7 Writing Tips from Cinderella to Make Your Writing Journey a More Magical Fairytale

Once you’ve decided to write for ministry or profession, or simply out of an unquenchable love of words, you’ll discover it’s not always a fairy tale. The journey you are on is filled with obstacles, challenges that must be met with determination–and maybe a little sprinkling of glittery fairy dust.

Here are seven tips gleaned from the timeless story of Cinderella to guide you on your journey.

1. Embrace Hard Work

Cinderella toiled at her monotonous tasks every day. She didn’t let her circumstances get in the way of her joy, but kept at her chores with a song in her heart. Writing is lonely, tedious work with long hours of unrewarded effort. We can endure it, or we can embrace it. We can grumble or we can delight. It’s a daily choice. When we embrace the writing process, joy comes. It’s not reserved for someday when our book is finished, our blog takes off or our sales increase. Joy is with us for the journey.

2. Use What You Have

Her mother’s dress was faded and dated, not nearly elegant enough for the ball. She’d feel out of place and draw stares and ridicule if she wore it. But, it was the best she had. It would have to do. Cinderella embellished the dress using little treasures she’d gathered over time. She did her best to create a gown fit for the royal occasion. As writers, we take what we have—our stories, imagination, expertise or spiritual insights and shape them into words on a page. We craft them with the tools we’ve gathered on our writing journey to fit the needs of our readers. We must learn to believe—as Cinderella did—that our best efforts, humble as they are, will be enough.

3. Overcome Critique and Rejection

Cinderella’s evil stepmother and step-sisters tore her creation to shreds! Sometimes we show our writing to others and they shred it, too. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they really want to help us, but their help feels a lot like hurt. We trusted someone to give us constructive feedback only to be reduced to the grief of our junior high English class. We receive our shredded work with the same pain and humiliation we felt when our teacher handed back an essay with more red ink than black. Cinderella fled to the garden with her pain. She let the tears come. We may have tears too. Then we need to recommit to our purpose and believe again that anything is possible.

4. Bring on the Magic

Once Cinderella had done all she could and her critics had done their best to undo her efforts, Cinderella cried out for relief. She was comforted by her Fairy Godmother, who knew just what to do to remake her mess into a masterpiece. In the publishing world, these magic-makers are called Editors. Editors also know how to make our messes into masterpieces. When we’ve done all we can do to perfect our writing, it’s time to kick it up a notch by enlisting professional help. Trust those people who want to help make your dreams come true.

5. Follow the Rules, Know When to Break Them

Cinderella was forbidden by her evil stepmother to go to the ball. Had she not broken this rule, all would be lost! The prince, bound to pick a bride, would have settled for a politically advantageous marriage, rather than marrying his one true love. We need to know and follow the rules of our craft. We need to conform to the rules so our work is clear and readable. We also need to know when to follow our hearts, take our writing outside the lines and break any rules that hinder our artistry. Sometimes a well-placed sentence fragment creates the cadence and tone we want our words to convey. Sometimes even the lowly, unloved –ly adverb deserves a place in our project.

6. Meet Deadlines!

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother gave her a firm deadline: leave by the last stroke of midnight. Her failure to pay attention to the clock was almost her undoing. She had to scamper from the ball at the last second as her fairy-tale world unraveled around her. Because she didn’t intentionally focus on meeting her deadline, she lost the support of those who were there to help her. Once the horses turned back into mice, they were no longer strong enough to carry her home. Of course, Cinderella was in love and practically floated home in her blissful state. We may not be blessed with euphoria to carry us past the consequences of missed deadlines.

7. Take Risks

Cinderella risked everything by asking the prince if he could accept a humble, honest country girl. We need to ask agents and editors if they’re willing to work with us, even in our humble circumstances. Maybe our platform isn’t as large as we want. Our WIP is never perfect enough for us. But at some point we have to type THE END and hit the send button. It takes courage. We risk rejection. But we can’t get a yes, if we don’t risk the no. Cinderella’s risk was well-rewarded. Ours will be too.

beth_thompsonElizabeth M. Thompson writes from her experiences as a Bible teacher, wife, mother and grief navigator. She enjoys speaking at writer’s conferences and women’s ministry events. Elizabeth serves on the Inspire Christian Writers Board. Her publication credits include articles published by Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian, and contributions to several compilations.

Joanne Kraft Launches The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids

Today is launch day for Joanne Kraft’s second book, The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. We had loads of fun talking about the book and her writing passion. Here’s the interview of our time together.


Elizabeth M. Thompson writes from her experiences as a Bible teacher, wife, mother and grief navigator. She enjoys speaking at writer’s conferences and women’s ministry events. Elizabeth serves on the Inspire Christian Writers Board. Her publication credits include articles published by Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian, and contributions to several compilations.

Author Interview: Susy Flory on The Unbreakable Boy

You know when you’re reading a book and it’s so good you want to tell all your friends about it? That’s what happened to me while reading The Unbreakable Boy. But because so many of my friends are writers, I wanted to tell you all about Susy Flory, the co-author who helped bring this story to life. So sit back and sip your tea (or coffee, if you must) and enjoy the conversation between me and Susy. It’ll answer some of your questions about collaborative writing and give you some insights into the LeRettes and their story.

The Unbreakable Boy takes you into a family that faced multiplied challenges with tenacity, hope and humor. As you read it, you’ll fall in love with Austin who has brittle bone disease and autism. He’s a delightful person who looks at the world with wonder and tremendous joy–even in the midst of great difficulty. His health concerns provide the pressure that caused them to forge deep bonds. Bonds than enable them to not only survive–but thrive! You’ll also get to know Austin’s dad, Scott, and will likely relate to his daily need to let go of his own agenda in order to become the husband and father his family desperately needs. I found myself cheering with each surrender-infused victory.

Here are some of the questions we covered. I’m sure you’ll have some of your own. You can leave them in the comments and Susy will respond.

1. You write about fascinating people with very interesting stories. What kinds of stories stir your passion and make you want to write them?

2. How do you find these stories?

3. Would you explain the difference between ghost-writing and co-authoring?

4. How did you get started writing in this genre?

5. What attracted you to the LeRettes and their story?

6. What was the most fascinating part of working on The Unbreakable Boy?

7. How do you determine if a story is big enough to warrant writing an entire book? What do you look for?

8. What advice do you have for writers who think they’d like to write other peoples’ stories? What steps could they take to get started?


Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment or question for Susy and you’ll be entered to win a free copy of The Unbreakable Boy: A Father’s Fear, a Son’s Courage, and a Story of Unconditional Love. We’ll announce a winner Tuesday at 1pm PDT.

Elizabeth M. Thompson writes from her experiences as a Bible teacher, wife, mother and grief navigator. She enjoys speaking at writer’s conferences and women’s ministry events. Elizabeth serves on the Inspire Christian Writers Board. Her publication credits include articles published by Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian, and contributions to several compilations.

The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver

If you’ve ever thought you might crumble under the burden of perfection (and who among us hasn’t?) you’ll want to meet my friends Kathi and Cheri. They’ve just written a book especially for us!

Here’s a little about each of them so you’ll know who they are before we dive into questions & answers:

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the author of several books, including The Husband Project and Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory
 spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for 25 years. The Gregory’s and their college-age kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

I recently spoke with both of them about their new book, The Cure for the “Perfect” Life. Here’s what they had to say:

When did you first realize you wanted to become an author? How did you sense the call of God to write?

Kathi: I’m a speaker by nature, but was told over and over. “If you want to speak, you need to write.” (Which, failing freshman English and being dyslexic, terrified me.) The call of God really didn’t come until after my first book, The Husband Project. I prayed and felt no resistance to writing (except my own,) but now I really do feel God’s pleasure (after my pain!)

Cheri: My first book was published when I was 2.  (I’ve attached a photo!)  So I’ve always considered myself an author. I felt the yearning to write as a teen whenever I heard Christian women speakers share their testimonies so transparently — I wanted to be able to communicate in such a way that gave hope and healing to others. I attended many trainings in my 20s and 30s, but each time God made it clear that He and I had a LOT of work to do in my life before I’d be ready to write for anyone else!

What propelled you to write a book on such a challenging topic?

Kathi: I tend to write on subjects that keep coming up in my life. This is a subject that showed up repeatedly when Cheri and I spoke. And then I started to see the threads in other relationships and conversations.

Cheri: I wrote and performed a monologue called “The PERFECT(ionism) Crime (http://youtu.be/rzg5Jl4apTI) in 2012 in which I personified Perfectionism and accused him publicly of the crimes committed against the women in my family. I then surveyed my blog readers about the four “P bullies” and was astounded by the detailed responses they gave, telling how these bullies have beaten and controlled them, too.

Why did you choose to co-author The Cure for the “Perfect” Life?  What are the benefits of co-authoring and under what circumstances would you recommend it?

Kathi: Cheri has a ton of strengths I don’t have and we’ve worked on projects together that have proven over and over that we balance each other well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to choose their coworkers? That being said, I’ve had one of the hardest years of my life, and have had to rely on Cheri way more than either of us ever expected. I’m grateful Cheri lives out what she writes about – we’ve had brave conversations about expectations, and so far, it’s worked. And if there is a point it doesn’t work, we will have another brave conversation.

With coauthoring, it’s easy to be attracted to people with similar giftings. While it’s fun in the dreaming stages of a book, like a marriage, you need someone who will complement you and your weaknesses. Cheri does that for me.

Cheri: I happened to mention to Kathi on a phone call that I’d come up with a book title: “Good Girls Break Bad Rules.” And she said, “I wish I’d thought of that!” She mentioned it to her agent who said she’d love to see the proposal. Since I LOVE collaboration and synergy, I told Kathi that I would FAR rather write it with her than alone.

The benefits of co-authoring are myriad. Our readers are getting two very different perspectives. We had no trouble divvying up the 12 “bully belief” chapters — it was so clear which were mine and which were Kathi’s! So the right gal wrote the right chapter. Also, Kathi and I have very different strengths/approaches as authors. I’m very good at defining and exploring the problem; Kathi’s amazing at coming up with practical solutions and inspiring women to change. (I’m the “Woah” and “Oww” girl … Kahti’s the “Woo” and “Wow” gal.)

And quite frankly, I would never have been offered a contract to write this book alone.  Kathi’s platform and long-term relationship with Harvest House were the key factors in the book becoming a reality.

How did researching and writing this book help you conquer your own struggles with trying-harder living?

Kathi: Sometimes writing down your story is the most powerful thing you can do. When you put a little light on the situation, you can see it from different angles than when you’re in the midst of it. Seeing my own struggles in the light of perfectionism has been eye-opening to say the least. I’m pretty laid back, but when things don’t go according to how I feel they should go, I tend to lose it. Accepting this as not just my reality, but as most women’s, was empowering.

Cheri: I have to write from experience, not just theory. I can’t tell others what they ought to do if I’m not doing it myself. I don’t mean living “perfectly” but I do mean living with integrity. So during the 15 months we had to write this book, I was very conscious that the important thing was the daily journey God was taking me on to battle the bullies and their beliefs. The book was simply (to quote Emily Freeman) the souvenir. Probably the greatest evidence that I’ve made progress is the fact that I didn’t stress during the last two weeks leading up to our deadline. I put in plenty of writing and revising time, but I also kept a (relatively!) clean house, spent time with my family, exercised, showered, ate healthfully, and slept well.

More recently, as in just yesterday, my husband and I missed a flight out of Serbia due to a gate change. We’d been at the original gate for 1.5 hours, but our plane left without us from a different gate; we heard no announcements. It’s cost us over $2,000, and back when the P bullies ruled my life, I would have been in tears. I might have yelled at the ticket agent and demanded that they rebook us without charging us. I would have considered the entire trip “totally ruined.”  I would have decided that this meant I was unfit for international speaking and should never accept an international invitation again. What actually happened was very different. I was able to let go of “what should have happened” and focus simply on “what is now happening.” We made the best alternate arrangements we could. I stayed calm and was able to enjoy the rest of the day. I will still talk with customer service and see if we can get our money back; if we can’t, I will not berate or punish myself. I will adjust our family budget and trust God to figure out where that “missing” $2,000+ is going to come from. All of this represents enormous growth for me!

In what ways can readers expect to become braver by reading The Cure for the “Perfect” Life?

Kathi: I think we are brave in numbers. When you read other’s stories and see yourself in them, you will understand that this isn’t just a “me” issue, it’s a “we” issue. When we see that so many of us are struggling with, and conquering, the same issue, it gives us strength to know that God has helped many, and can (and will!) help me.

Cheri: Kathi coined the great phrase “tiny acts of rebellion” and we’re already hearing from readers who are making brave little choices that are having HUGE repercussions, both in their own families and with their friends. One woman turned in a paper that was “done enough” rather than spend two more days fussing over it; she spent those two days enjoying her children and husband. That’s a Tiny Act of Rebellion; that’s BRAVER LIVING!  Another woman realized that the frantic activity schedule she’d planned for her three children this fall was entirely driven by the P bullies; she re-assessed everything and made changes that better reflect her family’s values and her children’s needs. That’s a Tiny Act of Rebellion; that’s BRAVER LIVING!  Another woman had several unannounced visitors in the same day; instead of fussing over how she looked or how the house looked, she invited each person in warmly and was fully present. That’s a Tiny Act of Rebellion; that’s BRAVER LIVING!  Braver Living looks different for each woman: for one woman it might be starting to do something, and for another it might be deciding to stop doing the very same thing. But for each woman, it’s making one small choice to stop living out of fear and start living out of love.

Most of our readers are writers. What will they learn in the pages of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life that they can apply to their writing journeys?

Kathi: Share your story – share your power. People are dying to hear that they are not alone. That if they are broken or damaged, at least there are others who are as well. That’s what writing does, proves to the read that they are not alone.

Cheri: The chapters on procrastination will be especially valuable, as well as the chapter on fear vs. love. I wrote those after spending days avoiding the manuscript, and I finally realized that I was allowing evil /villainy — which says the only way a human being can be motivated is by fear — to win. That startled me into action. Writing should be motivated by love, not fear.  I also think the chapter on personalities is valuable — to know your potential weaknesses but especially your strengths and work from those areas of God-giftedness.

What adventures await you after the launch of this book? Do you have another book project in the works?

Kathi: Cheri and I are cooking up another book, but for now I’m working on Clutter-Free (another reoccurring topic that Cheri and I tend to discuss on a daily basis.) It talks about some of the same issues of The Cure, but now it applies to the piles of stuff around our homes (and I know that other authors struggle with that too.)

Cheri: Oh, I hope so!  As our launch team responds to the book, I’m thinking, “Oh, we need to address that!  Oh, we didn’t think about that!  Oh, that’s a great idea we need to explore!”

But the big adventure for me right now is marketing this book for the next year in as many creative ways as possible. It may be the only book I ever have the privilege to write, and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest!

Thank you for answering all my questions. I love the book and asked a friend to be my Bravery Buddy and go through it with me–so we can encourage each other and hold each other accountable. I’m sure our readers will want to do the same!


Elizabeth Thompson

Wife, mother and devoted follower of Christ, Elizabeth M Thompson writes articles and devotionals and is learning the art of fiction writing. She leads weekly TwitterChats at #WritetoInspire and hosts writers conferences and workshops. When she’s not writing or serving the members of Inspire Christian Writers, she loves to ride bikes along the American River with her husband Mike and their children.

Writer Under Construction

When I began to write seriously, I knew I had a lot to learn about the craft. I also knew I would need to grow in my knowledge of the publishing industry. What I didn’t expect was that God would use my passion for writing to build my character. I am His project, even as I pursue my writing projects.

God is using my writing journey to redefine me. And build my character.

Some of the tools in His tool belt are:


Harsh Critiques and Rejections

Yes, I get them too. We all do. It’s what we do with them that matters. We can dig in our heels and become rigid or we can prayerfully remain pliable in our Master Builder’s hands. I have to keep my pride in check to remain teachable.



Praise can be such a trap! It is easy for me to begin to think I’m pretty special when people speak kindly of me and my work. God gently reminds me I am nothing without Him. He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30


Difficult People

As a writer, I encounter lots of people. Writers mostly, and some agents, editors, bloggers, and readers. I love people and generally get along well with others (I have my kindergarten report card to prove it!) Every once in a while God puts someone in my path who grates on me. Usually, these people exhibit character traits I see in myself and don’t like. I learn to love better through those who are harder to love.


Waiting, Waiting and More Waiting

The publishing industry moves at a glacial pace. Each step toward publication is painstakingly protracted. I can’t remain impatient and survive as a writer. God is teaching me patience.



As an artist, fear is my foe! But it also is a great teacher along my spiritual journey, showing me areas I need growth, God. My fears of rejection, failure, success, exposure, and obscurity can stop me in my tracks. God uses these fears to remind me that He is greater. He can break their fetters and free me to write vulnerably in the face of them. My job is to bring my trembling heart to Him. And to persevere even when I’m afraid.

Maybe these tools look all too familiar to you. Or maybe, God uses different means to shape your character through your writing journey. I’d love to hear what you’re learning. How you’re growing.

Elizabeth M. Thompson leads Inspire Christian Writers. When she’s not writing devotionals, she’s studying the art and craft of fiction with her Inspire Elk Grove group. She enjoys connecting with other writers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

She has an active home which she shares with her fabulous husband Mike, three children, two dogs and a few errant dust bunnies.

Why Writers Need Critique Groups

Attend a writers’ conference or read a book on craft and you’ll receive this advice: “If you’re serious about writing, join a critique group.”

Critique Group Benefits

The first time I heard this I thought, You want me to let someone read my writing and tell me it’s drivel?  No thanks, I can figure that out on my own.

The truth is, I can’t figure it out on my own. I have blind spots. And I have no way of knowing how others will perceive my words.

Maybe your pendulum swings to the opposite end of the spectrum and you think, I know how to write. I don’t need anyone telling me where to put commas or that my protagonist lacks dimension.

So, why do writers need each other?

Here are some benefits a critique group provides:

Useful Feedback

As writers the only feedback we receive comes in the form of acceptance letters or rejection notices. By the time we receive either, we’ve invested a lot of time, effort and emotion creating our article or manuscript. Critique group members point out our strengths and weaknesses before we send anything out. Then we can fix any problems and increase our acceptances.

I’d much rather hear from my writer friends that I need to work out some bugs in my writing than have it rejected by a publisher.


Insight into the Craft

Our writers are serious about learning the craft. And they bring unique knowledge and skills to each manuscript. This results in a steep increase in knowledge and skills for each writer.

I have learned more from my critique partners than I have through books or workshops.


Emotional and Spiritual Support

Writing is hard, and often lonely work. Meeting regularly with other writers provides camaraderie and encouragement we miss if we choose to be lone-ranger writers. Our group members pray for each other and our projects.

We commiserate when our work is rejected. And sharing the journey with other writers makes the joys more joyful as we celebrate our victories.


Learning About the Publishing Industry

The world of publishing is changing fast. In order to stay up with the changes, our writers stay plugged in through industry publications, blogs, tweets, Facebook and conferences. We share information we gather and help each other understand the big picture and how we fit into it.



I don’t know about you, but I need deadlines. Meeting regularly with my critique group provides them.

These are just a few of the benefits of critique groups. I’m sure you could add to this list. Let me know how your critique group helps you.

Not in a group yet? You can get connected by submitting a Critique Group Interest Form and one of our leaders will help you get plugged in.

Elizabeth M. Thompson leads Inspire Christian Writers. When she’s not working on nonfiction projects, she can be found pedaling beside or paddling along the American River. She enjoys connecting with other writers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

She has an active home which she shares with her fabulous husband Mike, three children, two dogs and a few errant dust bunnies.