Thursday, May 01, 2014

Rediscovering the Joy in Writing: Sherri Shackelford

When Cheryl asked me to write a blog about the joy of writing….I was stumped. I wasn’t having much joy in any part of my life at that moment. I was behind on a deadline, I was battling a personal problem, I was feeling fat and ugly. (What woman hasn’t felt that way at one time or another?)

Instead of talking about the joy of writing, I decided to write a blog on rediscovering the joy of writing. 

Five Steps to Rediscovering the Joy in Writing

Writing professionally can be a lonely business fraught with difficulties. Writing a book is a months’ long endeavor, and there are times when it’s difficult to find joy in the process. When I find my enthusiasm waning, I have a few strategies.

My first and best strategy: Remember my purpose. 
People will forgive employers low pay, but they will not forgive a lack of purpose in their work. My purpose is entertainment. I don’t write literary novels. I write books that people can read during difficult times to escape for a brief, light moment. I give people a guaranteed happy ending. When I get a letter from someone saying I gave them a bright moment in a dark day, my purpose is fulfilled.

I take joy in my purpose.

My second strategy: Think like a boss. You’re in charge. In the writing business, it’s easy to get swept along with the tide. Agents, editors and readers all have their own input. Ultimately, you are a small business owner. You are in charge of your own destiny. Don’t forget that. The name on the book is yours. Not your agent’s, not your editor’s and the reader’s.

I take joy in guiding my own future. 

My third strategy: It’s okay to work for money. Really. People do it all the time. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses. They all work for money. It’s okay for authors to make money too. How are we supposed to sit around smoking cigarettes and drinking bourbon if we never make any money?!

I take joy in the fruits of my labor. 

My fourth strategy: When bad reviews, editor revisions and abysmal royalties sap your joy, try to turn your difficulties into opportunities. I know. It sounds like a poster of a cat dangling from a tree ordering you to ‘hang in there.’  But there’s a nugget of wisdom in that poster. If a reaction isn’t working in a scene, you may have a problem with the motivation. When there’s something in your writer life that isn’t working: an agent relationship, a plot…whatever, it’s time to get to work. When something isn’t working, turn the problem inside out and upside down.  Ask for advice from mentors. Don’t avoid the problem, attack the problem. 

I take joy in the challenge.

My fifth strategy: Develop a great support network and invest in that network. No one will ever understand the process like another writer. They are your best source of brainstorming, guidance and commiseration. They will help you through the dark times and share your joy in the good times.  Be a mentor to other writers. Their enthusiasm is contagious

I take joy in my fellow writer-friends. 

I love seeing my name on a book. I’m not exaggerating. I LOVE seeing my name on a book. I love holding one of my books in my hand. I love when the email from my publisher comes through and I see my cover for the first time. I love when the UPS man delivers a box of author copies on my doorstep. I love when my kids take my books to school for show and tell. I’m proud of what I do. 

I am an author.

I take great joy in my calling.

(I am an author--even though I don’t smoke and I think bourbon tastes like diesel fuel)

Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance.

A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul.

Sherri is currently working on three more books for her Cimarron Springs series. Her current books include Winning the Widow’s Heart and The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family. The Cattleman Meets His Match releases in August of 2014. 

The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family
CLICK to order from amazon 
4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, Susan Mobley says, “A lovely marriage-of-convenience story, the interaction between the two main characters is a joy to start.”

Gentlemen don't court feisty straight shooters like JoBeth McCoy. Just as she's resigned to a lifetime alone, a misunderstanding forces the spunky telegraph operator into a marriage of convenience. Wedding the town's handsome new marshal offers JoBeth a chance at motherhood, caring for the orphaned little girl she's come to love.

Garrett Cain will lose guardianship of his niece, Cora, if he stays single, but he knows no woman could accept the secrets he's hidden about his past. The lawman can't jeopardize Cora's future by admitting the truth. Yet when unexpected danger in the small town threatens to expose Garrett's long-buried secret, only a leap of faith can turn a makeshift union into a real family.


  1. Can't wait to read the new books, Sherri. And I had a laugh out loud moment trying to imagine you chain-smoking OR drinking bourbon. Hang in there, I think your stories are worth the wait.

  2. Excellent thoughts to start off a month of joy, Sherri. Everyone need to rediscover at one time or another. You've given us a great list to start from!

  3. Wonderful cover, and congratulations on the rediscovery. I'm right there with you on the whole bourbon thing.

  4. Robyn, we're going to have do a video about author idiosyncrasies :)

    *lizzie, I couldn't have gotten through without your shoulder to lean on!

    Liz, I have never understood bourbon! Last year we decided to make mint juleps for Derby Day. We made them. We all had one sip. And that was it!

    1. LOL. My father-in-law was a bartender in Louisville, KY all of his adult life. He loved everything about the Derby--except mint juleps. He said they were a total waste of good liquor.

  5. I forgot a step! Take care of yourself. Exercise and eat right. (I haven't tried this one yet, but other people find this useful) Guard your writing time like a pit bull with a beggin' strip. When people tell you that you don't have a 'real' job, show them one of your 'real' books. Set boundaries. It takes time and concentration to write a book, and if people don't understand that, tell 'em to try it sometime.