50,000 words.

I have to share something with you, mostly because I can't believe it has happened and I want to praise God. In the past three months, I've written 50,000 words.

writing manuscript

50,000 words is something like 206 double-spaced pages.

50,000 words is something like half (or maybe two-thirds) of a manuscript.

50,000 words is a whole hell of a lot of effort and tears and loneliness and worry about whether or not what you're writing matters.

50,000 words has taken a whole lot of prayer and encouragement and kind eyes and cheerleading voices.

katherine falk

And 50,000 words is a reminder of the most encouraging truth of all. God is responsible for this idea coming to me in the first place. And He provides  the power, energy, creativity and support I need to get this done. And it will get done.

Because He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.


Believe it.

Lessons I've learned while writing.

A few months back, I boldly admitted to the world that I'm writing a book. That was probably a good decision, because the public shame of stopping has ultimately kept me from stopping. It's like going running on 12 Ave South. If I stop... I know someone will notice me walking. And I'd rather them see me jogging slowly than walking. So I keep going.

It's a positive kind of shame. Let's call it positive peer pressure.

Nashville LibraryNashville's Library. My favorite workspace.

And there are other things I've learned, too. When you take on a large project that's bigger and nastier than you ever expected—expect to get your butt kicked and you brain bent more than a few times.

Here are five lessons I've learned while writing something bigger than ever...

1. When you're staring at a blank page, just do the next thing.

There's nothing scarier than a blank page. So fill it. I've had to learn that if I'm stuck, the only way to get out of that rut is to move forward. So what happens next? What needs to happen next to move you to the next page? Write it. It doesn't have to look pretty or sound pretty (see #3), it just needs to happen.

2. If someone asks what you're working on, tell them.

Something that's been hard for me lately is feeling like I'm not doing anything of value (see #5). And when people ask me what I'm working on, I wish I could give them a measurable, understandable answer (i.e., 'Oh, I'm on summer break, becuase I'm a teacher,' or 'I just finished up three great stories for GQ, Esquire, and Vogue'). But when you're working on an extended project... you don't have that luxury. So I've had to force myself to own up to the truth. I'm writing a book. Then, it forces me to pitch it over and over again. By answering the next, logical question—what is it about?—I'm helping myself get back to the heart of what it's about. And that is a good thing.

3. Don't be your own critic. At first. 

When you start writing, it's going to be ugly and sloppy and you're going to say that your characters "sigh" a lot. Who cares. If they are sighing in your head, write that they're sighing on the paper. You can get out your thesaurus and change words and mess with it later. Just write it down now. This is why I've found that I'm better writing things by hand. Yes. By hand. That way, I can use really bad handwriting, and I can just get everything down without going backwards and editing (copy, cut, paste, delete, change) before I've even written 10 words. Once it's down on paper, I can type it. And when I type it, I can make it better. But if I start criticizing the story I'm writing before it's even written, I'll never keep going.

4.  Forget the future. For now. 

It's easy to get lost in the "what is the point of this" question. Where is it going? What is the end result going to be? Will anyone ever read it? Those questions are rough and are worth answering. But when you're in the middle of writing—those questions must be beat down into the ground and out of the room. They should be tied up and left for dead. At least until you're done writing. Because the truth is, the future doesn't matter unless the book is written—the answers are Nowhere, Nothing, and No One, unless you keep going.

5. Stop Looking at the Bottom Line. 

Money. It's a scoundrel. It also keeps me feeling like I'm not doing something of value. But in reality—money can't drive what we create. I am in research and development stage. In grad school, so to speak. Yes. I'm giving up time and energy and possible income to write a book. But it's an investment. Not a waste.


These are the lessons I'm learning. And I'm forcing myself to write them down—because I have to preach this to myself. I have a feeling these same lessons could apply to lots of different undertakings...


Writing music.

Taking pictures.

Starting a business.

Just living.

Do you agree?

A Deadly Dose of Nostalgia

Recently I've been writing the first few pages of my first book. And it hurts. IMG_0968

It hurts because it's hard. It hurts because the things I write today often don't read so well tomorrow. It hurts because most of the time it's so overwhelming I can't see straight. And it hurts because the subject matter I'm writing about sends me deep into the throws of nostalgia. The deadly kind.

The book I'm writing is about three women who attend West Point. And when I start thinking about West Point, traveling up there to do research, spending hours upon hours looking at photos of that place... it's hard not to get lost in it all. Lost in the memories of middle school and high school—and then just kind of lost.

It got me thinking... when you start thinking back, does it prevent you from moving forward?

IMG_0919This is West Point. My once home.

Nostalgia is this gut-wrenching feeling of wanting to be back in a place you once were with people you once knew or in a time you once had. The dictionary says nostalgia is "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period of place with happy personal associations." Right. So if nostalgia takes you to a happy place, why, so often, does it leave us in a state of utter depression?

I think it goes back to my thought life. Fostering a healthy thought life is the key to breaking the bonds of nostalgia. If I let my mind dwell in the past - my brain can conjure up memories (true and false) that can taint my enjoyment of the present.

Whatever is true. What is true is that I live in Nashville—the greatest city in the world with some of the greatest people I've ever met and some of the closest friends I've ever had.

Whatever is noble. What is noble is that I'm trying my hardest to live in the gifts I believe I've been given, to the glory of God, for better or worse.

Whatever is right. Whatever is pure. What's right and pure is knowing the ways God has blessed me here and now, today.

Whatever is lovely. What is lovely is looking in the mirror and feeling content with who I am now.

Whatever is admirable. What is admirable are the ways other people in my life are living for today and giving their lives away to others.

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy.  Think about such things. 

Philippians 4:8. 

Lord, help me. This hurts.