Highways, Speed Bumps, and Traffic Lights

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

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Writers seldom become successful and create a marketable book—overnight. At least that wasn’t my experience. The victories and Dreamstriumphs are waylaid with rejection slips, disappointments, and  lots of rewrites. But when the first sale was made, I knew it was worth every drop of sweat and tears.

My journey began in 1996 when my husband gave me the ultimate challenge – “Stop telling me you’re going to one day write a book. Do it now. Quit your job, and if you can get anything published in the next year, then you never have to go back.”

I’m not a big person, but the cliche that dynamite comes in small packages fits my temperament. “All right. I will.” I’d sensed for a long time God wanted me to write, and I’d done so since a second grader. But an itch to write stories is a whole lot different from actually taking the necessary steps to make it happen.

The “I will” response to my husband meant I needed to approach my writing career as a novelist, not only to fulfill my dreams but also to look at my new position as a business. The first day in my writing career was met with lots of paper and a pencil, so I could erase and add to my thoughts. Being a newbie, a huge word count was writing 500 words per day. That goal became an action item in the DiAnn Mills’ plan.
patienceDid I mention I had to learn how to use a computer? My husband worked in the computer industry, and he gave me patient instruction. Good thing, because I needed patience!

The final outline looked something like this:

  1. Priorities: God, my husband, my family, and my writing. In that order.
  2. Develop a mission statement—This is unique for every writer.
  3. Write 500 words per day. Stay in the chair until it is done. (This now 2000 to 2500 words).
  4. Read every day from a how-to book.
  5. Read from the genre I want to write.
  6. Read from the bestseller list—the Christian and the General market top sellers.
  7. Search out a writer’s group and become an active participant.

The seven items were simple, but they kept me busy more than eight hours a day. As time went on, I watched movies to discover plot points, characterization, and dialogue.

When I realized I needed a critique partner, I started a group in my home. All I needed was writers, freshly baked cookies, coffee, and an open heart. For ten years Wordsmith met once a month, encouraging and supporting each other. One of the valuable lessons I’ve learned is when to say no to the demands of my schedule. That one was tough!

Over the years, I’ve adjusted my style and thinking according to changes in the publishing industry. If I believed a character grew into a better person by dealing appropriately with change, then I must apply the principle to my own writing. I started publishing romance novels but wanted to write suspense. I took a deep breath and made the plunge into writing suspense-filled novels.hardwork

Social media rose as the number one means of reaching others around the world. The process of establishing myself on various social media platforms was a means of making friends, helping others, and growing my relationship with those whom I’d never met.

In case you’re wondering, during that first year of determined writing, I sold devotionals, a short story, and a novel. Never went back to the old job.

The past twenty years have been well worth my husband’s challenge. He’s my best cheerleader.
Dreams and goals don’t have to be a dead end street. No matter what challenges you face when starting something new, seek out the knowledge and take the ride of your life.

What goal is nudging you forward?

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