HOPE in the Holidaze

Every year I struggle with Winter in general and the Holidays in particular.

Many of us are broken this time of year for a number of reasons. Perhaps we miss someone we love. Perhaps something awful happened to us. Perhaps we do not find pleasure or joy in what the world finds worthy of celebration. Perhaps we are The Grinch.

Whatever our reasons for not loving the Holidays, we deserve some time and space to celebrate that.

I HOPE that place is here and that time is now.

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I’m glad we get to start the season of Advent with HOPE. HOPE is an easy subject for me because it is a mission and a calling. I believe HOPE is what separates us from every other being on the planet. HOPE makes us special creations, here for a purpose.

HOPE is that knowledge that things can be better because they have been better.

HOPE is knowing you will be ok, no matter how far you fall.

HOPE is knowing, not feeling or believing, but knowing better exists.

HOPE might also be the worst place to start, since I can’t remember a period when I have lost my hope entirely. In the scariest situations, there was hope I would not be there forever. In the worst pain, there was hope that help was on the way. Even when I knew I couldn’t do it alone, I always had help when and where I needed it. I have been close to hopeless, no doubt. I have been in the darkest of the dark places, but there was always a peephole of light.

HOPE is not the same thing as anticipation.

HOPE, just like its Advent counterparts, is an act, a choice, to look up or look around and see that you are not alone. Many of us feel alone this time of year, but you are welcome here and in other places you might not expect. When you get out of bed in the morning, you have HOPE. When you smile at your children, you are showing HOPE. When you plan for the future, your HOPE is made manifest.

In this season of literal bells and whistles, flashing lights and carols ringing, remember your HOPE. Maybe it’s not a struggle for you, but remember for others, it’s a single light in the darkness.

I’m excited to be part of an organization that has bringing words of HOPE into the world as their central mission. I’m glad I get to call myself a hope*writer

ADVENT for the Brokenhearted

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I’ve long been asking what I could do to bring more HOPE to my writing and specifically to this blog. The answer came in a lovely call with my hope*circle friends. We gather virtually every other week to discuss our progress and plans. I’d thought about doing an ADVENT series before, but something in that conversation gave me the courage and the will to plan it.

The Holidays aren’t a happy time for all of us. This holiday season, I’d like to examine the pillars of ADVENT and what they mean to us especially in 2020. I’d like to speak into the brokenness of my own past and into someone else’s present. I know ‘someone’ because I have been there myself, and I know how it feels to be lost, traumatized, or brokenhearted, during “the most wonderful time of the year.”


ADVENT is a time of welcoming and expectation during the holiday season. It is a ritual part of some Christian liturgical calendars and generally a season for anticipating and celebrating the birth and second coming of Christ. It’s celebrated in the church by the lighting of four candles to represent the four pillars of ADVENT, HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and PEACE, and the middle and final candle of the ADVENT wreath is the CHRIST candle.

Though I am a believer in both, I’d like to keep Santa and Baby Jesus out of this examination of ADVENT. Those magical elements that mean so much to some can be stumbling blocks to others. I’d like to speak in a more global tone, and if I don’t, I want to be called on it.

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The universal principles of HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and PEACE we can all lean into every day, no matter the time of year. They aren’t necessarily Christian or Christmas principles. The pillars are open to interpretation from all walks of faith. These are the principles I wish to focus on this holiday season to get us all through what may be a dark time for some and a source of misunderstanding for others.

I want to show those who are ok what it is like to be lost in darkness, and those who are currently there to see light in the world.

This is what my ADVENT SERIES is going to look like.
I hope you will join me for part or all.

HOPE in the Holidaze

LOVE One Another

JOY to the World

PEACE on Earth

If you’d like to see another challenge from my hope*circle, follow me on Instagram to see my DECEMBER series: LIGHT IN THE DARKEST SEASON @ewinglinsey

Also, if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for a book lover this year, my cousin has just written this jewel available on amazon. In Unexpected Ways: Christmas in Everyday Life is a devotional for living into the principles of Christmas all year round. Check it out!

See you next week!




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It’s time to talk about DRAFTING and my favorite way to do that is through NANOWRIMO happening all this month on nanowrimo.org

YAY! The good news is we actually get to start writing now…

BOO! The bad news is we actually have to start writing now.

I draft in 4 stages starting with a ZERO DRAFT

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ZERO DRAFT: This draft is ALL ABOUT THE WORDS. All of them. Every word. I write all the thoughts in my head down on paper and it is glorious and frightening at the same time. My comfort is that NOBODY sees this draft EVER.

FIRST DRAFT: In this draft I take all the pieces of the ZERO DRAFT relevant and important to my story and cut and paste them into a new document. I try to keep everything in general order, but most of the organizing starts in my…

SECOND DRAFT: Which is where I put everything in order and make it sound like a readable piece of work. This is the FIRST time it actually looks like a STORY or resembles a finished product.

THIRD DRAFT: This is where I REWRITE everything and ADD whatever’s missing. This a draft for my beta readers. It is NOT perfect, more like an Advanced Reader Copy, but it’s as close as it gets before editing.

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DRAFTING takes forever…months to years…and it’s absolutely the worst and the best part of writing. Then comes EDITING…a topic for another time.

I’m finishing up novel number FOUR this nano, so wish me luck. I’ll see you all in December :-*



Now that your ideas are dressed up in their Sunday best, we’re going to line them up to take pictures. OUTLINING is actually my favorite part of my writing process because it’s the stage where everything comes together.

I can go a bit wild, but I also bring things to order. It’s very satisfying.

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If you haven’t already checked out my YouTube channel, I have videos of myself going through each of these steps. You can find that HERE.

OUTLINING is the step in which I take all my little sticky notes or bullet points or scraps of paper and sort them. Usually something as simple as BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END. This goes in the OUTLINE section of my


which now stores all the paper I have gathered to this point. Yes, I start a new notebook for every novel. The NOVEL NOTEBOOK houses everything from the first brainstorming idea to the ZERO DRAFT.

Then it’s time to get digital.

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I prefer to work in a spreadsheet for OUTLINING these days because I can type everything once, then copy and paste part or all of my words over to a different document later when I’m DRAFTING.

PANTSERS again have a lot of freedom in this step since you can really write whatever you want for your outline points. The first novel I drafted this way was nearly one third complete by the time I finished my outline.

Many times I will organize my works by ACTS or PARTS then each PLOT POINT in order. The beauty of this step is that you don’t have to know everything about your story yet. You can fill in the blanks as you go.

  • ACT 1
    • Ordinary world
    • Inciting incident
  • ACT 2
    • 1st plot point
    • 1st pinch point 
    • Midpoint
    • 2nd pinch point
    • 2nd plot point
  • ACT 3
    • Final Battle
    • Ending 

This very simple outline has served me so well I must recommend it. As you can see, it is open to almost any kind of story. OUTLINING will keep your story organized and flowing smoothly…

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NEXT WEEK, we’ll explore DRAFTING or FINALLY STARTING THE WRITING PROCESS to those of you with no patience for plotting. See you then.



Welcome to PREPTOBER! It’s officially planning season for NaNoWrimo and we’re moving on in my series to the stage I call PLOTTING.

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Last week we talked about gathering and cultivating ideas. Now let’s move on to putting those ideas in a discernible order. 

As promised, this step works for PANTSERS too and you might be amazed at what you discover. 

PLOTTING is taking all the things we found while PLANNING (the characters and plot and setting, etc.), and crafting them into scenes.

It’s taking all your little ideas and dressing them up in their Sunday best. 

If you’re more of a PANTSER, there is a lot of freedom in this. You simply sit down and write, this happens, then this happens, then this happens.

You don’t have to know the order or have all the pieces. You’re just jotting down what you know, but you are creating order. You are fleshing out the details you put down in the PLANNING stage.

For some, this might look like a bullet-pointed list or a flow chart. For me, it generally involves sticky notes.

I like to break things into SCENES. I might go in order, or I might start in the middle or even from the end. It all depends on where the story leads me.

Let’s take my example from last time and build on this idea a little more: 

A person checks into an institution that’s been closed for 30 years.

Is this point the beginning of my story? The middle? The end? This is only one scene in the many that either brought this person to the institution, or will carry the person away from it. We might have flashbacks. We might have a history or a narrative going forward. It all depends on the story.

The next thing I do is take all my little ideas and flesh them out on sticky notes.


These are all scene ideas I would scribble furiously on a sticky note, then worry about putting them in order when we move on to OUTLINING.

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The second stage of PLOTTING is finding or developing a PLOT STRUCTURE to help you through the story. These are based on GENRE typically and can be found everywhere on the internet. I use one that’s pretty basic:

  • 1st PLOT POINT
  • 2nd PLOT POINT

Once you’ve figured out what all your plot points are, you should be well on your way to OUTLINING, which we will cover next week.

Until then,

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It’s the first week of October…hush it still counts…as you can tell I am excited for the month change if not ecstatic about the season change.

Winter can be a very dark time for me, so this year it’s planned to a fault, starting with…OCTOBER!

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or in the land of NaNoWriMo, PREPTOBER.

I thought I would share a little bit about my writing process here as well as on my YouTube channel which you can find here if you so choose.

The first step is a stage I call PLANNING, but it’s not exactly what it sounds like.

I want to start by saying what PLANNING is NOT.

  • It is not knowing the whole story or even thinking about the whole story. PLANNING is the very first step, so how could you have everything all figured out?
  • It’s not having a fleshed out story idea or having all the pieces to the puzzle.

PLANNING IS, at its simplest,

  • Recording the ideas you have. 
  • Organizing the ideas you have.

That brings me to my writer’s notebook. I have a binder sectioned off into different categories of stories: CHARACTERS, SETTING, SCENE ideas, etc.

FIRST: Write down the idea in one sentence. BRAINSTORMING is first section of my notebook and it’s useful to have ideas listed here. You might have a different way to categorize ideas such as online, in an app, or in a document. The important thing is to have a BRAINSTORMING place to hold the ideas.
Here’s one of mine:

A person checks into a an institution that’s been closed for 30 years.

All of us could generate ideas from this prompt and come up with completely different stories. It’s just an idea. Not magic, and certainly not writing (unfortunately).
In that sentence, we’ve got three things to work with: the person, the institution, and the timeline. I break these all down into their component parts:

What kind of person walks into the institution? What kind of institution is it? Why has it been closed for 30 years? 

SECOND: Take each of those questions and put them in the appropriate section.

Put the person in the CHARACTERS area

Take the institution, and put it in the SETTINGS area

Take the timeline and put it wherever it fits. Maybe you have a TIMELINES category. Maybe your timeline has to do with SETTING or Maybe it’s part of the PLOT or RESEARCH NOTES. 

From there, start taking notes or building your world as you see fit. When you get a lot of this information or a full-fledged idea, then it’s time to create some order. This can happen any time you feel ready to move forward especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all your ideas. 

That’s called PLOTTING, and it’s the topic of next week’s post.

See you then!


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I could think of three definitions for COLLECT:

  • To collect as in to gather, pick up, or sort.

This, the final week in the month and the quarter, I am collecting my thoughts to move forward. I am collecting ideas and memories. I’m planning a brand new novel in OCTOBER and writing it in NOVEMBER. It’s the best and worst time of the year. The best creatively, the worst emotionally. I’m both picking flowers and packing for survival.

  • To collect as in to own and add to a collection.

This year I am not adding to my collection of stationery (fortunately or unfortunately I can’t afford it), so I will be collecting all the unused spaces and tools and crafting new ones. I’m also adding to my collection of novels. The collection of stories in my head and those I have translated to paper.

  • To collect as in to claim a debt.

I think I’m due a fair amount of credit for making it through the year thus far and thriving at that. I want not the credit but the kudos and not from you but from me (though I’ll take yours too). I don’t mean to suggest the year hasn’t been hard and all is right with the world. I just think I’m doing pretty good under the circumstances.

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I’m really looking forward to sharing my ideas and progress here.

Thanks for giving me a reason to keep blogging.



Emily P. Freeman, co-founder of hope*writers, gave a free webinar on clarity for writers. Before I was able to join, I had the option to answer this question:

One year from now…what do you hope to be true?

She was referring to my writing journey, but as usual, I decided to take the question to the next level and apply it to my whole damn life. I want to solve everything, but maybe that’s too big.

Maybe the writing journey IS the journey I’m on at the moment.

One year from now…what do you hope to be true?

I didn’t answer her then, but now I’ve had some time, and the benefit of her webinar to answer it more fully. I got my clarity.

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Right now I’m not moving anywhere. I need to be. I want to be running toward my goal, not standing here stagnant. I thought first about saying I want to be published, but I want that to be a fact, not a hope.

One year from now, what do I hope to be true…

I hope to be running. Not held back by fear or doubt. I hope to be free from my current burdens and to have the luxury of choice.

linsey ewing

Emily was absolutely right that I need some DIRECTION and the place to start is with my new VISION STATEMENT. That’s my next right step and I’m taking it today.

She says a vision statement should be 4 things:
1. Short
2. Simple
3. Hopeful

I’ve been brainstorming and this is going to be the header for my new website (coming soon):


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What do you think?

What’s your vision statement? What’s your next right step?



Today’s word was COURAGE.

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I don’t know if courage is not looking down or not looking up. Maybe it takes courage to do both.

I do know that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s what we do with our fear.

I’m afraid.

I don’t know how I’m going to manage, frankly. I haven’t a clue. I’m learning to trust and go. Move forward in faith and keep on truckin.


Hope*writers started a new challenge: a word prompt a day. Today’s is collaborate. I’ve read about some really good collaborations with husbands, God, even dogs. I love it.


I got nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of people (and a dog) with whom to collaborate. I have writing partners, friends, parents, siblings, and whole communities of online writers.


The only person I really want to be working with right now is myself.

I’ve already decided I am my own ideal audience, and while I strive to write for each and every one of you, I am the one who really needs to hear my words.

I blog because I need a place to record my progress, fight with the words, and make time to produce something every week. Part of my struggle and the part that makes me want to encourage others, is knowing there IS a struggle. It’s real and it’s challenging and it will not go away.

I believe I will succeed one day (in many ways I already have), and I want the road to that success paved with all my unignorable hardships and mess ups.

According to Crystal Paine, blogging should solve a problem, meet a need, and/or provide hope. I’m encouraged that my blog is doing those things for me.

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Tell me, is this blog doing any of those things for you?

Can you think of a way to collaborate?

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