Friday, October 18, 2013

Prepare Yourself for Success: Gaining Confidence

with guest Cheryl St. John.

Along their writing journeys it’s not uncommon for writers to struggle with confidence. We all wonder if we have the stuff it takes. As beginners we wonder if we have an inkling of talent. Once our talent is validated by other writers and readers, we still wonder if it’s good enough, if we have what it takes. It’s good to acknowledge that we don’t know it all and to have a desire to learn and grow, but doubt can hold us back. We shoot ourselves in the foot by creating and feeding feelings of inadequacy. One of the things we can do to build confidence is to recognize and overcome self-defeating behaviors, like negative self-talk. Negative thinking can be detrimental to our performance, make us doubt ourselves and inhibit our creativity. Don’t ever demean an accomplishment by saying or thinking, “I was just lucky" or "Anyone could have done it."

Confidence is often built by setting and achieving goals, so it’s pretty important how we choose to set goals and measure them. Short term and long terms goals should be realistic and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting a goal like, “I will be published by this time next year.” Unless you’re independently publishing, a goal like that is out of your control, and the result will leave you feeling helpless or like a failure. Set goals with smaller measurable steps. A long term goal might be to produce a polished product for submission with the next ten months. Then set short term goals to make it happen: Two new pages a day or two hours of writing a day for example. Take an online class or find a critique partner.

"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." – William Shakespeare

Most of us were raised in a competitive and comparative environment, where our achievements were profiled and graphed into percentiles, where we were matched against our peers as a gauge to see how we were doing. It’s no wonder so many of us have self-esteem issues and doubts about our abilities. Thank goodness teachers, counselors and parents have learned to work in teams to choose learning methods suitable for children of all capabilities. Now students are treated as individuals and encouraged to learn at their own speed and in the manner best suited for them. Comparing ourselves to others can lead to frustration and inferiority. Someone always appears to be doing better than we are, selling more books, getting more awards, earning more money. Admire them, congratulate them, but focus on your own achievements.

Sometimes we make mistakes. Occasionally a project crashes and burns. Sometimes we have to do something wrong before we figure out how to do it right. And that’s okay—as long as we’re moving forward.

Be willing to make mistakes. I’ve known writers who never got started because they’re always planning, plotting and talking about the book instead of putting words on pages. There are writing students who read every book on the craft and attend hundreds of workshops and conferences and ask questions and take notes and plan, plan, plan. A lot of people want to be writers. Fewer people actually put words on paper.

Being unprepared can leave us feeling inadequate, so reading, attending workshops and staying informed on the craft of writing and the market is another way to help us feel prepared, but a writer moves beyond study to doing.

It’s good to be teachable and eager to learn, but until there are words on paper, it’s impossible to truly learn the craft. The people who don’t get that far want everything to be perfect before it gets on the page—or they want it to come out perfect on the first try, so they wait until they’re good enough. But guess what? It ain‘t gonna happen. Learn from your mistakes. This might sound simple, but if one method didn’t work, try a different one. You can’t expect a different result from the same behavior.

We must be willing to write badly in order to learn to write well. I have a question I ask myself about everything I consider. When I had the inspiration and inclination to write a non-fiction book on writing, I asked the question: “What’s the worst that could happen?”

·        My agent could hate the idea. She loved it.

·        I could learn midway through that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I learned just the opposite.

·        I could get an impersonal rejection stamped NOT FOR US. I didn’t.

Even if our dream publisher hadn’t wanted to become involved with the project, my time would not have been wasted. I would have shown myself I could put together a professional package that reflected years of experience and I would have produced something upon which to improve. 

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”          - Peter T. Mcintyre

I’ve been a worship leader for quite a few years, and I always say to my team of singers, “If you’re going to make a mistake, make it with confidence, and so one will know you didn’t intend it that way.” I have been known to sing the wrong notes or words, but I sing them with such authority that everyone follows along. Confidence grows with practice and with maturity.

So I have a how-to-write book being released next month. It’s a pretty big deal. It was a lofty goal to write an instructional book, but I’d been leading workshops and teaching online classes for years, and I had a lot of encouragement from other writers, which built my confidence in my ability. Writing this type of book was something I’d thought about for a long time. It was as big of a step as writing or submitting my first book. My long term goal was to submit it for publication. My short term goals involved gathering my notes and thoughts, preparing the proposal and getting feedback.

The editor of Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict, Rachel Randall, told me I should be proud of this project. And I am because I had the courage to follow through and the confidence to believe in its worth. In this business we don’t always receive recognition for intrinsic value. We should all believe that our value lies inside of us, not in our performance or the size of our royalty checks.  Some things can’t be measured. What makes one book better than the next or one writer better than another? Only perspective. Only the reader, when you get right down to it.

No one can tell you whether or not you’re going to sell a book, publish fifty more or have financial success. There are no guarantees when we start writing, and that lack of assurance can be frustrating. That’s why it’s imperative to grow our confidence in ourselves.

Submitting a book can test our vulnerabilities. A manuscript will be compared to all the others that cross an editor’s desk. It will be scrutinized for its ability to make the publishing house money in the marketplace—bottom line in this business. The only way we can have the confidence to know we’re submitting something with a chance of making it past that test is to learn our craft and practice, practice, practice. Work at writing and work at it until we get better, until we hit our personal stride.

Confidence is gained by successfully completing a task and recognizing the accomplishment—repeatedly. By acknowledging a success, your brain processes, "I can do this again." We can’t nurture confidence if we don’t recognize or even appreciate what we’ve done.

Don’t look at a project as too large. Break it down into steps and accomplish them one at a time. If it’s helpful, record your page/time goals and accomplishments in your planner. Check them off as you reach and overtake each one.

Celebrate every achievement along the way. Have a chapter one achievement award party or treat yourself to something special for milestones reached. Give yourself fun stickers or hearts on your daily planner—something visual to note progress.

“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it." - Lou Holtz

Confidence is conditioned behavior.  Many years ago a study was done at the University of Wisconsin. A scientist tied a mouse’s front feet together and placed the animal into the cage of another mouse. The mouse whose cage was being trespassed easily beat up the mouse with its feet tied.

After that happened several times, the scientist put mice without tied feet into the cage. The mouse who’d won repeatedly was so confident by then that it took on and defeated mice even larger than itself. Under ordinary circumstances, that mouse would have run when it saw a larger opponent, but it had been conditioned until it believed it couldn't lose.

Condition yourself. Speak about yourself in positive terms. Set achievable goals and visualize reaching them. Surround yourself with supportive, encouraging people. Embrace mistakes as learning curves. Congratulate yourself every step of the way and celebrate your successes. Acknowledge and appreciate the beauty and talent in you, and be thankful for what you have. A positive attitude is a powerful tool.

Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict releases the end of November so it is not available for a giveaway today so, for today, leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a kindle copy of Cheryl St.John's classic romance Land of Dreams.

Today's highly competitive fiction market requires writers to imbue their novels with that special something - an element that captures readers' hearts and minds. In Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict, writers will learn vital techniques for writing emotion into their characters, plots and dialogue in order to instill that special something into every page.

"...essential knowledge and practical exercises which combined, create a tool-kit that no aspiring author can afford to be without. Everything you need to write your novel can be found in these pages." 
    - Kelly L. Stone, author of THINKING WRITE: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind
Wow! Where was this book when I started my writing career?

"A must-have compilation of rock-sound advice from a writer who knows what she's talking about. A book you'll want to inhale whole and then return to time and time again to improve your craft and go deeper in order to write YOUR story. Not only does this book embrace some of the most complex elements of story construction in a clear, easy to digest format, it acts as inspiration for the writer. Sentence upon sentence of outstanding advice!"

- Mary Buckham, author of the Amazon best-selling WRITING ACTIVE SETTINGS series for writers.


  1. bless us! I love how you mentor other writers so they can get their stories into my greedy little hands! Thanks for sharing. I'll come back when Helen has the coffee on!

  2. Welcome to Seekerville and congratulations on your book on emotions. I'll certainly look for it in November.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Cheryl,

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on your books.

    I am an emotional writer.

    Oh wait, we're talking characters right?


    I suppose I could learn to gain a better balance on my confidence. Sometimes I feel like an invisible writer.

    I do like the celebrating on completion although, I should probably not do it after every sentence.


    Like the quotes. Couldn't agree with William more.

    "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." – William Shakespeare

    Appreciate your post and your insight.


  4. Okay, so my cats often just play with mice they catch and let them go when bored....I SO need an ATTACK MOUSE! There are too many mice out here in the country the cats yawn and say ho-hum when they walk by. :(

  5. First of all, Melissa, an ATTACK MOUSE is my own personal vision of ... well ... how do I put this delicately????
    Of what happens to us after ... hmmmmm .... after ... well if we don't.... you know ... REPENT. After death... we live not in eternal flames, but rather we are surrounded by ATTACK MICE!!!!d

    So just stop!

  6. I would say more but it's past my bedtime and now I must sleep with visions of (God have mercy) attack mice in my head.

  7. Thank you Cheryl for such a great post. I'll come back later and take it all in again.

    Looking forward to your non-fiction book. I love writing tools to read and digest.

    Would love to be entered to win your book Land of Dreams.

    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  8. Anyone reading this post will immediately jump up, Fist in the Air, very Scarlett O'Hara and Sally Field winning that Oscar a buttzillion years ago and understand why I LOVE THIS WOMAN SO MUCH.

    Cheryl resonates with stuff I believe. She's a chance-taker. She doesn't let life live, she lives life on purpose.

    I Love That.

    I love that she takes the reins and motors ahead (think "That Camden Summer" LaVyrle Spencer) without worrying what folks think. And in doing that she's created a path of not only success financially, but leadership.

    This is a rare bird with great feathers!

    Cheryl, huge public thanks to you for your help to me as I prepared Running on Empty and Try, Try Again for independent publishing. I've loved working with you and am so stinkin' gratified by your continued normalcy... and anyone who's been in this business a while knows what I mean. Not all highly successful authors are "normal", of the "race that knows Joseph".

    Cheryl is, and I love her. Next time I'm in Omaha I'm grabbing her and treating her to dinner because I want to soak up her wisdom first-hand... and eat! :)

    Thank you for being here, Cheryl, as we strive toward the SECOND MILLION!!!!!!

  9. Love this post.

    Love Cheryl's new craft book. Yes, I have a reviewer copy and it is so full of good wisdom.

    Yes, I have been a long time fan!

    After entering SYTYCW, I pretty much know I can face my writing fears of anything. It was kind of like standing in front of your classroom in your underwear.

    And now I have your book to work through my kinks.

    Peace and go get em, Julie

  10. When mice bore the cats, we stop feeding the cats. Dave's uncle taught us that trick (oh, stop, it's not mean, it's giving them country license to do their thing: Attack mice at will!)He and his boys run a big dairy farm and keeping mice and rats under control = Serious Business.

    I cannot disagree!!!

    Nothing like hunger to spur success.

  11. Oh, I love your post today! This post must've been written for me b/c my confidence is always my downfall. I'll write something and then revise it, second guess it, change it, until it doesn't even make sense anymore.

    The mice story is very interesting, and such a good example of why we need to keep our chins up and think on all things that are good and positive.

    It's FRIDAY! That's something good and positive to think on :)

  12. Loved this post! This one spoke to me: Don’t look at a project as too large. Break it down into steps and accomplish them one at a time. If it’s helpful, record your page/time goals and accomplishments in your planner. Check them off as you reach and overtake each one. - You can't finish if you never start. If you think about the whole project, you'll always feel overwhelmed. Take a step every day and you will accomplish your goal. Would love to be entered in the drawing! Thanks!
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  13. Hi Cheryl!

    It's been WAY too long since I've seen you. Great advice. I can't wait to get your non-fiction book.


  14. Thank you Cheryl. Some good points to ponder as I go into NANO -- and 2014. We do have to be careful about what goals we set. Saying "I will be published" by such and such a date is not realistic given the current publishing climate. And it's not realistic for Christian writers, who need to factor in God's timing. He is doing a work in us while we wait. I wish I'd known that as a young writer, or a young-er writer.
    Please enter me in the drawing.
    Kathy Bailey

  15. GOOD MORNING, CHERYL! I can hardly wait for your writing craft book to release! Congratulations!

    Your post is so's easy to get discouraged when you see others reaping the rewards of their hard work, but you're not experiencing that yourself. You're not able to keep up with all the writing-related things they seem to manage with such finesse.

    Your recommendation to break work down into pieces is so important. It can make the difference between sitting at a blank computer screen or having a productive writing hour or day. Sometimes just telling yourself "I only have to write this one paragraph" rather than feeling overwhelmed with "I have to write this whole chapter--or this BOOK" makes all the difference.

    Thank you for joining us today! I always enjoy your visits to Seekerville! Will your December blog be featuring author Christmas trees again?

  16. Cheryl sez: I have been known to sing the wrong notes or words, but I sing them with such authority that everyone follows along. Confidence grows with practice and with maturity.

    Audra sez: Isn't that premise of American Idol? Put your own spin on a familiar song to showcase your talent? Look at how successful that concept is!!!

    Great to see you back in Seekerville, Cheryl! I know your new book will be an instant success. Your wisdom is apparent throughout the pages, and your encouragement knows no bounds.

    Thanks for always being so generous with your time and talent!!

  17. Ruthy, I want in on that dinner with Cheryl. When are we going? I hear Omaha is lovely this time of year.

  18. So glad to have you in Seekerville Cheryl. Confidence is my number one issue. I'm willing to listen to anyone who wants to tell me I'm not quite good enough. On the other hand, I have a hard time receiving (and believing) complimentary things. Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict is going on my Christmas Wish List - and my sweet husband usually takes care of those things pretty well. Thanks a bunch for the pep talk. Appreciate your words of encouragement

  19. Good morning, Cheryl!

    Thanks for this post. Confidence wavers for most people at times. It'll be good to have a book with instructions and words of wisdom for when we falter!

    I'll be watching for it. I love self-help books! :-)

  20. That poor mouse!

    This is truly a must-have book. Cheryl is one of those rare, fabulous, accessible teachers.

    I'm working on that confidence thing but I still say pessimism is a Midwestern trait that skipped a generation with you.

    If you're optimistic, the crops will die! Help me out on this one Mary Connealy...

  21. Good morning Seekerville!


    I'm moved in reading your words today. I've admire your fiction and I can't wait for the book to come out.

    Julie Hilton Steele, stop waving that ARC in our faces!

    I went to look the other day thinking "November is only a few weeks away, yay!" but it's due out at the end of November, so I will have to be patient until then. This column helps so much. Thank you!


  22. Did someone say they need cats? PLEASE? We have, like Mom like to say...99 , but only because we can't count them all! With 3 mom as (or 4 or 5) have 2 batches of 4 or more kittens a year, you can be assured we have NO mice I our country yard. Don't feel sorry for the hawks and crows...we've still got lots in the fields! So, any takers? You may think we inhumane with all the cats, but we are giving away those we can tame!

  23. Welcome back to Seekerville, Cheryl! Thank you for the inspiring post! Writers need to heed your wise words. At least I do. I tend to talk negatively to myself, to lack confidence. Yet God gave me the desire to write and opened the door. He doesn't make mistakes. You've reminded me to focus on the positive and celebrate successes. I've made mistakes, but as you say, mistakes are teaching tools we're not apt to forget.

    Congratulations on your upcoming How To book Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict. Important skills that keep readers turning the pages.

    I brought apple fritters and cranberry scones this morning. Delicious with that first cup of coffee. Or third. :-)


  24. What an encouraging post, Cheryl. Thank you for that. I especially like the quotes you shared from Peter McIntyre and Lou Holz. Good enough to share with ymy kids too. :)

    I tend to feel invisible more than confident, so this post really spoke to my heart. Thank you for sharing the reminder to do things confidently. I sang on a worship team and the leader used to always say: "Sing it strong! Even if it's wrong!" Same idea you mentioned. I get it now. :) Loved the mouse illustration too!

    MELISSA—You made me laugh out loud with the idea of attack mice.

    RUTHY—Love your common sense approach to dealing with complacent kitties. :)

    What a great post to take into my weekend. :)

  25. CHERYL -- I just went to Amazon to check out your book. WRITER'S DIGEST BOOKS! Awesome!

  26. JULIE HS—I confess to a little book envy when you said you had an ARC of Cheryl's new book! ;)

    CHERYL—your new book sounds fabulous. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it.:)

  27. Thanks for such an uplifting post, Cheryl. I could almost hear the Rocky theme song playing. As one who wrestles with doubt on a regular basis, I appreciate the encouragement and the confidence building tips.

    Your writing book sounds wonderful. I'm adding it to my Amazon cart.

  28. I saw an ad on FB for a writing book which proclaimed it was easy to write a book. I guess they forgot the rest of the sentence... but difficult to write it well.

    Cheryl, I think a lot of us get mired down in the learning how to write phase and never realize that the real education comes from doing it. Happy Friday everyone!

  29. Sherri, Pessimism, a midwestern thing? Well, maybe....rather I like to think ...

    Work as if there is no God, pray as if you've never worked.

  30. Cheryl was the very FIRST real live author I ever met. The first person in the industry I found, before I really knew there was an industry. Before I knew there was such a thing as a writing industry.

    So this is all CHERYL'S FAULT.

  31. Welcome, Cheryl!

    All of this is so true on so many levels.

    You gave me this flashback to nursing.

    Sometimes RNs were floated to peds (pediatrics). The layout is different, the IV pumps are different, even where they store supplies is different. So you are lost to start with. NOT GOOD.

    Every child is surrounded by an adult army. The key is to walk in with confidence because I can tell you those mommies do not like change. And if you even look like you might not understand that crazy IV pump that looks nothing like the one on the med/surg floor and you have not been trained are going to be chewed up and spit out.


  32. Well, I actually met Cheryl zillions of years ago too, in Denver.

    I am acutely disappointed, btw that your new book is not available yet. But I will attempt to be patient and wait for it.

    If you all ever get a chance to take a Cheryl St. John online class ...DO IT!!

  33. What happened to the poor mouse that had its paws tied together? Did he let all the others beat him up because he lost his confidence?

    Great points, Cheryl.
    I've never thought I lack confidence in my writing but my sister one time accused me of it. I wonder if there's some of us who are in denial. I think I have a good story, but the it's not ready to be turned in. True or just scared?

    Thanks. I'll have to look for your book next month. Can't wait.

  34. Cheryl,
    Wonderful advice today. Don't we all struggle with negative self-talk? I do. I'm always working to tame that inner voice.

    You wrote: "...until we hit our personal stride." So true. Often I stumble through the first chapter--in fact, I've currently been trying to fine tune an especially unruly beginning to my next book. Often by chapter five, I'm in the zone and have hit my "personal stride" for that particular work. If I remain stalled too long at the onset, I miss the satisfaction that comes from successfully completing the manuscript.

    Your how-to book looks...well, compelling! Something I'll want for my reference library. No doubt, your hard work will benefit many...including me. Thank you!

    I thought of Kelly Stone as I read your blog. She gave a motivational workshop at M&M a few weeks ago and mentioned countering that negative voice with positive "I" statements. After attending her workshop, I practiced that technique for a week or so, but recently, I've forgotten to give myself a pep talk! No coincidence when I got to the end of your blog today and saw Kelly's endorsement.

    I am a writer!
    I am a writer!
    I am a writer!


  35. Debby,

    Several days ago on my goal calendar for the next couple of weeks, I wrote, "You ARE a writer," several places.

    Sometimes you just have to remind yourself even if you're not published.

  36. I feel like I need to study more.

    I feel like my very flippant solution to all plot problems, "SHOOT SOMEBODY" needs work.

    I feel like my "Explode the beginning, three explosions and an explosive conclusions" theory of book writing may be a bit simplistic. Especially when the explosions are all 'shoot somebody'

    All I CAN say is, I promise you all, I am trying to write good books.

    I really am.

    I'm not phoning it in and getting lazy.

    But I always feel, when the book is done, they I should have worked harder, polished more, upped the number of times I passed through and raised the action level, the comedy level, the romantic tension.


    So it's never enough, but maybe that's just part of the creative arts, the striving. And I hope I always KEEP striving. Because I suppose it's when you quit that you're really done, you really start phoning it in.

    Maybe, Cheryl, it's when you QUIT doubting yourself that you really stop improving and striving and growing.

    If so then........I'm good.


  37. And now that I've pepped talked myself, I believe I'll go throw my heroine off a cliff, it's been like 5000 words since anyone has screamed!

  38. RUTHY, I like your solution for the mice. It is like something we'd hear on Duck Dynasty.

  39. PIPER, congratulations, that is quite an achievement! They receive thousands of entries! Way to go! What did you submit?

  40. Wow, those are the very things I need to study--Emotion, Tension, and Conflict! When is it due to release?
    And the MOC story, Land of Dreams, sounds dreamy!!! :-)

    Cheryl, you make a lot of good points about confidence. I'm not a very confident person most of the time, but for some reason, I can write a novel. Not sure where that confidence comes other than God! I try to write fearlessly, but fear and doubt does sometimes creep in. Thanks for the reminder not to let it get to me!

  41. Mary, I know exactly what you mean. I always get scared I didn't edit enough after a book is done. With my new book, I'm terrified people will read the beginning and be bored to death. After all, the prologue has a flashback scene, and is also set several years before the first chapter. Not only that, but it's a Cinderella story, and I'm afraid people will think they've read it all before. I keep thinking I should have come up with a more exciting opening! I should have shot someone with an arrow or blown something up! (Did they have explosives in Medieval times? The Chinese had fireworks.) So, see? I do struggle with confidence, or the lack thereof.

  42. Pessimism is not just a Midwestern thing. Trust me, it thrives in New England.
    Mary C., nothing wrong with guns going off as long as you've got an equal amount of emotion and GMC. I don't have ENOUGH guns going off -- my crit group and crit partner have often said, "Enough with the talking already."
    I learn so much from this blog, but perhaps the best thing is the glimpse into the hearts of published and established writers. Signing the contract doesn't change who you are. You guys are human and it gives me hope that I can be human -- and published -- some day. That alone is worth the price of admission. Oh, wait a minute, this is free, isn't it?
    Mary, just because you're successful doesn't mean you're "phoning it in." But it's great that you keep reaching to be your very best. Writing is like the ministry (well, the pastoral ministry -- it's a ministry in itself the way we do it). IF we think we know it all, it's time to hang it up.
    I'm putting some butterscotch blond brownies out on the table. Not exactly fall-ish but good any time of year.
    Oh I will be back later, got to go earn daily bread.
    Kathleen D. Bailey

  43. Good mid-morning, all! My morning got off to a late start due to unforeseen circumstances. Gotta love those. Hi Marianne and Jackie.

    I celebrate one million hits along with Seekerville this week. What an exciting milestone. Congrats! It goes to show when you offer a service (support, advice, news) others are hungry for, they will show up and appreciate you.

    Tina, it's not difficult to feel invisible in the ocean of writers at conferences, in RT, on the blogs, the lists, the new releases, etc.. There's always someone doing something huge and exciting and it's easy to feel as though we're on the sidelines.

    I remember feeling some pressure over coming up with a new proposal and saying to my critique partner, Bernadette: "I have to come up with something brilliant."

    She wisely told me. "You told have to try to be brilliant. You just have to do what you do. That's why they buy your stories."

    It took off so much pressure to recognize I have something unique to offer simply because I'm me, and as long as I continue doing my best, I'm on the right track.

  44. RUTHY, love the new photo! Much more modern and "with-it." (With what, nobody ever told me. I should not use clichés I don't understand.) Anyway, I like it.

  45. Thanking God today for my secular job, which leaves spaces for me to go on Seekerville or even work on my own writing.

    I should have asked Cheryl to wait and come on then, when the book was out but she's such a great guest we wanted her to come on during our birthday celebration month and she agreed. Hopefully we can get her back in November.
    In the meantime it is available for pre-order

  47. Good morning, Cindy and Melissa. Thanks for hosting me, Mary. xoxo

    Ruth, thank you so much. You must be my biggest fan. :-) Glad I could offer a little technical and marketing advice--your hugely successful release was all your doing, sweetie! Congrats on making those lists.

    I don't know that my family would agree with you about my normalcy, but I love that you think I am. I would love to go out to dinner with you any time!

  48. First, I missed logging on yesterday so I just saw you hit the MILLION mark! Yay!!!!!!! I emailed about the swag I won too. Thanks, Seekers, for being so generous.

    Next, hi Cheryl! You know me under my real last name from the Writing Playground. You guest blogged for us several years ago plus I still remember the thrill of having you email me to ask if you could post one of my articles on your blog. A published author wanted to re-post something I'd said about writing.

    Confidence is a tough one. Mine got beaten to a pulp a while back and it's taken lots of time and work to get it turned around and headed back in the right direction.

    Something I do every day is contribute to my happines jar. It's an idea I got from Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote EAT, PRAY, LOVE. She suggests writing down the happiest thing of your day and putting it in a jar. I found a fancy jar at the hobby shop and decorated it. I've been doing this for maybe 6-8 months and it's filled with sticky notes of all colors, each with the happiest point of a day. Sometimes the happiest point was that 5:00 finally rolled around and I could go home. Two days ago I wrote that my younger son finally got his full-time employment status after 2 years as a part-time employee at the university. That was a biggie for sure.

    Anyway, I find honing in on those happiest moments helps push the not-so-happy ones away and being happy certainly helps with confidence.

    Congrats on your book!

  49. Techniquest???

    I mean TECHNIQUES.

    I'm so bad at those live links, I'm NOT doing that last comment over.

    Despite the typo.

    Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict: Techniques for Crafting an Expressive and Compelling Novel

  50. Thank you, Julie. Love the underwear analogy.

    We tell people their first time to critique is like dancing naked on the table. lol

    Annie, there is a lot to be said for spontaneous voice and not editing your work until it doesn't sound the same anymore. But I love to edit myself, so can't be an ALL bad thing. :-)

    Hey, Sally and Rose!

  51. Hi Kathleen,

    Thank you for the butterscotch blondies! *helps self to two*

    If you are referring to SYTYCW, a
    slight correction: they get hundreds of entries, not thousands, but it's still a nice confidence booster. Which I will need after I hit the send button to submit the full sometime on Monday.

    I put in chapter 1 of the first book in my new series. It's called "The Preacher's Promise." Thank you for your support!



    I'm such a dork. You're kind, St. John but yes, I'll hold you to that and we'll grab Mary because she loves you too, and if Audra's around... shoot we could make this a party, but then I don't get as much attention as we all know I crave...

    A conundrum, for sure! :)

    Audra, I'm looking at spring. Gotta keep myself rooted, grounded, working for the next six months. And have I added that I am having the time of my life????

    And I love writing stories??????


    Had to get that out!!!!

  53. Kathy, I used to feel like a failure every time I attempted NANO! I have never ever made it to my goal. I finally figured out I am not that kind of a writer. Duh. I don't do a rough draft. The way I get words down the first time is pretty much--except for edits and a few additions--the way it ends up. I finally got smart and stopped joining up and therefore feeling inferior.

    Everyone writes different, at their own pace, in their own way, and that's OKAY!

    Good morning, Glynna! Nice to see you again. Yes, I will definitely be holding my annual Great Christmas Tree Tour again this year. It's become quite a hit over the years, even getting participation from editorial staffs.

    How it works:
    Send me a photo of your Christmas tree or a few of your favorite ornaments. Include text about your favorite traditions or a family story or anything, really - plus a link to your latest book if you have one and a cover gif. Readers and authors are all welcome to participate.

    email to schedule a date:

    Thanks for asking Glynna! Can't wait to see what you share this year.

    1. Love this idea! Hope to be able to send you something.

  54. Hi, Cheryl!

    Thanks so much for your post - many of words of wisdom in there!

    I love what you said about confidence being built by repeatedly setting and meeting goals - so true! That's why it's important to set attainable goals.

    My goal today is to get a new hero fleshed out as I prepare to start a new story. I love getting to know new people!

    Now I'm off to Amazon to pre-order your book!

  55. Cheryl this is such a great truth:

    Everyone writes different, at their own pace, in their own way, and that's OKAY!

    And the longer I write and meet authors, the more ways I find of authors creating their books. Some of them truly amazing...even shocking.

    Really, that works for you?

    And yet YES, there they are, published and writing great work. So there is NO one right way.

  56. Cheryl's GREAT CHRISTMAS TREE TOUR is so fun it almost makes me want to DECORATE A CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!

    But so far I've resisted. :)

    I think I've sent you pictures of maybe some really pretty Christmas stockings I did decades ago when my daughters were little...with crewel work. (aptly named, let me tell you!)

  57. Audra - BIG HUG! and thank YOU!

    Cindy R, I'm still planning my option book in the back of my head. (Scary, huh?) But I think rather than a craft book, it's about caring for the writer and dealing with all of these issues we share.

    Good morning, Mary.

    Sherri, midwestern girls have a CAN DO attitude. They drive farm equipment. They go to school with midwestern boys and always look smarter. Am I wrong?

    I do have a few writing articles posted on my blog this week, Piper! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about the book.

    Thanks you so much, Janet! xoxo

  58. Marilyn, I remember your wonderful article! Great idea with the jar full of happy moments.

    We have a huge jar in our kitchen, and it's filled with the way God is moving in our lives. When we have a prayer need or are believing Him for someone or something, we make a note and put it in the jar. Every so often we go through the notes and rejoice in answered prayer and rededicate the needs He's still working on.

  59. Great goal for the day, Jan.

    I might need to write a book with TECHNOQUEST in the title.

  60. Cheryl, what a beautiful, inspiring post! Thank you so much for the words I needed to hear. I battle with confidence and negative self talk.

    Congrats on your new non-fiction! I've taken one of you classes and know this will be a fantastic book!

    Also, I love your cover for Land of Dreams!! It's gorgeous.

  61. Welcome Cheryl! And thank you sooo much for this post - - boy did I need this (am adding it my Keeper File).

    "A positive attitude is a powerful tool." - LOVE that, Cheryl---I've written it down and now have it posted by my computer. I'll admit I'm often my own worst enemy---because I allow that "doubting voice" to try and overtake me at times---so I must push it away. I have some of my favorite Bible verses posted around my computer to help me fight off those pesky negative voices!

    I wanted to add that I met you (briefly) in person at the St. Louis ACFW conference, and I liked you right away (not to sound cheesy or anything, LOL) but you were very kind to me (and I still have your card you gave me). So I was thrilled to see you posting here today, and am definitely going to get your book when it releases in November (CONGRATS on that---WOW!).

    I've brought a Georgia peach cobbler, warm from the oven, so please help yourself.

    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

    p.s. Please add my name to the drawing.

  62. Mary, thanks for the link! I just pre-ordered the book!

  63. I needed this post. You said, "Be willing to make mistakes. . .We must be willing to write badly in order to write well."

    I was so proud of myself for finishing my rough draft.
    Now I've realized my hero has GMC issues, and I'm clueless about how to fix it.

    So, yeah, I think I've got the writing badly part down. Ha!

    But hey, nobody said it was easy!

  64. Thanks for these words of wisdom, Cheryl! So many things can shake a writer's confidence, and many of them have nothing to do with writing. It's vital to maintain our perspective and continue trusting in the vision and in God.

  65. Interesting post, Cheryl! I love the cover on your new book...sounds great. Please drop my name in the cat dish or hat!!

  66. this is a great post. i know i've struggled with self-confidence.

    me: "i'm terrible at (xyz)"

    friend: "hey, you need to be positive..."

    me: "okay, i'm positive i'm terrible at (xyz)"

    visiting Seekerville daily has upped my confidence because everyone is so nice and encouraging. plus, there's all this wisdom from experience being shared as well (today's post: primo example). i know i can write because everybody here tells me so (not the only reason, but always a good reminder when i feel like i can't). breaking down the writing into smaller pieces is the biggest take-away for me today. Q: How does a pigmy eat an elephant?
    A: one bite at time...

  67. Cheryl - thank you south for what you said about NaNoWriMo. I always feel bad I can't make that goal. Now I feel liberated!

    I strongly believe in being positive. Would love to be included in the drawing.

  68. First I have to say:


    It's been a while since I've visited, but you all are never far from my thoughts. I miss you all, but life has just been crazy.

    Second, I want to say:

    Cheryl, I am totally interested in your book. I'm a hands on kind of gal and rarely like how-to books, but this one looks like it might be right down my alley. Emotion, tension, and conflict are some of the things I strive to write with!!! We'll see if I succeeded once my readers get the book in their hands in a couple months. ;)

    I used to be one of those who wanted to do everything right the first time. I foolishly thought I should write it as perfectly as I could the first time through so there wouldn't be so much editing later. Yeah. I know. Go ahead and laugh, I am. :D

    Now, I understand the process from doing it. It's a lot of work, but I love it! I LOVE seeing how the book transforms with each layer added. It's amazing, really, and makes me wonder at God's ability to get it right the first time. :D Talk about creating depth and variety of characters! I love that he gives us the opportunity to emulate him and display his glory through the working out of our writing gifts!

    BTW, Congrats on hitting One Million, Seekerville! Happy to know I helped you get there. ;) Love you gals!

  69. We're traveling and I can't get online until this evening. BUT I wanted to say I love Cheryl St. John and her books!!

    ok back to endless miles of blacktop. Pray for us, we're going to a resort way up in the Ozarks.

  70. Linnette,

    I met a lady last week who said she had a niece from Ellington who writes. She seemed surprised when I supplied your name. :)

  71. Yes, Ruthy, we don't feed the cats much to entice them to hunt, but they are so numerous, even the dog catches them and eats them when the cats get tired of "playing" with him.

    That's why I need an army of attack mice. I'll line them up at one end of the field, grab my drum and tap out a battle tattoo and drive them across the pasture and let them karate chop the unsuspecting field mice! Mary, you have to see the good in that! One attack mouse and you can destroy the whole lot of them!

  72. Eeeek! HELEN GRAY! That was you???

    That is so cool! She told me about it, but couldn't remember your name. :D It's certainly a small world, isn't it? :D

  73. Thanks for the encouragement, Cheryl. Sometimes it's so hard to know when to push harder and when to recognize what we've already done as an accomplishment. :-)

  74. HI Cheryl,
    Will be buying your writing book next month. It looks great. Thanks for the reminders and encouragement. Can't hear it enough as I slog through my current WIP!

  75. DebH,

    I think we all struggle w/confidence sometimes. I will hate my story then put it away. 6 months later I pull it out and realize it's not as bad as I thought.

    Love the elephant example.

  76. Cheryl, this was quite a pep talk. I can already tell I'll give it several readings because there is so much here to absorb ... and put into action.

    Congratulations about your writing book. Loved reading this: "I could learn midway through that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I learned just the opposite."

    Thanks for sharing all this positiveness ... uh ... positivity ... uh ... encouragement and affirmation.

    Nancy C

  77. LOL, Connie Queen, don't you love it when you pull out an old story and read it and think, hey, that's pretty darn good. I can't can't believe I'm the author. LOL

  78. Thank you so much, Missy. I love that cover, too. :-)

  79. Cheryl, I have heard so many great things about your online classes, and I know Writing With Emotion is going to be wonderful!

    I still plan to take one of your classes someday soon, though.

    Loved this:
    "We must be willing to write badly in order to learn to write well."

  80. Your book Land of Dreams has such a pretty cover. Thanks for the giveaway.

    sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

  81. Thanks for sharing with us, Cheryl!

  82. oh, what a great posting :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  83. Hey Cher, I've been a fan since... well, loo long... and am excited about your new teaching book. The tension, emotion and conflict that you infuse your stories with keeps you on my auto-buy list. :)


  84. I am Mighty Mouse! Hear me ROAR!

    Thanks for the pep talk, Cheryl. :)

  85. Your book sounds so good. Would love to read and review it for my blog. Congradulations on your new book.
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books

  86. What a great post. I have a friend who wants to write a book, but I know that because she is aiming for perfect right off, it will not happen. Such a shame I think.

  87. I think setting goals is important in any situation. It always give you something to strive for. Thank you for the great post!

    Wanda Barefoot

  88. Cheryl,

    Thanks for the great advice! I've already added "Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict" to my "to be purchased" list of books!

  89. Enjoyed the posting. Thank you for the giveaway and please enter my name. Thank you!
    Barbara Thompson

  90. Hi Cheryl,

    I write, so I'm a writer. But I can't stick to one project because I do want to get things perfect. I met with you two years ago at ACFW conference. I wasn't ready. My mistake was to stop and get every book I could about the craft of writing.
    Because I read about the craft, I wanted to get things perfect. But my writing stalled.
    For every new writer I would encourage to not seek any critiques before the first draft is finished.
    Also, what I did learn over the years that for me writing nonfiction is easier than writing fiction. But I believe it's due to the fact that I have been reading a lot nonfiction books about the craft of writing. I didn't read many novels. Since I don't have much time (I work full time and have two boys), I wanted to use my time for learning.
    Next month is going to be a huge challenge for me. I hope not to fail.

  91. CHERYL!!!! I am late to the party, but WOW, what a powerful MUST-READ blog this is, and I think I see a writer's devotional or confidence instructional book in your future!! And I'd be first in line to buy it 'cause I sure needed this!!


  92. CHERYL!!!! I am late to the party, but WOW, what a powerful MUST-READ blog this is, and I think I see a writer's devotional or confidence instructional book in your future!! And I'd be first in line to buy it 'cause I sure needed this!!


  93. Jules (Julie Lessman) well you just need all the help you can get girl...smiling.. She does have really good ideas ! I am just loving this scavenger hunt so much and love reading what you authors are saying to eachother also. Its good to know that you are all still learning right along with us.
    Hugs and Blessings
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books

  94. I so look forward to reading your book ! Thank you for sharing with us, Condradulations !!!!
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books