How to Choose the Right Writing Resources for YOU Right Now, Part 2


There are so many resources out there to help you write, edit, and publish your novel. How do you choose which one is right for you right now?

I’ll help you find exactly the right fit using my favorite decision-making framework. Start with part one of this framework here. Then, come right back here for part two.

This is a lot sooner than you usually get to hear from me again. This week, I’m doing a special two-part bonus episode—honestly, because I started talking about a topic I love and that I think is really helpful to you, and I just had too much to say and couldn’t help myself. If we’re being really honest, that’s what happened.

And normally when this happens, I space the articles out week by week. That’s how we end up with article series—I just have too much to say about any one topic!

But this week, we have a special case. In this article series, I’m walking you through the decision-making framework that I use to help writers decide what their best next step is in their writing journey.

You can use this framework to decide when to hire an editor, or when to join a writing course, or what to look for in a book coach, or even when to publish your novel.

And the example we’re using in these articles is:

Should you join Notes to Novel right now?

Notes to Novel is a writing course created by my editor friend Savannah Gilbo. In it, you’ll create a roadmap for your novel that will support you through your writing and editing process.

You can get all the details on the course right here.

Right now, the course is open for enrollment. But it’s going to close tomorrow, Thursday, October 12, 2023. Which means that you can’t wait until next week to decide whether it’s the right fit for you or not. One way or another, that decision is happening right now, within the next day and a half.

So that’s why I’m not waiting until next week to share this article. Instead, I’m bringing you the second article in a week: the second part of our two-part series on how to choose the right writing resources for YOU right now.

A Teeny-Tiny Recap

I’m going to assume you’ve already read the previous article, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time recapping it. If you haven’t, I do recommend that you go back and listen to it first. Read part one here.

In the last article, we explored three questions to help you determine your values in your writing, editing, and publishing journey—the values that are going to guide you as you decide whether Notes to Novel is right for you.

Those questions are:

  • Question 1: Do you want to call in help early and often, or do you want to see how far you can take your writing on your own?
  • Question 2: Do you learn best in one-on-one or group settings?
  • Question 3: What’s your budget to invest financially in your writing?

Now that you have a sense of some important things you value about your writing, let’s talk about your needs. Pull out your Notes app, or the notebook where you journaled your way through yesterday’s article, and let’s get back into this coaching session.

3 Questions About Your Needs

What does your writing need right now?

And again, I have three questions for you here.

Question 1: Are you in the learning stage or the execution stage?

Here’s what I mean by that: Writing is a skill. It’s a skill that every writer ever has had to learn.

And it takes a lot of time and effort and energy and practice and feedback and writing words that don’t work in order to learn this skill.

In my experience, writers are continually surprised by how challenging it is to learn the skill of writing great novels.

It’s one thing to pick up a pencil and crank out a first draft in a burst of inspiration. It’s a whole other beast to learn the writing skills that will enable you to turn that first draft into a book that readers will love.

You’ve probably heard that a lot of times, it’s not a writer’s first-ever book that gets published. This is why.

I consider that first book your training ground, the place where you are learning how to write a book, how to tell a great story, how to create believable characters and make your readers care about them, how to build an immersive world, and so much more.

Some writers spend years working on one book, editing it over and over and over as they build their writing skills, until they turn that book into an absolute masterpiece that makes them a New York Times best-selling author with their debut book.

Other writers spend months or maybe a few years working on their first book, then they self-publish it and start another, and self-publish that and start another, and all the way through, they’re building their fundamental skills across many books.

Most writers are somewhere in the middle—their first books aren’t New York Times bestsellers, but they also aren’t self-publishing first drafts.

Eventually, if you keep at it, if you take the time and energy to learn to write, you’ll get to a point where the story fundamentals are really ingrained knowledge for you. Yes, you’ll keep learning and growing with every book, but all your later books are built on a solid foundation, solid storytelling fundamentals right out of the gate.

At that point, you shift from the learning stage to the execution stage.

That means you’re no longer in your training-ground book. You have built your fundamental skills, and now you’re executing, writing book after book after book using the skills you’ve built.

The authors you admire, the ones whose signed books you have on your bookshelves? They’re in execution stage. They have learned how to write great books, and of course, they’re always refining their skills, but when they sit down to write a new book, they’re bringing a wealth of story expertise to each new novel.

So which stage are you in? Are you in the learning stage? Or are you in the execution stage?

It can be really, really difficult to determine this on your own. But I have some clues for you:

You’re definitely in the learning stage if you haven’t written a novel before and you’re about to start your first book.

You’re definitely in the learning stage if you’re writing your first draft of your first-ever novel.

You’re definitely in the learning stage if you’ve finished a first draft of your first-ever novel. Almost always, I find that the first draft of a writer’s first-ever book will have a lot of storytelling problems baked in.

You’re probably in the learning stage if you’ve worked your way through several drafts of your first novel.

I say probably because I’ve seen writers put in the hard work to level themselves out of the learning stage on their own, all by revising that one book over and over and leaning on a lot of craft books.

But I’ve also seen writers work their way through five or eight or ten drafts of their first book, and still be in the learning stage, missing key storytelling fundamentals.

Here’s the biggest clue that you’ve made it to the execution stage:

You have gotten positive feedback on your writing from readers. Those readers might be a developmental editor, a book coach, beta readers, agents, acquisitions editors, or fans who’ve bought your book and loved it.

If you haven’t yet gotten that glowing feedback, you’re probably still in the learning stage.

Which of those clues rang true for you? Which one reflected your current writing experience?

Are you in the learning stage or the execution stage?

Notes to Novel: Learning vs. Execution

Here’s where Notes to Novel fits in these stages:

Notes to Novel is excellent for writers in the learning stage. It includes thirty lessons on all the fundamentals of novel writing, so you’re going to get a fantastic, holistic training in the core things you need to know in order to write a great story.

And Savannah has included a ton of bonuses to enhance your learning. I won’t go into them all here, but you can check them out at

Notes to Novel is not really designed for writers in the execution stage, with one exception. The exception is, if you have strong storytelling skills, but you’re really struggling with your writing process, you might find Notes to Novel really helpful.

Savannah teaches you how to craft a great story and how to make your novel writing process easier and faster. So if you’ve written books before, but you’re looking for a simpler, easier, repeatable process to help you write even more books, Notes to Novel is a great fit.

And if you’re in the learning stage, no matter what part of the writing process you’re in, Notes to Novel is going to be immensely helpful to you. You can come in with no idea and just a dream of writing a book, or you can come in with a finished third draft that’s just not working yet, and Savannah is going to teach you how to tell a great story.

All right, that question and answer was really long because it’s really important. Honestly, I think it might be the most important part of this whole process of discernment.

If you can identify whether you’re in the learning stage or the execution stage, that’s going to give you so much clarity about pretty much everything in your writing life.

The good news is, I think we can get through the last couple of questions a bit faster. Here’s question two:

Question 2: Do you feel isolated in your writing?

Think of your writing process. Think of your dream of writing and publishing a book.

Does that feel a little lonely?

Do you have support around you? Do you have people cheering you on? Do you have people who get it, who understand what you’re working on, and who act as a soundboard for your ideas and help you get inspired and motivated?

Or are you writing on your own, without a support system around you?

I ask this question like this—“do you feel isolated in your writing”—because I know writers. If I asked, “do you need the support of a writing community,” most of the time, you’d say no. Writers are often introverts.

And also, it’s just human nature to not think about how important community is. People join gyms in order to work out and accomplish their fitness goals. They don’t join gyms because they want community—but often, the community becomes the thing they love the best.

So I want you to take a hard look at your writing life right now, and ask yourself, do you ever feel a little lonely as you chase your writing goals?

Notes to Novel: Writing Community

If the answer is yes, then I have good news: Notes to Novel comes with built-in community support. You’ll get Savannah’s support in the group coaching calls. And you’ll also get access to a private Notes to Novel Facebook group, where you can connect with all the other writers in the course and get support as you work through the lessons together.

If you don’t feel a little isolated in your writing, if you look around and you have all the support you need, that’s fantastic. I’m so glad you have people in your corner. We so easily underestimate how important that is, but it’s absolutely essential.

You can always add more community when you join Notes to Novel—it won’t hurt! Or maybe the community aspect of Notes to Novel won’t be a major factor to you as you consider whether the course is right for you, and you’ll base your decision on the other values and needs questions.

Which brings me to our final question about your writing needs:

Question 3: When do you need writing support?

Or, to put it another way, do you need help in your writing right now?

Are you stuck in your writing right now and need some support? Or do you have everything you need right now, and you’d prefer to get support at a future time?

This is an important question because there are some kinds of writing resources that you always have access to. You can always download a podcast or read a craft book.

But there are other kinds of writing resources where timing matters.

Notes to Novel: Timing

For Notes to Novel, timing matters. Doors to the course close on this coming Thursday night, October 12. The course itself will begin on October 16, and the eight weeks of group coaching will continue through early December.

The course will open again at some point in the future, but it won’t be in 2023. So if you’d like help now to make tremendous progress on your novel this fall, this is your chance to join Notes to Novel.

And another resource where timing matters is when you’re working one-on-one with an editor. In that case, you’ll need to navigate their schedule and availability to take on your project at any given time.

Right now, I’m booked up through January 2024. The next clients I’m booking are in February. So if you’re looking for expert writing support this fall, Notes to Novel is the way to go.

Question Recap

And that’s it: those are all our needs-based questions. Here they are again:

  • Question 1: Are you in the learning stage or the execution stage?
  • Question 2: Do you feel isolated in your writing?
  • Question 3: When do you need writing support?

And I’ll remind you of our values questions again, too:

  • Question 1: Do you want to call in help early and often, or do you want to see how far you can take your writing on your own?
  • Question 2: Do you learn best in one-on-one or group settings?
  • Question 3: What’s your budget to invest financially in your writing?

Together, those six questions can help you understand what’s important to you in your writing, editing, and publishing journey right now.

And when you know what matters to you, you can make informed, intelligent, strategic decisions about the best writing resources to call in to help you.

The Result: Is Notes to Novel Right for You?

So have we answered our original question?

The question on the table is:

Should you join Notes to Novel now before the doors close on Thursday?

And as we’ve gone through these questions, I’ve created a rubric of sorts to help you decide.

I’m going to read that rubric out to you. And as I do this, I want you to review your answers and see where your answers fall in this rubric.

Here we go:

  • If you value calling in help in your writing early or going far on your own,
  • If you value learning in group settings with other writers,
  • If you value investing financially in your writing in order to improve your craft,
  • If you’re in the learning stage of your writing journey,
  • If you feel isolated in your writing,
  • And/or if you need support in your writing this fall,

Then Notes to Novel is a great fit for you. Click right here and join the course.


  • If you value learning in one-on-one settings and not in a group,
  • If you have a limited budget to invest in your writing and the Notes to Novel payment plan doesn’t work for you,
  • If you’re in the execution stage of your writing and you have a repeatable novel writing process that works for you book after book after book,
  • If you’re already surrounded by a supportive writing community,
  • And/or you do not need any help in your writing this fall,

Then Notes to Novel isn’t for you.

You Did It! Congratulations!

And that’s it! You’ve done it!

You have worked through this entire crash course in the framework I use to help writers determine their best next steps.

And you have arrived at the decision about Notes to Novel that’s right for you.

(I hope you’ve arrived there, anyway! If you’re still feeling on the fence about Notes to Novel after all of that, send me an email at alice [at] alicesudlow [dot] com and let’s talk it out.)

Doesn’t it feel good to have reached your best decision?

You’re not following a one-size-fits-all plan. You’re not following some random opinion of an internet stranger who may or may not know what they’re talking about.

You’re identifying what you personally, specifically want and need. And then you’re making an active choice about whether this specific course fits those wants and needs.

I want to take a pause here and congratulate you. This kind of thing is really tough. That’s why writers spend so much time posting in Facebook groups, “Do I really need an editor?” Because it is hard to determine the right choice for yourself.

But if you’ve stuck with me this far, you’ve done it.


Define Your Values, Then Choose Your Resources

Also, can you see why I decided not to turn this whole framework into a podcast episode? This is just one piece of my full framework, and I had to split this into two parts, and there’s so much more I’m excited to cover in the full masterclass.

So if this was helpful for you, definitely keep an eye out for that masterclass, coming soon.

In it, I’ll go beyond just this one writing course and cover so many more writing decisions.

You’ll learn how to know when you’re ready to work with book professionals like an editor or book coach (like me!). You’ll learn about your priorities for your entire writing, editing, and publishing journey—and that includes decisions about the best publishing route for you.

It’s going to be such a great masterclass. I haven’t seen anyone talking about this in quite the way I approach it, and I am just champing at the bit to share this with you. I hope you’ll join me!

Until we get to that class, though, the idea I want you to hold onto is this:

Identify what your values and your needs are in your writing process right now. Then, seek out the resources that match those values and needs.

A Few More Notes to Novel Notes

If Notes to Novel does match your values and needs, there are a few more things I want to share with you.

When you click right here and join the course, you won’t just get Savannah’s support. You’ll also get a couple of bonuses from me, specifically crafted to help you edit your novel.

The first bonus is in-line comments on your first 3,000 words. Join Notes to Novel and start writing your novel. When you reach 3,000 words, send them to me, and I’ll give you feedback: the strengths I see in your writing, opportunities for improvement, and my best advice for your story as you continue writing forward.

And the second bonus is $200 off a Full Manuscript Evaluation. When you finish your manuscript, come back to me for a Full Manuscript Evaluation. I’ll read your draft and help you determine exactly what to do next to take it to the next level—and you’ll get $200 off the price of the eval!

And the other thing I want to mention is that I am an affiliate of Savannah’s course. That means if you click here and purchase the course, I’ll receive a commission.

I recommend the course because I’ve worked with Savannah and I know how excellent her resources for writers are. She’s a wonderful writing teacher, and she’s going to take such good care of your story. But in the spirit of full disclosure, that’s important to mention.

Ultimately, I am passionate about helping writers find the resources and support that’s exactly right for you at exactly the point in your writing journey that you’re in right now.

If that’s Notes to Novel, fantastic! Click right here and join the course »

And if it’s not Notes to Novel, well, keep an eye out for my masterclass, where I’ll share a ton of options for you, and more importantly, my full framework for figuring out what exactly you need in your writing journey.

And you’ll be coming in extra prepared for me to lay a ton more values and needs questions on you. So get excited for that.

I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way!

Happy editing!

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