A Simple Solution to Your Writing Hesitations (& Giveaway!)

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.


Your Turn

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.


Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of Breaking Up with Perfect . To her great joy, she’s worked with over 200 speaking clients as the director and coach of Next Step Coaching Services. You can find Amy on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.

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  1. I had never considered this but what wonderful and valid points!

    I just love how the Lord works. 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! So many new ideas spinning in my head now!

  2. On the one hand, I think collaboration is beautiful and that partnership in writing gives readers a superior product in many cases. On our own, we have insight that God gives us, but we grow so much when we share our ideas and see what God can do with it all. Practically speaking, collaboration also means multiple platforms can support the work. The best collaborative environment requires a servant’s heart, humility, commitment and a desire for God’s glory, not our own. On the other hand, we need to ask God for wisdom to lead us in our collaborating partner choice. There can be painful consequences if we don’t.

  3. Collaboration terrifies me. I like to have control. But, that’s an area God is working on in my life. And I suspect if I opened my soul to working with someone I would love the process and be all the richer for it.

    • Honestly, I haven’t thought of a collaboration before. I am just starting to get an inkling for writing a book. I am new at this and learning how to write is a bit daunting. However, I would be open to collaborating with someone.

    • I totally get it. The right collaboration is a joy, but it’s important to enter one carefully and with understandings in place.

  4. Michelle Rabon: June 25, 2019 at 8:00 am

    I have a ministry partner that I collaborate with often, it can be scary to collaborate however with a writer you may not know as well.

    • I agree, and I think it’s important to do some small projects together before diving into a big one. Established trust is key.

  5. Shianne Jones: June 24, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    I have had the thought of collaboration, however, all of my closest friends have busy lives just like I do. I hesitate with the idea of collaborating with someone I am not as close to. But this blog was very timely as I am trusting God with the plans He has for me with writing!

  6. Micah Maddox: June 24, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Collaboration does make me a little nervous, but I do see the value in it. I like collaborating on ideas and getting tasks completed. I think my hangup comes when too many ideas get laid on the table and then someone has to make the hard call. So maybe I like collaborating but not conflict. Hee hee!

  7. Thank you for this timely piece.
    I am very open to the idea of collaboration.
    I am a newbie to writing in general.
    God placed this sudden desire in my heart about six months ago.
    I began the Compel courses, and ideas and words are dancing around in my head.
    I followed the steps to creating a blog page, and have been posting short pieces. Trying to see what my readers are viewing.
    I generally write my posts, sitting on the couch next to my husband with the TV blaring.
    Sitting in quiet, makes it more difficult for me to think.
    Recently, due to the course curriculum, i decided to try posting a series.
    I have interviewed 3 of the 6 women I want to feature.
    This was a great experiment, and experience.

    Ultimately, the book idea that i hope to pitch (when my writing skills have improved), will have to be a collaboration.
    I look forward to that process.

  8. I love the idea of talking through the ideas and working to develop the message. But I’m not so sure about writing a book with someone else — would have to be the ideal situation.

    • I totally understand, and co-authoring isn’t for everybody. It tickles my extrovert heart pink, though!

  9. I have too many ideas for a book and a Bible study. I actually spoke at a women’s breakfast last fall. I am not good with speaking as I am with writing. I love the idea of collaboration! It would most likely help with all the anxiety. I’m not good with deadlines either, but am trying to remember to ask God for guidance and wisdom. I get terrified when I need to step out of my comfort zone. This past month I signed up to be part of a launch team for Ruth Soukup’s book “Do it Scared”. That was exciting, but also scary. I am hoping God will guide me to what He wants me to write. I have a message, considering tomorrow will mark 11 years since my fiancé was murder. God has definitely gotten my children and I through so much pain and suffering. And that is just one tragedy we have had to face. I also, started a blog last fall and have yet to be consistent with it. Another thing I must ask God to help me with. Thank you for all you ladies do!

    • I like the idea of collaboration and plan to start a podcast with a colleague who could potentially be a co-author as well. I’m so new to writing and finding my own process that introducing somebody else’s writing habits into it would be difficult at this stage, but I’m definitely open to the idea.

    • Athena are you in EBA? I am. If so we should connect 😀

    • I know God will create the time and place for your message!

  10. Personally, I am very interested in collaborating. I am working on my blog website right now, getting ready to make it go live. I am designing each post to have engaging questions at the end, so I can see what is resonating with the reader for feedback and guidance. I am also working on a podcast and have put it out there that I am looking for a co-host. I enjoy listening to podcasts that have more than 1 voice. And I think my creativity and professionalism and confidence would be stronger if I partner with another person.

    I am relieved to hear Amy describe her positive experience in writing Exhale. Just last night my husband was telling me to focus only on writing a book, and I was telling him that I have heard how miserable writing a book can be! I heard it can be so awful I have actually been afraid of the idea of writing a book, lol!

    • My first book experience was a bit heart-breaking, but co-authoring made all the difference this time. I have another book idea on my heart, and God has already led me to another co-author. I know some people are different, but I don’t ever desire to write a book alone again. It all depends on our wiring!

  11. I don’t know exactly how I’d react of God put on my heart to collaborate with someone, I tend to avoid “people-ing” I tend to write best on my own and feel more creative when I’m left to explore and be guided in my own quiet space. But part of that challenge is being open to God’s WAY, let go of the outcome and just follow the path he walks me down. I’ve been trying to surrender, and exhale more this past year, allowing change, refinement, and faith to take over. I’ve always been someone who wants to be in control, I’ve found that doesn’t work so well and that I can never imagine anything as great as what God might help me imagine. I think if God led me to someone that was a great fit, whose style of writing wasn’t so different from mine, it might be ok. 🙂 as you can see, I’ve not quite mastered the “letting go of the outcome” and trusting God’s will completely. I’m learning to breathe again, in this new way.

    • God’s wired each of us so uniquely, and I respect your desire to write alone. I’ll bet you’d love the Manuscript Development Team, though. That would allow you the alone time on the front-end along with people’s response before you publish.

  12. Dana Franklin: June 19, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing how collaborators helped you. It is hard to enter the writing process alone as an extrovert. Your process inspires me to seek people in the journey. Thank you!

  13. KKAbsherWrites: June 19, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    The idea of collaborating on a book is exciting and terrifying! Exciting for accountability and sharing the journey with a fellow writer. Terrifying if my parts aren’t as fabulous as theirs. I wouldn’t want to let them down.

  14. Krista Campbell: June 19, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Collaboration never appeared on my writing radar. Thanks, Amy, for offering an interesting perspective. As an introvert, I find comfort in the quiet. But if God planted someone on my writing path, I would join forces and embrace the journey.

  15. Collaborations terrify me! I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone (I’m an introvert) and asked a few authors, but they have all been too busy.

  16. Writing a book with someone I love and trust would absolutely give me the courage to do it. I have someone in mind already. We live in different states, but even after chatting with her on the phone for an hour there Is always a lot left for us to talk about. So, there’d always be something to write. She works in the corporate world, and I’m a stay at home writer, so I think we’d balance each other well.

  17. Linda grebler: June 19, 2019 at 8:57 am

    I would be worried that someone would see my work as stolen from the comments and answers you receive during the collaboration. Are you asking people to participate with the understanding that they may be helping you write that book?

    • The collaboration process between Cheri and Amy was the first. That was contracted. Both their names are on the book. The other collaboration she mentioned was a team of women who simply read the manuscript chapter by chapter (as it was written) and shared their thoughts. Their observations helped Amy and Cheri dig deeper into some areas, or maybe make a change in an approach, or add a question or topic they might not have otherwise. If they used a quote from anyone, they would have attributed it. However, the team of women weren’t helping by writing words, but by sharing their observations and thoughts. This understanding is there from the beginning.

    • Suzie’s exactly right. If we used quotes from members of the Manuscript Development Team, we asked them and attributed the quote to them. Most of the team members are writers, so they were thrilled to have their words in print!

  18. Susan Daugherty: June 19, 2019 at 8:35 am

    I am cautious about the idea of collaboration, because I think it would be difficult to find a good “fit” in a partner. In the situation Amy described, writing a book with another person grew out of an already enjoyable and productive working relationship. That would be ideal!

    It seems to me that collaboration encourages balance. Just like being married helps me tone down the extremes of my personality and views, writing with another person would require considering another perspective.

  19. I think collaboration would be really helpful for new writers such as myself, but it terrifies me since I’m more of an introvert and enjoy writing independently. But I think it would be fun if you were collaborating with someone you knew really well! It would be fun to invite someone into the process of your dream. 🙂

  20. Collaboration scares me, in that, I’m afraid someone will see what a fraud I am.

    • Cheri is a particular gift to me because she helps me battle “imposter syndrome.” (I think we all struggle with that!) She sees my gifts and encourages me, so she has helped build my confidence.