Monday, September 8, 2014

5 Ways to Beat Average -- with Missy Tippens



5 Ways to Beat Average
by Missy Tippens

Do you ever feel as if you're biding your time? Or maybe just slogging along doing the bare minimum to make your word count or deadline?

Or maybe you feel like you're actually doing pretty well. You're plugging away, putting in your time each day to meet your goals. You're not feeling the peak of your game, but you're managing. Because, after all, you're busy and have lots of other stuff to do: A day job, laundry, chauffeuring kids, cooking something besides frozen pizza.

Several months ago, I saw this commercial on TV and immediately backed it up to watch again. And let me tell you, I was CONVICTED. I hope you'll take a minute to watch it...




Of course, the exercise component convicted me first. (I about fell off the couch laughing at the "loiter" setting on the treadmill, and also at the guy who stands on the escalator waiting for it to start up again, because I could see hints of myself in both.)

But as I watched the commercial a third time (remember how I mentioned feeling convicted?!), I realized that this Beat Average could apply to my writing as well.

How many times have I settled for a word when I know there's something better just out of my grasp? Or written the cliche knowingly? Or told the emotion rather than showing it just because I didn't have the energy to push through and find a better way?

{Side Note: I'm not talking first draft here. For many people, I think it's best to just get that story down on paper. I'm talking about revising here. The polishing before you turn something in.}

How many times have I gone with my first idea for a plot rather than spending the time to dig and maybe find something fresh or different?

How many times have I quit writing for the day just because someone distracted me or my favorite show came on TV?

How many times have I done what was convenient or fun or relaxing rather than what I knew I should be doing?

How many times have I settled for average???

NO MORE.




Friends don't let other friends be average!

So I'm sharing some tips I hope can help you and me step up our game. And I promise it won't involve a treadmill (unless you're feeling convicted about that, too.) :)



5 Ways to Beat Average

1.     Study the best.

Nothing inspires me to write better than reading good writing—in my genre and outside my genre. I’ve been known to cry while reading some of my favorite authors, weeping because I knew I’d never write that well. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t TRY. We should all try to improve. So study what your favorites do. How do they write unforgettable characters? How do they describe setting so that you don’t even really notice that’s what they’re doing?  How do they up the stakes? How do they turn the perfect phrase? Study and learn from the masters.

2.     Figure out your faults and weaknesses.

I’m not talking about picking yourself apart and being overly critical. I’m talking about an honest appraisal. These might be things that your critique partners or contest judges notice.  I think you might find these are the areas of writing that are the hardest for you. Do you struggle with conflict? Do you struggle with a sagging middle? Do you struggle with where to start your story? These may be your weakest spots.

3.     Work to improve and overcome.

Once you know your weaknesses, study and practice to improve. To do this, read how-to books. Take online writing classes. Tear apart other novels to see how the author handles your problem areas. Work hard (yes, put the treadmill on a steeper incline!) and you’ll find that you get better and better.  Eventually, you’ll begin to do better naturally, on the first try.

4.     Set goals and aim high.

Feeling overwhelmed by your weaknesses? Or feeling lazy? Not in the mood to put in the time? Do it anyway. Do we want to put average work out there in book form??? NO, we do not!

Reevaluate your goals. Make a schedule. Get in your word count each day before you get online or check social media. Practice, practice, practice. Repetition is how I learn best. Maybe it’ll be the same for you, too. If we establish a good writing habit, meeting our goals will come more easily.
   
Photo credit: Crestock/donskarpo

5.     Ask for help—push yourself or get someone who will.

Set deadlines for yourself. If you’re not self-motivated or are easily distracted (Every time you sit down to write, do you suddenly decide the shower tile grout needs to be scrubbed with a toothbrush??), consider finding a critique partner or accountability partner. And I’m not talking about your mother or sister or spouse (unless they’re big readers and will be totally honest). Or if you don’t have the time for give and take with a critique partner, consider hiring an editor. And if needed, maybe even a writing coach or life coach.

DON’T SETTLE. We need to do whatever it takes to help us move beyond average.


So who’s ready to join me in trying to move beyond average? Please share what you’d like to improve on. I’ll share mine first. My recent focus is on making sure that I show and don’t tell, especially with emotions. Now, your turn…

GIVEAWAY!  Please LET ME KNOW YOU WANT TO BE ENTERED. I'm giving away 3 copies of my new release from Love Inspired (e-book or print). The Guy Next Door is available NOW on the Harlequin website. And it’s up for pre-order at other booksellers!

The book has already gone out to the Book Club subscribers, and I've been thrilled to have heard from readers who loved it! I hope you enjoy it, too.


The Guy Next Door
Available at:
Harlequin.com
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
ChristianBook.com


From Friend to…FiancĂ©?  

Stalwart and steady, Darcy O'Malley has been by Luke Jordan's side since childhood. She has seen him through trials and tragedies, romances and breakups. They've been everything to each other—except boyfriend and girlfriend. Why ruin a good thing? What Luke can't explain, however, is why suddenly Darcy's presence is making his heart beat so hard. Something has changed since he left Appleton, and it's making him uneasy. Is it possible his best friend is meant to be something more? Dare he risk their perfect friendship in the hopes of finding his perfect wife?
@MissyTippens on Twitter

112 comments :

  1. I'm always thrilled to see what's on at Seekerville! And I'm so glad to see you, Missy. Your post also speaks to me, and I'm so not a writer. I'm reading Tried and True today, next up is Tina's. Have a great da y!

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  2. Coffee's on! I've set out decaf coffee and Italian Sweet Cream creamer for any late night visitors.

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  3. There's also tea and orange juice.

    One of my weaknesses is creating enough conflict.

    Great tips, Missy. Thanks.

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  4. That was so excellent. I think I am going to make that my screen saver.

    Talk about convicting is right.

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  5. My area that needs help is I am spending too much time in the 'studying' area and not enough time in the writing area. There are just so many good books out right now that I can't put them down. Just finished A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears (which by the way was an excellent book) and I am now reading Tried and True.

    I would love to be entered to win a print copy of your book Missy.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  6. MISSY TIPPENS I LOVE THIS SO MUCH BUT YOU KNEW I WOULD!!!!!

    Average is for sissies.

    Average is for others.

    Average is for the unmotivated couchers.

    Average is for shoulder-shruggers

    Average is for the should-a-beens and could-a-beens.

    Average is for the ones stuck singing Springsteen's "Glory Days" instead of creating their own.

    Average is a catch-all of excuses!!!!

    YAY YOU!!!!!!!!

    HAPPY DANCING IN UPSTATE!!!!!!

    I loved the sign and am putting it on my desktop: "Friends Don't Let Friends Be Average", LOL!!!!!!!!!

    THIS ROCKS!!! AND EVERYONE AND THEIR BROTHER SHOULD READ IT!!!!

    Happy.

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  7. Cindy, I don't get to read unless I write.

    Writing goals come first, always.

    Starving kids, lame dogs, dirty carpets (that last part is true...)

    Writing first helps!!! But we love readers too!!!!!!!

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  8. Okay -- true confession -- my reading does take over my writing goals sometimes. It's not my fault though. I blame the authors who write such above average stories. :-)

    Love this post, Missy -- very motivational but now I have to dash to work (but I did put in my writing hours first!) I'll try to apply it to being an above average box unpacker since I'm still setting up my library.

    Oh -- and don't enter me in the draw because I almost have your book. It's ordered and being shipped...soon, I hope. Can't wait to read it. I love friendships that turn into romance.

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  9. Marianne, we posted at the same time last night! :)

    Yes, this definitely speaks to us in more than writing. I laughed at the little doughnuts following that woman around but felt convicted on that too! :)

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  10. Helen, thanks for bringing tea and OJ! You know, conflict is one of my problems, too. I still don't have that one figured out. Am still studying that as well.

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  11. Tina, I'm glad! My voice will be in your head like an ear worm. :)

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  12. Cindy W, I have bouts of that sometimes, too. Once I get started on a good one, I can't put it down! :)

    I have both of those books in my TBR pile too!

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  13. LOL, Ruthy!! I'm so glad you liked this. I did know it was Ruthy-style when I came up with the idea a while back.

    Love your additions!

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  14. LOL, Kav! Good for you for getting your writing in first!

    I hope you get your above-average unpacking done soon. ;)

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  15. Missy! Whoa, I see myself in your commercial. Exercise is so easy for me to forget! Yet vital for writers that sit and sit.

    Average doesn't see us published and keep us there. Excellent tips to beat average!

    My weakness as a writer... Hmm. That can vary but generally I'd say telling an emotion instead of finding ways to show it through setting, through dialogue, through a touching memory, through a reaction that isn't cliched. I know these techniques, but using them involves digging deep, working hard. Telling is so much easier. Easy leads to average.

    Janet

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  16. Missy, thank you for this post. This is so good. I hope you and everyone will have a great week

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  17. Great, great, great advice.

    I try to never use the word 'felt' while I'm writing. I always feel like I'm telling the reader how the character feels instead of showing the reader.

    My weakness is settling on word and not looking for a stronger one or more unique one.

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  18. Hi Missy~
    Laughing with you this morning at the Beat Average ad. I've certainly settled for average in some areas in my life, with a few settings on mosey and loiter. (We can't all have Ruthy's energy,now can we?)

    This is the second time this month I've been encouraged to work harder towards a goal, so I guess God is trying to tell me something :)

    Please enter me in the drawing for your book, would love to read it!
    Thanks and here's to NEW BEGINNINGS MONDAY!

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  19. Janet, you're right about digging deep and working hard. It takes energy I sometimes don't feel I have. But I have to push and expend that energy for excellence.

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  20. Thanks, Wilani! I hope you have a great week, too.

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  21. Rose, yes, I do the same. It's so easy to settle, isn't it? Again, I'm not talking first draft. I'm talking about polishing. But even polishing get tiring! I get so lazy sometimes. Especially if I'm writing a difficult, emotional scene.

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  22. LOL, Tracey. You're right! We're not all Ruthy. She's the round-the-clock Energizer Bunny. :) But I sure try to imitate her on occasion!

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  23. BTW, I actually got out of bed on the FIRST alarm today instead of hitting snooze two or three times! :)

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  24. Missy,
    We need to be the best WE can be. Right now I'm reading Christa Parrish's "Stones For Bread" and I am so impressed, but I'm not going to pretend to be her. It's literary fiction and I just don't think that way. But I'm going to bring her kind of excellence to my own work, which is currently genre-based.
    Thanks for a good post, and an especially good post for a Monday. We can make up for all our average work last week.
    Kathy Bailey
    Please put me in the drawing for PRINT.

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  25. Missy, I'm ready for a 'not so average day.' Thanks for this wonderful blog.

    I think my greatest weakness is keeping my characters consistent. They tend to behave erratically at times. I guess I don't want them to become too predictable and boring.

    Another problem area (I imagine we all have this problem from time to time) is avoiding a predictable plot. It's so easy to lean the other way and go over the top.

    So much to think about!

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  26. After reading the posts, I realize another of my faults that need correction. I need to stop reading before I start to write. Reading is my go-to activity. I wish it was writing instead. But reading is SO relaxing. Who doesn't want to relax?

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  27. Kathy B, that's a great point. We don't need to try to BE some other writer but to learn from his/her excellence.

    Cara, there is so much to think about! Sometimes it makes my head spin. :)

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  28. Yeah, Cara. I think reading should be our reward. It's definitely a treat to be savored.

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  29. Great tips, Missy. All I have to do is sit down and get started. Please enter me for the drawing.

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  30. Elaine, getting started is half the battle, isn't it? :)

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  31. BTW, for those who won book IOU's from me with my last post, I plan to mail the books this week!

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  32. That video gave me "pause for thought", so to speak. It was definitely speaking to me (too). I can still hear that voice, and I bet I'll hear it the rest of my day (and hopefully much longer). Thank you for sharing it and your blog with us. Both were "inspiring" (funny that!).

    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks also for that opportunity. As you know, if I win, then I'm better than average! LOL.

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  33. Oh Missy - how did I miss that you have another book? Please put my name in for The Guy Next Door! Great cover. And great post. My favorite of your five ways is number 1 - Study the Best. I do that by keeping my nose in Seeker books. You guys are truly "the best"!

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  34. LOL, Laney! Yes, you will have beaten average if you win. :)

    Cindy, I love having my books lumped in with the other Seeker books! They're definitely some of my favorites authors!

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  35. Missy, thanks for a challenging post.

    What I need to work on is incorporating sound into my novel. This hit home this past summer when I visited my setting--Buckingham Fountain in Chicago's Grant Park--and realized I had none of the sounds there in my book. For whatever reason, that is the one sense I really, really struggle to capture. So I need to work on that.

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  36. Missy's books always beat average! Would love to win the new one.

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  37. Hi Missy:

    Loved this post!

    It’s well above the average post. Seekerville is just like Lake Wobegon – all the kids (Seekers) are above average!

    You hit the nail on the head as to why I like to write a ‘stand up and cheer’ ending first and then make the story find a way to that ending. Even pantsers can do this! In fact, writing to a known great ending is like being a pantser with GPS. In whatever way one pantsers, there can always be a course correction to allow that new path to bring you home.

    I teach a class in TQM (Total Quality Management) and here are few ideas I think you might find interesting.

    Measure your writing against the benchmark of excellence. You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.

    From W. Edwards Deming:

    “It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.”

    “If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.”


    But then there is real life.

    “God loves the average -- that’s why he made so many of them.”

    “It’s the dull average that makes it possible for the exceptional to shine.”

    “If we were all as bright as the sun, then we’d all be only averagely bright!”

    “Average is relative which seems to be born out in actual family statistics.”

    “Average is the enemy of burnout.”

    “Average always adjusts to accommodate the achievements of the exceptional.”


    I don’t know.

    I’d settle for Nora Robert’s average daily production. Or Ruth’s average book contact acquisition rate. Why I even had to pre-order Ruth’s new book, “Her Holiday Family,” for a December first release, just to have any hope of keeping up with her production. Ruth makes it harder to be even just an average writer! It’s a good thing I love her writing. (But I am going to write longer posts just to get even.) : )

    BTW: I must say you do practice what you preach. Your “The Guy Next Door” is the best ‘friends to lovers’ theme romance I can ever remember reading. It was a reading delight seeing how you added so much more conflict and story foundation to make the plot read so naturally creditable. This is a romance that goes well beyond the average at every stage. And that makes all the difference. Brava!

    Vince

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  38. Missy, I won your book already in your last post. Excited to hear you are getting ready to send it out! I look forward to reading it. So I don't need in the drawing.

    Right now I am just getting back into writing and starting a novel, so I aim to just make it to average to start with. Then I can move beyond. A good kick in the pants today. Thanks.

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  39. I think writers need to feed our spirit interacting with God, with people, soaking up nature on a walk. But I can get all this out of balance, too. Balance is tricky, but I think we know when we get it right.

    Janet

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  40. Such timely encouragement on this Monday morning, Missy. Thank you! My biggest problem is plot. I love creating the characters with all their flaws and foibles, but then they actually have to DO something. :-) Please put me in the drawing, and thanks!

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  41. Sally, that's a great thing to work on! Especially if you have a setting that's full of sound. I'm so glad you visited there so you would know that!

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  42. Cathy E, you're so sweet to say that! I certainly try. But I often find myself being lazy. MUST WORK ON THIS!

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  43. Such an inspiring post, Missy--thank you!

    I just love that "average" commercial, and you're right--it is convicting. (Yep, I do tend to set my treadmill on "stroll." "Loiter" is even better.)

    But "average" is definitely the enemy of "great." Just finished reading the Charles Martin novel Unwritten, which I brought home from RWA. His characters and stories are so larger-than-life amazing! I would love to write like him, but I have this innate fear of attempting larger-than-life and having it come across phony and stilted and completely not believable.

    So my weakness? I'd say fear of attempting "great" because it might turn out "average" or worse. :-/

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  44. Vince, what a great idea to write that ending first! I usually have it at least partially in my mind. But sometimes I have the ending all planned out in detail in my head (can picture it like a movie). I just never thought to go ahead and write it down! :)

    Thank you for your kind words on The Guy Next Door! I'm so, so glad you liked it! I had a lot of fun writing that one.

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  45. Vince said: "I’d settle for Nora Robert’s average daily production. Or Ruth’s average book contact acquisition rate."


    LOLOL!!!! I love this quote! It's so true. :)

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  46. Sandy, I'm glad you're aiming to get that first draft on paper! That's a biggie. You'll have to let us know when you finish!

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  47. Janet, life is always a balance, isn't it? Sometimes difficult to do that well.

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  48. Meghan, I'm with you! Plotting (especially making sure to have enough conflict) is one of my big growing areas. We can work on it together!

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  49. Myra, I have that book sitting right beside me on the couch. I LOVE his writing. He's one of the ones I was talking about in the post. I need to study him more (that's my excuse for reading the book that's calling my name from beside me!) :)

    You know, I totally understand your fear. But I think we cheat ourselves if we never try. Why not you??

    Write that larger than life book, Myra!! You need to just go for it.

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  50. (P.S. Myra, that's not to say you haven't already written one! It's just saying to write any story that's on your heart. Or any characters who are bugging you to be written.)

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  51. Always up for a Missy Tippens book. Will say that right now. :-)

    One of the things that I've done recently is to join a writing group on FB. Somebody in the group will post that they are having a writing sprint for 30 minutes or an hour at such and such time (like "bottom of the hour>") and then people will write like mad and post their word counts. It's been good.

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  52. Missy, what a great post! I loved the commercial. And yeah, I'm a bit convicted (hangs her head and sighs). :)

    Your tips are spot on. If I want to move beyond average, I must work at it. I'm getting ready to get on my writing treadmill and steepen the incline to improve my writing. It's going to look like me studying books more and figuring out how to write characters with more depth. That's my goal.

    Please do enter me in the drawing. :)

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  53. Wow, I feel pretty lousy about myself now, Missy.

    Thanks

    Sort of

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  54. Okay, I'll go try to write better.

    OR NO! WAIT! I'll go read a really good book, now THAT'S a good idea.

    Also it wouldn't kill me to take a walk once in a while.

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  55. Missy, you have given me another saying for my desktop -- "Friend's Don't Let Other Friends Be Average." A super post that has triggered a lot of thoughts. Thank you!

    What I'd like to improve on: trusting my writing instincts. Self-doubt taps on my shoulder less than in the past, but I'd like to see a lot less of it :-)

    Don't enter me in the contest. Pre-ordering today.

    Nancy C

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  56. LOVE this post Missy.
    Seekerville does not allow the villagers to be average by virtue of the wisdom posted daily for our consumption. (LOL on the treadmill settings)

    I'm still finding my path, but you Seekerville ladies are making that search much easier. Thanks for encouraging us to reach for the above average.

    Please put me in the draw for your book. I never wish to miss out on ANY Seeker book. They are so awesome!!!

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  57. p.s.
    um, Mary... do you realize that some of us are reading your books for inspiration on how to do things excellently? just sayin'...

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  58. Missy, such a great post!!!

    And THE GUY NEXT DOOR got Vince's stamp of approval and then some. Yay!

    Along with knowing our weaknesses, I'll add the importance of knowing our strengths. If we do something well, then we can create moments in our stories to use that special talent we might have.

    Who wants to be average? None of us! Of course, Seekers and Villagers are a cut above. Right?

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  59. Walt, that's a great motivator! And also you get the accountability (with built-in flexibility). Good for you for joining!

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  60. Just got the commercial to work!

    LOL!

    So true!

    Love the drop of rain stopping the run! Been there, done that! :)

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  61. Jeanne, characterization is the next thing I want to work on. I think the characters are what I notice about great writing. I'm sucked into their story, rooting for them, feeling their pain, dying to find out what happens. They're the characters I can't forget. For example, I still haven't forgotten the characters from "It Had to Be You" by Susie May Warren, and I read it several weeks ago.

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  62. Mary, come on back! Didn't mean to run you off. But hey, if you're feeling convicted about something…like EXERCISE. Come on, come to Georgia and go to Zumba with me. :)

    And DebH is right. We look to you for our examples!

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  63. Nancy C, thanks for ordering! I appreciate you. If the books sell, maybe they'll buy another one from me! :) (I actually have proposal ready to go soon, once it's critiqued.)

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  64. Great point, Debby! We should play up our strengths as well.

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  65. Thanks for these tips, Missy! I am SO the kind of person who sits down to write only to realize the shower "needs" to be scrubbed. :)
    I'd love to be entered in the drawing for a copy of your book!

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  66. Great post, Missy! Average is so overrated... except for the loiter button on the treadmill.

    Can I keep that one, please?

    Marianne, I'm also reading Tried and True.... I can really relate to Kylie up on that roof! That is SO me! :)

    My husband and fil are in construction. A couple of years ago they built a two-story house that had an extremely steep roof. None of them like to wear braces/harnesses. Says it hinders their movement....ya THINK???

    At the time, my oldest son and my nephew were on the crew and I told my hubby, "Can you just tie a rope around the boys (okay, they're both grown men, but still...) waists and put one on one side of the roof and one on the other. That way if one falls, the other might stop their slide..."

    8-\

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  67. LOVED this post, Missy - - and your tips are great! :)
    I've really been struggling with distractions (and I don't mean my cats, LOL). My house is a 2-story, and I'll think I'm all settled to write in my upstairs office, then I'll remember something I left downstairs, so I go to fetch it. On the way back up, I'll notice a *stray* furry visitor at my door who looks SO hungry and pitiful, so I have to feed him. Then the phone rings...etc.etc. (you get the idea). So I've got to get settled in my chair and STAY PUT until that word count (or revision goal, etc.) is met. That's my current struggle, so thanks for "listening". ;)
    If anyone needs a late afternoon snack, I'm setting out a just-baked Georgia Pecan Pie--enjoy!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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  68. Missy, it will be awhile before I can say I have anything written. I'm still in the plotting and outline stage. I've had the ideas for a long time and finally starting to put them all down. I have three major characters and already when plotting out the timeline for the first character, I realize I don't completely know how I want him to end up. So clearly I have a lot of work ahead of me. But I will get there.

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  69. Jennifer S, then we'll assume you have a sparkling clean shower! :)

    Pam, my husband's grandmother decided to fix their roof when she was in her late 70's or early 80's. So she tied a rope around her waist and wrapped it around the chimney. LOL! We about had a fit when we found out after the fact.

    So I know how you worried for your guys!

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  70. Patti Jo, thanks for the pie! Only we won't let you have any until you finish your word count for the day! :)

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  71. DebH, well, thank you sweet girl.
    And also, may God have mercy on you!!!!

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  72. Missy you could never Run me off because I'm not so much with the RUNNING. Or Walking.
    Or Zumba-ing (whatever that is!)

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  73. Ah, here I was loitering, when it should be working on my class assignment... Social media especially distracts me. Definitely convicted --thanks for tips! I'm going to use number five now and get off my tablet and onto my computer to write.

    Also, thanks for the chance to win! "The GuyNext Door" sounds adorable. :)

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  74. I love New Beginnings Monday, Hagwood!!!!!

    Yes!

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  75. Mary came back to the sand box! And now you need to put on your dancing shoes Ms. Connealy.

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  76. Sandy S, that part takes me the longest! But it's the fun part. Enjoy!

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  77. Artist Librarian, good for you! I've found it sometimes helps me to use my iPad for getting online and using the computer for writing.

    Hope you easily finish your assignment!

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  78. Excellent post Missy!

    I struggle having more than one goal at a time. I've been dieting and exercising the last few months, but haven't written. When I'm on a roll writing, every break leads to the kitchen for something to eat! It's like either or.

    Being picky about word choice is a huge challenge for me. I get a headache analyzing words. I'm tempted to get up from the computer and say, "close enough."

    I'll do better.

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  79. I always enjoys your posts, Missy....and of course, your books, too! Have not had a chance to get your newest so please enter me!
    Thanks!

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  80. HA, Missy! Love the loitering button, too. It's easy for me to loiter in my chair - and I don't mean that I'm playing solitaire and visiting Facebook, but loitering with my words. I'm trying to push through. Keep going. Fix it later. Just get words. It's hard. So I loiter in my chair, staring at the flashing cursor and you know what? That thing still hasn't learned how to write without me!

    Love the cover of your new book. Congrats!

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  81. Aw Vince, thank you!!!!

    And I haven't read "The Guy Next Door" yet, but I heard it was wonderful so I can't wait to read it, Missy!!!!

    I love that premise, and friends to lovers is such a normal... and sometimes funny!!!... progression, that it hits a note with folks.

    All right, I've got an hour of writing time... I'm off to use it!

    Cowboys: Here I come!

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  82. I love this!!

    OK, I really enjoy studying other writers and I'd always meant to pick up a Lisa Wingate novel but had never gotten around to it. Just a few days ago, I sat down and opened one.

    I saw so many places she did what I want to do... but don't really manage it. And it was seamless, easy.

    But I know it didn't start that way. It takes work.

    So, I'm going to study some Lisa Wingate books and see how she does SETTINGS (from a room to a whole town) so easily. I never manage to get those down very clearly.

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  83. Connie, I have to battle the either/or thing too. I need to learn to multi-task better. And I AM working on it!

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  84. Thanks, Jackie S!

    Lyndee, you're so funny! Wouldn't it be something if we could train the computer??!! :)

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  85. Becke, I'm glad you dropped by!

    Ruthy, if I was really on the ball, I would have sent you a copy by now! Of course, whenever I do send you one, either dogs eat them or children flush them. So maybe I better email you one. ;)

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  86. Virginia, I LOVE Lisa Wingate. She is one I have studied for characterization. One book that I adore is Dandelion Summer. If you haven't read that one yet, you must!

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  87. Virginia, I've used Lisa and Karen White and Deb Smith as my go-to learn-how-to-do-this-right people...

    Nothing like learning at the feet of the masters!

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  88. OMG! That was a funny video...I loved the trail of donut holes. :)
    Edge of Your Seat Stories

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  89. MISSY -- LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the video and this blog today!

    You said: "Or maybe just slogging along doing the bare minimum to make your word count or deadline?"

    Uh, I don't understand the phrase, "bare minimum" ... could you explain, please?? ;)

    There's plenty of "average" out there, so I'm all for striving for more, so thanks for the push! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  90. Dear Missy, This post came at a providential time for me. Thanks for your blog. I'm going to print it out and keep it with Ruth's 10 tips that start with not whining and write every day.

    Thanks for the advice about figuring out what you need to improve. I love your motivational pep talk on not settling.

    Thanks.
    And by the way, I won a future copy of one of your books a few months ago. If this is the same book, please don't put my name in the drawing.

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  91. Missy - I identified with those donut holes. Except in my world they're chocolate and they chase me! Great post, thanks for sharing and motivating. I KNOW I use my day job as an excuse.

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  92. Hi Julie:

    “Doing the bare minimum” reminds me of some of my students when I taught at an expensive private college. Every once in a while a rich student, who was in college to party and because his parents demanded it as a condition of getting an allowance, would ask me:

    “What is the least I have to do to get a ‘C’.”

    For those students being average was the bare minimum they wanted to devote to their studies.

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  93. I do try to strive that little bit harder in most areas.

    Count me in thank you.

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  94. Excellent and encouraging post, Missy!

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  95. Missy,
    I've been "average" too often to be comfortable. I've allowed a favorite TV show (NCIS) to distract me...or a number of lesser evils. I love the saying:
    Courage isn't always a lion's roar, sometimes it's the heart at the end of the day saying 'I'll try again tomorrow.'

    That's how I work at not being average...I keep draying a line in the sand and getting back in the saddle.

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  96. Thanks Missy for the encouragement to be better than average.

    Last night I was talking to my college son who'd taken Nyquil. I'm a pharmacist and I know there's different versions. To make a long story short, I told him I was confident I knew more about over the counter medications that the guys in his dorm, and please call me next time he doesn't feel good.

    When we hung up I wished I could be as confident in my writing. Now you've inspired me even more to want to be a good novelist. Maybe even great one day.

    Thanks so much for the pep talk!

    I'd love to win a copy of your new book. Thanks.

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  97. I'm beginning to think my average is wild and wooly! Just added two more granddaughters...a blonde by C-section and a dark-skinned, 8-year-old beauty from Ethiopia. That makes 28 grands for my beloved and me. Doesn't that sound wild? I reach for a Missy Tippens read whenever I have the opportunity. A Kindle copy would be just fine!

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  98. This is so good - and clearly speaks to the masses!! - I've not only shared it (facebook, twitter, linkedin, & google+) but I saved it as a word doc for future reference! I strive to be the best I can be at everything I do of course, but for many sad years of my life, I felt that I wasn't good enough. to be "average" would have been a stellar accomplishment..... I'm over that now, thank God!! literally, thank God!!! and I'm on to, well, stellar goals!!!
    ~ Robin E. Mason
    http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

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  99. I can so relate to this post. Nothing new here but things I need to press into. My biggest distraction is my family. My multigenerational household can grab my time. I finally broke down a few weeks ago an went to the library. They have study rooms. It was awesome. I really felt like I accomplished something. I know I need and accountability partner. I love my critique group but it only meets once a month. Loved the video. I think I have the stroll setting on my treadmill. Reading is my favorite thing. Even in the chaos around here I find time to read. Put my name in your drawing. Cindy Huff

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  100. Ruthy, I'm with you. I should add Karen White and Deb Smith to my study list as well!

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  101. Raquel, I'm glad you enjoyed the video, too.

    Julie, I see Vince answered your "question." LOL

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  102. Tanya, yes! This is the same book. I'll be mailing your copy this week. :)

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  103. Terri, I laughed so hard about those doughnuts. :)

    Vince, I can only imagine the look on your face when your students asked that! LOL Although, I have to admit I used to figure how low I could score to still keep my A. But that was usually to calm any panic over how important the test would be. Plus, I never would have asked my professor! :)

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  104. Mary P and Edwina, thanks for dropping by!

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  105. Sandy, I'm glad I'm not the only one letting TV shows suck me in. :)

    Jackie L, that's so true! If only we'd be as secure in our writing as we are in other areas of our lives. (And if only our kids would call instead of listening to friends!) :)

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  106. Dee, thank you for mentioning my post! I'm glad you found it helpful.

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  107. Meant to say thanks for sharing about my post to Robin!

    And Dee, I meant to congratulate you on the new beautiful grandchildren!!

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  108. Cindy H, I'm so glad you found some quiet time to write at the library. I've done the same thing!

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  109. I hope I didn't miss any comments from last night. I signed off early to spend time reviewing my daughter for a test! :)

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  110. I'm a day late, but wanted to stop in to say...THANKS, Missy! Loved and identified with EVERYTHING! On Sunday our pastor discussed "enough"....and I was thinking "enough" was good enough, but he had a different spin on "enough"....so there is more I can do! Thanks for reinforcing the message! Please don't enter me because I want to BUY your book at our Wal-Mart so they keep stocking INSPRIATIONAL ROMANCE! :) I absolutely LOVE the cover!

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  111. Sherida, don't you love when you feel confirmation like that?!

    Thanks for buying it! Yes, we want to keep them in Walmart!

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