The Originals
It seems that I always fall into wonderful serendipitous experiences. If I’m going to fall, that’s the best kind of fall to have–no bruises, no bumps or bangs, and no painful stitches. What a relief! These are elements I experience every day in my blurry,  vision-impaired world.

Today I’m excited to tell you about my gradual immersion into a writing accountability group on Facebook called “My 500 Words.” I first learned about it through Jeff Goins–a writer who has carved out a niche  for himself by mentoring other writers and jostling them out of their comfort zones to succeed as writers.

As  writers?

That term alarms many of us because it means we are in charge of our success.

Some days find us sipping wine and hobnobbing with Shakespearean counterparts and other days find us lying on the floor coughing up paperballs!

Oh, the dramatic ups and downs! This is especially prevalent with newbie writers. The uncertainties occur daily and productivity is debatable. Well, at least mine.

Even experienced writers like Jeff struggled. He used that vulnerability as a springboard for creating a safe environment where many writers could meet in a virtual group setting and together battle the fears, the time-wasters and whatever else keeps writers from achieving their goals. He believed that the biggest obstacle came from not following a habit of writing.  So  he proposed that group members work toward a manageable goal of 500 words per day, just for one month. They would then form the habit of … writing.

I signed up. Just like that. On a whim.

It started in January 2014.

I planned to write my memoir and narrowed down the time frame to a pivotal year when my faith, cane orientation and mobility training, and teaching converged to mature me.  I had accepted a speaking opportunity in May.  I was to be a  keynote speaker at a ladies’ retreat with an expected attendance of about 1,000 women. If I aimed for that deadline, that would give me enough time to finish my book. Since I’d left my teaching position, money had been scarce. In fact, I had no income to fall back on. So, God would provide through my book.

I secretly doubted my ability to produce a book, even when my writing coach assured me that God never demanded anything without first equipping a person. My new career served as my writing ministry. In name. Writing a book seemed out of my league; I’d wrestled with my memoir for years on the side.

Even articles took copious amounts of time to produce. Unsure of my skills, I depended on a friend to help me edit them. If he wasn’t available, it didn’t get polished. We laughed about how the dangling and misplaced modifiers tripped my readers. What was worse, blogging was a non-paying endeavor.  Income for the  articles trickled in but too rare to live on. I kept borrowing from money set aside for my retirement. I struggled with family interruptions, time management issues, my vision and self-doubt.

Not my idea of success.

So I popped into My 500 Words group. At first, I  didn’t interact much. I only wrote the 500 words when I blogged, and that was three times per week–when I kept to my schedule. Occasionally, I posted a link to the group. I often stumbled over my words in darkness and uncertainty. Typical. When I reached for my figurative red and white “writing” cane to guide me through the many obstacles in my new workplace, I found a hand to lift me up–actually, more than one!

January extended into February. I navigated through my writing environment like I did when I first took up my physical cane–with half-developed techniques.  Heading off failure, my coach and I adjusted our target objective. The book turned into  a booklet.

Meanwhile, I got to know a few individuals in the 500 group through their writing.

Somewhere around April, I started feeling more comfortable navigating through my word-filled environment. I anticipated the shadowy obstacles and found them with my cane before they found me. I worked through some of the chapters a little faster. Although I missed my May deadline,  somehow my booklet turned back into a book.

My hands flew over the keyboard. By “flying,” I meant my words tumbled through the air and figuratively were going in every which direction  as I attempted to put a voice to my experiences.

Navigating through my writing was like navigating with my cane. The techniques I learned, helped when I applied them. When I failed to see a deadline ahead, I remembered the mild reprimand of my mobility instructor, “You weren’t using your cane, were you?”

 I started trusting my cane to navigate through tricky areas of my memoir–voicing inner thoughts and building tension–while I used other senses to remain on my path.

As my writing became more cohesive, I reached my goals.  I shared my progress in the group. In July, I couldn’t believe when I smoothly swept through the final chapters of my memoir.

I’d finished!

By this time, I felt close enough to ask some of my accountability partners to serve as beta readers.  By the end of August, something amazing happened. Though I needed my physical red-and-white cane in the real world, I suddenly could toss my writing cane out of sight. I didn’t need it anymore.

A miracle had happened: I could see myself as a writer. Instead of losing vision, I was gaining it!

What was even more miraculous was that my colleagues were gaining vision too. It was as if they’d come out of cataract surgery with new lenses!  They started new blogs. sent clever articles out, finished their books, wrote query letters, asked for feedback on back copy and cover designs, attended conferences and even held book signings! They saw themselves as writers!

It was the total reverse of what I’d experienced in my everyday life where time was chipping away at my sight.

I remember imagining my manuscript with a luminescent light shining on it–the kind that looks like natural sunlight– and thinking that my words were filled with light. I wasn’t going to trip over them anymore.

It was a moment of quiet pleasure.

By October when my book launched, a few members of my accountability group had even reviewed it.

In the few months remaining, I discovered an intensity in the group … a member’s unexpected love story.  Tales of hardship. Haunting pasts.  Strength. Forgiveness. Prayers for members’ friends going through adversity. Remission. Life-threatening illnesses of family members. Travel. Glimpses of international meet-ups. So many exciting diversions that developed alongside the actual writing.

On January 1, Jeff Goins reached out and gathered a group of willing but fearful writers together. By December 31, more confident authors had emerged from their cocoons.

In our shared vulnerabilities, we found a shared vision.

And the miracles are still happening.

More tentative writers join the “My 500 Words” group each day. Our success spreads by word of mouth. People want to know what the secret to forming a new habit.

I think it’s that new life is breathed into our writing nerves. They rejuvenate as they are hooked up to the pulse of the group.


If you’d like to read reflections from other members, check out their posts:

Vanessa Wright’s Humouring the dark
Roslynn Pryor’s Pushing the Bruise
Stella Myers’ Stella’s Starshine
Crystal Thieringer’s Muse and Meander
‪Carryl A Robinson‪’s Echoes from the Cave
Becky Williams Waters’ A Novel Creation
Laura Hille’s For The Love of Storytelling


If you’d like to read more of Amy’s writing, check out her memoir, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith found on Createspace, Amazon and Amy’s website

“My 500 Words” Writing Journey
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10 thoughts on ““My 500 Words” Writing Journey

  • January 3, 2015 at 2:47 am

    Amy, I’m visiting from the UBC. Wow! What a year you’ve had! What a rich experience, because of your determination and faith. You kept at it! Now: what will you write next? ? All blessings to you!

  • January 3, 2015 at 3:20 am

    Isn’t it wonderful the support and friendships you can find in these groups? I dabbled in the 500 word group myself, but really wasn’t ready. This post is making me think I need to go hang out with them again. Congrats on your success!

  • January 3, 2015 at 3:31 am

    This is great! I have been struggling with the idea of writing my own memoir. I feel that I have a story to share but do I want to be vulnerable and let the world know everything about me? How do I organize a book? I’ve never written anything that long. Would anyone read it? Would anyone care?
    This really helps me, more thank you know.
    So… thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • January 3, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Having the writing coach (who also line-edited my work) AND the 500 Words group both helped me tremendously.But I did keep at it and it was a positive experience. I hope to write three books this year, slightly shorter than the one I wrote. I plan to set up speaking engagements once a month and after that, I am waiting for God’s guidance. I would love to know more about your goals for this year! Thank you so much for taking time to read this post, and please visit again!

  • January 3, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Hi Heidi,
    It is wonderful! And it’s good because everyone is at a different level and background but we all were struggling to fit in time to make writing a habit. There is so much imperfection in our writing (one person said that’s why were all “imps”!) The thing is there wasn’t any recriminations for missing time; it was all encouragement, pick up where you left off. The thing is, you really make your own accountability. Others just spur you on and make you laugh. I never worried about doing it every day. I just tried to increase my attempts. I wasn’t always consistent. Go back and dabble again. The thing that makes the difference is finding a handful of people that you connect with. Those are the people I had read and review my book, and they cheered me on. Glad you tried it and hope you go back one day soon!

  • January 3, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Do think seriously about writing your memoir because they are so powerful. Getting a writing coach really was a must for me to help me organize my ideas. Being vulnerable is difficult for sure! Because my memoir was about accepting myself with my vision impairment and trusting God with my future, I forced myself to be vulnerable. I wanted other vision-impaired people to relate and so I couldn’t hide all my imperfections. I have also read, the more frank you are, the more it touches people. Because people are imperfect and they can relate better to a flawed protagonist. Target your readership and yes, I believe you will find a market! I struggled with the exact same questions you did. My friend, it’s worth it!! If you feel you have a story in you, you need to get it out on paper! Someone absolutely needs to read what you have to say. I would love for you to read my memoir because I’m sure it will show you that your story also has weight!!
    Take care and visit again,

  • January 3, 2015 at 4:23 am

    I am visiting from the Ultimate Blog Challenge. In the past few months, I feel like God is calling me to write and speak. So I can truly benefit from your words and your experiences. I was blessed to read about your year. It is wonderful to hear how God has blessed your efforts. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say.

  • January 3, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Hi Patti,
    Thank you so much for taking time to visit my blog. Welcome! What do you think God is calling you to write and speak on, Patti? I believe He always confirms it in some way (sometimes it is because the thoughts won’t disappear; that’s how it was for me with the time frame to focus my memoir on). Keep praying about it and God will get you started and take you through it step-by-step if He calls you to it. Feel free to friend me on my Author page if you want.

  • January 3, 2015 at 4:51 am

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful, heartfelt journey! I also need to get it together and write about a near-death experience I had 30 years ago. I have started and stopped and restarted writing the story so many times–I just need to DO it!

  • January 3, 2015 at 5:22 am

    You know, K. Lee, with so many starts and stops, I can see that experience definitely impacted you. And when we are passionate about an experience, that is conveyed to others (usually those that are drawn to it). I think it’s important you flesh it out. I was piddling around with it far too long and I can see that God is using it to encourage others. The biggest thing is simply getting it down, whether it’s in audio format or written down–whatever. Then go back and fix it up. I found a Christian writing coach with a fee I could afford and she line-edited it after I completed each chapter. It worked so well that way! My 500 Words group really helped motivate me to keep on track! Hope you can begin it this year! Come visit my blog anytime!

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