Three alumni from last year’s session of Just Do It! (an online accountability and collaborative support course) share the work-in-progress breakthroughs they experienced with faculty and peers at the Highlights Foundation.

Started  in 2017, Got Stuck in 2018, Finished the Draft in 2022

Writer: Alison Wilcox

Key Takeaway: Progress Over Perfection = Energy + Courage

Reflections in the Online Community During the Course:

Hello everyone – I’m participating in Nanowrimo this month for extra motivation and I have to say that my experience this year is much improved from taking this course – the tips from Sarah in some of our first calls have helped me to keep going. For three days straight this week I sat down – anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour at a time – and did an average of 500 words per day, which was actually my Nano goal. But it felt easy.

Good morning- I’m so excited to announce that I finally “Just Did It” – and finished my whole first draft! I started this WIP in 2017…I encountered my biggest hurdle on Sunday when I got to the scene that stopped me in 2018. [But] I did not get up from the desk until that scene was finished, and the rest came into place much easier because I’d gotten over the other side of what I found most difficult.

From Alison, After the Course:

I participated in “Just Do It!” and I’m excited to say that I Just Did it!

I started this class with a WIP MG novel I’d been writing for 5 years.  I knew my story, I loved my story, but I just could not get myself to the finish line of the first draft.

Sarah is a wonderful teacher, and I appreciated her coaching and the practical exercises, and guidance from the guest teachers as well as support from fellow students.

In this class I started with a simple goal of sitting down each day to write – even for 20 minutes – and I learned that time wasn’t really the issue – the most important lesson for me was realizing that I was putting way too much pressure on myself to have perfect writing flowing from my fingers to the keyboard to the page.

Understanding the process, giving myself permission for choppy, unformed words to dot the page – this gave me the energy and courage to keep going, knowing that once I had my first draft I would then be able to revise and polish.

I am proud to say that after 5 years of struggle, I finally finished my first draft in this 3-month class!

I’m now making great progress on my revision, as the foundation of my novel is set.

Thank you Sarah and Highlights and my fellow classmates for this wonderful opportunity, and I highly recommend this program to anyone aspiring to Just Do It!

Second Book, Full Steam Ahead!

Writer: Dale-Marie Bryan

Key Takeaway: Balancing Revising and Learning

Reflections in the Online Community During the Course:

1st goal of my Just Do It plan completed! Moved around my writing space to fit in my storyboarding table right next to the stash of sticky notes. Let the Book 2 drafting begin!” (Dale-Marie Bryan)

From Dale-Marie, After the Course:

I’m especially glad to recommend Just Do It! with Sarah and Chris. I couldn’t take full advantage of all they had to offer before because I was in the midst of revising the first book at the same time. But now that it’s with the editor, I’m excited to continue drafting the follow-up book, full steam ahead!

(Dale-Marie even signed up for the first session of 2023!)

I Know Where I’m Going

Writer: Lisa Trank

Key Takeaway: Concentration, Learning, and Bravery

Reflections in the Online Community During the Course:

Okay, a minor miracle to share. I’ve never ever, ever, ever outlined before. After spending this week concentrating on the last 3rd of the book, I sat down this morning to write and a clear outline poured out of me!  After a month, I know where I’m going…

From Lisa, At the End of the Course:

I want to say what a gift this class has been and continues to be. I’m applying what we learned to so much, and am happy to report that right after the first of the year I received a full request from an agent for another MG novel. Before I sent it I went over my notes and felt brave enough to dig in and make some last changes before submitting it.

"I am proud to say that after 5 yaers of struggle, I finally finished my first draft in this 3-month class! - Alison Wilcox

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