Wednesday, January 30, 2019

10 Strategies to Get Back in the Writing Game by Heidi McCahan

My family and I stayed up way too late recently, yelling at strangers on television playing a riveting game of professional football. I’m embarrassed to admit I went to bed mad because the team I wanted to win lost in overtime. I just couldn’t accept reality. As it turns out, a lot of people agreed with me and took to social media to vent, signing petitions and vowing not to watch football anymore.

Yet the outcome is still the same. The teams who won are still going to February’s highly anticipated professional football game. While some might say questionable calls by the officials influenced the outcome, others will argue the two teams still standing earned the opportunity through superb coaching and brilliant athleticism. Regardless of what happened, every player and coach who didn’t win has a choice to make: they can be bitter, make excuses, argue with their friends (and strangers on the internet), or they can step back, re-evaluate and commit to doing the hard work required to prepare for next season.

Much like professional sports, the writing life is a rollercoaster of successes and perceived disappointments. Sometimes what we thought might work in our favor doesn’t. Other people are claiming victory with signed contracts and revealing gorgeous new book covers, while we’re still on the sidelines toiling over our manuscripts.

To quote George Eliot, one of my favorite novelists, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” As February approaches, resolutions are fading, if not completely discarded. Maybe you’re questioning whether or not you even want to keep writing.

Perhaps the agony of past defeats and the achievements of others hurts more than you’d care to admit.

Take heart, my word-wrangling friends. You are not alone. It’s time for an honest look at your circumstances. Do you have measurable action steps mapped out for how you will achieve your goals in 2019? Much like the professional athletes coping with a painful loss and the disappointment that comes with no championship ring, writers often wrestle with feeling uncertain or even discouraged by their manuscript’s current status.

Today’s a new day. Here are 10 strategies for improving your craft, connecting with others and consistently putting more words on the page.

  • Join a writing group (online or in real life)
  • Commit to writing a manageable number of words every day and track your progress 
  • Finish that manuscript
  • Start a new manuscript
  • Plan and save to attend a conference or a writer’s retreat
  • Enter a contest
  • Join a book launch team for a published author in your genre 
  • Create in a different format (write on paper with a pen, try dictating into an app on your phone, visit a new coffee shop and write for an hour)
  • Write a short story
  • Find out where your target readers hang out on social media and start engaging 

Your turn: leave a comment and share one strategy you’re implementing in your writing life this year.


Heidi secretly dreamed of writing a book for most of her childhood, but a particularly painful rejection letter in middle school convinced her to tuck that dream away. Instead, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington and a Master’s Degree in Athletic Training from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After a brief career as a Certified Athletic Trainer, Heidi married her husband Steve. They live in North Carolina with their three active boys and one amazing Goldendoodle. Heidi dusted off her big dream of becoming a published author and launched her first contemporary romance into the world in 2014. She is a huge fan of coffee, dark chocolate, and happily ever after. Look for her next novel Their Baby Blessing releasing June 2019 from Harlequin Love Inspired.

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Their Baby Blessing back cover copy (releases June 1, 2019):

The navy prepared him for anything … except an instant family

When navy veteran Gage Westbrook promised to look out for his late best friend’s son, he never imagined he’d bond with the baby boy. And he definitely didn’t plan to fall for Connor’s gorgeous temporary guardian, Skye Tomlinson. But weighted by guilt for the accident that took Connor’s dad, can Gage find the courage to forgive himself and embrace the chance at a family?

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