Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Six Points of Encouragement for the Unpublished by Sandra Ardoin

After (now) five years of being an unpublished novelist, I've had my share of dejection. This summer has been especially hard. But over time, I've learned a few things that might help others who are counting down the months. This is a revised post I wrote for my personal blog a couple years ago. Unfortunately, I still find inspiration from it. :) Maybe you will, too. -- Sandy
1. Grab hold of anything smacking of encouragement.
After five completed novels and a list of rejections, discouragement seeps in. What does it take to write a compelling novel publishers want to accept? (I'll let you know when I find out.) Until then, I look for encouragement in both big and little things. I've often found that when I receive bad news that gets me down, it isn't long before the Lord gives me something to cheer about. 
When doubt sneaks in, take extra care to find that bit of encouragement you need and grab hold. Let it carry you to the next step. 
2. "Good" ideas don't always pan out.
After finishing my third book, I began a fourth story. I had the characters in mind, the romance, and setting ideas. I even researched. But for some reason, not one of my characters let me in on the whole story. I had the who, the where and the when. I was missing much of the what, why and how--not something a story can do without. After several weeks of silence, I stopped asking those questions. One day my characters will tell me their complete story. 
Don't force your story because you think it's now or never. If it doesn't come easily, maybe it's not the right time and you should consider moving on.
3. Never throw anything away.
Did I just send a shiver down the backs of non-packrats? I began a piece several years ago. Only a few pages were written, but it remained on my old computer. With a fresh perspective on the characters and the basic idea, the story flowed into synopsis form. (See Point 2)
Don't ever throw your ideas away, even if they seem foolish to you right now. Down the road, a fresh perspective or new twist could turn that idea into a compelling novel.
4. Try something new.
I write 19th-century historicals that run 70,000-95,000 words. For my current project, I decided to try a contemporary novella. Now is when I have the freedom to try different things. 
If you are unpublished, now is the time to find your niche, to discover what genre/time period interests you most. You might try your hand at articles or short stories and build your publishing credits. (See one of mine on the right.)
5. Write!
I'm a plantser (half-plotter/half-pantser). When an idea comes, I find myself itching to begin--to put words on the computer screen. Many times, I don't get my best ideas until I'm way into the book.
While you're brainstorming, it's okay to satisfy that need to write. Even if you what you've written never makes it into your new work, giving your characters motion may be the best way to get a handle on them, especially if you're a seat-of-the-pants writer.
6. Don't let time discourage you.
People still ask how my books are coming along, though not as often. Those who aren't writers get tired of me telling them it takes time. But it does take time. While I wait for that first publishing contract, I'm learning more and I'm building an inventory of books. I consider it similar to being in college--only cheaper. Most writers have waited years to publish their first book. Over time, they amassed an inventory that became that second, third, or fourth published novel.
Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep collecting that inventory of future books.

What has kept you going in your writing? Maybe you are already published. What have you learned that can prepare the rest of us for THAT DAY?


Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romances with stalwart heroes who melt the hearts of her strong, sometimes unconventional, heroines. Her goal is to entertain the reader with a gripping story while revealing the depth of God’s love and forgiveness.

She blogs at and is the Wednesday hostess on the Seriously Write blog. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads. And don’t forget to check out Sandy’s Pinterest boards where she mixes writing fun with personal fun. 

Sandy is the married mother of a young adult. She enjoys reading, country music, and gardening in her rocky North Carolina soil.