Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding Your A-Team

One thing the Lord has showed me along this journey is that there isn't one way, one journey. Each of our journeys is so distinctive and unique.

Ultimately what we need is found in being a part of community. That's why My Book Therapy, ACFW, Christian Writer's Guild, etc are great.

I've been thinking about this and here are some of the people that have helped me along the way aside from critique groups and partners, who have helped me considerably. But I know I've already covered that here.

1) A supportive spouse or local friend. 

This person doesn't have to write. They just need to allow you to reach for your dream. If it weren't for my husband I can guarantee, my book would still be sitting on my computer's hard drive as the months turned into years.

Now in the case of my husband he has also become the local writer friend. He is now working on his own novel and attending writer's support groups with me. Super exciting!

And don't forget dear Mom. Parents are some of the best support systems ever. When you've had a bad writing day you can send your writing on to Mom who will convince you that you're still writing the next "great American novel." You'll roll your eyes, but you're secretly grateful.

2) Local accountability.

Again this person doesn't have to be a writer, just someone that will bother you with phone calls reminding you to stop reading your email and finish writing your thousand words for the day. My husband is that person again for me. It helps that he's in the same house because he can help me make it happen by watching the kids for an hour.

I would also consider my face-to-face writing group accountability. I know I have to produce something new for each meeting so that keeps my momentum up.

3) Prayer buddies.

I am so blessed to have an older mom from church who prays for my writing. Her son also loves to write, so she understands the journey. Prayer support from your local church can be such a blessing. And I have other friends who willingly pray for my writing prayer requests.

I'm also blessed to have a wonderful online network of prayer support. You guessed it...my fellow Alleycats. We pray for each other's writing and personal lives. I'm so blessed to have such support in my life.

4) A writing buddy.

During the school year, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday you can usually find me sitting with a cup of tea and checking in with Alleycat Casey at six in the evening (late afternoon for her). The encouragement and support have helped me finish my novel and helped me start a more faithful routine. It is great for accountability. And if you type in #1k/1hr on twitter, you can often find an instant accountability buddy.

5)  The older, wiser advisor.

ACFW is a wonderful community for making these type of connections. I have met several. Some I have only connected with briefly, others I have been in regular contact with.

I can't tell you the number of times another author from ACFW has reached out and offered support, advice, and encouragement. As I write this, I can think of several Spirit-filled advisors whose words have changed my life.

6) The larger community.

ACFW, My Book Therapy, Christian Writers Guild are all Christian organizations that offer support and scores of encouragement to writers. The forums, course loops and noveltrack features of ACFW have offered answers to scores of questions I didn't even think to ask (but did want to know). My Book Therapy provides free Monday chats that not only teach valuable skills, but also help the writer connect to a larger community of writers.

What about you? Did you have someone unexpected that helped you along in your writing journey?


  Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also currently reviews for The Title Trakk and Christian Library Journal.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I think it is sooooo cool that your husband is now writing a book and going to meetings with you. That is such a huge built-in support for you. I think it's great how this writing community is so supportive. There have been so many on the journey who have offered a hand of support!

Julia M. Reffner said...


It is like a dream come true for me. Actually we used to both write together in college, then both gave it up with jobs, marriage, kids, etc...

I'm so glad you found a church friend. That is so cool!

Anonymous said...


My husband is my biggest champion. He considers me his personal investment and protects my writing time like a safe. He reads my work out loud so that I can hear its flow, he helps me give credibility to my male characters, he even takes the 10-yr-old grocery shopping so that I have an extra uninterrupted hour or so. Thank goodness for him, she also loves to fish with her daddy....

The Lord is also bringing others alongside me - usually from totally unexpected places - and I'm loving the online community of writers that I'm getting to know. We're an odd breed and people who don't write or at least have something to do with writers, don't quite understand that I LIVE on Planet Fiction 90% of the time and that there are days when coming back to earth for that 10% is actually painful!

Anyway, thanks for the post - I still am missing a few people on my A-Team. I think it's time to go hunting.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Great post!
My husband has become a wonderful brainstormer. At first, I asked him to read through one scene of my debut novel, Wish You Were Here, to make certain my hero came off sounding authentic.
Well, he ended up reading draft after draft after draft.
He's become quite the skilled brainstormer and he's even said, "I'm learning this stuff. You'd be amazed how often I think about your novels."

Sarah Elisabeth said...

I would be no where without my mom :-)

I haven't been successful so far in having an accountability partner, mainly because I'm so wacky in my schedule. And I tend to focus on one project at a time, like writing a first draft or editing it or publishing it or marketing it. Hard to switch gears every day and do each of these things, but maybe eventually I can.

I do have a great support network that I blab on and on to about my projects. They're sweet :-) I have several so I don't wear any one person out.

April Gardner said...

The different ways God brings encouragers into my life always amazes me. It's usually when I least expect it! Prayer partners are ESSENTIAL. What would we do without a confidant to lift our burdens to the Lord? Lovey post

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great post, Julia! Community is so essential to surviving this journey. And the AlleyCats know what community is all about. (My summer has been absolutely insane...I've been missing the chance to visit you ladies more often, but I always know I'm in for a good dose of encouragement when I stop by!) :)

Ashley Clark said...

Julia, these are great points! It's so easy to forget the important role others play in our writing journeys, but it's hard to imagine where we'd be without them. Great job breaking it down in such a clear way!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Sorry for the delay in responses. We've been out for most of the day, but I'm going to rectify that quickly here.

Julia M. Reffner said...


I love this line:

"My husband is my biggest champion. He considers me his personal investment and protects my writing time like a safe."

You are so blessed (as am I). I think you'll find you don't have to hunt hard. As I sat down to write this post I realized that these connections have just been slowly built over the last two years.


That is so awesome that your husband loves to brainstorm. Mine does too, and I think that's how he eventually got back into writing. What a blessing to have that spouse support.


That's a good point that we need several supports so we don't lean too heavily on one person. I'm so glad that your mom is a support to your writing.

Julia M. Reffner said...


So true. Story after story of unusual ways we meet people. I just love hearing those God connections. And you're right that prayer support is SO essential.


We miss you, too and are always glad when you stop in. I'm so glad you did stop by and I hope you're enjoying every moment with the kiddos this summer.


I'm so thankful for each of you Alley Cats. You've been such an encouragement in my own journey!

Lindsay Harrel said...

I definitely wouldn't be where I am without the encouragement of my husband, my dad (and my mom, when she was still here...she was my biggest fan!), and my best friend. They all keep me grounded and put up with me talking about my writing dreams for hours on end. ;P

Mary Vee Writer said...

I think your list said it all.
Thanks Julia. Great thoughts. Great post

Julia M. Reffner said...


Sounds like you are very blessed to have that support. I'm sure your mom's influence has helped to bring you to where you are, even though that can be a aching place at times. I'm so glad you stopped by today.


Thanks so much! I'm so grateful for all of the Alley Cats!