Monday, February 7, 2011

Up until 2011, my writing life was sporadic at best. There were times when I would get a burst of energy and inspiration, like last summer when I was on vacation in Oregon and then again in Nevada. But the dream of finishing my novel seemed illusive and undefined. It was a very real hope, but it wasn't easy to put that hope into action.

It still isn't necessarily easy, but in this new year I've discovered a game plan that's been working well so far. Now, before I delve deeper into this topic and share my ideas with you, I want to make a couple of notes:
  1. God's timing is not our timing.
  2. I'm not yet published.
The first note is just a reminder that as much as I'm glad to be on a faster track now (which I also wished for when I was younger), I'm just as glad that I had the time before to just ruminate on ideas, grow up a little, and gain new experiences before diving in to finish my manuscript. Some things can't be rushed! The second note is a reminder that the tips I'm about to share are the tips of an aspiring author--not a published author looking back on success. So, I'm learning along with all of you!

And finally--to the point. ;) I'm going to do a three post series about this game plan I'm implementing. You can just think of it as CSG. Nope, it's not "Constructive Solid Geometry," as might tell you. This CSG stands for:


Today we'll talk about the C: Companion.

A few months after I started my personal blog (Seasons of Humility) I met an amazing friend through a comment she left on one of my posts. Ever since then (last summer) she has been a huge encouragement to me--someone who prays for me and my family, sets an inspirational and humble example for me, and someone who is a joy just to talk to through the Internet and letters.

Eventually I asked her if she wouldn't mind reading what I had written for my manuscript and sharing her thoughts with me. She said yes! And then several weeks ago when I came back to school, I started e-mailing her three times a week with new scenes. Her support, feedback, and encouragement have been invaluable to me!

In the past (and even now, to some extent), the idea of a "critique partner" held little appeal. I didn't want someone to read the pages of the story of my heart and tell me all the things that were wrong with them. To be honest, if I chose to share my work with anyone, I wanted them to tell me all the good things about it and leave out the negative aspects.

But having a companion is different than having a critique partner, in my opinion (perhaps in name only, but "companion" does sound much nicer, doesn't it?). I trust my companion. I value her opinion, and I enjoy discussing things with her. She gently points out the errors and shares her thoughts on what she, as a reader, is thinking as the story unfolds.

I'm not at the editing/polishing stage. I'm not ready for line edits or nit-picking. I know that day will come, and perhaps that stage will be more appealing then. ;) But for now, I just need to finish the manuscript. And having a companion such as I have, with patience and a heart of gold, is a gift I'm overwhelmingly grateful for. She is such a wonderful friend!

I highly recommend having a companion to journey with you as you finish your manuscript. But note that the companion you choose must be trustworthy, honest, kind, and internally motivated to be a part of the journey. If you're going to be sharing your work on a regular basis with this person, that person will need to have a heart for the story, as well.

It's a tall order, for sure. But if you can find a companion or two to keep you company, even if only by reading your work on occasion and sharing their thoughts when they can, I think your motivation for writing will be much improved. The more your companion is invested in the story, the more you become invested, as well. Enthusiasm is definitely catching!

Do you have a companion now who is encouraging you as you work on your current manuscript, whether you're published or unpublished? Have you been a companion for someone else? Do you have some inspirational companion stories you can share with us?

(Pictures are from the Pixar website.)


  1. Such wonderful advice, Amber.

    I've had to grow a very thick skin along this publishing journey. At first, it was critiques, edits, and contest judges I had to learn to accept criticism from. Now it's reviewers and editors. Thankfully, God didn't pile all of those on me at once. He knew just how much criticism I could handle and at what stage, and He was always able to mingle it with just enough encouragement to keep me going.

    I'll always be thankful for my first critique partners (waving at Sandra Robbins and others). We were tough on each other, but we always mingled it with love and encouragement! If not for these faithful crit partners (and companions) I know I would never have made it this far.

  2. Awesome advice, Amber!! I admit the past several years, I've given up on my dream of writing, BUT if I ever get back to it, I'll definitely put this advice to work. ;)
    And it was good to see my favorite short EVER (Boundin') up there. :)(At least I think that's the name of it).

  3. Tears before breakfast… it may be a first for me… I don’t even know where to begin to say thank you. A beautiful post by a beautiful post-er :) It is an honor and a privilege, my friend, and every word of praise and encouragement I mean with all of my heart. LOL, I must say “companion” does sound much nicer than “critiquer” – friend instead of judge ;)

    And, I know what you mean about waiting for a burst of energy and inspiration. I don’t write on a scale so grand as an aspiring author, but I do write poetry and other work for my church newsletter. When I feel like I’m “reaching for clouds” I sometimes give up and walk away from it, as if waiting for the sky to fall, when I should just cowboy up! Lassoing the moon isn’t that impossible, right? ;) Besides, as Christians, when we reach for things, even though our hand may be shortened, His isn’t :)

    Well, my dear, sweet, amazing, ridiculously talented friend, it is certainly God’s timing for you right now because you’re on FIRE! - if my smoking inbox is any indication ;) Thanks for letting me tag along :)


    P.S. – Buzz or Woody? :D

  4. Wow great first post girlie, I certainly know who to come to for advice if I ever start writing a book! I'm so glad you've found a wonderful person to help and encourage you in your writing. I don't think ANYONE can get too much encouragement!

    You go girl!

    XOXO~ Renee

  5. Great post, Amber! It's so good to see you here. I have an awesome mentor/editor. She's made a huge difference in how I approach my writing. Renee's right: encouragement is great!

  6. Amber, what a wonderful post! I'm so glad you have someone to encourage you in your writing journey. I remember when I first started writing and how I needed someone to help me along the way. God sent me four women who became dear friends as they encouraged me on my journey to publication. The advice and friendship of Lisa Ludwig, Janelle Mowery, Marcia Gruver, and Jess Ferguson helped me to keep trying even when I received rejections. Treasure your companion. You are fortunate to have someone who lifts you up.

    Sandra Robbins

  7. Great post, Amber! I've had a friend and critique partner for many years who has encouraged me and helped me keep going. We ran into each other at a Georgia Romance Writers meeting and couldn't believe it. We'd been in the same Sunday school class years before, before I ever thought about writing.

    My writing companion, Lindi Peterson, has her very first book coming out this March! It's been a long journey together. :)

  8. We'll enjoy watching your journey as a novelist, Amber!

  9. Lisa,

    Thank you!

    I know I need to toughen up a bit, but I am so thankful that God does send us the encouragement we need through dear companions. :)

    I'm so glad you had such wonderful critique partners/companions to encourage you to keep at it. Friends are such great gifts!


  10. Bluerose,

    Awww, thank you! :D I'm so glad you think this advice will be helpful to you if you ever go back to writing. :)

    And yes! I think Boundin' is one of my favorite "shorts," as well. Gotta love those jackalopes! ;)


  11. Amanda,

    Oh, my dear friend, no need to thank me! I'm the one who's trying to thank you for being that sweet, amazing companion for me! :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your encouragement and support--I'm so glad I have you as my friend for the journey!

    And yes, you're right--God's hand is never shortened. :) But His timing is also perfect, and I'm thankful for those short bursts of inspiration along with this longer burst of inspiration that you are helping me with! :)

    I hope you don't mind all the e-mails. ;) Thank YOU for tagging along with me!

    Love ya, Companion!


    P.S. Another dear friend asked me that recently! Can I be Woody? ;) I love the Old West and cowboys! Although Buzz' Spanish mode in Toy Story 3 is pretty cool... ;)

  12. Renee,

    Oh, thank you so much! That means so much to me, and I so appreciate YOUR encouragement, as well--thank you for being my companion on my blogging journey! :)


  13. Renee Ann,

    Thank you! It's wonderful to be here! :D

    I'm so glad you have a companion (mentor/editor) for your writing journey, as well, who has helped you out! And yes--gotta love encouragement. :)


  14. Sandra R.,

    Thank you! And that is wonderful that you had four wonderful companions to encourage you to do well and persevere! :)

    I definitely treasure my dear companion, Amanda, and I hope I never forget to let her know how much I appreciate her! I am definitely blessed. :)


  15. Missy,

    Thank you! And how neat about that friend/critique partner you had known before--I love when God reminds us of His work in our lives by reuniting us with certain people! :)

    Also, congratulations to your writing companion, Lindi! How exciting that she's going to be published next month!


  16. Sandra M.,

    Awww, thank you! I'm so glad ya'll invited me here to share my journey with you! :)


  17. Fine, you can be Woody :P Though, at 5'8" I'm most likely taller than you, LOL! But Buzz is pretty cool and this germaphobe can appreciate his built-in germ protecting helmet! Wish I had me one of those ;) So, you be Woody, but I call dibs on Dory! :D

    Love ya!

  18. Amanda,

    Hahaha, yes, you're right! At 5'8" you are 7 inches taller than me! But the helmet is definitely a nice touch. ;)

    OK, you can be Dory! So I get to be Marlin...does that mean I'm your conscience? "We haven't spoken for a while..." ;)


  19. On the contrary, we speak everyday! LOL :D

    And, I was right about the height thing? Well, you've only proven the saying true: "Good things come in small packages" :)

    Love & Blessings,

  20. Amanda,

    True! ;)

    And awwww, thank you so much, my friend! :) I'm so glad you're my writing companion!!!


    P.S. I just sent you an e-mail. :)

  21. A good companion is worth her weight in gold. I've partnered up with several friends I've met online and even if we only work together for a season, I've always learned so much from my critique partners.

  22. Joy,

    Yes, for sure! :)

    Isn't it amazing the wonderful people you can meet online, through blogging and such? I'm so glad you were able to find some great, helpful critique partners/companions. :)



Newsletter Subscribe



Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Historical Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance



Popular Posts

Guest Registry