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Do You Have What It Takes to Make the Long Haul?

**Due to Memorial Day I won't be posting on Monday. Have a great holiday weekend! See you Wednesday!

This week I finished writing my second contracted novel. I don’t have a firm title for it, so most of the time I call it Book #2. It’s the second book in my three book contract, but in the long line of books I’ve written it’s more like the eighth. It’s a whopping total of 95,000 words, 26 chapters plus an afterward.

Those who follow me on Twitter know I’ve pushed myself this past month to write 1000 words a day (with the exclusion of Sundays). And I’m happy to report I made that goal. For the month of May, I wrote 1000 or more words every day, except one day when I squeaked by with 400.

When I started writing Book #2 January 1, I originally gave myself the goal of 800 words a day. There were days I did more and many I did less. The important thing is that I made myself sit down every day and at least try—through sicknesses, busy kid activities, and countless distractions.

I logged a running total of my daily word count in the back of my plot notebook and that helped keep me on track. But what motivated me even more this past month was having accountability. A few writing friends—Natalie Bahm, Paul Greci, and Heather Sunseri—checked in with me on Twitter and spurred me to finish strong. Thanks, guys!

Knowing we have to report our progress to someone else can be a huge motivator in the daily struggle to meet our writing goals. Most of us are solitary workers, so it’s easy to slip into the habit of being sloppy. But when we have someone (or all of Twitterverse) watching what we’re doing, we’re more apt to discipline ourselves. No one likes to confess to failure.

I have to admit, now that I’m done with Book #2, I’ve had a case of jitters. I can’t help thinking, “Did I tell the story the best I could?” or “Will my editors like what I’ve come up with?” Of course they already gave their approval to my synopsis for Book # 2 before I started writing it. And in the meantime I’ve had the opportunity to talk through plot issues with them. I’m not stabbing in the dark, hoping I got the right story idea. But, even so, I’m plagued with self-doubt.

I just spent every spare minute over the past months writing Book #2. Now I’m facing attacks of insecurity, weeks of self-editing, then the pins-and-needle wait for my in-house editors to read it and give me their thoughts. After that they’ll compile mountainous rewrites, probably around the time I’ll need to vamp up marketing efforts on The Preacher’s Bride and start research on Book #3.

Some days when I think about the weight of all the responsibility and pressure, I wonder, “Am I nuts? What am I doing this for?” What’s the real reason any of us write—especially considering all the obstacles and headaches before AND after publication?

It’s certainly not for the glamour. Or the money. Or the fame. Because we all know how little of each there is.

There are a lot of people who write books and pursue publication. But what I’m discovering is that those who stick with it through the ups and downs usually have two qualities:

1. Passion: An inner burning need to tell a story. They delight in bringing stories to life and would love doing it even if publication ceased to exist.

2. Drive: The discipline to keep writing day after day, the determination to learn and grow, and the stamina to stand up against the hardships.

Passion and Drive. Maybe these aren’t the top qualities for every writer who sticks with writing for the long haul, but they’re certainly two that help define me.

What about you? Are you writing and pursuing publication for the long haul? What do you think are the top qualities of those who stick it out?


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