This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, March 01, 2010

Striving for the Next Level

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

One of the things our pastor said in his sermon yesterday is, "What got you to where you are today will not necessarily get you to the next level where you want to be tomorrow, without a change."

This statement has stuck with me, and I've been pondering it. He used the analogy of Tim Tebow, one of the greatest football players in college history. The way he throws the ball is a timing concern that could get him crushed before the ball leaves his hand if he moves to the next level, NFL.

Some people are saying he's a great player, why mess up what works? Because what works in a slower game of college football, but won't cut it in the NFL big league where football is much faster. Our pastor went on to name some great college football players who never amounted to much in the NFL league, because they didn't change their game.

I may not be a football player, but I am an author. When I look over my writing years to consider how my writing has changed and evolved, I had to switch from being a panster, writing by the seat of my pants, to a plotter, plotting out the major plot points and twists before writing the first draft of the whole story.

Without this change, I don't think I'd be able to switch from one plot in 19th century England to 15th century Scotland at a moment's notice. Thanks to my careful character sketches, my notes, and my plot outline, I can pick up where I left off weeks, months ago. If I was still writing as a panster, I think I'd be floundering right now.

My debut novel, Highland Blessings, was a panster novel. It's sequel, Highland Sanctuary, will be a plotted novel. As I continue to ponder my pastor's message, I can't help, but wonder what else in my writing must change before I can move to the next level. Perhaps it is the way I promote my writing. 

I've been relying heavily on Facebook, but when my account was unexpectedly disconnected this past weekend, I panicked. I felt disconnected from two years worth of connections I had built on FB. What other avenues can I reach these people? What must change in my promotion habits? Believe me, I'll be contemplating this issue and praying about it. 

What about you? Think about where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow? What must change to get you there?


I love that word - panster! That' the way I use to write. But since Ive been writing fiction for the last year or more, I have learned that I must evolve my writing. I had to change writing whatever I was thinking to writing what the reader would enjoy reading! That process is not easy, but I have grown so much as a writer. My next change will have to do with confidence. Even though I love history, writing historical fiction is a big responsibility. I want to know my facts and translate them into a book that is interesting and correct.
I will be copying this post to re-read!

I also write historical, and have secret longing to write mystery. Could combine the two, I suppose. I also am a panster of sorts. I think your message about changing to plotting and planning is for me. I don't know all the things that need changing, but change is looming, I can feel it!

Jan, Confidence is huge in a writer's life. Although, I think it tends to roll up and down for me--like a roller coaster. I have great days, good days, bad days, and desperate days. Then the cycle starts over depending on what is happenings.


My debut novel, Highland Blessings, is a Christian historical romance mystery. That seems to be the niche I'm falling into. I think there is a huge gap for it in the market.

Hmm. Seems like that book has all the best elements. I'll be reading it for sure!

This is so true! I heard someone once say that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. I laughed, but it's true. If you want to move forward, you have to do something different from what you are doing now. Great insight! Best of luck with your next novel! I, too, have had to learn to plot!