Introducing…The Journeypen Project

I’ve been hinting and HINTING about something new on this blog, and I’m FINALLY ready to announce the beginning of…

Journeypen Logo - v1

What the hiccups is the Journeypen Project? 

The Journeypen Project is a series of posts about writing.

Where can I find the posts?

For now, you’ll find the posts here on the blog, but on 10/25, I’ll open the Journeypen Project’s Table of Contents, which you’ll be able to access in the menu bar above. I will include a bunch of Honorary Journeypen Project posts, which I wrote before starting the project. They will be organized by subject, including: The Writing Process, The Writing Life, The Writing Craft, and Publishing.

Now, here’s the real question:

Why am I doing this?

The Short Version

Whenever someone asks me for writing advice, I never feel like I’m doing the question justice. With the Journeypen Projects, I can pull all of my tips and pep talks in one place, go more in depth about certain topics, and keep adding new posts as I learn more stuff. WOOHOO!

The Long Version

I’ve been considering posting more about the ins and outs of writing for more than a year, but I’ve held back.

First, I was way too busy trying to keep up with The Ever Afters deadlines. Second, the internet is riddled with writing advice blogs and websites, and for a while, I felt like too much of a raw beginner to offer much help to anyone else. That’s okay.

When you’re starting out, you are really busy learning how to write in general and how YOU write specifically. Because you’re usually so deeply immersed in what you’re doing, it’s difficult to describe your process accurately. (For example, in the early years, I typically communicated my feelings on the writing matters in emoticons and SQUEE’s.)

Later on, when you’ve gone through the process a few times, you’re better at communicating what is happening in your manuscript and in your mind. That’s where I am now.

Why “Journeypen”?

“Journeypen” is a word I made up. (As a writer, especially as a fantasy writer, you can make up words. If someone—such as your teacher—says that you can’t, remind them that Shakespeare made his own words all time.) But “Journeypen” is based on a real term: Journeyman.

Journeyman is a weird word, and that’s part of the reason why I love it. It comes from the medieval guild system in Europe (young readers, that’s basically back to when the first Triumvirate was running around and founding the Canon), but I first stumbled upon it in a book I reread millions of times when I was a kid:


When I was a kid, I was obsessed with this book and its prequel, Dragonsong. It’s about Menolly, who lives in a world with dragons and Thread, this burning miasma that falls through the sky every few weeks. She really wants to grow up to become a Harper, a singer-songwriter who also teaches people. Girls aren’t allowed to be Harpers, though, so when her dad forbids her to become one in Dragonsong, she runs away from home, befriends some fire lizards, and lives her dream. In Dragonsinger, Menolly finally gets to Harper Hall, where all aspiring Harpers are trained.

So, in a guild system like in Dragonsinger and in medieval Europe, you have masters, apprentices, and journeymen.

Most people know what a master is—someone who is at the top of the craft, often revered as a luminary in their field. Apprentices are beginners who tend to learn in classes, often from the previously mentioned masters.

A journeyman is that level in-between. This is someone who isn’t learning in a classroom anymore. Instead, they’re learning by doing. They’re trying stuff out, using what works for them, and rejecting what doesn’t. They are figuring out who they are as an artist and what they have to offer their audience. They have hit the road in pursuit of “Master” status, and they’re discovering who they were meant to be along the way.

That’s what I am. I still feel like I’m still a raw beginner sometimes, but so far, I have four published books to my name. I am learning by doing, and I would like to share what I’ve learned.

By the way, I fully expect my Journeyman phase to last decades. It’s hard for me to imagine becoming a master of what I do, and that is as it should be. The wonderful thing about being a writer is that unlike some other fields (athletics, for example), you can keep evolving your entire life. I’ve been writing for almost two decades and writing professionally for six years, but I’m still only twenty-nine.

Since I plan to write my entire life, that puts me near the beginning of my writing journey.


Every post will cover a specific topic. Topics will vary widely.

Some will be more like pep talks, offering inspiration for a particular pitfall, such as this one about feeling like your first draft is killing your story. Some will offer tips about a certain challenge, like this post about meeting your deadline. Some will cover the nuts and bolts of a specific stage of my writing process, like the one you’ll see later this week about outlines.

I’ll make up some topics, but I hope that readers will approach me with other suggested topics. I really want this to be a helpful resource for other writers!

You can suggest a topic by commenting on this post or on the Journeypen Project’s Suggestion Box page, which will open 10/25, or you can email a suggestion to me at shelbybach[at]


  1. Brenda October 23, 2015
    • Shelby October 26, 2015
  2. Nightingale October 23, 2015
    • Shelby October 26, 2015
  3. May October 23, 2015
    • Shelby October 26, 2015
  4. Katie October 23, 2015
    • Shelby October 26, 2015
  5. kate :) October 24, 2015
    • Shelby October 26, 2015
  6. Emily October 29, 2015
    • Shelby October 30, 2015
  7. rachel October 31, 2015