Friday, August 31, 2007

Panel Discussion: Motivation


Dyanne Davis, Nikki Arana, J. S. Hawley, Dara Girard, Stefanie Worth, Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo, Rhonda Jackson Joseph, Andrea Jackson, Marilynn Griffith, DeRon Smith


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world of "what makes you tick?" This is a great conference. I'm honored to be a part of this event and to "meet" each one of you. My debut novel Where Souls Collide was released this month from Dorchester. My journey to publication has been an on-again-off-again trek, but I learned as much in the time I spent away from writing as I did when I was at the keyboard. Through it all -- the day job, the kids, the doubters, etc. -- I found the will and a way to make it happen. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

Didalynn said...

Thank you for coming to share with all of us!

F. D. Davis said...

Good morning all,

My name is Dyanne Davis. Since this is a panel discussion on motivation I will begin by saying a great way to remain motivated is simply by interacting with other writers, like this WONDERFUL CONFERENCE. To me it’s as natural as breathing. If I want to fellowship with like minded people I go where they are. You can never fail to be up lifted in the company of people that share your interests.

I seriously hope that all of us have saved something in a word document that touched us or informed us on things we weren’t aware of. In those times when you need a bit of encouragement go back to it. Know that you’ve made a new group of friends, or reconnected with old ones who not only understand the dreaming, and the voices in your head, but who wish you well.

Shelia said...

Hi all, Hope everyone is having a good Friday so far.

Rae Lori said...

Hi Stefanie and Dyanne! I'm really enjoying reading about everyone's writing experiences so far.

This is a question to the entire panel. When do you (or did you) feel you've "made it" as a writer?

Thanks in advance!

Rae Lindley

F. D. Davis said...

Hi Rae,

I don't know that I've yet had the feeling that I've made it as a writer. I feel wonderful when someone takes the time from their busy life to send me a letter or an email and tell me that they got what I was trying to do, or that it really touched them.

I don't know that I want to ever feel that way. I'm not saying that I don't want the money or the recognition or be on New York Times bestsellers list. But I never want to forget that all of this is a gracious gift that I'm indulging in. I always want to be in the mindset that I have more to learn and more to share. I want to remain real.

LOL. Like I said, I do want the things that come with it. I just never want to think I'm all that,

Unknown said...

Hello to everyone. I am enjoying the conference and the wealth of knowledge I have recieved so far.

Dyanne, I must co-sign on your comments. This conference and having the opportunity to network and learning from both published and aspiring authors, has really motivated me. I must admit, I was in the middle of a really bad block that i just couldn't seem to push through. But being reminded that everyone struggles from time to time, but the determined keep going, has really sparked my creative juice with the story I am working on.

Again, thank you all.

PatriciaW said...

I concur with Dyanne! I spend a lot of time reading and posting to the blogs of other writers--too much time!--but I get inspired daily. I do keep a Word doc with the most inspiring words (with citation info in case I want to quote them).

Sometimes motivation comes from reading the work of others, another thing I do constantly. Not that negative "I can do it better" thing but simply enjoying a good story, which motivates me to want to tell my "good stories" too.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

Nikki here. What keeps me motivated is the incredible spiritual journey that my writing has set me on. My story is different than most because I never dreamed of being a writer. It just happened. The sequence of events that led to me receiving a 3 book contract from the submission of my first novel was clearly God ordained. From that experience I learned it was all about God’s timing. I was in alignment, in His timing, with His plan for my life. Quite by accident on my part. But had I know what the Lord was really doing, I might not have followed Him. He was leading me away from my own dreams and the real estate business I had spent thirty years building into financial security and soon retirement. All of that is now part of the past and who I was “before.” Before I learned to follow Him.

For me I no longer see my writing journey as having much to do with writing. It is about learning to listen to the Lord each day. To write the books He gives me with no expectation of the outcome. That is His responsibility. This is a very hard lesson. It took me three years of continually wanting and trying to take control of my writing life to finally learn that I could not discern what He wanted if I was focused on what I wanted. I learned that God’s truth and man’s truth are not the same thing. You’ll find that lesson in a scene in my second book, In the Shade of the Jacaranda. I learned that I am not meant to serve God by writing. I am meant to write so God can serve man through me, through His stories. That is a very different thing and lets me write with abandon. I can not say I am motivated to write, but I am very motivated to be obedient to the Lord. For now, He has given me a writing ministry which I enter into each day with joy. Where it is going I have no idea and don’t think about it. Because it is where He is going that matters. Follow the Lord where He leads. His ways are mysterious and beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Good morning all,

I'm popping in before heading off to work. In my opinion this has been as exceptional conference.

It has been accessibility and interaction with wonderful literary peers that is a constant motivation for me.

Thank you all for being so giving and open with your expertise.


Vicki M. Taylor said...

Motivation for me comes from inside as well as outside influences. Having the respect of my peers and know that others think my writing is good really helps to keep me going. It gives me the boost I need sometimes when I feel like everything I write should end up in the trash.

The way I motivate myself internally is to use a bit of psychology and self-hypnosis like techniques. I tell myself I'm a good writer. I tell myself I'm a great writer and someday all the world will know. It's a given that it will happen. I just have to be patient and good things will happen. I remind myself of the awards I've won for my writing, that always gives me a kick in the pants when I need it.

I like to read other authors to help motivate me to write. It gives me a chance to see that others made it, so can I.

One of the things I need help with in motivating me to submit my work to agents is to get over my fear of rejection. Motivation to write is one thing, but motivation to submit to agents is something totally different, for me.

I would be eternally grateful for any tips. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Vicki,

I understand your fear of rejection. I've always looked at the agent hunt as dating. You have to find your right match. First, write down why you want an agent and what you want the agent to do for you and your career. This helps you to have standards. As you’ve probably heard ‘no agent’ is better than a ‘bad agent’ and you want the best.

Once you’ve decided what you want in this new partnership think of yourself as a businesswoman with a great proposition. You’re inviting someone to make money off of your product(s). So, try to change the conversation in your head. You’re an accomplished woman eventually someone (the right one) will want to represent you.
For the lingering fear of rejection, come up with kind of statements to crush the fears: These statements could be:

“So they reject me, I’m still a great writer.”

"So another person failed to see the brilliance of my work, their loss."

“I want someone excited about my work so he’s obviously not the right one.”

"I know the right person is out there for me if I keep looking."

"The right agent will come at the right time."

Also sometimes it helps to just send it out without over thinking the process and then get to work on your next project. Good luck to you. I know the agent hunt can be grueling, but you deserve to get what you want.

F. D. Davis said...

I want to interject something here on rejection. Rejection does not in itself mean your work is bad. It can simply mean that the person you submitted it to just got thirty other mss with the same theme, doesn't like the topic, doesn't have an in with anyone to sell the topic or is having a bad day and rejecting everything. It could also be that they're not taking new clients but not saying it. Pop over to the agent workshop and ask

upwords said...

Hello everyone,

Great comments so far. I'm really enjoying them. (Hey Dyanne!)My name is Marilynn Griffith and I'm working on my seventh novel. I also have seven children. I think I get inspired (sparked) more than motivated (pushed) at this point. Some of my best sparks come to me during church or talking with my girlfriends. I always have a notebook with me to capture ideas and words. So many words. Reading probably inspires me more than anything. I read quite a bit. Looking forward to the other responses and questions.

Serious Faith. Serious Fiction. Serious Fun.

F. D. Davis said...


That's the smartest thing to have something to write down those ideas that come. Years ago ideas would always come to me and I would say I'll write it down in the morning. You know what happened. It was gone. Now whenever an idea comes I write it down. Sometimes I have to keep repeating it until I can get to write it down. Those times my husband ask, "are you thinking of a story? LOL

rhondajjoseph said...

Hi, everybody,

When I saw that there would be a panel on motivation I jumped at the chance to be a part of the discussion. Staying motivated can be difficult in many industries, but I think sometimes it is especially hard for professionals who deal with rejection on a regular basis from publishing houses, agents, peers, reviewers and maybe even family members. Many times, regular life gets in the way and writing and continuing to pursue a fulfilling career around writing may seem almost impossible.

But we all know we have to write. Why? If you all are anything like me, it’s because you can’t not do it. It is our gift, and we are charged with using it.

Although I’ve been writing since I was a child, my first serious attempts at doing it for a living were stalled by many things: I was a single parent, enrolled in school, and working full time. It seemed I never had any time to really sit down and write. But I plugged away anyway, stealing every little bit of time I could to do what I could. Then I got married and pregnant again, and my daughter was born with several disabilities. Every aspect of my life was crushed as I grieved for my princess. My husband and I decided that my staying at home would allow our baby the best chance at rehabilitation she would have. For months, all I could really think about was what her care entailed—numerous therapy and specialist visits, surgeries, tube feedings, medications. Then, one day I looked around and figured out she and I had finally found our groove and it didn’t take me every minute around the clock to care for her. I started looking around for something else to do. So I dusted off the computer.

It came to me suddenly—I now had time to write. Full time. All the time. And I felt the giddiness return; that excitement of putting words together I’d missed without any writing in my life.

I plugged away and started submitting again. I made several sales. I attended my first writer’s conference, which was the one LaShaunda gave online. I was able to bounce my baby girl on my lap while I participated. I met so many people and learned so much! My dream of being a “real writer” was finally coming true. And the best thing was, I didn’t have to sacrifice my family to achieve this dream. My crew worked better with me at home, and my daughter’s care didn’t go lacking.

I later wrote in an essay that my daughter’s birth was a double-edged sword. Of course I love her to death and wouldn’t trade her for the world. But if she had been a child without any challenges, I would have returned to work full time after her birth. My family would have suffered for my absence, and who knows when I would have been able to go after the career of my heart. I realized that God always knows best, and although the circumstances from which my opportunity came were painful, the rainbow that rose up showed me His grace.

Now, my main motivation for writing comes from this grace. Many other opportunities have shown themselves along this path because of Divine intervention, and I truly feel that writing is what I am supposed to do. It’s not always easy. There are times when my now five-year old little lady needs medical equipment and the money to pay for it is short, and I wish I had a steady check coming in the mail. Or the car needs repairs and my husband has to work an extra day to cover it.

But then, on the way out the door to yet another therapy visit, my two-year old grabs a copy of my book and proclaims, “That’s Mommy on the book. Mommy, I like your book.” And my teenager adds, “Mama, it would be cool if we could read one of your books in school sometime. Can we get ice cream?”

And it all comes together for me. Could I possibly need any better motivation?

F. D. Davis said...


I'd say that's the best motivation in the world. It also shows that no matter how bad things might seem God always has another plan. We just have to trust. Sometimes it takes us thinking all is lost, praying, and really accepting God's will for our lives, in the heart accepting, not the lip service kind.

Asking, believing you've received it and not asking again is also a great motivator.

The Paperback Diva said...

As has happened so many times during the conference, the people who posted previously have given my feelings in better words than I could have. *lol* I'll add my endorsement and try to give a fresh tweak.

Someone said we write because we can't NOT write. So true. I've gone through dry spells and blocks. But even then I felt an itch that wouldn't leave me alone. I had to keep doing it. For many years of hiding my work, then sending it out only to be rejected.

Joining a writer's group was a huge motivational boost. To Rae, who asked when did you feel you "made it" as a writer, that is the point I would have to select. I wasn't any better that day, I didn't sell anything, but I was in the company of people who were serious about writing.

Then I started entering contests. The comments could be encouraging or enlightening and that would keep me going. I began to get more encouraging rejections. That kept me going. And finally I sold!

But if you think that's enough, you're wrong. I'm sure all the published authors at the conference can attest that this step only changes the pressure. You want to do more, do better, reach more people.

My motivation comes from being around writers and from reading other wonderful writers. This conference has given me the opportunity to do both!

Thank you LaShaunda for organizing it and thank you to everyone who has participated to make this such a stupendous success.


Anonymous said...

Hi Vicki and everybody else who is squeamish about rejection. Here are some real ones that put things in perspective:

I am sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language.
--San Francisco Examiner, rejection letter to Kipling (1889)

Shakespeare's name, you may depend on it, will go down. He has no invention as to stories, none whatever.
--Lord Byron (1814)

Ralph Waldo Emerson [is] a hoary-headed and toothless baboon.
--Thomas Carlyle, _Collected Works_ (1871)

A huge dose of hyperbolical slang, maudlin sentimentalism and tragic-comic bubble and squeak.
--William Harrison Ainsworth, New Monthly Magazine, review of Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

A gross trifling with every fine word.
--Springfield Republican, review of Huckleberry Finn (1884)

We fancy that any child might be more puzzled than enchanted by this stiff, silly, overwrought story.
--Children's Books' review of Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carrol (1865)

- The Diary of Anne Frank: ‘The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the “curiosity” level.’

- Animal Farm by George Orwell: ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in
the USA’



Rae Lori said...


Thanks for posting those quotes. Definitely enlightening!


F. D. Davis said...

Andrea, wasn't Steven King rejected a zillion times?


Anonymous said...

Hello Ladies,

This is Yolanda here. I'm so excited to be part of this forum- Thank you Lashaunda for the opportunity...

What has been said thus far has been positive observations. I must say that God is good- and all the time! When I published my book "The ins and outs of the fashion industry- from a fashion insider", in 2005 I was clueless where I got the courage and strength to even continue with this part of my life.
Writing has been a gift as a young child but never would I imagine that I would get this far. Working in the fashion industry I’ve gone through a life of strife getting my foot in the door. I’ve been told many downing and negative commentary- everything from “oh perhaps you may want to look into another career”, to other negatives words of gloom.

But I’ve prayed like a savage, for god to show me a way.
And he has taken me on this journey (of negative to positive) to lead me to the road I lead now. After being told oh you don’t fit in you’re not assertive enough and don’t fit in, to now be this power glam business woman is mind boggling. But let me tell you writers… You can do anything if you put your best foot forward. And this is coming from a young woman that was shy through school and somewhat forced to come out of that shell to speak up for myself, that yes I too have a voice.

The ability to write and share has been such a blessing! There are doors open for us all, we just have to realize our talents despite the naysayers and take it!

Shelia said...

Yolanda, definately can't get through this journey without prayer. Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

upwords said...

What wonderful encouragement and postive atmosphere up in here! I think this conference and others like it are a motivator as well. It's also good to have people who keep you accountable. It's easy to work on something and never send it in, but if you have someone asking, "What about your piece? Was it accepted?" it's harder to avoid it.

This was the first conference I attended back in 2000 (or was it 2001, LaShaunda?)I met some of my favorite authors and got some good insight and information. I remember going to bed thinking, "Okay, God. Show me what to do next." And you know what? HE did! Now I come back because I get as much out of it as I put in. It's nice to see people get published the next year too. (Dyanne, I think I met you here? Or on the Sormag list. I loved your name. In fact, I used it in a proposal. When it sells, I'll send you one. :)


Anonymous said...

Another important wisdom to factor in with this motivation thing- is surround yourself with positive people. And believe me you will find your true friends through this process, because the "haters" are amoung us- any talk to "why do you want to write... to why do you want to write about that", should removed from the rolodex!

Not only is prayer the key to success but getting areas in your life on point, and that is usually the people in your arena. A change is a coming :)

upwords said...


This is good advice. You can't tell everybody. There are some folks you just have to hand a book to when it comes out, you know what I mean? Sometimes we are asking people's permission to succeed without realizing it, which just doesn't work. Give yourself permission and go for it!


The Paperback Diva said...

Dyanne said "Andrea, wasn't Steven King rejected a zillion times?"

lol. I think you're right! I wasn't the one who posted the list of famous rejections, but they do help put things in perspective don't they?


Anonymous said...

Hi, all -- I wanted to chime in on rejection. A big part of being motivated to me is not to take rejection personally. Again, I had the good fortune of being a writer for a living so I had grown very thick-skinned about red marks, deletions and rejection in general. I think it's important to look for nuggets of wisdom within your rejections and use them as opportunities for growth.

For example, when I finished my book, I entered it in a few romance contests to see how it would do. Although I belong to a critique group (and they were all published before me!) I wanted the opinions of those who didn't know me personally. Out of three contests, only one of myriad comments was consistent across the board. Because I'd received that one comment several times, I used it to give me a fresh perspective on the novel and began revising that part. Because the other comments were scattered, I allowed myself to view them as varied opinions, went with my heart and left those pieces as they were.

I think it also helps to continually educate yourself on the craft of writing and the workings of the publishing industry. Read how-to books, take online classes, subscribe to industry magazines, join a writers loop (or two). The more you know, the more confident you become in your ability to execute. Doing that, for me, really helped to bolster my motivation and ward off the sting of rejection.

Anonymous said...

Stefanie here again --
I think Blogger ate my earlier post on "making it" so this is a paraphrased re-post.

No, I'm not quite there yet -- at least by my own measuring stick. My dad always said the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So as I moved from journalism and corporate communications into writing a book, I set incremental monthly goals to help make my dream more attainable. And I make notes almost daily on what I've done to further my writing career.

As I reach each goal, I push the bar a little higher. I always wanted to publish, but goal #1 was to FINISH THE MANSCRIPT. Then I set timelines for submitting to an agent. I gave myself eight months to find one. When I didn't, I began submitting directly to publishers that accepted unagented manuscripts. Meanwhile, to keep from obsessing about book #1, I started outlining book #2, took a lot of online classes, allowed myself to make subtle improvements to the first novel and be ready when the call finally came.

I think I'll feel like I've made it when I can quit my day job and feed my kids off my royalties alone. LOL 'Til then, I keep pushing forward, satisfied with my progress, but always reaching higher.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ladies,

In regards to rejection...
Though some may say look beyond a harsh slice of "you're not great"... The bottomline that really damages some self esteem.

I find for myself it takes for me to really push beyond the rector to find where my balance is in making that dream reality (big or small) happen. Yes, you must keep pushing and knock some people down if need be. I don't mean get all physical and nasty, but sometimes you have to play with your mind in pushing yourself mentally.

Let me tell you...
This quiet (well once quiet) young woman wrote 1 book, that's led to an extreme amount of opportunities, and that's because of pushing myself and having a buffer just in case any no's awaited me. And those no's you try and make a yes, or find that push that will lead to a Yes.
Thanks to pushing and climbing (and the lord's push- can't forget him- for real:), my plugging and hustling has provided me:
- a role as a Fashion Editor
- a role as a Film Consultant for an independent movie company- that just won an award as feature film.
- the list goes on, but can't forget the huge amount of wonderful people that have come my way.

So though rejection can get some of us fired up to prove the naysayers wrong, those that can't bounce back need a bit of a push with that of a positive forum, and I hope that is the case for any writer visiting us her today.

You can do it- think positive, put your head up and keep it moving.

LaShaunda said...

Hello everyone,

Thanks to the panel for sharing your motivation.

This week all of you and the conference has been my motivation.

If you attended the 2003 conference, you know my mother almost died and was in a coma for a week. This week I experienced a deju vu only this time it was my uncle on the respirator hanging on for his life. They took him off the respirator and he’s breathing on his on, but they tell us its just a matter of time. Its up to God now.

Again God showed me he is in control. I truly learned that in 2003 and today I learned he is still in control. The doctor says any moment, but God says when its his time. My uncle breathing is slow and we stood around him praying. The Nun recited the Lord’s Prayer and it touched my soul because every word we needed to hear. I pray God is holding on to my Uncle Kelley’s hand as he make his journey over.

I myself want this to be over, but I know its in God’s time and his time isn’t my time. So I ask all of you to send up prayers for strength for me and my family. This time has been tough and I know as the time draw near it will be even harder.

I know you are all far away from me, but when I turn on my computer, it feels like you’re right here.

Thank you for being my motivation. My reason for smiling this week and for the laughter I really needed.

I think this has been the best conference every and I know its because of all of you.

Thank you and God Bless.

LaShaunda said...

I’ve been doing this online conference for 5 years now and each time I say never again. However each time I’m reminded of why I do it. My motivation is the writer who can’t afford a live conference, who can’t afford the babysitter and don’t have the time to leave. That person was me in 1999 when I did the first conference. That person is still me now in 2007, only this time I‘m not alone. Now I know there are others who are in my situation and appreciate the conference.

I decided this year that as long as God gave me the ability to do this conference I would offer one every other year. He wants me to give back and this is my way.

I hope you’ve learned as much as I have and remember to continue to pass it on.

Anonymous said...


You are so not alone! This was and is a great concept and I'm sure I speak for everyone - you're a gem to start this type of forum.

Isn't it funny when you're ready to give something up that brings joy to everyone but is so much to bear in organizing- god just continues to push through- like he knows the final outcome, as he does. He knows we have a bit more gusto than we say we do.

May you have the motivation to keep it running, but with the help of many to back you up.

You go girl!

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