Logging my journey to publication

Writing for the purpose of publication is going to be a long, fun, and sometimes arduous journey. To track my progress and to let other newbie writers know how I’m tackling the challenge, I am documenting efforts I am making along the way.

September 2010

  • After years of talking about it, I made a commitment to write
  • Stopped making the excuse that I couldn’t write because I had to share laptop with husband; received an AlphaSmart Neo from my husband for my birthday
  • Read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron (received as a gift from a writer friend); got into the habit of writing Morning Pages
  • Read Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg (also received as a gift from a writer friend)
  • Subscribed to Writer’s Digest and The Writer magazines
  • Got seriously inspired and excited about writing

October 2010

  • A friend told me about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – with the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Decided to participate.
  • Discovered story idea for novel while writing Morning Pages
  • Prepared rough outline of novel in preparation for NaNoWriMo
  • Read Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell; referred to it often during NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Winner 2010November 2010

  • Wrote approximately 1,667 words every day before going to work by getting out of bed two hours earlier each morning
  • The second to the last chapter made me cry. Bawl. I knew without a doubt that something worthwhile was happening in this story.
  • Became a NaNoWriMo “Winner” on November 30 with 50,457 words

December 2010

  • I let the rough first draft sit in a (digital) drawer and allowed it to percolate in my brain for three weeks.
  • Conducted the first thorough edit of my manuscript during the last week of 2010.

January 2010

  • Began researching the business side of writing: what it takes to build an online platform, the publishing process, success stories of other new writers, etc.
  • Did not look at my manuscript at all

February 2011

  • Conducted a thorough second edit of my manuscript
  • Purchased my domain name for $25: nataliesharpston.com
  • Tough month: juggled challenging work schedule, freelance graphic design projects, freelance proofreading projects, personal favors, and writing

March 2011

  • Handed a hard copy of my manuscript to my first reader
  • Agreed to be the third reader for a friend’s first novel; several weeks later, we sat down together and I provided her with  feedback
  • Started to build an online platform
  • Created this blog; published my first post on March 21, 2011
  • Created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FiledBy, Scribd, WritersCafe, but need to do more research to learn how to effectively utilize social media

April 2011

May 2011

  • Received feedback from my first reader. See my post On Writing: Skipping Stones vs. Going Deeper
  • As a result of feedback received, I learned I will have no trouble expanding my novel to at least 75,000 words
  • Started revising and rewriting manuscript based upon feedback received
  • Learning how to balance time maintaining blog, revising novel and learning about the business side of writing
  • Read The Soul Tells a Story, by Vinita Hampton Wright. It was so encouraging; I couldn’t recommend it more. The book helped me articulate and simplify my purposes in life: to stay happily married, to write in order to help others, and to stay satisfied at my day job. Juggling these three things helps me prioritize life.

June-August 2011

  • Revised and rewrote manuscript based upon feedback received
  • Purchased MacBook Pro for writing and freelance graphic design projects
  • Continue building platform and online community: visiting other blogs, participating in Writers Digest Community and other blogs, blogging at least once a week
  • First things first: I am learning that sometimes life issues must take priority over writing. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. It just means I need to be flexible and on certain days – even weeks – I must put writing aside. At first I was afraid I was going to lose my mojo and renege on my writing commitment. I’m learning to relax. This love affair with writing is not going away anytime soon.

September-December 2011

  • September: Wrote what would be my last blog post for five months to focus on the craft of writing and a major weight loss goal.
  • September: Renewed subscription to Writer’s Digest, but not to The Writer magazine (my hubby asked me to pick just one).
  • November: Did not participate in NaNoWriMo as I want to finish my WIP before I start another one.
  • Read Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott; see quotes that influenced me the most in Why I Took a Break From Blogging.
  • Read The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. A must read for all writers! He writes eloquently about  Resistance with a capital R.
  • Read Creating a Personal Life Plan ebook, by Michael Hyatt. An articulate, concise workbook which helped me to review and determine my priorities in life.
  • Did a lot of personal writing, not for public consumption.
  • Influential blog post: Novelists: Stop Trying to Brand Yourself, by Rachelle Gardner
  • Influential blog post: Called to Write? 10 Ways to Know, by Mary DeMuth (found in her archives)
  • Influential blog post: The Honest Stain of Truth, by Amy K. Sorrells on the WordServe Water Cooler blog

January 2012

  • Searched for a writer’s critique group via Meetup.com.
  • Found a group only to discover the organizer was stepping down and the group disbanding.
  • Searched for and found another writer’s critique group via Meetup.com.
  • Attended my first writer’s Critique Group meeting; started offering up my WIP for the review and criticism of strangers. An amazing experience. A huge step!

February 2012

  • Received a gift subscription to Poets & Writers from my sister-in-law. Excellent publication. Wow.
  • Renewed my domain name for $25: nataliesharpston.com; begin year 2 of blog
  • Continue meeting with Critique Group
  • Found out the organizer of the second writer’s group is stepping down due to illness; another member took her place. Whew!

March/April 2012

  • Critique Group… Continue editing and finessing my current WIP
  • Wrote short story: “(un)wanted.” Submitted to Critique Group and several friends for input. Discovered my short story reflected elements of Magic Realism. Intriguing…
  • Registered for the Orange County Christian Writers Conference
  • Submitted writing to several contests associated with the OC Christian Writers Conference

May 2012

June 2012

  • Received my first professional critique from The Editorial Department
  • Interviewed a detective who works in the Juvenile Division-Abused Child Section of the Los Angeles Police Department, which led to a major personal milestone: 30 years after being sexual abused, I reported the family member to an abuse hotline to ensure the safety of his children. He was investigated by Child and Family Services and found to be a blameless and loving father. Thank you, God.

July 2012

  • Read The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender, which opened me up to some serious soul work. I thought I’d dealt with all this over 15 years ago, but I had much more work to do.
  • The painful internal work showed up on the outside: between June and October, I gained the 35 pounds back that I lost last year.
  • Through all this, my husband provided major moral support and unconditional love.
  • Opened myself up too much! Saying “yes” to too many personal favors for others caught up with me and I got mad.

August 2012

  • Fellow writers I’ve met online and at the OC Christian Writing Conference last May reminded me how much I miss being part of a Christian community. I began to search for a local church. (Fifteen years ago, I left the Christian culture. Left church. Left ministry. A long story. I’ve tried going to church several times in the past five years, but finally made a commitment to find one and stay put.)
  • Found a church and joined a small growth group. Over 10 weeks, we read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life—the perfect book for a people-pleasing, resentful giver like me. This book was the perfect complement to The Wounded Heart. What I learned from both books is helping me in my professional and personal worlds.

September-December 2012

  • Worked hard to finish my novel. I took two weeks off from work to focus on the project.
  • Continued meeting with writing critique group
  • Read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King, a little book full of wisdom critical for the serious writer.
  • Wanting to write a much lighter book for novel #2, I read Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin. Empowered with new tools and knowledge, her book got me all excited about writing my next story. Gail provides a great character development worksheet. Amazing how much developing the character first just makes story ideas fall into place.

January 2013

  • Critical step: Printed a hard copy of my novel, read out loud to myself, edited by hand, then updated my manuscript
  • Finished editing the book on January 20, 2013
  • Started outlining and researching my second novel
  • Decided not to stay with my writing critique group—or join a different group—for my second novel. After saying farewell to the group. I invited one of the members to become my one-on-one critique partner. She enthusiastically agreed.
  • Got my professional author head shot!

February 2013

March 2013

  • Submitted manuscript to Rachelle Gardner as a follow up to our meeting at the OC Christian Writers Conference last May

Next steps…

  • Finish research and outline for my second novel; start writing
  • Ride the writer’s ride of joy and despair while trying to keep my expectations realistic.
Leave a comment


  1. Good morning! I found you by way of Steven Pressfield, and just wanted to say that this page in particular was both inspiring and intimidating. But it motivates me to buckle down, and I’m really excited to see where you’re going. I’m a fan!

    • Alex, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Isn’t Steven Pressfield amazing? I review this “log” every now and then to remind myself I’m not a total slacker. 🙂 And to inspire myself to continue my efforts. “The destination is the journey,” and all that… : ) I’ll be swooping in on your blog this evening. Headed to work now. 🙂

  2. katherine lloyd

     /  March 3, 2013

    funny how we end up at people’s places; Kirk Douponce is a designer friend (and previous coworker); on fb he posted your post about his cover designing, i clicked and read and looked at your site a bit and saw my sister’s blog on your “blogs I follow” list (Soberboots.com) and Rachelle Gardner’s (she’s my sister’s agent and I typeset her new ebook); Clicked on this page, your log of your journey, read it and was excited (is that the right word?) that The Wounded Heart is still out there in 2012! I read that/ went through a small group with it about 15 years ago and it did much to keep me going at that time in my life. So interesting that I’m also facing some of those old issues right now again too. Anyway, I very rarely post replies but this was one of those times I just had to say hi. I see you are a designer as well. I’m a book interior designer and typesetter. Bless you! –Katherine

    • Katherine, I’m so glad you commented! Love all those connections. Just awesome.

      Regarding The Wounded Heart… I didn’t fully understand why I had to revisit this damage from my childhood—yet again—until I read somewhere in the book that I may have to deal with the past in different ways, at different times for different reasons throughout my life. I know for sure that I’m closer to God and my husband because of it. Now I know it was another iteration of healing until the next time I need to go back there.

      Hang in there as you revisit those issues. Pray lots. Don’t be afraid. It’s worth it. God bless. 🙂


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