Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Do You Write?

By Andrea Merrell


I have a question for you to ponder this week: Why do you write?

What is your true motivation? Have you ever really thought about it? These questions could also apply to speaking, teaching, mentoring, or any other type of leadership.

I read an article recently that suggested we should analyze our reasons for doing what we do, making sure it’s not out of need, insecurity, ego, or even a false sense of responsibility. According to the article, when we operate out of any of these motives, we are seeking praise, acceptance, approval, and the applause of the audience. I’ve heard this referred to as an “approval addict.”

All of us need approval, an occasional atta-girl or atta-boy to let us know we’re doing a good job. That’s the way God created us. But when we get to the point where we can’t function without that approval, we lose our focus and our purpose.

Some people say, “Do what you love.” We could add to that, “Do what you’re called and gifted to do.” When we operate within our God-given calling, we do it with love, grace, and passion. It’s a natural flow.

I am not gifted to dance, act, or work with children. My math grades in school proved I would never become an accountant or CPA. Other areas where I fall short are sewing, drawing, painting, photography, and … well, you get the picture. Over the years, I’ve tried and failed at many endeavors. But when God called me to write for Him, I knew He had shown me my true calling and passion. I write because I can’t not write. Not the best way to say it, but it makes the point.

So, what about you? Do you feel God’s call on your life to share the words He gives you. Maybe you write poetry or devotions that will bless others. Perhaps you’re a gifted novelist who can entertain your readers while showing them the way to live for Him. You might write articles or blog posts that will resonate with others, or children’s stories that will thrill youngsters and open their eyes to God’s creation, love, and truth.

The Bible says everything flows out of the abundance of the heart. When we recognize and utilize the unique gifts, talents, and abilities God has placed inside each of us, doing everything we do “as unto Him,” we don’t need the approval of the crowd—only the applause of our audience of One.

So, why do you write? What has been your motivator? We would love to hear from you.


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


TWEETABLE


Monday, March 13, 2017

Writing for God Begins at Home

By Lori Stanley Roeleveld


My son-in-law is a chef. You'd think he'd be sick of cooking when not at the restaurant, but instead, we have gourmet meals at holidays. 

My husband is a construction manager. You’d think he’d be exhausted at day’s end (and you’d be correct), but that doesn’t stop him from renovating our home, putting up bookshelves for our daughter, or helping neighbors with projects.

I’m a writer.

Thank God that early in my writing endeavors, I encountered a study in our local newspaper stating that the unhappiest spouses were those in unhappy marriages to good communicators. I flashed immediately on my tirade to my husband just the night before. I’d spelled out in great eloquence the depth and breadth of what I believed were our troubles (largely attributed to him). God took the opportunity to instruct me that the people in my life should be the first to benefit from my gift with words—not become victims of it.

If you’d interviewed my family about what it’s like to love a writer before that awakening, they might have had few positive things to say about it. (What’s there to say about someone shouting through a closed office door: “Not now! Can’t you see I’m writing?”)

After that, though, I took to heart that God likely intended to bless my family, friends, local church, and community through my writing before He unleashed me on the world. I sought opportunities to serve those I love with my words through praise, cards, notes, letters to the editor, church plays, and assistance with everything from resumes to eulogies.

God gave me an expanded vision that my writing ministry could have an immediate impact on the world right outside my office door without ever hitting the best-seller list. I realized that even if I never became a “published author,” He desires to use my words to further His kingdom. That’s when my words began to bless and build up my spouse, children, and extended family. They served friends and fellow worshippers. They provided light to coworkers.

Because God is so great, many of those acts I initially saw as sacrificial (read “time away from my real writing”) became unexpected stepping stones in my writing career. My agent discovered my work through letters to the editor in the paper. Church plays became some of my earliest published work, providing me with initial writing credentials. But, by then, I’d realized that was all beside the point.

The benefits of using my writing gift to bless my marriage, parenting, friendships, and relationships in the greater community are immeasurable. I shudder to think what damage my words could have caused if God hadn’t corrected me early on. Like a superhero gone bad, those of us who are skilled with words need to be sure we’re using them for good and not for evil. Writing for God begins at home.

I learned that lesson just in time.

What lessons have you learned through this writing journey? We would love to hear from you.


(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)


TWEETABLES





Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an inciteful blog since 2009, a pursuit that eventually resulted in two provocative non-fiction books, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life) as well as an unsettling novella, Red Pen Redemption. If you don’t find her at her website, www.loriroeleveld.com, know she’s off slaying dragons. Lori lives in Rhode Island with her husband and surrounded by family, absolutely surrounded.




Monday, March 6, 2017

Writers & Taxes

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

I'm a writer, not an accountant. I want to clarify that up front. But since writers have to do taxes, I know a few things about keeping receipts and what I can claim as part of my business. So here is a short list of things writers will want to track for tax purposes (and it's by no means all-inclusive).

When writers attend conferences, purchase online courses, or pay for a local workshop, it's a tax write-off.

When writers travel to and from conferences, meetings, retreats, and critique group, they can keep track of their mileage, save receipts for airfare, hotel, and any transportation they must use during the conference. I use Google Maps to track my mileage. I save my receipt for the airport parking (that's a write-off too), the coffee shop where my critique group meets, etc. Then I Google Map the distance between my house and the destination and keep a spreadsheet of the dates, where I traveled to, for what purpose, and the round-trip mileage.

If you eat while at a conference or during a meeting, you can save your receipts for the cost of the food (this is also proof you were where you said you were). Food write-offs are usually a percentage, not full cost.

Do you love learning about writing? Buy a lot of books about writing? Or reference material? Writing magazines? Those are a write-off as well. But literature (the fiction novels and nonfiction reads) you enjoy is not a write-off.

Do you rent an office space specifically for your writing business? Have a room in your house that is a dedicated office? Ask your accountant how to write off the cost of having that space. (Understand that nothing except work can happen in that space.)

If you have such a space, then some portion of your electric bill, internet service, and phone may be written off too. Again, ask your accountant about this.

Did you buy a new laptop, desktop, camera, or tablet this year? Do you do a lot of business (blogging, writing, editing, etc.) on the electronic device you purchased? That's a write-off too.

What about programs such as Microsoft Office 365 or Scrivener? Yep. They qualify too. Do you pay for Dropbox, PicMonkey, MailChimp, or any other online service? Those can be written off as well.

These are just a few things that are tax deductions for the writer. As I said, I'm not an accountant, so please discuss any questions with yours. If you're new to the writing industry, these are simply things to consider as you move forward in your writing career.

Do you have anything else to add to the list? Feel free to add to it in the comments below. And don't forget to make that appointment with your accountant before April 15!

Tweetables:

A few tax pointers for #writers. {Click to Tweet}
 
What can #writers write off on their taxes? {Click to Tweet}