The One Person Stopping You From Writing A Novel

There’s a gatekeeper – someone in charge of your writing process – that’s holding you back, telling you that you’re never going to finish your book, and even if you do it won’t be good. No matter how hard you work, they’ve got some new reason you should just quit, give up on your writing hobby, and focus on something else.

Isn’t that terrible? But the worst part is: that person is you.

The one person constantly criticizing your story, nagging you to give up, and telling you that your dream isn’t good enough is you. While it may be a relief to find out that all you have to do to get that person to shut up and let you keep writing is to stop yourself from tearing down your own process, it’s easier said than done.

How To Shut Up Your Inner Critic So You Can Write Your Book

It’s really hard to change a bad habit, especially when it comes to being critical of yourself. And the act of really critiquing your own behaviors and habits serves a very good purpose – it can allow you to reflect on yourself and become a better, more productive person.


Here are seven healthy habits you can adopt, which can prevent self-sabotage. It starts with being proactive about your mental space, but includes some real-life tips on how to politely address a stubborn inner critic that’s preventing you from writing.


1.     Set realistic goals for what you’re able to achieve. Then congratulate yourself on making good on your word as you finish those small goals. If something is too daunting, break it down into smaller parts (see my post on micro goals). Instead of saying, “Today, I will write my book,” which you know is impossible, you can say, “Today, I am going to list ten unique quirks for my main character, and write a 500 word description.”

2.     Start writing! Get the words out of your head, and start writing. If you begin with a description of what you want to write, that will kick off the process of actually writing your book. Anything that helps you actually write down any element of your story, and take it from your head to the screen, or paper, is another step toward completion.

3.     Don’t Compare yourself to other writers. Your rough draft is never going to be as good as their completed, edited, polished book. It’s the same as looking at someone’s highlight reel on their social media, and thinking that your life isn’t nearly as interesting as all your friends. Comparison is the thief of joy.

4.     Revisit and revise your goals. You can’t know what your future self is, or is not capable of. But you can look at your progress and see if you’re setting goals that are too easy, or unachievable. Go back and edit your goals, so you can set new ones. Set stretch goals in case you crush your easy goals early, and set fallback goals if you set a challenging goal for yourself.

5.     Write about stuff you love! Your motivation to finish what you write will dwindle if you don’t love writing it. If you’re not enjoying the process, and writing is tedious, it could be because you don’t like what you’re writing. That doesn’t mean it’s bad writing, but if you don’t like writing it, who is going to like reading it? If you can evaluate your interest level before you take on a massive project, this one key factor will keep you writing when you want to quit.

6.     Treat yourself well. Your mind is deeply tied in to the physical function of your body, including diet, and exercise. Don’t forget to take writing breaks to go move around, it could lead to some really good ideas. And if you’re tempted to reach for junk foods for a quick fix, it might give you a quick rush of energy, but will ultimately make you lethargic, and unproductive. Plan your meals like you plot your book for maximum effectiveness. Try to make some good foods in advance, so when you need to eat, you won’t spend a lot of creative time cooking – or use it as a break for your eyes, fingers and back.

7.     Edit afterwards. If you go into your draft knowing that you will set aside time when you’re done to make edits, then you can just keep cranking out words without wondering if they are cohesive. To stop myself from self-editing, or getting distracted, I will write something like: [INSERT CLEVER JOKE HERE], or [RESEARCH THE HISTORY OF HOW RICE GROWS AND FACT CHECK]. It helps me easily find places I will need to edit when I come back, and more importantly it allows me to just keep writing in the moment, without opening Google and getting lost down some online rabbit hole.


If all else fails, then stop writing. Just take a break, walk away from the page, and go do something else. When your head is clear, come back to it from a new perspective.

Were these tips useful? We would love to hear from you, so drop us a comment below about how YOU keep your inner critic at bay.

***Any links on this page are products or services I am proudly affiliated with, because they really offer you something of value!***

Write Your Book In 5 Minutes A Day Using Micro Goals

Turn Your Big, Lofty Goals Into Small, Doable Micro Goals

I dream big.

Sometimes I can see people enjoying my books, laughing, and sharing how amazing it is, before I’ve even written the first word.

So then when it’s time for me to sit down and write the book, it’s intimidating thinking about everything. I’m picturing the editing process, the cover, the marketing, the emails, building my author platform, pitching an agent, and going to a book signing – when what I really need to be doing is writing the first word, the first sentence, the first paragraph.

Does that sound like you?

I did something today that really helped me out. I have about 20 REALLY GOOD ideas for books, and they’re all in various stages of completion. That doesn’t even include my document with hundreds of snippets of concepts, titles, and genre books I would love to write.

It’s too much.

So I chose my three favorite ideas, and then thought to myself, what can I start working on specifically? I can’t just ‘work on my book,’ I need to dig deeper and work on one element of the process. That way, I can realistically get something done on it every day. So here’s what I came up with:

Break Up Your Big Project Into Tiny, Easy Steps


I chose my three best book projects which are not related. That way I can work on all three of them simultaneously without taking my time away from the other ones. If I get stuck on one project I can keep working on the others.

Then I tried to break the next steps of what I was able to do for each book into different activities that would take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. Here’s what I did:


1.     My YA fiction novel reboot of “Treasure Island”

I finished writing this book two years ago, and have been editing and re-writing since then. I’ve had feedback from a few agents, and am still editing.

Micro Goals added:

+ Find one agent that represents this type of book
+ Craft a pitch letter to one agent, and send it
+ Re-read one chapter, and copy-edit with Track Changes
+ Research Similar Books
+ Read one chapter of a similar book

2.     A non-fiction series with an epic marketing strategy

I came up with an incredible marketing strategy, and concept for a series of non-fiction books which are in my field of post-graduate work. My big problem has been that I’ve researched the books, and just need to write them now.

Micro Goals added:

+ Break the books into smaller sections
+ Work on one page from one section
+ Add one element to the outline of the books
+ Draw one picture to add into one section of the books
+ Add five people to a list of people I will directly market the book to

3.     Dark the Shark, a children’s picture book that I’ve written and illustrated.

I came up with the idea three years ago, and jotted down a few rough notes, for fun. Then I decided to write the story, and pushed on to illustrate the entire thing. Now that it’s outlined, I know I need to add color and decide if I want to crowd source this book, self-publish, or pitch to an agent.

Micro Goals added:

+ Color one page of the book.
+ Take one colored page and use it to pitch one agent.
+ Ask one other writer to read my 400 word story
+ Check out one similar book at the library for inspiration
+ Read that book to my daughter
+ Go through and edit the book again

Ultimately, these small steps will get me closer to the goal of finishing each project. The best part is, I can do one of these small steps for one of my projects every day, no matter how busy it gets. And if I have time, I can go through a number of micro goals, and feel very accomplished.

As I achieve these goals, I feel more inspired, and more able to achieve even more. When some of the goals are checked off, I discover where I can add more.

How Can Micro Goals Work For You?


Okay, now it’s your turn. How can you break your book up into micro goals, so that you can actively work on it every day, no matter how strapped you are for time?


Try to clearly define each small doable step, and make sure you congratulate yourself for taking one small step closer to finishing your work!

Did this blog post help you? Share what micro goals you’re working on today!


***Any links on this page are products or services I am proudly affiliated with, because they really offer you something of value!***

Agent Interview - Hope Bolinger of Cyle Young Literary Elite

What Do Real Literary Agents Want From Your Query Letter?

For authors who want to be traditionally published, the first gatekeeper into the industry is to find an agent. Their job is to read your query letter where you pitch your book, see if your manuscript is a good fit for them, and then if they like it, and choose to represent you, they will start to pitch your book to publishing companies.

If you’re curious about how to perfect your own pitch, and get some insider secrets into what an agent is looking for, then read on! Hope Bolinger, a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. goes into more depth here on agents, and queries. Hope is also a published author, and you can check out her latest book Blaze,” right here.

Jules: What do you look for in a query letter?

Hope: I’m really looking for a great idea. I like something that no one has ever thought before, or a book that bends the rules just a bit. We’re also looking for platform. Is the author regularly engaging on social media, does she like to speak at events, etc.? We want to know they can do more than just write a great story.

Jules: What kinds of pitches have stood out for you?  

Hope: I’ll give an example of ones that have stood out in bad ways and one that was good.


Bad: I’ve had someone tell me I looked like the main character of a steamy romance novel. It was uncomfortable to read that content knowing that, and then hard to shake it out of my head.

Another Bad One: I had considered taking a deeper look into a book until one of the other agents at our agency gave me a look of horror, and said, “He’s been harassing me for months, on every social media platform, asking about updates for his manuscript.” I turned it down. People in this industry talk, so make sure to put your best foot forward.

Good: I had this positive delight of a human being send me a manuscript that was insanely different than anything I’ve read. It’s a mixture between Frozen and Doctor Who. Although I wasn’t sure where I could place it on the market, I’d already fallen in love with the main character based on the query, and writing sample alone. And the author was just the nicest human you’d ever meet, so she’s my client now.  

Jules: What would a query need to make you want to take on a new writer?

Hope: I would say the idea just has to be very high-concept. Think, what would other authors wish, ten years down the road, they’d also written? We are really looking for that platform. I hate that we have to look for it, but some publishers won’t even look at a book if you aren’t on social media.

Jules: What are some common mistakes you see in queries?

Hope: There are lots of query mistakes. Here are some big red flags:

  • “My book is going to be a blockbuster hit.” If it does become that, awesome. But that’s not realistic.

  • “My book is the next Harry Potter.” No, it’s not, and besides, you don’t want it to be. A book that is a second-best something will never be a first-best anything.

  • “Spelling errors!”

  • “I stalked you and will now like every single social media post you’ve ever posted since 2016.” Doing research on an agent is great, but stalking is not acceptable.

  • The story is too vague. There’s not enough of a twist to stand out.

  • The story seems to be coming out of left field. I’m not entirely sure what the market is for android erotica, but I don’t take it on.

  • The author clearly didn’t read the genres that the agent represents.

Jules: What's one simple pitch fix that can make a query stand out?

Hope: Have a friend, or two, or ten, look over the query. Ask them to point out what makes them excited to read on, and what parts seem to lose their interest.

One cool way to practice this is by participating in a Twitter pitch party. You can see if agents and publishers, in real time, are interested in your pitch, or if you need to refine it a little.


Jules: If someone does land an agent, what's the proper etiquette as far as celebration, communication, etc.? 

Hope: As soon as the contract is signed, you can post about it on social media, etc. Communication varies by agent. I try to keep in contact once a month to see how they’re doing, even if they aren’t working on a project. Some agents can take up to six months to check in. It varies. I would say, don’t message them on Facebook or other social platforms every day, or at weird hours. It’s like a professional boss-client relationship. We have families, and can’t be on the clock 24/7.


If you want to submit a query, hop on over to my website (hopebolinger.com) and peruse the Instructions tab.

Hope Bolinger of C.Y.L.E. Show your support by checking out her new book “Blaze" available now!

Hope Bolinger of C.Y.L.E. Show your support by checking out her new book “Blaze" available now!

About the Agent: Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. She is excited that her modern-day Daniel "Blaze" just released with IlluminateYA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She enjoys all things theater, cats, and fire. You can find more about her at www.hopebolinger.com

***Any links on this page are products or services I am proudly affiliated with, because they really offer you something of value!***



If you’re an aspiring writer looking to break through your writer’s block by reading some great books on how to write a great story, and get it published, then here are 9 groundbreaking books to add to your library, and get you writing again.

Writing About Writing - A Blog For Writers and Readers Of Writers' Writing. (Bonus illustrating posts too.)

Another Blog On Writing! Hooray!

If you’re a writer in search of some inspiration, and you’re clicking aimlessly around the internet to read stuff about writing, even though you know deep down you should actually just be writing right now, then you have hit paydirt! I won’t waste your time rehashing anything, I will offer insight on all things writing related, and hopefully you will come away with more knowledge after you read my posts. But seriously, you do need to get back to writing after you read this.

If you’re a reader and you want to laugh about the plight of authors, or you’re related to someone, or a friend of someone afflicted with the writing condition (my deepest condolences), then you might find some stuff here. Please poke around and enjoy.

If you’re an illustrator, or drawing, or coloring enthusiast, I will also be posting up articles and blog posts about art, both mine and art in general.

You’re welcome to follow my successes and failures as an author, and illustrator. I will tell it like it is. If you have any questions, or want to hear an article about something, please reach out to me at jules@julesfoxstories.com

I’m often available to hire, and possibly available to collaborate.

Who am I?

My name is Jules Fox, and I’ve always wanted to be an author. I started self-publishing at age 7 with the book “Where Does the Elephant Go When It Rains?” I’ve since self-published 10 of my own books on Amazon, and helped many others self-publish their work, as well.

I’m currently shopping a few completed manuscripts with agents, and my intention is to become a hybrid author that both traditionally publishes with major publishing houses, as well as a self-published author. I am writing, and illustrating in the following genres:

Young Adult: I love to tell fantasy/adventure stories. My manuscript I’ve completed in this genre is Treasure Island - Terror in Thailand, which is basically a major overhaul of the original Treasure Island story, with social justice themes, set along the East coast of modern Thailand.

Middle Grade: I have an adventure story about a group of middle graders who sneak into the building next door to find out more about a big seed chemical company that is constructing an armada of poison sprays next to their organic farm school. The kids are caught in a predicament when a hurricane hits, and threatens to unleash all the toxic chemicals into the fragile Hawaii ecosystem.

Coloring Books: I’ve started my line of coloring books with the Unicorn Coloring Book, Draw Your Own Adventure where you get to choose the words and story path, and then illustrate yourself, and My First Coloring Book: Numbers, which is aimed at young audiences and has the numbers 1-20 in English, Chinese, French, and Spanish. Up next is a Mermaid Coloring Book, and then Dinosaurs, Robots, Dragons, and all the good stuff that kids love.

Picture Books: I’m just adding color to a completed book called “Dark the Shark: They Can’t All Be Great Whites” which is about an Orca who thinks he is a great white shark, and feels bullied by the other Great Whites. Strong social justice themes meet cute orcas, sharks, and an octopus.

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey! I’m so appreciative for all of you authors, artists, and readers out there.

I proudly have affiliate links in my blog posts, which are either my own work, or work that I strongly believe is a game changer, and recommend because I use it myself. I could never have achieved the success I have so far without great products designed to build us our artistic communities of all types.