Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Planning


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Story Planning Software: Plottr

  Missy Tippens


Do you like to visually plan your stories--mind maps, poster boards, sticky notes, charts, Scrivener cork board, notecards, and/or timelines? If so, I’ve discovered a great new app I wanted to share with you today!

Story Planning Software: Plottr


Plottr. It helps you create visual timelines that can assist you in generating your outline/synopsis.


I bought the program back in May and feel as if I’ve barely put a dent in all I’ll be able to do with it. Plus, as they get feedback from authors, they’re releasing new features constantly. I’ll just share a few of the features I’ve been using and really like.


One of my favorite things is being able to use a template. I have a hard time seeing the big picture in a story, so this really helps me keep on target. They offer many templates, some of which you’ve already heard of or used. Just a few examples are The Hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell), Romancing the Beat (Gwen Hayes), 12 Chapter Mystery, The W Plot, and Story Circle (Dan Harmon). I played around with two or three and finally settled on using Romancing the Beat. I love it!


What’s great is that you can fill in each beat as is, or you can move things around to suit your story. Everything can be dragged and dropped. You can have multiple plot lines. You can have multiple views (vertical or horizontal). You can use multiple colors. You can pull up your story in outline mode or timeline mode.


Here’s an example so you can envision how the timeline works.



Story Planning Software: Plottr


You can create plot cards and also store info about your characters. You can even keep track of a series! You can create a story bible. You can store photos/images. Here's an example of storing information about Places:

Story Planning Software: Plottr


You can tag things, so that if you want to do a search—for example one particular character—you can pull up everything with that tag and follow that character’s scenes. You can also tag particular plot lines (romance, character arc, faith journey, etc) so that you can keep up.


Here’s an example of tagging and filtering:


Story Planning Software: Plottr


Once you have your timeline filled in, you can auto-generate an outline.


I just discovered you can even add dialogue snippets if they hit you while you’re working. :) I’ll be using that soon.



Story Planning Software: Plottr


I also thought it might help to see the timeline in vertical view in case your brain works better seeing it that way:



Story Planning Software: Plottr


I could go on and on. Here's a link to Plottr so you can check it out. (No affiliate links. I just wanted to include a link to make it easier for you.) You can download a free trial to see what you think of it. They also have demos you can check out.


Plottr was created by Cameron Sutter. Cameron was a software engineer by trade who was writing novels but having trouble figuring out how to plan them and be able to keep track of notes, and manage story elements that changed all the time. A friend in his writing group suggested a visual tool for planning stories. So he got to work on one using his software background!


I’ve used the Scrivener corkboard for planning my stories (it’s the only feature I use in Scrivener). But I find Plottr works much better for me. I can do a lot more with my plot (scene/beat) cards. I’m pleased that I can get a visual grip on my whole story. And for those who do use Scrivener, you can export to Scrivener. You can also export to Word. Another feature in the works now at Plottr…you’ll eventually be able to sync with Scrivener. 


I’ll be here today to answer questions. As I said, I’ve only scratched the surface. One nice thing is that there’s a Facebook page for users to ask questions (or just lurk like I do). :)

If you like to plan your stories visually, I hope you'll check it out. Let me know what you think!

Story Planning Software: Plottr

After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com and

Dealing With Deadlines

Dealing With Deadlines
Hello everyone, Winne Griggs here. 
Right off the bat, let me apologize for the brevity of this post. I’m on deadline right now and for a number of reasons, not all of them under my control, I got behind schedule. So now I’m in catch up mode with a number of ‘burning the midnight oil’ sessions ahead of me between now and my actual deadline.

So what I thought I’d do today, in place of my planned post, was to list a few tips and quotes for dealing with deadlines, something for my benefit as well as yours.

Dealing With Deadlines

First, some things to help keep you from deadline panic mode 

  • Don’t Set Yourself Up To Fail
    Most of us have a say in the deadlines before they are set in stone. Make sure you know your capabilities, whether it be words/day or words/week. And keep in mind this is a number you can maintain consistently. For me that number is fairly low – 750 words/day with an occasional 1200 word day. Then I pull out a calendar and block off holidays, conferences I plan to attend and family events such as vacations. I also bake in time – for me it’s 3 days a month – where I cut my word count in half to allow for research and other unexpected interruptions. After I’ve laid all that out I see how long it will take me to get the first draft done. Then I add 3-4 weeks for polishing and revision.

    By the way, I’m a spreadsheet nerd and have a handy-dandy spreadsheet I’ve developed over the years to track all of this – if any of you are interested in obtaining a copy just let me know.
  • Don’t Over Commit
    Whether it be to another writing project that comes up unexpectedly that you hope to squeeze in, or other social or family projects or activities that you’re tempted to participate in, be realistic when you evaluate how they will impact the deadline you’ve already committed to. Learn the power of saying no.
  • Don’t Procrastinate
    This is a biggie for me. I’m especially bad about this when I reach the 40-50% point in my WIP. It’s at that point that I start wondering if this story is any good, if I’ve lost my ability to create a coherent story, if I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. Once I hit this wall it’s easier for me to do just about anything else than to face my writing demons and push through. One solution for this is to have an accountability partner, someone you check in with once a week or so. And hopefully this is a program you can turn to if you need help brainstorming your way past a story wall or imposter syndrome type feelings.

Dealing With Deadlines

Some things to help if you do find yourself in deadline trouble 

  • Eliminate Distractions
    Staying focused at this point is absolutely crucial. As difficult as it may be for many of us, shut down all social media sites, let family members know when you’re writing you aren’t to be disturbed except for emergencies, and put off or delegate whatever chores or errands you have on your plate until your deadline is met.
  • Adjust your work hours
    To the best of your abilities, increase the amount of time you dedicate to your writing each day, even if that means you get fewer hours of sleep on a temporary basis. Of course, this is a strategy of diminishing returns – it’s not something you can maintain for a long stretch of time.
  • Take breaks
    This may be counter-intuitive, but taking (short) breaks is a good way to keep your mind focused and sharp and your creativity flowing. You also need to make sure you eat regularly and keep yourself hydrated. Just make sure you keep the breaks brief and don’t get lost in social media or other distractions that can sabotage your plans. Set a timer if you need to.

Dealing With Deadlines

And what do you do if worse comes to worse and you actually miss a deadline?

It happens. So how do you handle it?

  • Communicate
    It's absolutely critical that as SOON as it becomes obvious you’re not going to make it, inform everyone it’s going to impact – your agent, your editor any freelancers you’ve contracted with. They need to know as soon as possible so they can make the appropriate  adjustments. And if you negotiate an extended deadline, whatever you do make absolutely sure, barring acts of God, that you’re able to hit it
  • Learn From Your Mistakes
    Analyze what went wrong. Were you were optimistic in how much you can produce daily/weekly on average? Did you fail to take interruptions into account - like holidays, travel days, edit & promo activity on previous books? Did unexpected illnesses or family emergencies hit you? Whatever the case, try to figure some way to learn from it and factor that lesson into your next occasion to negotiate a deadline.
Dealing With Deadlines

Dealing With Deadlines

There you have it, my short and sweet list of how to deal with deadlines. And yes, the fact that I'm in catch-up mode right now makes this post a case of do as I say, not as I do!  :)

What about you - do you have any tips or pointers to add? Lessons learned you'd like to share?

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for winner's choice of any book from my backlist.

Preparing for 2020

Preparing for 2020
by Mindy Obenhaus

Suppose you were going to embark on a journey. A long, twelve-month journey. Would you set out on your trip without a map or knowing where you wanted to go, or would you have a few stops in mind, perhaps things you’d like see along the way?

Chances are you would have at least one goal, if not many. Why not approach a new year the same way, while the calendar (or much of it, anyway) is still blank? After all, life is a journey. So find a moment to press the Pause button on life, grab cuppa whatever, along with a pen and paper and ask yourself this question: What are my goals for 2020?

Preparing for 2020
Okay, now before you roll your eyes and politely inform me that you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, hear me out. I’m not talking about lofty, pie-in-the-sky notions such as “I want to make the best seller list” or “I want to win the lottery.” Those are things you have absolutely no control over. What I’m asking you to think about are those things you do have control over. What are some realistic things you’d like to accomplish in the next twelve months?

As an example, here’s my list from last year that I entitled Goals, Wishes and Dreams.

  • Four-book contract for new series (I was finishing up the last book in another series that would fulfill my current contract, so this was in realm of possibility)
  • Quarterly newsletters
  • Posts on my personal blog
  • Attend RWA
  • Attend ACFW
  • Shop Round Top Week (twice-a-year massive antique fair not far from where I live, yet I never seem to get there)
  • Visit Ouray
  • Get back on my eating program
  • Write a holiday book
  • Update camphouse
Ten items. Things I had hoped to accomplish. Things that were a guide, pointing me in the right direction as I journied through 2019. I kept it in the back of my calendar and recently revisited it to see how I fared. 
Preparing for 2020

The results?
  • I received a contract for the four-book series.
  • To my surprise, I mananged ten newsletters.
  • Not one post on my personal blog, which now has me considering eliminating it.
  • I was able to attend both RWA and ACFW.
  • My daughter and I made it to Round Top last spring for a day of combing for treasures.
  • I did not make it to Ouray. Maybe in 2020.
  • However, I did get back on my eating plan.
  • I did not write a holiday book, though there was one in my new series proposal so I will be writing one soon.
  • And we painted the inside of our camphouse and did some much-needed purging.
Seven out of ten isn’t bad. It was exciting to tick off those things I’d actually accomplished. Like I said, they don’t have to be big things, just things that are important to you. Things you may be procrastinating on. Two years ago, my number one goal was to learn how to make a meme. I’m still not great at it, but at least I know how.

Listen, I've spent many a year floundering through life. Sure I had ideas of things I wanted to do, but there's something that happens when you write them down. Like a contract you've made with yourself. And while there's nothing binding about it, suddenly you want to approach things more purposefully. As though something in your brain clicks and says, "Okay, this is what I want to achieve, so what steps am I going to take to make it happen?"

So let's chat about this. Tell me one thing you'd like to do this year. Nothing is too small. Perhaps you simply want to clean out that closet that's been taunting you forever. Whatever it is, I'd like to know. And then we'll meet up again next year and see how we did.

Preparing for 2020Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at

Planning Your 2020 With Susan May Warren

Erica Vetsch here:

As we’re deep into the season of ‘pumpkin-spice everything people are already beginning to think about winter and the coming of 2020. With every new year comes the desire for new plans and goals, and folks start thinking about how to get organized to make those goal-dreams a reality.

For some people, this means a new planner. I love looking at new planners at the office supply store, but somehow, they never seemed to cover all the things I wanted. I found myself having to tailor my life to the planner instead of the other way around. I'd stopped getting planners each year and just decided to 'wing it.'

Then I was given the opportunity to scrutinize an advanced copy of the My Brilliant Writing Planner 2020. And I can tell you, I did, every single page! I’m inspired, I’m humbled, and I’m impressed! Finally, a planner that seems to 'get me.'

I’m thrilled to have my friend, Susan May Warren, the creator of the My Brilliant Writing Planner 2020 here with us on Seekerville to talk about how the planner came to be and how to use the planner to best advantage.

Planning Your 2020 With Susan May Warren

FYI! Seeker-Villagers, as I leafed through the pages of the MBWP, I had so many questions! I've put those questions to Susie, and her answers are below, but if you have others, be sure to ask them in the comments section!

1. What led you to create a writing planner to share with other writers?

For years, writers and others have asked me how I get so much accomplished. Wife, mother, author, active in my church, teacher—frankly, it’s no bigger load than anyone else, but I was writing, on average, four books a year, sometimes more, as well as marketing, and sometimes it looked like a lot. The truth is, I’ve always been very focused—in my goals, and my time. And that has allowed me to produce good work in a short amount of time. (more on that below) I have been using and honing my system for a decade, but I finally put it together in a planner a couple years ago and those who have used it have said it changed their writing life. I’ve been honing it every year—looking for something for the creative, but also the business minded. (or those who want to be!) It’s the best way I know to help people build productive, focused careers.

2. What makes your planner different from others targeted specifically for writers?

Its built for the creative mind, the mind that needs big chunks of time to focus on writing, or marketing or other areas of their lives. The fact is, creatives need plenty of white space to think and brainstorm and write and rewrite, and we need to schedule our lives around what I call “Power Blocks” or chunks of focused time that allow for people to dig into their story/creativity. Power Blocks also give the answer as to what to do with the inevitable interruptions that threaten our focus. (don’t worry, there is a free course that comes with the planner that teaches the concept and application of Power Blocking.) Along with creating a system especially for creatives, our planner is doodle-friendly, and includes a publishing strategy section, a life-planning section and a way to corral it all in the daily planning. And my favorite part—it includes a section of daily journaling.

3. What if you’re not a planner-type person? What does the MBWP offer for those with less-structured preferences?

The point of the planner is to corral your plans without pinning you down. It’s NOT the kind of planner that is going to pin you down to a structure, but leaves you free to move with your energy, your daily flow, and your creativity. But, the planner helps you capture all your goals, based on your values, and even helps you prioritize which ones to pursue. Just having the right questions to answer will help you get a view of your life—and help you see the small things that will lead to the big picture. At the very least it will help you see what is on your immediate radar, and allow you to figure it out day by day without getting overwhelmed.

4. What’s your favorite section of the planner?

Oh, aside from the daily inspiration section, I LOVE the storycrafting section in the back. I love having all my story ideas in one place. I often think of something to add as I’m having my daily miracle morning, or even after I finish with my writing day—and I capture it all in one place. My characters and plots are all together and it’s so easy to keep track of my story. (and I love the word count tracking system each month!)

Planning Your 2020 With Susan May Warren

5. Receiving the planner and opening it up is quite an experience in and of itself. What prompted you to go the extra mile with the packaging to make getting that rainbow box such a special event?

Our stories matter! And I wanted to create that feeling of excitement going into 2020—almost like you get to un-box your dreams and hopes for the new year. I picked the inspirational message to motivate authors as they opened the box with the hope that they would know that a great year awaited them.

6. Inside the planner there are places to track things other than writing, which makes the MBWP more than just a writing journal/tracker. What areas were you keen to focus on when creating the planner?

The idea was to create ONE planner for everything. In the past I usually had 3 or even 4 planners – a prayer journal, a writing planner, a business planner and a household planner. I hated hauling around and keeping track of all these separate elements. MBWP includes all the elements of our lives—from meal planning, to errands and appointments, to what we’re reading, to water consumption, social media tracking, and even a place to evaluate our month! I love all the useful pieces—plus, it’s fun to write on!

7. The planner is printed in black-and-white, with lots of open space to encourage colorful creativity when filling out the pages. Do you think being creative within the planner will spark creativity in our writing?

I hope so! I’m a doodler when I’m thinking, or listening, and all our monthly pages are coloring pages for exactly that purpose. But I also doodle or color on the inspiration pages as I’m thinking or praying, and I also keep notes on the back pages (at the end of each month.) I promotes the concept of sitting and thinking, and frankly, that’s one of the biggest elements of being a writer…thinking!

Planning Your 2020 With Susan May Warren

8. Some of the features are so common-sense that they can be easy to overlook, like the elastic band to keep it closed, the pocket in the back for holding extras, etc. One of my favorites is the spiral binding that allows the planner to be laid flat for ease of use. Do you have a favorite ‘extra’ feature?

THE STICKERS!!! I love the 2 pages of stickers in the back. They’re to track both writing and something called SACRED REST. Sacred Rest is all about refilling ourselves intentionally in those areas where we pour out (there is a class on this in the course!) But they add an element of fun to the planner. (which is already super fun!)

Planning Your 2020 With Susan May Warren

9. We’re fast approaching the craziest month on the writing calendar, November, which is National Novel Writing Month. How can the MBWP help prepare writers for NaNoWriMo even before 2020 rolls around?

I’m glad you asked. Our November section is especially designed for NaNoWriMo with a word count planner. We also have a word count tracker every day, so that is especially important for NaNo. Finally, the storycrafting sheets in the back are a great place to keep your story as you motor through the month.

10. Can you talk about the bonus online class that comes with every MBWP purchase?

We created a course because we understand that this has elements that are maybe not as intuitive as other planners. (e.g. there are NO 15 minute time increments!) So, I create a class—most of the lessons are about 10-20 minutes long—to help understand how to adapt the planner to your own system. The include everything from strategic planning to habit stacking, to brilliant bursts and sprints, to how to use the time templates and power blocks. We also offer tips on time management (of course) and how to get stuff done!

Also, this year we added three classes on Values Based planning, Prayer Targets and Sacred Rest.

11. Where can writers learn more about the My Brilliant Writing Planner and get their hands on a copy for themselves?

It’s available on Amazon and at

Erica here again. So, there you have it. An exciting, powerful, helpful planner designed just for writers to help them get organized and meet their goals, both those in the writing life and those in "normal" life. :) 

Do you have a special writer in your life? Wondering what to get them for Christmas that will show that you love them and support their writing dreams? The My Brilliant Writing Planner 2020 makes a great gift!

Planning Your 2020 With Susan May Warren

About Susie:

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy, Carol, and RITA award–winning author of more than sixty-five novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. In addition to her writing, Susan is an internationally acclaimed writing teacher and runs an academy for writers, Novel.Academy. She’s taught at conferences around the world and helped many novelists onto the bestseller list.

Be sure to ask questions in the comments section! Susie (and I) would love to hear from you! ~ Erica

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity

If you’ve been paying attention here in Seekerville, you’ve probably noticed a theme running through several posts this summer. It started in June with Amanda Barrett’s post about stress reduction for writers, then continued with Cate Nolan’s post about that 15-letter word we all hate: Procrastination. Pam Hillman finished up the June theme with her post on burning the candle at both ends, and Mary Connealy carried it into July with her post on plowing the rough field.

Do you see the connection?

My life this summer is no different. In April my husband and I finally found our retirement home in the Black Hills, ending a year-long search to find the perfect place, and we knew we were facing a long summer of changes. Big changes.

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity
The view from our new deck - I can't get enough of it!
Soli Deo Gloria

But we had no idea how many unexpected changes God had in store for us.

With all these changes comes the list of tasks…applying for a mortgage, having garage sales to downsize our possessions, packing box after box, finding temporary housing for the next four weeks until we can move into our new house, etc. etc. etc. Insurance, changing addresses, changing utility companies, finding a new internet provider... It never ends!

And we're moving THIS WEEK! Suddenly, everything seems VERY URGENT!

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity

Meanwhile, my next deadline is looming, getting closer every day. October 1st will be here before I know it! And THAT is very important!

How do I determine which wins my time? Do I do the important things? The urgent things? Both?

Some days I just want to chuck it all and go back to bed! Sometimes I think the chaos is going to win.

But while my head tends to think I’m standing on a very shaky house of cards, my heart knows that God will take me through this stormy season.

One way He's doing it is through three major tools that are helping me survive the chaos and become more productive, and I’d love to share them with you in case your life is chaotic too! (Who am I kidding? We’re all living crazy-busy lives!)

The first is my Bullet Journal, affectionately known as my BuJo. You can read about the Bullet Journal here, and you can find tons of ideas on Pinterest. I can't say enough about how my BuJo has changed my life in the past few years. No planner made by someone else fits me, but my BuJo is perfect for me because I create it myself.

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity

My BuJo layout is fairly simple – mostly a daily task list – but I also use project pages for major things like moving and tracking my daily word count. I color code my tasks: blue for writing related activities, green for home and family, red for church, orange for moving, and pink for things that are just for me.

I have monthly pages, then a space for the current week, and then daily entries. I use my BuJo to keep track of what I have planned for each day.

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity
In this crazy summer, I've also found it helpful to keep
a countdown to major dates.

The second is an idea from Dwight D. Eisenhower. It’s a matrix for prioritizing tasks that he developed while he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War Two (and I thought my life was stressful!) You can read about the Eisenhower Matrix here.

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity

This matrix helps me separate the urgent AND important tasks from those that are either urgent OR important. It helps me decide which jobs need to be done NOW, which jobs to schedule for another day, and which I shouldn’t be doing AT ALL. That's how I prioritize what I need to do each day.

When I merged these two tools, my to-do list became manageable. I can decide which things are today’s tasks (ideally one major thing – my word count – and two or three less-major things) and which can be scheduled for tomorrow or next week. It also helps me determine which tasks can be delegated (i.e. asking for help from my dear husband).

I confess – I’ve always had a hard time asking someone else to do something I think needs to be done. But I continue to learn how necessary it is.

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity

Not surprisingly, that last square in the Eisenhower matrix, the “Don’t Do” square, has made all the difference. If it’s before 5:00 in the afternoon and I find myself wandering toward “just a few minutes to see what’s on Facebook,” that don't do list brings me back. I keep that list taped to my computer screen!

But I mentioned three things earlier, didn't I?

The third thing that God has brought to my attention this summer is rest.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is looking for you." And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39 ESV)

Jesus was an incredibly busy man. Everything he did was important. Every waking moment was spent doing his Father's work...except for those times when he went off by himself for prayer. He knew how to separate the urgent from the important.

That's my inspiration - not only for writing, but for life.

If I'm too busy to go off by myself and spend some time with God, then I am too busy. I'm letting the urgent take the place of the important.

If I'm too busy to accept God's gift of rest, not only on Sunday, but every day, then I am too busy.

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity

What effect have these three things had on my productivity?

It's amazing. When I think of what God has helped me accomplish over the last several months, I am astounded.

Believe it or not, I'm naturally lazy. My idea of a pleasant evening is to curl up in my favorite chair, stitching in my hands and an audio book playing or a good movie on television. Add a gentle snow-fall and a fire in the stove, and I'm a happy camper. *sigh* Comfy jammies and all!

But with these tools, I can enjoy steady productivity and my time of rest - with God in the morning and with my cross stitching in the evenings.

And this crazy-stressful season of my life? Easy like Sunday morning. No chaos allowed.

How do you conquer the chaos in your life? Do you use a planner? An on-line calendar? Or have you thrown in the towel? 

Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity
Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of more than thirty-five years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their expanding family.

Planning, Plotting, Pantsing: What Matters, What Doesn't

by Multi-published, Award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne

You're a planner.

You're a plotter.

You're a pantser.

Guess what?

It doesn't matter. Not all that much. Not nearly as much as some would have you believe.

Planning, Plotting, Pantsing: What Matters, What Doesn't

How you write isn't nearly as important as how you spend your time. If you're spending all of your time planning or plotting or researching and not writing, well... then your production may drop. Or be non-existent.

What does that mean, you ask?

Simple. We follow the math. Some creative types hate to look at numbers. It stifles their creativity.


Like so many things, it comes down to numbers and a writer is actually running a small business. You need to know and understand the numbers of your business to make it work, right? We'll keep it simple, I never get complicated if I can possibly avoid it.

If you plan or plot your book for a month... then write it for two months and have a full book 90 days in:


And I mean that most seriously.

If you didn't plan or overly plot and you still have a book done at 90 days, YOU ROCKED IT, TOO!!! PARTY BONUS FOR YOU AS WELL!

So you're equal, correct? Both with a book done at 90 days, equating the possibility of 4 books/year if they're 70,000 to 80,000 word books. Leaving some editing time there.

You two can go grab coffee now. I'm not talking to youse at the moment. I'm talking to them.

You know who you are...

You've over-plotted four books and haven't finished one.

You've written three great openings, and sent them out to editors and EVEN GOT A BITE ON ONE, a request for a full manuscript, but alas... you haven't finished a manuscript.

And therein lies the problem.

It's not the writing for some folks.

It's the finishing.

When someone does the dishes and leaves them on the counter to air dry: UNFINISHED TASK.

When someone walks out of a bedroom leaving the bed unmade: UNFINISHED TASK

When someone adds pool chemicals but doesn't vacuum the weird things on the bottom: UNFINISHED TASK

When someone washes a car, but doesn't wash the inside of the windows: UNFINISHED TASK

Do you get what's similar about all of these tasks? They look good on the surface. Effort has been expended. Stuff's gotten started, but nothing is finished.

That's a common conundrum, and the basic reason why many authors never get published...

Because writing the whole book isn't easy. It's not the fun part. It's a challenge on a daily basis.

Now I love what I do. Like that cute GMC truck commercial, and the wife that claims the big gray truck, exclaiming "I LOVE IT!!!" And the crazy cute guys acquiesces and nods toward the big red SUV. "I like red."

That's me and writing. I love it.

So maybe I'm jaded because I love what I do, but if you also love it, then why aren't you finishing things?

Here's a probable cause: Your conflict isn't strong enough and your characters are under-developed.

That's another common cause of the malady they call "Writer's Block"... when the brain just can't wrap its head around the story, it's usually because the story is too weak to write. Once you've added layers of conflict, reasons to avoid one another, and big bumps in the road, the kind that are organic to the story, not just thrown in for the author's page count, you have the depth to keep writing. Otherwise it's very hard to know what on earth these characters should do next?


We are all guilty of this at one time or another. And the world didn't end. We re-write.

We deepen the conflict, we add reasons why the characters can't ever get along (Mother/daughter, sister/sister, hero/heroine) and then we have them creep toward the middle...

Not like Justin Timberlake in "Can't Stop the Feeling"... 

And by the way, Justin can creep up on me anytime. The guy is two thumbs up stinkin' adorable, but I digress...

And along those lines, as an author I would be REMISS to not remind you about my newest Love Inspireds "A Cowboy in Shepherd's Crossing", a great story about a cowboy who thinks he know just who he is, what he's doing and where he's going...

Planning, Plotting, Pantsing: What Matters, What Doesn't

Until he finds out he's been living a lie for thirty years.

Great story. Heart-grabbing characters. And a beautiful Western Idaho setting that makes you want to move there, like right now.

I've got a copy to give away to one lucky commenter. It could be you... and I promise: It's a really good story.

What's your plan for this brand new year with no mistakes in it yet? Well, hardly any!

Let me know below and I've got the Keurig set up, delightful creamers and raw sugar. You know you love raw sugar.

I just love saying it!

Raw sugar.

What's the plan, Stan? Answer and I'll tuck your name into the cowboy hat for this latest Shepherd's Crossing book... and a favorite of readers nationwide already!

Planning, Plotting, Pantsing: What Matters, What Doesn't
Multi-published, award-winning inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne is living the dream of writing books that touch the heart-- and soul-- and leave the reader wanting more. Book #50 will be published in 2019 and she is over-the-moon about that! Find her on facebook or Twitter as Ruth Logan Herne, stop by her website and email her at to sign up for her newsletter or just to chat. She's a people person most days, as long as caffeine and chocolate are involved!

Story Planning Software: PlottrDealing With DeadlinesPreparing for 2020Planning Your 2020 With Susan May WarrenManaging the Chaos to Encourage ProductivityPlanning, Plotting, Pantsing: What Matters, What Doesn't

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