Monday, May 15, 2017

Don't Bury Your Gift

By Andrea Merrell

Writing can be a tough business, especially when working with deadlines, keeping up with blog posts, and coming up with fresh ideas. Even attending workshops and conferences can be a challenge—financially, emotionally, and physically. As writers, we sometimes work under strict time restraints, family obligations, and physical limitations.

So … why do we do it?

For most of us, it’s a God-given calling. We write because He has placed the gift within us. I like to say, “I write because I can’t not write.” Not a great way to say it, but it expresses the reality of this unique calling. I would be completely miserable and unfulfilled if unable to express my thoughts, ideas, stories, and characters on paper.

Because I spend so many hours at the computer, I deal with neck, back, and shoulder issues. These problems have been severe at times, resulting in doctor appointments, chiropractic care, massage therapy, testing, medication, and time away from the computer. But lately, I’ve talked with many other writers who have to push through because of severe physical limitations. Their stories have been very inspiring, making me realize I don’t have much to complain about.

On the other hand, I’ve known a few writers with an amazing gift who gave it up because they had so many obstacles to overcome.

Why would someone with such a special gift decide to bury it? I think there are several reasons, and they all have to do with fear.


Fear of Rejection
Everyone deals with this to a degree, but to some it can be crippling. It might be the very thing that keeps you from submitting your manuscript to an agent, editor, or publisher. One lady told me she was terrified to let her words “out of the nest.”

Fear of Not Being Good Enough
Perhaps you’re intimidated by other writing professionals, and this keeps you from attending workshops and conferences where you can network and polish your skills. One of the worst things we can do as writers—or anything else for that matter—is compare ourselves to others. God has called and uniquely gifted you to do what no one else can do.

Fear of the Unknown
This one could encompass a multitude of reasons we bury our gift. For me, my vision has always been an issue. Seven years ago, I had a corneal transplant and cataract surgery in my right eye, putting me out of commission as both a writer and editor for several weeks and making my work difficult for months. Now, I’m facing the same surgery in my left eye later this year. Even though the outcome is unknown, my faith, hope, and trust is in the One who enables me to do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). The Message puts it this way: Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Pastor and author Bob Gass says:

Paul told the Philippians, “Keep on growing in knowledge and understanding (Philippians1:9 NLT). And he told Timothy, “Be sure to use the abilities God has given you … put them to work … kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you (1 Timothy 4:14-15 TLB). When you don’t exercise your muscles, they weaken and atrophy, and when you don’t utilize the skills God gave you, the same thing happens. Don’t be afraid. Put your gifts and abilities to work, and they’ll become enlarged and developed through practice. With study, feedback, and practice, a good teacher can become a better teacher, and in time grow to be a great teacher.



Whatever God has called and equipped you to do, don’t ever let fear derail you my making you hide or walk away from your gift. Don’t be like the unwise servant who buried his talent in the ground.

Are there certain fears that hold you back? We would love to hear from you.


(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/adamr/Stuart Miles.)

TWEETABLES


Monday, May 8, 2017

Freelancing Offers Benefits a Real Job Can't

Thank you for joining us at The Write Editing. Today's guest is award-winning author, editor, and speaker Jim Watkins.

By Jim Watkins

As a freelance author, editor, and speaker, I haven’t had a “real job” since 1982. That also means I haven’t had a regular paycheck, health insurance, pension, or paid vacation. But before you think I’m sending out invitations to a pity party, let me assure you that it’s been worth the white-knuckle trust that bills will get paid and the sleepless nights when there’s no paying work the next day—like right now. So, I’m writing this to assure myself that:
  • I don’t have a regular paycheck, but I don’t have regular hours either, so I’m free to babysit two adorable granddaughters one day a week, be there to help my daughter through the various challenges of her divorce, and drop everything to take off to Michigan to help care for my mom. (I just got back from having lunch with oldest granddaughter during Grandparent’s Day at her school.)
  • I don’t have paid vacations, but I’m free to sit on the porch and read a good book whenever the weather is nice and work is slow. This year, I’ve been able to speak at sixteen conferences across America and stay in some very nice hotels—and be entertained at some very nice restaurants, sit on the beach of Lake Michigan, and enjoy the Rocky Mountains from my lodge.
  • I don’t have a pension, but I have such a wealth of friends as a result of my writing and speaking, so many rich emails and letters saying that I have encouraged people along their life journey, and so many precious memories of moments with family that I would never have been afforded if I was off working at a real job.
Yes, I’d love a regular paycheck, health insurance, pension, or paid vacation. And, yes, it can be frightening being one project away from homelessness. But life is a trade-off and—at least for me—freelancing offers freedom that a real job can’t. And my prayer life has never been better!

What about you. What benefits have you found as a freelancer?

Copyright © James N. Watkins

For a ream of writing resources, visit www.jameswatkins.com.

(Photos courtesy of http://www.jameswatkins.com.)

TWEETABLE


Jim Watkins is an award-winning author of over 20 books and 2,000 articles, who has spoken across the United States and overseas. He has served as an editor and editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House, an editor with the American Bible Society, taught writing at Taylor University for 15 years, and has guest-lectured at Liberty, Regent and other universities. He is currently writing and speaking full-time as well as editing for ACW Press and other clients. His most important roles, however, are being a child of God, husband, dad and “papaw.”



Monday, May 1, 2017

Four Keys to Finding Your Writing Breakthrough

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

It's been seven years since I started my writing career. Seven long years in which I've written two full-length novels and started a few more (some I've even made it halfway through). However, every time I get rejected, it's for the same reasons: episodic writing (translation: flat plot line with occasional peaks), a character who falls flat, or characters we don't have empathy for.

So I go back to the drawing board. Try again. Because I'm not a quitter, and I am a writer.

Have you ever felt like you keep hitting a brick wall and you really want breakthrough in your #writing? {Click to Tweet}

Here are a few things I've figured out as I've searched for breakthrough in my writing:

1. Be obedient to God. If you know He called you to write nonfiction, quit trying to write a novel. If He called you to write YA, stop trying to write contemporary romance for adults. If He called you to write for your family, quit seeking immediate publication. Be obedient, and breakthrough will follow.

2. Face your fears head on. One of my biggest fears is that if I dig deep enough, I'll be surprised by what comes out. I think part of me fears I'll face things I may have buried instead of allowing God to heal the hurts, and I don't really want to go there. So I avoid it in my writing. Which is probably the goldmine that would resolve my flat plot lines and characters. If I don't write, I don't have to dig deep. But then I'm being disobedient to God's call on my life. So I must tackle that fear and put words on the page until I find the golden thread for my story.

3. It's not about you. It's about what God can do with your story. It's about the people who will read it and what you will evoke from within them. Maybe someone will meet Jesus face to face in your novel. Maybe someone will find healing as she recognizes she's not the only one suffering in a particular area. Maybe someone will find a shred of hope and decide life is worth living. Get out of the way, we always tell authors. Don't interrupt the story with your own voice. Let the characters use theirs. Move over and invite the Lord into your work. When we write with Him, our words have far more meaning and purpose than when we choose to write alone.

4. Don't quit. Maybe you've seen the cartoon of the guy with the shovel digging the tunnel underground. He's about to reach his destination when he gives up and turns around. Don't be that guy. Most best-selling authors I know worked an average of eight years before they saw their first contract. And now they're making a decent living off their book sales. But even that takes time. Because you usually need four books published before you start seeing decent royalty checks. So keep digging deep and putting those words on the page. Don't give up on your dream. You never know when you'll hit that breakthrough spot.

Can you relate? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Especially if you have a breakthrough testimony that will encourage others. Thanks for sharing!

Four Things To Do for Your #Writing Breakthrough {Click to Tweet}

Monday, April 24, 2017

Five Things To Do After a Writers' Conference

By Andrea Merrell

You’ve just returned from a writers' conference. You’ve invested your time, energy, and money. Your head is overflowing with information that needs to be processed. What should you do next?

After attending conferences for the past ten years, here are five things I’ve found most helpful.

Breathe
The first item on your agenda should be to stop, take a deep breath, and allow your mind and body to decompress. Writing conferences can be exhilarating and exhausting, especially when they’re longer than a couple of days. After attending my very first conference, my mind was spinning with information overload, and my body was spent. I had so many notes, handouts, and business cards, I didn’t know what to do with them. Treat yourself to a nap or a trip to Starbucks. Visit with a friend or fellow writer and share your experience with them. Taking a break will allow you time to get your thoughts in order before you tackle the tasks ahead of you.

Network
Go through the business cards you collected while names and faces are still fresh in your mind. Connect with these folks on social media. Visit their website or blog and leave a comment. Subscribe to their posts. E-mail someone you made a connection with, and keep in touch. Send a thank-you to those who were helpful and encouraging. Networking is all about establishing a relationship with others in the industry.

You never know when God will give you a kingdom connection, and you never know how it might come. He may surprise you with those He chooses to pour into your life and help you move forward. Sometimes our greatest blessing may come from the last possible place (or person) we expected.

Study Your Notes
Writing is a lifelong learning process. Go over your notes and put what you learned into practice. Don’t file those notes away and forget about them. Think of it as continuing education for writers. If you have questions, brainstorm with other conferees. If the classes were recorded and you purchased the MP3s or digital downloads, you have the entire conference to listen to over and over.

Get Back to Work
Whatever you’re working on—devotion, article, essay, fiction, or nonfiction—get back to work while you’re still excited and motivated by what you gleaned from the conference. Once you’ve read through your notes or listened to the recorded classes, put that new information into action. Maybe you learned how to craft great dialogue or how to write with deep POV. Perhaps you picked up some unique marketing techniques or valuable resources. Be sure to take the time to check those out.

Follow-Up
If you met with an editor, agent, or publisher and they asked you to send them a proposal or a few chapters of your work in progress, do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked for writing samples at a conference and never received them. Conferences are the best way to get your writing foot in the door. If the professional you met with was not interested in you and your project, they would not have asked you to send them a sample.

Bottom Line
Writing conferences are vital to your writing career. The best advice I ever received as a newbie was to “join a critique group, attend writers’ conferences, and network, network, network.” I took that advice and have never regretted it for one moment.

Whatever you do—before, during, and after the conference—be ready. Whenever you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will. The best way to begin each day is to pray for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.

What about you? What have you found helpful after you return from a conference? We would love to hear from you.


TWEETABLES



Monday, April 10, 2017

How To Light a Fire To Your Writing Career

by DiAnn Mills    @DiAnnMills


When writers realize the embers of their careers are dying, stomping out the few remaining flames is not the answer. Instead, effective writers look for new ways to promote themselves that explodes with ingenuity and creativity.

Is your career on the verge of smoldering? Try adding a spark to your marketing and promotion plan with these ideas.

1. Brainstorm with other writers about your brand and marketing and promotion efforts. Brainstorming is the best method I know to expand creativity from the writing process to branding and promotion.

2. A new professional photo. Invest in a good photographer who will not only create a great new look for media but will also snap a few candid and fun pics that can be used for social networking.

3. Update your website. Now may be the time to consider an exciting design that uses your brand as the focus. Your website is your calling card. It must reflect you, your writing, and your uniqueness.

4. Author bio. A writer uses his/her flair for words to enhance a bio that draws readers into your world. Make it personal and professional. Also develop a shorter version for those times when media has space for two or three sentences.

5. If you’re social media networking includes only Facebook or Twitter, stretch yourself. Dive into the advantages of Goodreads where a writer can communicate with readers. Take the time to read all the benefits of Goodreads for writers. Pinterest is addictive, and the many uses of images in marketing and promotion are endless. Don’t limit yourself! Are podcasts and Facebook Live in your future?

6. Use Buffer or Hootsuite to organize and simplify your social media posts. This relieves the stress of watching the clock and questioning when followers are online. Analytics provide information critical to posting and content. Other methods are available, but these are my favorites. https://bufferapp.com https://hootsuite.com.

7. Is blogging a part of your plan? A successful writer understands a blog is only as good as the subject matter and how the material is presented. Use images, videos, memes, and make it fun.

8. Commit to reading blogs and books about marketing and promotion for writers in your genre.

9. Are you taking care of yourself physically? A writer who’s not healthy or regularly exercising can’t expect the brain and heart to engage to maximum potential.

10.Are you ensuring each book is written better than the previous one? Are writing challenges met with determination by studying the craft, deepening skills, and evaluating your own work?

11. Prayer. This should be first. Seek God’s guidance for ways to glorify Him as we seek to entertain, inspire, and encourage readers.

Perhaps one of these eleven ideas have motivated you to add fire to your writing career. Determine today to light a match to one of them.

How are you igniting a fire in your writing? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Tweetables:

Light a Fire To Your Writing Career via @DiAnnMills 

Is your writing career flickering? Light a fire under it!


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook: www.facebook.com/diannmills, Twitter: https://twitter.com/diannmills or any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Be sure to check out DiAnn's newest release, Deep Extraction, available now.