My Writing Life: Lessons from my focus group

      What do you mean get rid of Chapter 4? I glanced at a survey one of my book reviewers had just turned in. Surely there must be some mistake! Who would want to eliminate a whole chapter of my brilliant writing? Send my carefully crafted words to the chopping block?


    Writing a book is teaching me valuable life lessons. It’s my prayer that I can bring it to publication so it can one day bless your children. First, let me share a little background:

As I shared last week, fueled by my passion to provide older children with fun Christian fiction, I’ve begun the fumbling, bumbling yet somehow wonderful journey towards becoming an author.

Two weeks ago, a group of ladies from my homeschooling group along with their daughters blessed my socks off during a focus group on the first draft of my manuscript. I opted to be absent from the group, using a moderator to lead the discussion so everyone could speak frankly without fear of hurting my feelings. (Although, I really do have fairly thick skin!)

After pouring the coffee (because, really, how can you have a book group without some good coffee?) but before heading upstairs, I got my first casual feedback – a glimpse of one of the surveys that had already been turned in. There was nothing eyebrow-raising in the answers to any of the questions until the last one. My heart melted a bit when I saw the response to, “Is there anything else you’d like to share?” The suggestion was to eliminate a whole chapter!

My heart may have melted for a minute, but melting can be a great thing. Melting something lets you transform the shape into anything you want it to be! How would a lump of gold become a beautiful ring if it didn’t melt a bit?

When the last guest left and I locked myself away to watch the discussion video, I was bowled over by the rich and wonderful conversation. The group was fairly unified about the strengths of the manuscript and what needed to change. This must have been one group of brilliant kids because their insights were deep. They sent me happily encouraged and chuckling into the revisions.

Eagerly, I holed myself away and re-wrote, re-wrote, re-wrote and produced what I hope is a much better manuscript. (Yes, chapter four did go and another chapter got added because everyone wanted to know more about what was going on in one character’s head.)

I’m looking forward to more feedback soon and another focus group. Writing a book is such a fun adventure for me! I’ll be applying the lessons on melting and flexibility into other parts of my life and child-rearing, too!

Please feel free to share about your own writing experiences in the comments.

About Forever Joyful

I am a devoted wife, mother of three great kids and, most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ. I love long summer days, photography and stealing quiet moments for writing.
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