Dalene: Today I’m speaking with author Rebecca George, who has recently released a new book, Do the Thing: Gospel Centered Goals, Gumption and Grace for the Go-Getter Girl. Welcome, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so grateful to be here today with you.
Dalene: The title of your book is such an apt title for the work we do as writers, I believe, because it does take a lot of gumption and grace to write a book. And as Christian writers, our calling – God’s goal – is for us to share His message in a variety of different ways in our work.
So today I thought that we would talk a little bit about what led you to write this book and then some of your experiences in order to encourage and guide other aspiring authors, and even ones who have written a book or two in the past, because we can all continue to learn from each other.
How to Do the Thing: Don’t Treat It Small
Rebecca: I would say my entire life I have loved books. I have loved words. When I was a child, I would play librarian. So even looking that far back, I can see a couple of threads that have kind of marked my life.
So most of my adult life, if asked, I would tell you my ultimate dream would be to write books and to do this work. It has certainly been a long journey for me. But as I look back over the last 10 years or so, I was discipling college girls in my living room floor teaching the Bible and, that, I think, is a thread that has led towards the work that I do now.
I needed the refining that came along in that season to be prepared for the work that I do now, which I think is important to call out and to say, and I found myself having recurring conversations with women.
At the beginning, I was leading a ministry where we donated handmade hats and handwritten letters of encouragement to cancer patients and treatment centers all over the country. We did work with St. Jude’s and MD Anderson and all sorts of awesome organizations, and as I did that work, I would be invited to speak and share about what God was doing. As I did that, I’d have women come up to me afterwards who would say something to the effect of, “I love this work God has led you to do and, in some way, I feel my heart stirred towards maybe a particular need I see in the world or a particular way that I could use my gifts and talents to glorify God.”
And almost every time, they would hush to a whisper – something would be kind of holding them back – and they’d conclude, “But I don’t know. Somebody out there’s probably already doing it. Or maybe I’m not the girl for this job.” There were all of these reasons why maybe they were held back.
I think as a communicator, as a writer, you reach a point where you think, “Okay. There are these common things that are holding us back. I want to have a conversation around that and I want to point us to biblical truth as it pertains to that.” And so I reached that point where it was like, “Okay, not on my watch any longer will the enemy get this foothold in our lives as it pertains to our calling. I want to have that conversation with women.” And so that’s how and where the thread for the book came from.
Dalene: I think that’s so relatable to us writers because so often we’ll be like, “Why should I write about this certain topic? It’s been written about umpteen times before. There are other people that are more ‘famous’ or popular people that have done this.” But I believe that God places that particular topic, that particular calling, on us for a reason; for a purpose. He’s given each of us a unique voice and unique experiences that lead up to it.
Like with you. You had that unique calling to help with the notes and the handmade hats. And, like you said, women were already recognizing that He had given them this unique calling. It’s just getting the courage to step out in faith.
Rebecca: One of the themes of the book is using your gifts and talents for the glory of God and not for self. And related to that, I think is, treating our calling seriously instead of as a side hobby.
Dalene: That’s something that I try to encourage writers here on the podcast, too. That’s a running theme for me as well. So I wondered if you’d just speak to that a little bit, about how we can maybe prevent or notice when we’re working for ourselves as opposed to God.
Rebecca: I think we do this so often, and I’ll give a quick context to how the Lord has really done a work in me in this area. In 2019, I married my husband, which moved me to South Mississippi for a few years where he was a lead pastor. And in that particular town that we lived in, it was very small.
There were about 12,000 people in the town. Most of the women that I was surrounded by were mostly church members who were either stay-at-home moms, school teachers, or nurses. Three high and holy callings for a woman, one hundred percent.
And none of those things were me.
In that season, God began really opening some doors for this dream of becoming an author to come true, so I wrote the book. As I had conversations with women in my everyday life who, of no fault of their own, didn’t understand my work, there was this temptation to sort of play small and act like, “Well, it’s just this little side project that I have. It’s just this little dream that God’s opening some doors for; we’ll see what he has planned for it.”
I treated it small and I remember a day when I had gotten off an interview for my own podcast and had interviewed someone that I have just really admired for a long time, and they coached me along the way as I walked through the publishing process.
And I remember getting off that call so encouraged and also simultaneously convicted by the Holy Spirit telling me:
“You’ve been acting like this is just this cute little thing. I, God, am not small and so therefore, the things I call you to do aren’t small in my kingdom.”
His callings are significant, even if it’s taking a little courage to embrace, “I am the girl for this job.”
I think we do that a lot and I think the earmarks of it are when we’re walking away from a conversation in which we’ve said things like what I just said: “It’s just this little side project” or “We’ll see what God has.”
Sometimes we do it out of a heart of humility but we have to recognize the value in the work that God has given us to do. Not that He needs us to accomplish His agenda, but to see it as an honor and a privilege to get to partner with Him in our work. There’s joy in seeing it that way.
Dalene: That resonates so much. Women especially tend to belittle our efforts for a variety of reasons, but God sees such value in each of us, and He gives us these callings.
That was just so convicting to me, when you said that He is not small and He does not give small gifts and callings. That was very, very good.
That is the part that relates most, but I just want to point out that it can go to the opposite extreme, too, where we have finished writing our book and maybe it is a success, and then suddenly we find ourselves patting ourselves on the back a little bit too much, right?
So that’s where it needs to be a balance of, okay, remember who gave you that calling? Remember whose book this really is? It’s not all us. It’s a constant keeping our eyes on Jesus is what it really all comes down to.
How to Do the Thing: Write at the Pace of Grace
Dalene: So what was your writing process like? Did it just come in a flood and you were done? Or was it a long, drawn-out process? You mentioned about having to run at the pace of grace, and I was wondering if maybe that played into the writing of the book as well?
Rebecca: Yeah, absolutely. I will say that in that season, which was during the pandemic, I was walking alongside my husband in local church ministry as we were leading the church through what we all faced in 2020–2021 plus I had a full-time job that I worked remotely.
So it wasn’t this glorified destination that sometimes we as writers imagine it to be. You know, rent a cabin for a week and the words just flood to us and we walk out of that cabin with a 50,000-word manuscript totally done. That was not my experience.
To be super honest, I wrote this book in the nooks and crannies of my everyday life as a worn out, exhausted pastor’s wife who also had another job. That was my reality.
From a process standpoint, I did walk through the traditional process: I got an agent and worked on my book proposal for about a year before we pitched it to different publishing houses.
I signed my contract in August of 2021 and my manuscript was not due until the following March. Since I’d written sample content for the pitching process, three chapters were already pretty well written at that stage, so I had about seven months or so to finish the book.
I don’t know how it’ll be for my second book, but I remember at the beginning thinking, “Okay, if every business day of the week I sat down and wrote a thousand words, I could be done by X date.” I thought it was going to be this very methodical process.
I got about two weeks in and I realized that some days I’m going to walk out with 2,500 words and praise God for that but there are also going to be days where I sit down and the 250 words that I fight for are going to be my contribution that day. And praise God for that, too.
Dalene: Thank you for sharing that because that is the reality of the writing life.
Rebecca: It is. And so maybe that’s more honesty than people want, but that is what it looked like for me.
How to Do the Thing: Know When to Be Done
Dalene: Were you more of what they call a pantser, trying to finish it at the last minute or did God’s grace get you through and it was relatively done by the time the deadline came?
Rebecca: It was one of those situations where I had to choose to be done.
Dalene: That’s a good word right there.
Rebecca: I finished the manuscript and I had a friend edit through it. Then a couple people read it, my husband included, before I turned it in, and that was happening in January.
So I spent February kind of just stewing and rereading. I probably read that manuscript seven times before I turned it in the first time. I think that is a trap we can get stuck in as writers as well. And that’s the beautiful thing that comes with a deadline because there does reach a date where you have to say, “I’m done.”
I think I knew in my heart when I was stepping into like the perfectionist kind of mentality and I needed to just say, “Okay, for now I’m going to let my editor take this and, in a beautiful way, rip it apart and I’ll put it back together again.
So while I do want to pursue excellence in what I turn in and I want to be proud of my work, I also recognize that it was definitely more of a choice to be done than it was like racing to the finish line, which I think is a gift.
Dalene: That is. Let’s talk a bit about that editing process, shall we?
Rebecca: Let’s talk about it.
How to Do the Thing: Remain Coachable Through the Editing Process
Dalene: Having served as an editor myself, I can say that the goal of an editor is not to just wield this big red pen and put as many ink marks as we can on the paper; that’s not the goal. The goal is to enhance the story, to make it the best that it possibly can be for that writer. So walk us through what your editing experience was like.
Rebecca: I would love to. So I absolutely adore my developmental editor. I worked with Julie Cantrell, who you may know as a novelist. She has written several amazing novels, and so as an author herself, I think she comes to the editing process with a really unique perspective. I think the Lord knew I needed that in my first book. Her kindness and coaching along the way was so incredibly helpful and just truly a gift from God.
For somebody who’s coming to the conversation and doesn’t really know the traditional editing process, your book will go through multiple rounds of editing, the first of which is developmental edits, which is sort of the global look at the entire work to say, okay, does this structure work? Are there stories that don’t quite fit? So it’s sort of a big look at the whole book; you’re not moving commas at that point. From there it goes into copy editing, which is looking at the commas, grammar, and making sure that’s right.
So in my time with Julie, we would talk back and forth over Voxer, and she’d run ideas by me and, say, “You’re going to see this when you get the manuscript back and here’s why.” She was so kind in doing that.
I remember exactly where I was when she sent my first round of edits back to me: I was in a coffee shop in Franklin, TN before attending a conference in Nashville. I had about half a day before the conference started, just alone time; it was like the Lord had preserved this morning for me to process through getting my edits back.
I remember which coffee shop it was and where I was sitting when I worked on my edits for the first time. When I say what I’m about to say, I think there may be people who will feel tempted to think, “Oh, well that’s cute and all that she had that experience, but my experience was horrible.”
I just want to say that I think if we’re open to being coachable, and if we’re open to seeing the editing process as this beautiful opportunity to continue to grow as a writer and really to fight for your reader at the end of the day and make this book the best book that it can be, then the editing process will be a lot more fun.
If you are not willing to see it from a lens of humility and being coachable, it will be miserable.
I’ve had friends on both sides who have walked through it so I’ve seen it in both ways.
Dalene: That’s well said and very true.
Rebecca: Was there a moment where I thought, “Oh man, I’m a horrible writer and she ripped this apart”? Sure. I had that for like half a second. But we have that choice in that little half second to say, “I’m either going to choose a heart of humility and be willing to be coached, or I’m going to make this miserable on myself.”
I think that’s important to say as we talk through the editing process. Because it is hard. It takes a lot of time. But at the end of the day, everybody’s end goal is to make this experience for the reader the best it can be.
Dalene: So when you opened up those edits, what was your reaction?
Rebecca: I had been warned. Enough friends had told me what to expect that I wasn’t shocked when I saw a lot of red.
I think one of the most helpful things I quickly did was change the settings in my Word doc, where I could only see the final work without all of the red, without all the comments, so I could read it as she edited it.
Dalene: Just for clarity, that would be the Track Comments. So you turned off the Track Comments feature.
Rebecca: Yes, that’s right. I found that to be so helpful rather than picking apart everything she had changed, just to look at it and say, “Oh, yeah, that makes sense. That does actually sound better than the way I had it written.”
Something else that really helped me, and this is so cliche, but it’s true, is that you just have to eat the elephant one bite at a time. I remember reading through most of the manuscript kind of quickly, and then I just got started and worked through each individual chapter.
I set goals for myself. Let’s say I had two hours at a coffee shop. I’d say, “Okay, I’m going to get through the intro as I’m sitting here, and the next time I’m going to get through chapter one. You just have to chip away at it.
Dalene: That’s excellent advice. So you finished writing your draft, you submitted it, and you’re in the editing process. How long did it take from editing to finished published book?
Rebecca: I turned in the manuscript in March. By mid-summer we were pretty much done with edits, and then it went to copy editing. I think a lot of authors, myself included, by that point are kind of over it. You don’t care where commas go, if that’s better and more grammatically correct to you.
As a growing writer, maybe 10 years from now I will feel much more strongly about that part of the process. My husband is an English major, and so to him he would probably cringe to hear me admit that, but I think my gift in this part of the process is not having an English degree or editing experience. My gift, like a lot of authors, is the storytelling piece.
The craft of writing comes with experience. I just reached that point where I was like, “Okay, great. Check, check, check, check, check. Because I’m over it.” There are things you care about and things you don’t care as much about in the process and I think there’s permission for that. We all have different gifts.
By summer we were looking at covers and beginning to think about marketing, which is a whole other beast. I think it took three to five months or so total.
How to Do the Thing: Be Intentional with Your Marketing
Dalene: A quote that you have in your book is “Scrappy gets us past the start line. Intentional helps us endure the hard days.” I can imagine that that not only applies to the writing process, but to the marketing process as well. Is that a fair assessment?
Rebecca: That is very fair. I’ll use the example of starting a podcast. When I started my podcast, Radical Radiance, I did not buy the mic that I have now. I didn’t know if this was going to last, so I ordered a cheap USB mic off Amazon, which is what I needed in that moment.
In a similar way, with marketing a book, there were things that we had budget for and there were things that I had to be scrappy and do myself. I did a lot of pitching to be on podcasts myself. This podcast included, I reached out to you because I thought the message would be a good fit for your audience.
And so some of those things you have to dig in and be scrappy. Some of those things you can have an intentional budget to put towards or things like that. I think that comes in a case-by-case basis as you consider different parts of this process.
Dalene: That’s true. When I consider scrappiness, too, I think of it as like a short burst of energy. And then you get tired, which is when you need that intentionality to keep going.
The book isn’t going to sell itself. You have to be intentional about marketing that book. Especially if you are self-published; it is so important to be intentional, to be consistent, and to remember your calling.
Remember that this book is going to serve readers so well and point them to a message that God has inspired you to write.
Along those lines, another quote that I love from your book is, “It’s not about the extravagant deed, but metered faithfulness.”
So as you were writing and publishing, and now you’re marketing, how have you seen God at work in you through this and has it built your faithfulness? Has it enhanced it?
Rebecca: Absolutely. You can probably tell early on in the book that I have struggled with performance and achievement most of my life.
That’s a rub area for me, where I really have to submit to the Lord and trust that He is at work and He is the opener of doors in ways that I can’t shove them open. That’s a challenge for me to admit with humility.
I think in watching Him do what only He can do through this message, it has just continued to build my faith in remembering He is the God who does immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine. That it is not on us or up to us to strive to achieve.
There’s a quote in the book that says, “The outcome is His but the obedience is ours.” And I think that’s it. Even in launching a book, we are not the opener of doors, but we do take that next step.
When an opportunity is presented, we continue to move forward in faithfulness. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve been thinking about particularly the marketing piece and taking steps towards that since last September or October. And so am I weary and tired in moments? Yes. Do I have to take intentional time to say, “Okay, this week I am not recording any podcasts. I am going to work on this particular piece and save this for later” and run at a pace that’s sustainable? Yes. Because like many of your listeners, I hope I’m still doing this work in 10 years but if I get burnt out and I lose my joy in it, I won’t be.
I think that’s an everyday, continued conversation with the Lord as He gives us wisdom and discernment in how to walk this journey out well. And yeah, it has absolutely built my faith. It has encouraged my heart so much to see the people that He has sent to champion this message alongside me and to remember it’s not all on me. That is such a gift.
How to Do the Thing: Keep Writing
Dalene: I love that you are still speaking with such joy about the writing process and even the marketing. I’ve heard you twice now refer to a second book. So this experience didn’t knock you out of the water; you’re still in there swimming. So are you able to say a little bit about what the next book will be about?
Rebecca: Yes, it will come out spring of 2025, so I’ll be writing it this fall into next spring, which I’m actually so excited about. I think our lives as writers are on a sort of cycle.
There’s the writing part, there’s the editing portion, there’s the marketing piece. I think if we can find some joy in all of those, we won’t get bored. As soon as I’m kind of feeling done with the marketing piece, which I’m kind of beginning to feel that way, I’m ready to write again. I’m super excited to dig into this new message: what do we do with our longings? That’s as far as I’ll go today, but I am so excited to see what God does with this message.
I think your first book is when your dream comes true as a writer. As someone who’s dreamed of doing this for a long time and this message feels special and needed and valuable and a different maybe even more significant in a way than Do the Thing. I’m really proud of Do the Thing. I’m so excited to see what God continues to do with it and this second one that is bubbling up out of me. I can’t wait to write it.
Dalene: Well, it’s just like having children. They each have that special place in your heart. You’re not going to kick one out of the house when the second one’s born. So that’s awesome; I’m excited for you.
One other final quote, speaking about God giving us these messages and now giving you a second book to work on, is your quote that “God holds the pen to your life. And trust me, he is a brilliant author.”
I love that so much. I don’t know if you can see my shirt that I’m wearing here. It says, “Your story is not over yet. Pick up your pen and keep writing.”
Rebecca: I love that.
Dalene: It’s literal and figurative. We do have to pick up this literal pen, but we also have to turn to God, who, like you said, is the pen of our life. He’s the author of life. So yeah, I just love that quote very much.
In closing, one thing that I always ask guests is what is one book in addition to the Bible that really made an impact in your life?
Rebecca: The one that’s coming to mind is a short read, but one that you have to really stir on and read slowly is The Purpose of Man by A.W. Tozer. It really helped me see, again, in this vein of our calling and our work, that “the purpose of man this side of heaven is to worship God and enjoy him forever.” That is the quote that most people remember and take from that book. That’s so true and it’s just encouraged my heart in such a profound way.
Dalene: Such a great recommendation. Thank you so much for joining us today, Rebecca. It has been a pleasure getting to meet you and learn about your author journey. I wish you every success with your books.
Rebecca: Thank you, friend. Thanks for having me.
Rebecca is the founder of Radical Radiance® – a podcast community where listeners are equipped to blend what they love with the Jesus who makes them shine. She is a podcaster, speaker, and author whose greatest joy in life is discipling others to pursue their passions in a way that builds the Kingdom. In her free time you can find her running outside, writing, or trying a new recipe with Garth Brooks playing in the background. You can connect with her on IG at @rebeccageorgeauthor or at radicalradiance.live!
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