bob! I do have a website that has my devotional blogs and a little bit of other information. I have included writing progress on that blog, but may start doing that.  Thanks again!

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2 hours ago, Spaulding said:

I've written articles before. I'm working on a series of novels now, but can't say I've ever written long nonfiction. (Even managed to go through college without ever having to write more than 17 pages double-spaced. :$) So this is something I can suggest from my experience that may, or may not, apply to you.

 

I write as long as is needed to get the point across. If it's a simple, easy-to-understand point, that means it's a simple, easy-to-understand article/short story. If it is more complex, the writing gets longer. Super complex and... well, let's just say that's why I'm writing a heptalogy. The story demands it. But a bridle I will never put in my mouth is to decide on the size of what I'm writing, and then go for that length. Let what you have to say determine the length of the writing. Never let length dictate your choices.

 

If what you're writing is 75 pages? Okay, let it be 75 pages. I get that's too long for an article and too short for a book, but anymore or any less defeats the purpose of your writing at all.

 

A.W. Pink did too-short-for-a-book, and they're still books. He also did too-long, and they're still books.

 

And if those writings are connected? That can be "the book." Pulpit Commentary proves that's doable. James Boice did it. G. Campbell Morgan did it.

 

And other advice to turn up that fire under you a bit. How important are these writings to you? If you're just testing the water and seeing if you can write longer, don't. If you really need to write it, do.

 

You're a pastor, so I'm assuming you understand deadlines for getting your sermons ready. Because of that, you already know how to add your own fuel to this fire. Set a date to get-'er-done. You know how to motivate you, or you would have a history of standing at the pulpit every so often and telling the parishioners, "Meh. Got nothing." (I am now chuckling at that one, because I'm imagining my pastors doing that.) And if you get side tracked because someone in your church needs counseling, or simply a compassionate ear, well, count that as your version of sick-days, and reset your deadline to accommodate sick-days.

Thank you, Spaulding!  I really appreciate all the suggestions.  Especially helpful is your advice on book manuscript length.  Thanks again!   

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Posted (edited)

Some helpful ideas:

 

i). Find a publisher. They'll hold you accountable to the agreement you signed with them. The income we make or the recognition we acquire by being published is a strong motivator to many of us. 

 

ii). Find a co-author. He/ she will keep you accountable to your part of the deal.

 

iii). Write it as a letter to a person you most respect or love. You won't dare to disappoint the person you most love/ respect, or they will nag you to send them the next installment and then the next. But make sure that you'll always end your letter at the most suspenseful moment. The push (love/ respect for the other person) and pull (the suspense you create) work as strong motivators. 

 

iv). Would there be any literary magazine which accepts serial novels? Many famous works were started and finished as serial installments. 

 

v). First visualize the whole plot. Then write the first chapter. Next write the last chapter.  The outcome of the last chapter must be a surprise/ intriguing/ teaching, etc., so that it will motivate you to work on the middle chapters as  intriguing ladders rushing to the grande finale. 

This to work as intended, you need a plot outline. The outline helps you to fill the middle sections. Do not worry you can later tweak the first and last chapters. 

 

Good luck!!

Edited by Teddy
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I teach a freshman orientation class at the local community college and therefore talk a lot about procrastination. I've found that a lot of what I tell students to help with overcoming procrastination has been really helpful with discipline for writing. My favorite tip is the Pomodoro technique. For this, you set a timer for 25 minutes (don't look at a clock). Spend those 25 minutes doing nothing but writing--don't text, surf the web, eat, or even use the restroom. After 25 minutes, if you want, you can take a 5 minute break before getting back to it. Honestly, I'm always amazed at what I can accomplish if I focus, and I often get in the zone and can write much longer once I've had that focused beginning.

 

Also, write or do something for your book every day. Even if you just write about writing your book. I've found it really helpful to sit down and write things like "I don't know what to write next. What if I wrote this? No, that wouldn't work. Oh, but maybe this would." or "I'd really like to have this happen or focus on this, and I think that if I do x I can make it happen." It's a way of staying immersed in my book even when I'm stuck, and I don't get to let myself off the hook just because I don't know what to write.

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8 hours ago, Teddy said:

Some helpful ideas:

 

i). Find a publisher. They'll hold you accountable to the agreement you signed with them. The income we make or the recognition we acquire by being published is a strong motivator to many of us. 

 

ii). Find a co-author. He/ she will keep you accountable to your part of the deal.

 

iii). Write it as a letter to a person you most respect or love. You won't dare to disappoint the person you most love/ respect, or they will nag you to send them the next installment and then the next. But make sure that you'll always end your letter at the most suspenseful moment. The push (love/ respect for the other person) and pull (the suspense you create) work as strong motivators. 

 

iv). Would there be any literary magazine which accepts serial novels? Many famous works were started and finished as serial installments. 

 

v). First visualize the whole plot. Then write the first chapter. Next write the last chapter.  The outcome of the last chapter must be a surprise/ intriguing/ teaching, etc., so that it will motivate you to work on the middle chapters as  intriguing ladders rushing to the grande finale. 

This to work as intended, you need a plot outline. The outline helps you to fill the middle sections. Do not worry you can later tweak the first and last chapters. 

 

Good luck!!

Thank you, Teddy!  All great advice.  I appreciate it so much!

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7 hours ago, yowordworm said:

For this, you set a timer for 25 minutes (don't look at a clock). Spend those 25 minutes doing nothing but writing--don't text, surf the web, eat, or even use the restroom. After 25 minutes, if you want, you can take a 5 minute break before getting back to it. Honestly, I'm always amazed at what I can accomplish if I focus, and I often get in the zone and can write much longer once I've had that focused beginning.

I like all of your comments!  This will be especially helpful to me.  Thank you!

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Thank you, all, for the great advice and tips!  I'm inspired and motivated now more than ever.  I appreciate you all!

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11 hours ago, Chuck Kralik said:

Thank you, Teddy!  All great advice.  I appreciate it so much!

"for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory." (Proverb 24: 6)

 

Now that you've received a multitude of counsel (or, you can wait for a few more), then enter your prayer/ meditation chamber. Ask the Holy Spirit which one of these counsels He will say you must follow. 

 

Have God as your partner. Make the Holy Spirit your co-author. Then not only your work will be inspired, but He will also motivate you and give you energy day-by-day. He will also open the right doors at the right time to get your work to the press, to the market, and on the desk of reviewers. 

 

God bless you and guide you as you seek His face.

 

 

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