Answering YOUR Questions About In-House Edits (Part2)

Today I'd like to take the opportunity to answer a few more of your questions regarding the in-house editing I'm doing for my first contracted novel.

Jill Boyd asked: You finally started to research your second book, but now the edits have come. Do you have days where the ideas for book two just flow? And if so, do you leave the edits in order to work on that? How do you balance two different projects?

Most of you know Bethany House contracted me to write three books and that Book #2 is due to them by next fall. I've given myself the deadline of finishing by next summer. As Jill mentioned, I was in the beginning stages of researching and plotting Book #2. Then I got my rewrites back for Book #1 (The Preacher's Bride.)

For the past month, I've almost completely put aside Book #2, aside from the occasional biography that I can't put down (yes, I'm a history geek). Instead, I've focused all of my energy and time on making the rewrites for The Preacher's Bride.

If I had already started writing Book #2, then I think I would have continued to keep up with a basic amount of writing to keep the flow going. But since I'm still in the research phase, I can easily set it aside and focus entirely on getting the rewrites completed.

Cassandra Frear asked: How do you take care of yourself so that there is enough creative energy for writing effectively everyday?

The rewrite stage is intense. It demands a great deal of my energy and time, more so than writing the first draft of a novel. But because I know I only have about six weeks of this intensity and then I'm done (at least until the next edits come along!), I can sacrifice more of myself.

When I start writing Book #2, the best way for me to rejuvenate creative energy is to plunge myself into history. I told you I was a history geek! I find incredible inspiration from my musty stack of library books. All it takes is an interesting name to spark an idea or a unique event to start a plot thread.

Tamika asked: Does your family see a change in your writing load?

During the rewrite stage, my family knows I'm pouring more time and energy into my writing. They understand the rewrites are for a limited time, and that once I'm finished I will have time to do the Christmas shopping. I've reassured them, that yes, they will actually get presents under the tree. And now they're happy.

No, seriously, since getting my contract, I've talked with my family, specifically my children, about how my writing career will take more time and dedication than it has in the past. The new demands will require more from all of us. We've also talked about how God gives us all gifts and how we must use those gifts diligently and faithfully. I'm setting an example of that for them with my writing.

Christina Davis asked: How did you stay motivated and deadline-oriented BEFORE someone was counting on you, before you had a book deal?

The dream to become a published author has always been a HUGE motivator, and is in fact, what keeps most of us persevering against so many obstacles. We dream big, and we long for the day when we can kiss our name on the cover of a book.

But, we need more than dreams. We need self-discipline too. Fortunately I have the type of personality that doesn't have to work too hard at making goals and sticking to them. I usually give myself a daily word count goal and I don't go to bed until I meet it.

Mostly, however, before getting a contract, my biggest motivator was an absolute LOVE of my story. Once I start, I have a driving need to bring the story to a satisfying completion. It's almost like I'm reading my story and can't put it down until the last page.

What about you? How do you motivate yourself to stay dead-line oriented? I'd love to hear what inspires you to keep going!


  1. Hi, Jody. Wonderful answers as always! Love the Christmas gift promise. You are so a mom.

    What keeps me motivated? A desire to please and obey my Heavenly Father. Honestly, some days that's the only thing that picks me up off the floor and gets me writing. Other days, most days, it's pure joy to do as He asks.

  2. I think I'm probably a lot like you, Jody, in that it's not hard for me to find the discipline when I've committed to a particular goal. I wouldn't get out of bed so early in the morning or turn down some fun activity with a friend if I didn't love, love, love what I was doing. To stay motivated, I read. I read great books. I read fantastic blogs that inspire and encourage. And I write. Although I don't have agent, editor, publisher deadlines, I place deadlines on myself. I know that I must have my edits on my current manuscript complete before my next busy wave at the day job. That motivates me because I don't like to leave that story hanging. When you love what you're doing, you find a way, I guess.

  3. I wish some of that discipline would rub off on me! I can be very disciplined...on one thing at a time, it seems, and that's no good! I need more consistency.

  4. What is this thing you call self-discipline and where do I trap more of it? It seems to escape me when chocolate is around or editing is necessary. ;-)

  5. Most of my work is date oriented. "We need this by..." I find I'm not as disciplined if I have a date of "whenever". Whenever is a great procrastination trigger.

  6. This is a hard one! I am totally deadline oriented... but it's hard because the deadlines are my own and not someone elses, so they are slightly moveable.

    And sometimes I change my mind. Like I'd wanted to finish Mission Peeps this year but then I decided it needed to be set aside for a little while, so I started and finished a new book, which I had a deadline of Oct 31st on but ended up finishing a week later. I count that as a victory for a self-imposed deadline!

    At the moment, my motivator is the 2 fulls I have out with agents. I keep thinking, "What if they want to read this story... I need to get it done!"

    That, and I like a challenge, so beating my own deadline is kinda fun too:-)

  7. It's inspiring to hear how you balance edits vs. new manuscripts. Now, if I can be just like you ....
    lol ;)

  8. It's hard for me to stay motivated. I'll admit right now that compliments help me. I keep my little folder of compliments from contests, etc, and when I feel down about my writing, I'll pull it out. Feeling down is the biggest reason that I don't keep up with my writing. It might be a fear of failure thingy, not sure.
    I need to be more like Eileen and think about pleasing God with my writing.
    Thanks for the great answers! I love how you sat with your kids and talked about gifts. Awesome.

  9. My desire to serve the Lord in this manner is my big motivator. It helps to see my blogger buddies achieve their dreams. You're such an inspiration. I'm loving these posts so much. Thank you for keeping us in the loop during this process.

  10. I work much better with a deadling--either one given to me or by someone else. I again love that you look at your writing as a gif to be used and your family understands!

  11. Yay on the progress!

    I've always been a works best under deadline pressure person. That looming drop dead date (DDD) pushes all the other things tugging at me aside.

  12. I respect the way you explained your writing to your children, allowing them to see you "being" who you really are. I think in the long run, they will have a great respect for you and, very importantly, for themselves and the decisions they feel are right for them. Oh, and I am very itinerary-driven when working on projects, the written itinerary giving shape to the projects' progress.

  13. That's exactly it! LOVE FOR THE STORY as a motivating factor. Sadly, I don't love anything right now as much as I loved my first book...

    (Looking for my muse...)

  14. You know, it's weird. I'm actually feeling led to slow down. Achhakekalre. Not sure what that word was. But that's about how I feel knowing I need to take a step back and pace myself. I miss my characters. I want to help them and the story improve, but I need to sit still for a bit. Meanwhile, characters for novel 4 are banging at my door. Sheesh!

    I love reading about your journey, Jody!
    ~ Wendy

  15. Your blog always makes me smile. I love how you will have time to buy Christmas presents--ha! ha!

    You're always an inspiration too. I admire your dedication.

    I keep deadlines as much as possible. I set personal deadlines and break them down into daily and weekly goals. Reviewing my progress is a big motivator. If I thought I'd be further along, I work harder to make up for lost productivity.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your process with us!

  16. Jody, this is great! So much here, included within the larger topic, like the mothering thing. You make all of this so real for us, and I love how conscientious you are about all of it. Your tenacity and drive shine through and inspire us all. But...I am so glad you have Christmas to look forward to as well. What a great motivator in and of itself to drive yourself now to earn that much needed break. When you are staring at your blinking tree, looking at the Nativity scene with your family, breathing in Christ's birth and life and the love of family, it will all be worth the intensity now. Keep your eye on the prize!

  17. I love your posts, the give a real honest look into what it's like once you've received that book contract. Yes it's great, wonderful, and exciting, but also a lot of work.

  18. I think it's great that you set your own personal deadlines closer than the deadlines from your publisher. Very wise.

    There are lots of things that keep me motivated now - enough to create a whole blog post on (and I might). The main thing is finally believing that someday, I might be able to quit my day job and make a living off my writing. That's the driving force for me, and it's a big one. I'd keep writing even if I never make money, but that's what gets me in front of my keyboard every night after work.

  19. Thanks Jody for taking the time to answer my question and all the others. Your journey is waking up my zeal each time I read one of your posts.

    Pretend you never saw me...I'm suppose to be unplugged!

  20. Right now, I'm motivated by the desire to be finished with my rewrites before December. I plan on enjoying this holiday season, and I don't want my rewrites hanging over my head. I love that you said the revision process is more intense than the writing process. I'm finding this same thing. I'm glad to know it isn't just me.

  21. On my previous manuscript, I used an upcoming conference as my deadline. Even though I knew it wasn't publishable, it gave me a specific timeline to work towards. Plus I wanted to have it ready *just in case* I heard the magic words, "Send me the manuscript." I track all my time in a spreadsheet, so I outlined for each day what my scene goals were to get it done before the conference.

    Now that I'm starting manuscript #2, I'll probably use that technique again. I'm hoping to go to Mt. Hermon in March, so I'd like to have a solid manuscript drafted by then.

  22. Found you through Jen Chandler.... and am so so glad.
    What a fabulous, inspiring, encouraging , and integral blog you have here.
    I wish you so much luck with this stage of your writing , and beyond. I have 5 kids as well, although 2 are away at school, and have just started toying with the idea of writing...
    Thanks for all the information!!

  23. Deadlines bring out the competitive streak in me and competition surely motivates me. I need to go beyond the call and not only meet my deadline but beat it!

    Yea I'm totally aware that I am strange!

  24. Hi Jody -

    I admire your dedication and time management skills, Jody.

    For me, the motivation is born out of commitment. Once I make a quality decision, I'm like a bulldog and stay with it.

    Of course, getting to that place is not always easy.

    Susan :)

  25. Great post!
    I believe the only thing that motivates me to keep going with my writing is the longing to see a story finished. For me, there is nothing like looking at something you wrote and is allready finished and to know you made that happen, you did all the hard work you needed to do and now you can see the profits.
    Of course, I also believe, or at least dream of getting published one day, but I have plenty of time. =)

  26. Cool post!

    In my opinion, the best motivation to get myself to write is to think of the finished story. When I finish any piece of writing I contemplate it, and I love the feeling I get then: I like to know that I made that happen, I made those letters appear out on nowhere and with a lot of perseverance put my ideas together to create a piece of art (wow, and I am called modest, LOL).

    And someday I believe, or at least dream about getting published, but I have plenty of time for that. =)

  27. Loving my story is a HUGE one! The book I'm editing/rewriting right now I loved so much that I wanted to sit and write every day. Even editing was fun. Now it's a bit tiring, but I still love the story a lot and hope to see it go somewhere.

  28. Great question. Motivation is something that has to come from within anyway I think. If you aren't well motivated before a book deal I can't imagine how a book deal will change you into something you have not learnt to be. I am motivated by people like you Jody, who are living there dreams. I am motivated by my own dreams and desires and the will to not live a life that does not resemble me.

  29. Jody, you're really blessing and inspiring people on their journey by being so open with yours. It's greatly appreciated.

    I work better under deadlines, I think, but it doesn't take much to motivate me to get to the end of a novel. Reaching the end is reward enough most of the time!

    But what really inspires me? Concluding a character's story. Getting them from initial conflict or heartache to a greater relationship with God and fulfilling relationships with other characters.

  30. I LOVE that you're answering these questions. Love learning more about you and your journey! I've said it before, and I'll say it again, thanks for being so transparent and sharing!

    How do I stay committed? Same reasons as yours. I have the same personality. People have said I have a very disciplined personality. Once I establish a routine, I usually do a pretty good job sticking to it. My writing time is in the morning, and I make sure I write at least 1000 words before I get in the shower for work. Some days I enjoy a nice leisurely shower, and others I'm in and out with out hardly getting wet. Depends on how the words are flowing. :)

  31. Great post. I think one of the most important things you bring up is discussing it with the family. Too many writers, especially women, go the martyr route instead of sitting it down and saying, "This is what needs to be done. This is where I need your help. It doesn't mean I love you less, it means ALL our lives improve."

    For myself, I do 1K of fiction every morning before I start the day, whether I'm in revisions or not. I find keeping to that schedule keeps me focused for the rest of the day.

  32. Great answers. Appreciate your emphasis on self-discipline. Good work, Jody.

  33. These words tell it all: "Mostly, however, before getting a contract, my biggest motivator was an absolute LOVE of my story. Once I start, I have a driving need to bring the story to a satisfying completion. It's almost like I'm reading my story and can't put it down until the last page."

    It reminds me of something Annie Dillard wrote about writing, which I am still processing. Thanks for sharing with us.

  34. You are so very fortunate to have a personality that is disposed to self discipline. Mine would rather take off on flights of fancy and "poo-poo" the important things like agent research, perfecting my query, editing the novel in the computer, writing the next installment. You know. Stuff like that!

    Happy Thursday,

  35. Just so you know, I've left a little award for you over at my place. It is much deserved, as many here would agree :)


  36. I find it very difficult to stay focussed. In fact at the moment I have to do another round of revisions, just for my agent, before we know for sure my book is ready to be sent out to a round of publishers. It's harder at this point I think, because I have no guarantees. You at least have a contract and know that once you get through these revisions, you'll have a book in a few more months to show for it. I can easily get discouraged when I look at all the work I've already done and now have to do even more, and wonder if it's going to be worth it.

  37. Glad to hear the Christmas shopping will get priority in due time. ;)

    I seem to work most efficiently when I'm facing a deadline. I don't know if that means I'm self disciplined or if it's just easier to plow ahead when there's a specific destination. It's harder to stay focused if I have more than one project on the go at the same time, but if I isolate them into specific time slots, like making appointments (i.e., all morning for one and don't start on another until after the lunch break) the transition is smoother.

  38. I like how you find great inspiration from musty library books. As a librarian and writer, I, too find similar inspiration.

    To answer your question, I don't have hard deadlines yet as I'm without editor and heck, I don't even have a completed WIP yet, but like you said earlier, the drive to kiss my name on the cover of my someday published book keeps me going. That and simply, my love of writing.

  39. Great answers. I agree with you on love of story. That's what keeps me going as well.

  40. Oh I'm honored to have had my question chosen! Your answer was right on target. I am working on self-discipline. I set word count and page goals too. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. It's time, though, that I put the editing on the front burner and give it the attention it needs and deserves. Spoke to my husband about this on Monday, my frustration with time and never having enough of it. His suggestion? "Buck up, Bucky!" Love it.

    I completely agree with you on biggest motivator being LOVE of my story. I MUST get this story out. I know there is purpose in telling it and I don't mean the big bucks:)


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