7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Tricia Goyer

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Tricia Goyer, author of THE PROMISE BOX) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

(Why writers who don’t have a basic website are hurting their chances of success.)



tricia-goyer-writer-author             the-promise-box-novel-cover

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of one, and wife to John. Somewhere
around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional
tales delighting and entertaining readers and nonfiction titles offering encouragement
and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a
Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20
Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia, along with a group of friends,
recently launched NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life.
Her latest novel is THE PROMISE BOX (Zondervan, May 2013).



1. The more you write the more creativity you have. My best ideas come one week before deadline when I’m writing long hours and my eyes burn from staring at the computer. I write down these ideas—as much as will come to be at the time. Some ideas are for books. Some ideas are for blogs, but I just write. Good words work like a well pump. When you start pumping it takes a while to get the creativity flowing, but if you keep pumping the ideas start to gush.

2. It’s okay to have be passionate about many things … and to write about them all. I write fiction and non-fiction. I write historical fiction, contemporary fiction, Amish fiction. I write articles and blogs. All of it is me, and all of it has a similar themes, no matter the venue. I write about ordinary people rising to the call, finding healing from their past, and stepping out with courage—whether that is rescuing a child in World War II, daring to becoming an individual in a closed Amish community, or simplifying your life as a parent in everyday life. All of these are part of me, and it I share them in a dynamic way my readers will jump around with me as I share my passions.

3. Relationships with other writers are the most valuable resource in a writer’s toolbox. I attended my first writers conference in 1994. I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my third baby. I was the most unlikely person there to become a published author, and while the knowledge I learned about writing has benefited me over the years, the people I’ve met changed everything. I met a multi-published author who became a good friend. She also introduced me (and recommended me) to my agent, who I’ve worked with since 1997. I met other new authors who I connect with for support and critique. They are still my friends, and all of us have found publishing success. So many times at conferences writers stalk the agents and authors. Just as important are those sitting at the lunch table with you.

(Do you need different agents if you write multiple genres?)

4. Writing may rob time from your family, but the benefits can’t be numbered. For years I felt guilty for spending time on my computer instead of giving my children all my attention. (They still got a lot.) I felt guilty for limiting their extra-curricular activities, too, but as they grew I realized my kids benefited from my work. We traveled to amazing places on research trips. We met noteworthy people. Mostly my kids realized that following one’s dreams took a lot of hard work, but it paid off.

5. Living deeply and fully makes the writing more powerful. I would have been content to sit in an office all day and write, but the people in my life have pulled me into real world beyond the computer. Losing a loved one, welcoming adopted children into our home, and serving those in the inner city rub me raw, but it’s from a tender heart that words become sincere.

6. Every editor can teach you something different. I’ve worked with over twenty different editors for my forty books, and they each teach me something about stronger writing. Instead of being defensive, I take note of the weaknesses they find in my writing and strive to do better on the next project.

7. You can’t fake it. You can’t fake good research. You can’t fake articles that are thrown together. You can’t fake the time and attention it takes to flesh out fictional characters out and them to life. Readers can tell, and they’ll call you out. You also can’t fake good character or your care for the reader, which is equally important, especially in today’ social media world. Hard work, dedication, and transparency with the characters (and yourself) pays off in the long run.


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8 thoughts on “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Tricia Goyer

  1. lilosmom

    Such important lessons for life! Even if one isn’t a writer, these concepts apply in many aspects of life. Thank you for such an introspective column. It is obvious through your books that you live these principles.

  2. Sarah_B

    Number four definitely spoke to me. I once heard Shauna Nequist say that “Creativity always comes at a cost, but that cost is worth it.” As a stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers, I sometimes feel guilty when I take time to work on my writing instead of cleaning up the house or making gourmet meals (let’s be honest here, we probably eat more hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches than we should). I’m learning that if I want to teach my children to pursue their dreams and passions then I have to begin modeling that behavior for them as well. Thanks Tricia for your example that it CAN be done 🙂

  3. BrookeMcGlothlin

    Tricia, you’ve influenced me as a writer and a mom so much in the last year. When almost every other voice of influence was telling young moms to “stop, get off the internet, sacrifice your career for your kids!” your voice was one of reason. You inspired me to allow my God-given gifts to benefit my family, and bring experiences we would never have had otherwise. I just can’t tell you how grateful I am for your words! Thanks for these tips!

  4. Judi

    Very interesting article. I love her books because she does put her all into each one and you feel like you know her characters. So everything that Tricia wrote, you can see in her books. This is the type of article which Writer’s Digest always offers us.


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