by Amy Carroll
Today we have a special guest post from Amy Carroll, author of the newly-released Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well. Amy’s a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and writer teams, co-host of the Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast, and a speaker coach with Next Step Coaching Services. In Exhale, she and her co-author, Cheri Gregory, help women move from running-on-empty to spent-and-content, learning to invest their lives in soul-satisfying ways.
Although Amy is the author of two books, she describes herself as a reluctant writer. Writing is more difficult for her than speaking, but she’s propelled forward by the burning messages God plants in her heart. Read on as Amy shares the secret she’s found that’s changed her attitude about the writing process.
After the release of my first book, Breaking Up with Perfect, I promised myself that I’d never write another book.
Before you write me off as an entitled whiner, please understand my reasons. Writing a book felt too isolating for this extrovert’s heart, and I was heart-broken when I didn’t meet my publisher’s numerical goals. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful for the opportunity. I just believed that my first book proved that publishing wasn’t for me, and I was entrenched in that belief for two years…
Until God began to whisper a new message.
As I watched and listened to the women around me, their plight broke my heart. They were exhausting themselves with activity that left them empty. I wanted to help them to start investing in God’s agenda instead–plans that fulfill our heart’s desires, help us love our people well, and glorify God.
The desire to help was so compelling that I started the whole process again—writing a proposal, pitching the idea, negotiating a contract—but this time, God gave me a huge gift, a co-author! He continued to gift me with collaborators all through the process, and it made all the difference.
If you’re like me, a reluctant writer with a message that that’s begging to be written, then collaboration may be the solution to your hesitations. Here’s how God used others to make this publishing process a joy.
Collaborators Feed an Extrovert’s Soul
For me, a woman who thrives on being with people, a silent room with a blinking cursor on a blank screen is my worst nightmare. This time, as the idea of the book developed in my brain, I kept thinking about podcast conversations with Cheri. I’ll have to quote her on page 3… and 8… and 10… and…wait a minute!
I quickly realized that instead of quoting Cheri about the ideas we had processed verbally, she would be the ideal co-author. I prayed about it, and then, receiving God’s ringing endorsement, asked her to join me. I was over-the-moon when she agreed to write together!
Discussing ideas before I wrote, letting Cheri’s ideas spark new ones in my mind, and wrestling through hard sections together made the writing process pleasurable instead of painful. Our podcast partnership had strengthened our friendship and trust, and those traits flowed into our book project, feeding my soul in ways I hadn’t imagined.
Collaborators Fill Our Gaps
Another collaboration that proved invaluable was the manuscript development team for Exhale.
After signing the contract, inertia set in followed by fear. A month into our timeline, I felt shaky, stuck and wordless, but then a friend offered to lead a manuscript development team for us. It was the perfect solution on every level. Cheri and I alternated, each submitting a chapter to the team every other week for their review. Having small deadlines every other week pushed me ahead.
Our team leader, Kendra, made it easy for the participants by creating a standard survey on Survey Monkey. Occasionally, Cheri or I would submit a specific question to help with a problem in the chapter.
About twenty women participated regularly, and their insights were like gold! Their feedback helped us to see gaps and clarify muddy sections. In fact, they did their job so thoroughly that the edits we received from our publisher were minimal. Our team helped us to see and fix problems ahead of time.
Collaborators Lighten the Load
After the manuscript was handed in, I managed the study guide development while Cheri took on other tasks. Members of our podcast intern team read the book and then submitted questions and ideas for the small group guide and the leader guide. Instead of starting from scratch, I was able to synthesize their excellent content.
As you can see, many hands have truly lightened the load for Exhale, but each person who helped also lifted the weight from my heart. Instead facing a book launch exhausted and empty, this time I’m anticipating the release of Exhale full of energy and enthusiasm for the message and the community we’ll build around it!
If your struggling with your writing, consider inviting others into the process. Collaboration and gathering people around your book project might be a solution for you too.
Leave a comment on the COMPEL blog. Does collaboration in your writing appeal to you or horrify you? We know there are writers in both camps! What part of collaboration might be most helpful to you? Your response enters you in a drawing for a copy of Amy and Cheri’s new book, Exhale.
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Thank you for this! I love the idea of collaborating with someone and I have been praying about it. Has anyone successfully collaborated on a book together long distance? What if there seems to be no one else around you who writes or is interested in writing a book?
This was such a refreshing read! Thank you.
The thought of collaboration had never crossed my mind! Working with others is something that would inspire me. Certainly something to consider. Thank you Amy!
Now I know it’s possible! I have wondered often if there is ever such a thing as team writing. Collaboration on writing. Partnering with another writer. I love the way this book came together with the aid of teamwork. When I was employed, my favorite part of work was when I was part of a project team. Thank you for proving that there can be egoless and shared writing even in publications. Awesome!
You know how isolating writing can be, and co-authoring is the water my soul needed!
Hey Amy! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability you shared about writing and publishing! Wow, how the Lord always delights us in the details! His provision always blows me away! It sounds like you had an amazing experience and an awesome team rally around you to create Exhale! I love the idea of collaboration…with Christ and His Community! Grateful He created us that way! Iron sharpens iron and collaboration for the kingdom makes His love and light shine even brighter through us as we work together! As the Lord leads…I cannot wait to collaborate with Christ-centered Authors and Speakers to proclaim the gospel message through masterpieces!!! 🙂 <3
Praying you find your perfect collaborator!
I’ve never considered collaborating with my writing but I’m intrigued by the idea. Thank you for sharing this and opening my eyes to new possibilities. I think with the right partner it could be an enjoyable and rewarding process. I’ll definitely keep the idea of collaborative writing on my radar for the future. I am excited to read your book!!
Thanks, Susan. I hope you enjoy Exhale!
Also, Susan, you’re the random winner of Exhale. Could you email your mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get Bethany House to send you a copy right away. 🙂
Thank you so much!! What a blessing!! I’m so excited to read Exhale! I’m grateful!!
I think a collaboration is a great idea…with the right person. I have a feeling that Amy and Cheri made a great pair due to their longstanding relationship with one another. The manuscript development team would be a great help. Again, the right team makes the difference. Thank you for sharing valuable insight!
You’re so right, Charla. Cheri and I had already worked together for a long time on the podcast which has built trust and comradery. Both are essential!
I love this idea and pray that I can find something like that. I started writing because a friend suggested that if my heart’s desire was speaking I needed to write first. Writing wasn’t my initial excitement, but I have found it to be an amazing outlet, but my desire is still speaking. I loved your idea of a podcast with a friend, I could see this being very enjoyable and I love the picture that you paint. You were able to fill in each others gaps and paint the perfect picture. Together.
Sara, I’m like you– a speaker who writes! Both are valuable, but speaking comes most naturally for me.