When Billie originally agreed to chat with me about her writing style, she didn’t know my main focus is fiction. However, I assured her the I (and my readers!) also read and enjoy nonfiction, so I encouraged her to answer the questions anyway.
I’m so happy she did! If you’re looking for some nonfiction writing tips, you’ve come to the right place.
Thank you so much for talking with me today.What do you write? How did you pick your genre?
I write Christian living/Spiritual Growth non-fiction. I began writing devotions for BaseballChapel.org after meeting the coordinator at a Christian baseball conference. Sitting by the pool in some downtime, we talked about my baseball experience and my walk with Jesus. She encouraged me to write devotions.
Fast forward ten years, another friend encouraged me to work through a book she was writing, Write a Novel in 10 Minutes a Day. My love for writing and acceptance of being a writer began during that process. The merging of the two led me back to writing nonfiction to help women overcome obstacles in life so that they can experience peace of mind.
What’s the most challenging part of writing your genre? How do you work through those challenges?
I don’t want to write what I think others want to read when writing about Spiritual Growth. I want to experience it myself to help with each small step of the process, so the hardest part is living it out before the idea for the book begins to simmer.
I’m a list maker and note taker. I start with a list of the experience unfolding. I’m a processor, so I need to write it down in a journal. In time, the Lord begins to show me through his Word the lesson he desires for me to learn. As the lessons unfold, I see a pattern, a process. Then I dig into God’s Word to help layout a practical plan to grow in our faith by overcoming those obstacles to make room for the Lord to move in and through our lives.
How long does it take you to: write the book? Edit it? Finalize it?
It takes me about three months to write the book. The longer process is the book proposal I write to pitch to publishing houses. The more time and effort I take to lay out the chapters and summarize them, the less time it takes to write the book.
As I go through the writing process, I have two wonderful editors who read through the content, chapter by chapter. They help me see if the flow works, if the content is encouraging and inspiring, and if I’ve made any huge blunders. Editing goes along during the three months of writing the book.
When writing for a traditional publishing house, my experience has been a three-to-six-month process. When it’s complete, and you see the book all laid out, it is such a satisfying experience.
If you’ve written multiple books, which was harder: the first or the following books?
It took me many years to identify as a writer, much less an author. Imposter syndrome is real. After my first book, I began to doubt my abilities. I questioned everything. Not until I overcame the negative thoughts and replaced them with truth could I move forward. That process led to my second book, Distraction Detox: Release Emotional Barriers, Restructure Priorities, Realize God’s Best.
What’s your favorite writers’ conference?
My favorite conference was the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. The professionalism of the conference was outstanding. The level of teaching was better than any other conference I had attended. I loved that you could be in a class with many newbies and veteran best sellers.
After 2020, Mt Hermon canceled the conference. However, another has risen from those ashes. Vision Christian Writers Conference has taken its place.
What’s your writing day like?
Each day is different. When writing the book, I schedule time each day to write. I take much-needed breaks to take a walk, what a TV show, or just sit by the pool. Living in Southwest Florida is a benefit!
When not actively writing a book, I have days when I focus on social media posts, my podcast scripts, and the daily devotion, Morning’ Son’shine, that I send by email.
But each day, I write something. If I change it up each day, I don’t get bored or stuck. The ideas and freshness come as I change up my subjects.
What does your revision process look like?
I love to print out the chapter and revise it. Using a red pen, I read and edit line by line. Arrows are drawn to reposition paragraphs. I even write notes to myself. Then I go back to the keyboard to rewrite the chapter. After many revisions for each chapter, I send it to my editors. When I receive their notes, I print them out again and repeat the process.
I know it takes a lot of ink and paper, but I am a visual person and need the lines and space to revise.
What’s surprised you the most about the publishing process?
The most surprising to me was the length of time it takes to publish. From the time I pitch a book proposal, it gets accepted, and the book is written, edited, and released, it can take about two years. When I began writing, I didn’t realize it took that long. I understand now that the process is methodically planned out and is in the book’s best interest.
What advice do you have for new authors?
- Pray a lot before you write the first word.
- Embrace the process.
- Release the self-limiting thoughts that are holding you back.
- Dig into God’s Word to lead and guide you.
- Show yourself some grace.
- Enjoy the ride. It’s so much fun!
Billie Jauss is the author of Making Room: Doing Less So God Can Do More and Distraction Detox. She helps women overcome obstacles so that they can find peace and purpose. She is also a speaker and the host of the start small BELIEVE BIG podcast. Billie and Dave, a Major League Baseball coach, spend the summers chasing baseball and the off-season in southwest Florida.