Treatment Plan #6: What would if feel like to ________
The Perfect Word

Treatment Plan #7: Borrowing Faith

Jim and me in Santa hats      Hey, Writerly Women! I'm loving seeing the progress you're making in our Treatment Plans as evidenced by your comments. Colleen, Emii, Margie, Natasha, Pam and Skeli have all weighed in recently on seeing what it's like to do what you WANT instead of trying to WILL yourself to ________ (fill in the blank.) That has led you to --

  • letting go of the notion of productivity
  • discovering a new, more authentic story idea
  • going for the "Juice" in every scene
  • focusing on developing a website

If you haven't read the Treatment Plan #6 post, you might want to click here to check it out and join in the doing-what-you-want challenge. It's as freeing as it sounds. And if it sounds like cutting class to go have a hot chocolate, you're on the right track.

Of course, simply going for what your soul desires takes confidence in that desire as good and godly and right and all those things that tend to drive the bus. They're good drivers, no question, as long as we also allow what compels us and makes us want to get out of bed in the morning to take the wheel as well. Being able to say to yourself, "This is what I'm supposed to do on a soul level," takes a kind of certainty that isn't always easy to come by.

At least not alone.

Which brings me to the above picture.

Jim and I hit some speed bumps last week, as so many of us are experiencing right now in this CoVid Christmas season. We had to tell a dear friend who always joins us from out of town for the holidays that air travel wasn't safe for any of us and he'd have to say home. Alone. We realized several of the people we love will be celebrating solo this year. Some have become ill. Our spirits were sagging.

And then we received a box in the mail from Jim's mom (she's 95!) and sister containing two zany Santa hats, a Christmas lights necklace, a set of holiday stampers and a Christmas activity book for each of us. (How long has it been since YOU did dot-to-dots?) As if that weren't enough delight, we found out that the other two sisters and their spouses had also received such care packages. We all sent pictures and howled. Seriously, we are everyone of us in our sixties and seventies, yet we instantly became children in all the best ways and gained the perspective that usually only the youngest among us can attain in the face of crisis. Ten minutes before we opened the box, we didn't have faith in the joy the season usually brings. Ten minutes after, we were making hot toddies and baking ready-made dough cookies and planning a Feliz Navidad supper for Christmas Eve.  How did it happen?

We borrowed some faith.

It IS possible to do that, you know. You probably think of it as "being encouraged", and you're not wrong. The word "encourage" comes from the Old French "encoragier", which means to make strong, to hearten. It's a passive as well as an active verb. You can both encourage and be encouraged. In this case, let's focus on the passive. If we don't have the courage, the strength, the heart for something, we can receive that from someone else. Contrary to the American principle of independence and self-reliance and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (I don't even know what the heck those ARE ...), it is impossible for human beings to ALWAYS maintain confidence in their abilities or their choices or even what they think they hear their hearts telling them ALL BY THEMSELVES. We. Need. Each. Other. Gloria at retreat

That is not to say that we need to be seeking affirmation and permission at every turn. What is does say is that when we're DIScouraged -- when we feel stuck -- when we are riddled with self-doubt -- one of the many things we can do to be restored to balance is borrow some faith from someone who believes in us. Who has been where we are and knows whereof she speaks. Who can say, "You can totally do this. You've got it in you."

Here is what that does NOT mean:

    * that you are a wimp and have to have someone else tell you're good all the time, or you can't write a word

    * that you are needy and whiny and wallowing in self-doubt

    * that you're a narcissist looking for constant approbation

This is what it DOES look like, and what I'm challenging you to incorporate into your Treatment Plan:

    * Seek out at least one person who believes in your gifts AND knows what he or she is talking about (not necessarily your significant other who kind of has to tell you that you're great) Because only honest feedback is going to help you restore your flagging confidence, be sure you trust this person. Someone who is a blocked writer himself, or who is notoriously blunt, or who has a jealous nature may do your confidence more harm than good. 

    * Ask an honest, specific question, something you particularly need to know the answer to in order to move forward right now. "Is my protagonist sympathetic?"  "Is my prose too esoteric?" "Does it sound like I'm talking down to my kid readers?" "Did you ever feel like totally giving up on a writing project even though you love it?" "Am I nuts to keep pursuing this?" Not, "Am I a good writer?" or "Do you think I'll ever get published?" The first one you already know. The second no one can answer.

    * Accept the encouragement. If you've ever been around me for more than, like, ten minutes, you know that I am on a personal mission to get every woman to learn how to accept a dadgum compliment. When I tell someone she looks great or she's a delight to be around, nine times out of ten she'll come back with something like, "Thank you but I could stand to lose ten pounds" or "You haven't seen me with my kids at 4:00 p.m." Yeah, and why don't you take that gift I just gave you and rip it up in front of me? Why can't we receive genuine praise and authentic positive insights and the very real assurance that we are pretty dang awesome? Just believe it, for Pete's sake.

    * Take it to heart (be heartened) and get back to it. Renewed faith leads to action.

Donald-Maass-1-AI'll give you two examples:

    #1. When I had my one-on-one with Donald Maass -- whose opinion I value very highly -- I asked him point blank, "Do I have the chops for the general market?" He said, "Yes, you have a good, strong commercial fiction voice. Just make the story bigger -- Jodi Piccoult big."  That's what I'm doing.

    #2. Recently I had a conversation with a dear friend who is opening a new literary agency in January and I asked him if I was too old for him to take me on as a client if he liked my new project. He said, "You are on my list of people to approach about signing on with me." He'll be hearing from me when the novel is done

Do I need to keep going back to these two guys and saying, "Did you mean that? Are you sure?" Uh, no. What they said is enough to keep me moving forward when I realize I'm stalling. That and my nine-year-old granddaughter who is writing a chapter book -- she really is -- and looks up every now and then and says, "I'm have ______ words now. How many do you have?" She is always impressed with my answer.  Mae and me writing

Be encouraged, insanely interesting writerly women. Your challenge this week is clear. In order to get you loosened up and free, will you post one specific question you'd like to ask  a trusted someone who might be able to boost your confidence? Let the queries abound! Some of them I might even be able to respond to.

Because I believe in you.



Nancy Rue   

P.S. Is my husband not ADORABLE?




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Hi, Colleen! Even though I haven't read any of your 'writing-writing', as a reader of your comments I'd say that one of your writing strengths is the energy that brims in the clear and vibrant way you articulate things. What you write is living and breathing!

Pam Halter

Oh Colleen - I wish we lived closer, too!! But I'd like to encourage you to just bust out and try quilting or needlepoint or whatever you want to do! The beauty of sewing is that you can rip out the stitches and fix it, if needed. I'm doing that RIGHT NOW on my youngest daughter's quilt. I was happily sewing and thought it would be done by Christmas Eve and then I turned it over and it was all puckered! GAH! I haven't puckered the back of a quilt since I first started!

So I'm slowly ripping it out. SIGH. I hate doing that, but it's an excellent excuse to sit and put on a favorite movie. haha! And I'm thankful to be able to take out the puckers and fix it.

Be brave, girl! I know you can do it!


First of all, Jim is absolutely adorable. But then, so are you! Can I just say again what a huge boost this place has been for me this year. I come here often hoping for new posts and for more comments. Please, guys, more comments!! Oh, and Nancy, so excited that you have a chance to sign with your agent friend. Yay!! You rock. I don’t think it’s wrong to tell you yet again that I am such a fan of yours and can’t believe that now I can call you friend.
Pam, I wish I lived closer to you and you could teach me to quilt. It is something I so bad want to do. I have most of what I need to do it, but I am downright scared to launch out! I feel the same way about needlepoint. I used to cross stitch a lot, but now I want to try this other. I am going to go over and read your blog post.
I am thinking about the specific question I could post about my writing, since I am not currently in the middle of a manuscript. Since I think you are the only one here who has seen my writing, Nancy, and not even that much, only you could respond. And even at that, I wouldn’t expect much because of how little you have seen. I totally couldn’t ask my husband because he thinks everything is great. But I guess what I would really like to know is what my greatest strength is from a reader’s point of view.
Have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas all. I can hardly wait until we start 2021. It’s going to be a great year. Hugs!!!


Mele Kalikimaka e Haouli Makahiki Hou!

I love this. Ive been kind of trapped in the Christmas doldrums this year - watching dramas instead of Hallmark. 😂 I love your idea of borrowing faith. I read recently that 'we are hardwired for hope' (Paul Tripp - O Come Let Us Adore Him). I really like that. Working this Christmas on focusing on the reason and the Hope of this season. The world has always been crazy and it always will be but we are promised a Hope and a Good Future ❤

I'm off to deliver coffee for Scrooge (long story). Love you ladies!!

Nancy Rue

You encouraged ME, Pam!

Pam Halter

YES - Jimmy is adorable!! And you are, too! I love that necklace! Your MIL sounds like so much fun! Heck, your FAMILY! haha! I love it.

I love me some dot-to-dots! And I'm stupid happy they make them for adults. haha!

This blog post is so timely. I was asked to guest blog for a friend. It went live on Monday. And I can't even tell you how many people sent me messages to say how encouraged they felt after reading it! That encouraged ME. I feel so thankful God used my words to help others.

We often think we're alone in how we feel, but we really aren't. It's important to be honest in our writing - important to let people know they're AREN'T alone. I usually don't write at all in December because I'm busy with Christmas prep and fun. I'm sewing 5 small quilts this year! But I got the nudge from God to say yes, and I'm glad I did.

Here's the link, if you'd like to read it:

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