Monday, September 14, 2015

Countdown: 7 things I’ve learned over the last 7 years

Today I'm sharing a post from 2014 that I thought would be fun to revisit since we're about to hit another Seekerville birthday in October. I will be doing the same giveaway I did last time! Keep reading to find out about that. :)

Countdown: 7 things I’ve learned over the last 7 years
Missy Tippens

We’re so excited to have all of you celebrating with us this month. It’s been a privilege to hang out here and get to know you. When I found out our theme for our 7th anniversary was the number 7, and since I sold my first novel in 2007, I decided to think back to find one thing I learned each year.

Well, that proved impossible. I couldn’t keep the years straight. So I decided to think about 7 important lessons I’ve learned through the years. And I’ll do a countdown to what I consider the #1 most important.

Photo Credit: Bigstock/Yastremska

#7: Rejection may knock you down, but you have to brush off and get back up.

Every time I think of this lesson, I have to laugh. It reminds me of the old Chumbawamba song my kids loved back in 1997. I went with them to buy the album. We couldn’t find it, so I told the sales guy we were looking for that song with the lyrics, “I fall down, but I get back up.” Well, I got the words all wrong and mortified my kids (they were young and easily embarrassed). :) The lyrics were actually “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

Oh, well, I was close. :) And we’ve gotten a lot of laughs over it through the years. But either way—whether we fall down or whether we get knocked down, we have to get back up again. Sure, I’ll give you a day to whine, be embarrassed or feel sorry for yourself (and that’s being generous. I think Ruthy only allows a couple of hours). But after that, it’s time to move on. To look at options.

--What can I do to make this story better? Is it fixable? Should I change it and resubmit?
--Might this story have a better home somewhere else?
--Should I consider going indie?
--Should I shorten or lengthen the story? Try another format?
-- Should I reinvent myself in a new genre?
--Should I move on to a new project for now?

Notice what I didn’t list as a choice?? I did NOT list should I quit writing? Don’t let rejection keep you down. There are always other possibilities. You just have to remain determined and keep plugging away.

#6: This is hard work.

When I started writing and had so much fun typing like crazy, pouring out my very first rough draft, I thought, Wow. This is the easiest, most fun job ever! I can stay at home with the kids and work from home earning money at the same time!

Then I entered my first contest (tied for 35th place out of 36 entries. Ouch.). And not long after, I joined my first critique group (red/purple/blue ink bled all over my pages. Ouch again.). Then I got my first rejection (cardboard characters, didn’t have that “sparkle.” Double ouch.).

I discovered this wasn’t the easiest, most fun job ever. It was work. Yes, work.

And another painful lesson? There are no shortcuts. No easy route.

I can go to every workshop and conference available, listening to my favorite authors talk about how to write, but there is no secret handshake or formula for success. I have to put in the work. Hard work.

The good news? Being an author is rewarding and worth every bit of that work.

Photo Credit: Bigstock/sam2172

#5: We need to keep learning and trying to improve.

Are you winning awards, hitting bestseller lists, rolling in the royalties? Hey, I wouldn’t turn down any of those things! :) But no matter how well we’re doing, we can’t get cocky or complacent.

I think there’s always room for improvement. I hope that each of my books is better than the one before it. I hope we’ll all keep studying and learning. Trying new methods. Pushing ourselves. I talked about this last month in my post about beating average (click here to read that).

#4: We have to feed our creativity.

Because we do get knocked down sometimes, and because writing is hard work, we need to take care of ourselves, to feed our creativity…

--By reading.
--By studying.
--By resting.

Feeling like your creativity has fled? Feeling blocked?

Work a little buffer into your deadline schedule. Allow for everyday life to happen. Let yourself rest a tad between projects. Take time away for fun or to spend quality time with your family. Our brains need to rest and rejuvenate. And nothing rejuvenates me like reading. It certainly fills my creative well.

Photo credit: Crestock/Spanishalex

#3: We should be diligent about the things in the business we can control. And quit stressing over the others we can’t.

For control freaks like me, this can be difficult. But it’s something I’ve learned is very important.

We have to make the very best product we can (we can control that).

But we need to let go of things we can’t control (like the awards, lists and royalties). In the same vein, we need to work against professional jealousy. The green-eyed monster is a very real thing in our industry. But if we allow it, we only hurt ourselves. Remember that a rising tide lifts all boats. We love that philosophy around here!

#2: Confidence comes not from outside, but from inside.

This has been a more recent lesson for me. One I’m still working on.

Do you sometimes feel insecure about your abilities? Have outside forces left you doubting? Wondering if you’re crazy to think you can do this?

Shut all that out and think about this: Confidence comes from the certainty that you’re doing what God wants you to do, and that you’re doing the very best job you can.

And now… Drumroll…

Photo Credit: Bigstock/Ammentorp

#1: We need each other.

We need our writing friends. For understanding (Yes, I totally get that you hear character voices in your head!). For support. For a kick in the rear on occasion. For accountability. For sharing information. For laughter. For joy in the journey.

Thank you all for being part of our daily journey! We love you.

Please share what lesson you’ve been learning lately.

Giveaway! To go hand-in-hand with #1, I’d love to give away a phone or email chat (winner’s choice*). Time to talk about writing, talk about your story, or for encouragement, whatever topic the winner would like! If you’d like to be entered, please let me know in the comments. (*Phone chat for U.S. phone numbers only; email chat for those outside the U.S.)

Missy Tippens' latest releases. For more info, visit

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Or check with your local bookseller.


CatMom said...

Loved this post last year, and loved it again. Thank you, Missy!
I need to print these out and post by my computer, and when those doubts creep in I'll just re-read Missy's list. :)
Hugs, Patti Jo

CatMom said...

P.S. Meant to add that I loved THE DOCTOR'S SECOND CHANCE - - another one for my Love Inspired "keeper shelf"! :)

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

Ok, trying once again. I think I have this set up correctly now (shows the correct log-in). Hopefully I'm not making a bunch (3) of duplicate posts. As CatMom said--I too enjoyed this blog, both last year & again this year & Seekerville has been one of my ways of staying in touch with other writers. Winning this prize would be awesome--please include me in the drawing. TY Seekerville ladies for being here for all of us.

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

YAY! It worked! ;-)

Tina Radcliffe said...

How quickly we forget! Thanks for the reminder, Missy.

Do we have coffee and tea and breakfast? YES. Pot is on, tea is brewing and cheese biscuits and turkey sausage is ready! Let's hit the week!

Jill Weatherholt said...

I remember this post from 2014, Missy. It was great then, but now even more so.‏
Each day I'm learning something new. Listening to my body and taking the time to rest, is something I fight, but I'm working on it. The biggest lesson I've learned recently is, God knows when we're ready and we must trust His timing.

Jackie said...

Hi Missy,

Thanks for reposting this list. Rest and socializing with friends are the two I neglect most often. My job is very social, and when I'm not working I want to hide away in my office and write. As far as rest...I got bronchitis a few weeks ago and was forced to rest for a few days. I think I completely freaked my family out to come home from work and collapse on the couch and watch TV.

I'd love to have my name entered in the drawing. Thanks!

Jill, you're right about trusting God's timing. I keep reminding myself His timing is perfect.

Have a great week everybody!

Janet Dean said...

Missy, I love this post! Thanks for the solid advice for writers. I went through the same shock of realizing the fun I was having wasn't producing stories that would sell. If I wanted to see books on the shelves with my name on the cover, I would have to work hard on improving craft. But then what of value doesn't require hard work? I also realized I would have to dig deeper within--that bleed on the page element that makes our stories zing.

When I started writing, I knew no writers. Writing in a vacuum was not easy. This community of writers and readers blesses me everyday. Thank you, Seekerville!


Janet Dean said...

Tina, thanks for a fixing breakfast this morning. I'm sure a hearty breakfast should be on Missy's list. :-)


Janet Dean said...

Missy, I've just returned from a trip that has stirred my imagination. Travel feeds my creativity. Anyone else?


Kelly Bridgewater said...

Thanks Missy! Encouragement is very valuable. I really need this right now. Way too much going on in my life. Writing. Father. In-laws. I need to keep fighting on my knees. God bless.

Cindy Regnier said...

I loved this post the first time and still do. Thanks for sharing it again Missy. I am much in need of the encouragement offered by Seekerville and appreciate it greatly. You know I love your books and I would also love a chat with you! How's that empty nest thing going? Been there, done that, still doing it but not by choice!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy, I'm on my wait out the door, but I'm going to come back and revisit this mid-day because I remember how this impacted me last year. Such wise words, such common sense, and I remember thinking Why Don't We Remember This Daily???

Along with a few other things I tend to forget.

We are so less than perfect, but if we share our wisdom and learn from one another (and of course, that's what Seekerville is all about!) how much easier we can make the journey. See you guys in a bit, and I'm leaving you a fresh Dutch/crumb apple pie. Which I shouldn't be eating, but I did anyway!!!! :)

kaybee said...

This is a good post, MISSY. I think the most important things I've learned recently are a tie between the importance of craft (it's work but SO worth it) and the plain truth that established writers struggle too. I knew that intellectually, but Seekerville put "flesh" on the idea earlier this year when Sandra told us she had considered quitting and Julie took her sabbatical. I've learned that other writers are human too.
Off to do stuff, may check in later.
Kathy Bailey

Missy Tippens said...

Patti Jo, thank you!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. I think it's my favorite so far. :) And now I'll be smiling all day to think one of my books is on your keeper shelf. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Vicki, yes, it worked! And no duplicates. :) I'm glad to know we can help. We love doing the blog!

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, I just actually finished having turkey sausage and a biscuit--leftover from Cracker Barrel yesterday. :)

Thanks for breakfast!

Missy Tippens said...

Jill, thanks for sharing that lesson! That one really hit me once I finally sold and realized I wouldn't have been ready sooner. God knew what He was doing! Perfect timing.

Missy Tippens said...

Jackie, I'm glad you rested! I hope you're feeling better now. It seems we've had more people around here getting bronchitis and pneumonia the last few months. Scary stuff!

Missy Tippens said...

Yes, Janet, I forgot the hearty breakfast!! :) I'm a terrible hostess! I always figure people should just make themselves at home. :)

I'm glad you had a wonderful trip! Yes, travel really does inspire ideas. Because my family went to NYC with me for RWA, we didn't have our regular beach trip. I need a beach trip!!

Missy Tippens said...

Kelly B, hang in there. It's tough to write when we have so much going on. I sometimes feel so scattered I can hardly capture a thought. It can be difficult to push through. But we CAN do it! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy R., thanks for asking! It's been a struggle to have the empty house. But my daughter is doing well, so that makes it easier. We went to take her out for her birthday on Friday, and one of my sons joined us. It was so nice! Now back to the new life. I'm still adjusting. But people keep promising it'll get better. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, thanks for taking up my hostessing duties! I ate my leftovers and totally forgot to bring good food for everyone. :)

We'll see you again later!

Missy Tippens said...

Kathy Bailey, it's so true that the struggles continue throughout, just like in any career. I remember the first time I discovered that early on in my time in Georgia Romance Writers. I asked an author when her next book would be out, and she had to tell me she hadn't had a new contract in a while. I was stunned to realized it wasn't just a constant thing. :) I learned to ask writers what they were working on next. That lesson has stuck with me!

Myra Johnson said...

Definitely a post worth repeating Missy! Such important lessons for writers everywhere! Anybody who thinks writing is an easy job hasn't worked at it long enough.

Myra Johnson said...

JILL said: "God knows when we're ready and we must trust His timing."

Absolutely 100% true!

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

This is one of my all time favorite Seeker blogs. I just love your #5.

#5: We need to keep learning and trying to improve.

I have two favorite quotes on this very topic.

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Hemingway

“As long as you're green, you're growing. As soon as you're ripe, you start to rot.”
Ray Kroc

I’ve read each of your books as it was released and each has been better in new ways -- and better in ways that helped make the reading experience even more rewarding. Indeed, it is always fun to read your next book and discover what you have learned since the last one. Especially those things I can add to my own set of writing skills.

Thanks and keep up the great adventure!


Elaine Manders said...

Hi Missy

I always enjoy your posts and your books. When I switched from mainstream to Christian fiction writing I expected more. I think we should be writing more for God's glory than our own. Unfortunately, I found the same envy and jealousy. Seekerville has been an exception and one of the things that attracted me to this blog. They entend encouragement to writers at all levels in the journey. Keep it up folks. Your diligence is appreciated.

Connie Queen said...

Common sense, Missy, common sense.

I love this list and it's so true. We do need each, for support and learning.

Barbara Scott said...

Thanks for sharing, Missy! Excellent advice. :)

Wilani Wahl said...

Thanks Missy! I needed this. For years people would say you need to write a book. They have no idea what all is involved and I didn't either when I started. I am so glad I discovered Seekerville. This is where I come to learn and gain the encouragement I need. I even got an idea for a new story this weekend, However I think I need to actually finish the three that I have in various stages first. I would love to have a phone conversation with you!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great post Missy and I agree on all those important things we learned. I especially like number one as some of my most meaningful relationships have been through writing. - That includes you my dear Seekers and and Seeker friends.

Have a blessed day.

Oh yes, I'm still learning. And hope I always will be.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Love those quotes VINCE. Don't want to think about rotting. chuckle. So keep on learning and teaching me.

Hemingways quote is priceless.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks for breakfast TINA. I needed that.

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Dear Missy,
Thank you for your insights and encouragement. I agree with it all. I'd add that having a prayerful focus on objectives is very important. I tend to get lots of ideas and need to remain focused on the main goal to really get to the finish line (especially the right finish line!). It's important with the writing-creative side, and the marketing-communications side of brand building and recognition, too.

Janet, love your comment about travel. It's so great to broaden my outlook and new sights, smells, colors, and vistas definitely are like ornaments on a Christmas tree when I'm designing a new blog post or creating story elements.

Meghan Carver said...

Thank you, Missy, for re-running this encouraging post. Rest and reading...definitely need more of those!

Missy Tippens said...

Myra, thanks for tweeting some of the things I've learned today!

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, thank you! And thanks for those wonderful quotes. I LOVE the one about rotting! LOL It's so very true about life, too. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Elaine, that's a great way to think about it. I love what you said: "I think we should be writing more for God's glory than our own."

If we focused on that, then a lot of the problems would disappear Thanks for jumping in!

Missy Tippens said...

Connie Q, yes! It is common sense! I remember last year as I thought back to the lessons I've learned along the way, I realized that I should have known these things all along. But I had to be hit upside the head to let them soak in. LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks for stopping by Barbara!

Missy Tippens said...

Wilani, I'm so glad you found us! Go ahead and jot that idea down so you don't forget it. I admire that you're plowing through with the other projects. Sometimes it's difficult when new and exciting things are popping into our heads. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Sandra, I agree about the meaningful writer relationships! It seems hard to believe sometimes. But it's true. And when we finally get to meet in person, it's even better. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Elizabeth, thank you for your addition! I especially like what you said: "I'd add that having a prayerful focus on objectives is very important. I tend to get lots of ideas and need to remain focused on the main goal to really get to the finish line (especially the right finish line!)."

So important to have the right finish line!! And that takes prayer and time in God's Word.

Missy Tippens said...

Meghan, I'm sure with your house full of kids you do need more rest! I have three kids (all out of the home right now), so I can only imagine how tough it must be to find time to write. :)

Missy Tippens said...

How do you who home school work your own writing into your day?

Debby Giusti said...

Missy, wise words that needed to be reviewed again. Thanks for posting!

Love Vince's quote from Hemingway:

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

So true! Which, I believe, is a good thing. Working to improve our craft is a lifelong challenge.

J Baugh said...

Wonderful post! Please include me in the drawing for the giveaway.

Jeanne T said...

Great tips, Missy! The hard work one is resonating right now. As I work on my MS to get it ready to send out, it's taken me much longer than I expected to prepare it. It's not just the hours of physical work, it's the mind work of keeping a right perspective and not dooming myself to failure through self-talk. That's the work that surprised me. :)

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

Oh Missy, I just loved this post and I must tell you that I wrote this down in my prayer journal: " Confidence comes from the certainty that you’re doing what God wants you to do, and that you’re doing the very best job you can."

My confidence has taken a gigantic hit lately and I am realizing that I have been neglecting where my hope and my joy comes from. My help comes from the Lord. I haven't been neglecting Him so much as trying to let other things fill my well. Only God can do that.

Thank you for the inspiration just when I needed it!

DebH said...

Hi Missy
I too, remember this post. Still a wonderful reminder. Your list of questions hit me stronger this time around. Definitely a good list and I appreciate the pointer that quitting was NOT an option.
Seekerville has been an awesome gift to the writer community IMHO. I would love to be in the draw for phone or email contact. So far I've gotten to speak with Debby and Ruthy. My goal is to talk/meet "in person" each Seeker eventually. All y'all have been such a HUMONGOUS blessing/addition to my life.

Awesome post for a Monday and Vince's shared quotes a BONUS.

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I agree! We all need to challenge ourselves to keep getting better.

And I don't know about y'all, but I need to challenge myself to become more efficient (quicker) as well.

Missy Tippens said...

J Baugh, I have you added!

Missy Tippens said...

Jeanne, I think that's a challenge the longer we work on a project. I'm doing my final edits for a novella right now, and it's hurting my brain. LOL I'm working on timeline stuff, just double checking--which means reading at least the beginning of each scene until I get to the part my editor was asking about.

Sometimes it's tough to keep plowing through the this part of the process. But SOON, this story will be done and out in the world. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Kelly, I'm so glad to hear this came at a good time for you! Re-reading it as I was posting it hit at a good time for me as well. :)

Missy Tippens said...

DebH, I'm glad the timing was good for you as well. I wanted to give up many times along the writing journey. I'm so glad I didn't quit!

Lyndee H said...

Thanks for the repost, Missy. Second time around, your words jump out at me differently than last time because I'm coming from another perspective. Each year, another year of learning and growing. And yes, this is hard work! I'd love a chat with you.

Julie Lessman said...

Great points all, Missy -- thanks for the excellent reminder, especially about confidence. That's an Achille's heel for me too. :)

LOVE your cover!! It's pretty hard to resist a man holding a baby, especially when the baby is as cute as that one and the man is as hunky as your hero! That's one of the reasons I loved the movie Three Men & a Baby -- talk about a deadly combination: Tom Selleck holding a baby. HUBBA-HUBBA!!


Julie Lessman said...

KATHY BAILY SAID: "I knew that intellectually, but Seekerville put "flesh" on the idea earlier this year when Sandra told us she had considered quitting and Julie took her sabbatical. I've learned that other writers are human too."

LOVE how you stated that Kath -- "Seekerville put 'flesh' on the idea" -- because it is SO true!! How I wish somebody would have told me just how tough it would be both physically and emotionally to be a published author. But in all honesty, Francine Rivers actually tried telling us current and future authors that during her keynote address at an ACFW conference years ago, but I didn't believe it. I guess it takes getting broadsided by the reality for some 'broads' (aka ME) to understand the problems inherent in being published. I hope you're a quicker study than moi. :)


Missy Tippens said...

Lyndee, yeah, that happens with me when I look at posts again later. Different things apply at different times. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Julie! I love that cover. It perfectly fits a scene in the book. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Julie! I love that cover. It perfectly fits a scene in the book. :)

Janet Dean said...

Missy, Our trip was interesting, even fascinating but not relaxing. A beach vacation sounds good to me, too. We should all go! :-)


Janet Dean said...

Missy, love the cover of your latest release. And what's in between the cover--a great story!


Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I'm ready. Just name the time and place. ;)

Thanks on the story! I appreciate all your help on it. :)

Sandy Smith said...

Great tips Missy. I always need the reminder.

Please enter me for the phone chat. I would love to talk writing with you.

Chill N said...

Missy, thank you for this post. It helped me realize that I feel zero guilt about #4 (We have to feed our creativity) -- and that wasn't always the case.

Best wishes for your latest!

Nancy C

Missy Tippens said...

Sandy, I've got you entered!

Nancy C, I'm glad it helped! Sometimes I have to remind myself that I NEED to make time for reading. :)

Donna said...

Missy, I went back and read your Beating Average post. It really spoke to me today! I got a lot out of both of them!

Please enter me.

Tanya Agler said...

Missy, Encouragement like this is great whether it's the first time reading it or the second or the tenth. As a writer who has received quite a few rejection letters this month, encouragement and tips from authors who inspire me and teach me always rank as my favorites. Writing is work, but being able to leave comments on Seekerville is a fun way to end the day, and it's always such a joy when I do have time to visit Seekerville.

Please don't enter me in your lovely contest. While I always love to talk to you and the other lovely authors in Seekerville, I am quite fortunate to be a member of a writing chapter where I am sometimes fortunate enough to see you in person.

Have a great week, and thank you for re-sharing what you've learned over the past seven years.

Missy Tippens said...

Donna, I'm so glad! I had fun with both posts. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Tanya, I'm sorry about the rejections. They never get easier. I sure hope the rest of this month goes better. And I hope to see you at the M&M conference! I'd also like to attend this month's GRW meeting to hear Piper speak.

Edwina said...


This was such an encouraging blog! #1 - how true! I love being a part of the Seekerville Community!

(BTW, I sent my memoir to the publisher's yesterday!!)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Timely post, Missy!!
Thank you.

Lesson for the moment for me: Guard my time more carefully.

I'm definitely a WIP there.

So many things clamoring for my attention and I tend to fritter my precious time away.

Thanks to Seekerville for thought-provoking posts, keeping us encouraged with a swift kick where I need it most. ;)

Missy Tippens said...

Edwina, congrats on finishing!

KC, I tend to waste too much time as well. Always a growing edge for me! :)