I am so excited to change the negative stereotype of self-publishing one book at a time.
As I shared many times before, the good news is that self-publishing is no longer taboo! Your chances of getting traditionally published are even higher now if your self-published book sells well!
I hope the #JustStart Writing Your Book series will encourage you to #JustStart writing your book today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow.
Just start writing today!
Next up in the #JustStart Writing Your Book guest post series is a fellow hope*writer, Christine M Chappell.
Growing up, did you always dream of writing a book?
Looking back, I can see that I always really enjoyed writing of all kinds. In Jr. high, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book as an art project, and I frequently turned to poem and lyric writing to cope with the emotional turmoil of the teenage years.
Though I was writing professionally as a content creator and ghost writer, it wasn’t until five years ago–when I met Jesus–that something stirred me up to begin writing a book.
How much time passed (days, months, or years) was it from the time you knew you wanted to write a book to when you actually started writing your book?
When I first knew I wanted to write a book, I actually began taking ideas and working with them relatively quickly. I will say, however, that as quickly as the ideas and proposed titles/themes would come, they would fizz out. There’s a lot of excitement when it comes to the possibility of writing a book, but the actual logistics and work it takes to make happen means there are a lot of false starts left hanging in a notebook somewhere–unfinished.
All of this changed with my book, Clean Home, Messy Heart: Promises of Renewal, Hope, and Change for Overwhelmed Moms. There was an urgency about my spirit to get writing out of me quickly, and at first, I didn’t understand the shape it would ultimately take. There was a writing contest at WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan, and I resolved to prepare my debut manuscript to meet their submission deadline. After a few months of waiting for contest judging, I was informed that I had made the top ten for submissions and awarded a publishing package prize–the entire process from start to finish taking nine months.
What were some obstacles you had to overcome to #juststart writing your book? How did you overcome?
The main obstacle I had to overcome in order to #juststart writing the Clean Home, Messy Heart manuscript was time. The contest was announced and the stories were oozing out of my fingers onto the keyboard during a two-week period when my husband was battling what started as severe strep throat, then viral meningitis. Having three children to care for while my husband was sick, but also having this intense urge to write about what the Lord was revealing in my heart during the trial, meant that I had to sacrifice a lot of sleep and commit to writing in the cracks of time I could get here and there. Somehow, the Lord managed to make the limited time fruitful. Once my husband had recovered, he graciously committed to giving me chunks of writing time outside of the house.
The other, more unexpected obstacle, was found in the approach to writing this particular manuscript. All I knew was to write the stories—I didn’t have an outline or really much of an idea of how they were going to fit within the context of a book. There was a scary sense of showing up to do the work, and then relying on God to give the stories shape and direction according to his purpose.
What I first thought would be a collection of devotionals quickly morphed into an in-depth bible study. It was clear from the onset that whatever expectations I had as I wrote must be surrendered to God’s will, letting him mold it into what it was to become. That was a place of constant surrender, constant listening for guidance, and not clinging to preconceived notions about what the manuscript should or shouldn’t look like.
You are not the only woman who dreams of publishing her own book. What would you say to that woman today? Would you give her advice? Encourage her? Pray for her? What does she need to know to #juststart writing?
The most important thing I could possibly say to a woman looking to #juststart writing her own book is this: keep showing up. The process is long, much like being pregnant. There are seasons in the process where the words are energized and flowing easily. There are also times when the words freeze and it takes hours to find the right sentence.
If you can resolve yourself to keep showing up, however easily or difficult the words come, you will ultimately finish.
I liked to think of it as “reporting for duty.” I would take my computer to the local Panera Bread, sit down at a table, and commit the time to the Lord through prayer, letting him know that I was ready to work…reporting for duty. I quickly grew to accept that unless he showed up and gave me the wisdom to write, I simply couldn’t do it. There were times when I got 20 minutes into the writing session knew it just wasn’t going to happen that day, so I packed up and left.
Be sensitive to keep showing up, but also be sensitive to surrender the writing session when you can sense God isn’t giving clarity or inspiration.
Was there one or two people that helped you finish writing your book? Who were they and what kind of support did you receive from them?
Clean Home, Messy Heart was a total community effort. I had three older, wiser mentors from my home church, (Covenant Grace Church in Murrieta, CA) act as my manuscript advisors. They helped review the first draft of the manuscript to provide much-needed feedback and perspective. Their insights were critical in seeing holes where I could not, and for finding places where my ideas were wandering and clarity was waning.
Of course, it goes without saying that if my husband did not support me during the writing process, there would be no book to speak of. He sacrificed his time so that I could write without the kids, and for his love, I will always be grateful.
When the book was finally near launching, the support of the women at my church through prayer, pre-publication reviews, and general encouragement was really what kept me motivated to finish strong and “push the baby” out into the world. I can confidently say that writing a book—especially a Christian book— should never be a solitary assignment. These projects need the touch of the body of Christ just as much as we ourselves do.
Now that your book is out, what is your heart for this book? i.e. Tell us why we should buy it?
Nearing the one-year anniversary of the Clean Home, Messy Heart book launch brings to mind all of the work the Lord has done with it thus far. He has given it to mom group bible studies across the country and paved a way for it to sit on the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble stores. My heart for this “little engine that could” book (as I affectionately call it) is that the Lord would continue to put it in front of mothers who feel overwhelmed by the daily grind of raising children but want to know the heart reasons for why they feel that way.
This book isn’t about how to become a better mother, nor is it a topical devotional. The book’s core message digs deep into the gospel, demonstrating how the Lord uses the interactions we have with our children to reveal something of our own heart struggles–and how the good news gives hope for change as the messiness is uncovered.
You can purchase a copy of Clean Home, Messy Heart here.
How can we pray for you?
Last week, I shared a memory verse lock screen with my email subscribers (as I do each week), and the verse came from Psalm 115. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” (v.1)
I’m in a season of writing where this verse is my main prayer. There is a fine line between our glory and God’s glory when we write for the kingdom, and pride can easily blur those lines to our detriment.
I would love to have others pray this verse with me—for my journey, but also for theirs. Together, let’s continually set our affections on what we hope to get a taste of this side of heaven: the wonder of witnessing God’s glory through our work.
Christine M. Chappell is the author of “Clean Home, Messy Heart,” a contributing writer at Thrive Moms, and blogs frequently at faithfulsparrow.com. She is a married mother of three children currently pursuing her biblical counseling certification. Find her on Facebook and on Instagram.
Are you a self-published author with a story for us?
I would love for you to share your story of how you became a self-published author to encourage others who need encouragement to #juststart writing the book of their dreams!
Click on the link here to share your story!