Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How to P.R.E.P. for a Great Writing Fall!

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

Summer 2018 will soon be only a memory… Labor Day will have come and gone.  Whether you are back into the routine of filling backpacks and lunchboxes or at the stage of filling your calendar with work or volunteering, FALL can be a season of fresh beginnings. 

Since I juggle three jobs (writing, speaking and high school teaching) Fall is my serious kick-off-and-start-running time. Perhaps you feel this way as well. 

May I suggest my own strategy for balancing life at this time of year? I call it 

  • P – PLAN 
  • R – RHYTHM
  • E – EXTRAS
PLANRight now, lay out your calendar pages for September, October, November, and December and fill in all that is already scheduled: work, activities, appointments, concerts, church services, Bible studies, etc. Include your children’s’ games, recitals, field trips and school holidays as soon as you get the notice. Look at the four months. What is already on your calendar is a given—the empty space is now where your decisions for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ will occur. If there is (horrors) no white space, Honey you are already in trouble. Pray about what might need to be reconsidered or culled from your life. I raised 4 kids and we had to limit each of them to only 2 extra-curricular activities per season. (They turned out alright because they had to learn early in life that you ‘can’t do it all’ – at least not at one time!)

RHYTHM: What time of day, day of the week, and month of the year do you find you have the most creative energy? Know your own unique ‘rhythm’ and plan accordingly. For instance, I’m a morning person so most of my creative writing is done early in the day and my ‘no mind’ tasks are relegated to the evening hours when my brain slows down. Also, after a full weekend of speaking, I’m usually ‘peopled out’ and thus choose to not schedule hospitality and too much outreach for Mondays.  In addition, twice a year (January and July) I set aside an extended period of time to intentionally be quiet before the Lord and do some prayerful evaluation of my life on all levels—personal, professional, physical and spiritual. This includes a lot of listening….

EXTRAS: As you look at the Fall 2018 season, what are the Special “extras” in your life and how can you set aside the resources to prepare for them? Currently I have 9 different speaking events (travel, etc) not to mention adult children coming home to Connecticut for Christmas holidays. If I begin now to set aside funds for gifts, travel, entertainment and house prep, I can actually enjoy the process of these events. What about you? Do you get frantic in November and December because you haven’t been strategic about the holidays (even though you know they are coming)? This year, try to do a bit each week in the Fall towards your goals. Then enjoy!

PRIORITY: Long before Labor Day, you already established your life priorities and how you would choose to invest your time and resources based on your own life values. So today, as kids go back to school, a new church calendar is launched, and the air begins to get crisp and cool, once again you need to visit those “constants” – time with God, family relationships, health strategy, or whatever yours are. In addition to confirming daily habits, it’s a great idea to nail down perhaps at least one goal per month. Mine look something like this: 
  • September –Finish writing all Fall Speaking presentations. Complete preparations for Directing “reNEW – retreat for New England Writing”in October. 
  • October – Complete first third of my new book manuscript.  
  • November– Concentrate on outreach and encouragement to all extended family members. Complete 2/3 of new book. 
  • December– Observe Advent daily with Mike and finish new book manuscript due early January.

Remember, it is our job to PREP, but we must always offer our lives up to God and trust that He will guide and re-direct as He sees fit.

“We plan the way we want to live,
    but only God makes us able to live it.” 
Psalm 16.9 MSG

Fall is a grand and glorious season! And, friend, it’s HERE! Rather than be overwhelmed or overscheduled, use the P.R.E.P. model (Prepare, Rhythm, Extras, Priority) and remember be thankful for the Gift of each new day.


Planning now can insure a productive #writing fall - @LucindaSMcDowel on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is passionate about embracing life—both through deep soul care as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she delights in “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional), Ordinary Graces (2018 SELAH finalist), Live These Words, Refresh! and Role of a Lifetime. A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), Lucinda received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for The Write Conversation and Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog. Whether co-directing "reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing," pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.EncouragingWords.net/


  1. Thanks, Lucinda, for this timely post. I'm sharing it with my writer friends.

  2. I love the 4-month calendar lay out. Very wise. Get those writing times in before the world takes over!

  3. Thank you for these inspiring tips Lucinda — I’m planning a Great Writing Fall! I’m sharing this with my network on my Facebook page and Twitter! Thank you (too) for encouraging, Edie! #AmWriting #ForgivenessBook Can’t wait for #PSL Happy Fall y’all!