Three Questions to Help You with Your Writing Journey

Figuring out the writing journey is not for the fainthearted.

You write stories, hope someone will read them, and then get nervous when they do. It’s a vicious cycle. You want to inspire, entertain, and make a difference with those words, but you’re also gravely aware of what can go wrong.

Rejection letters. Reviews. Rewrites, and for what? 

Why are you doing this? Someone once said if you can stop writing, then do. It’s too hard a road to meander down. If you can toss your ideas into the wind without them blowing back in your face, then toss away. But before you do, ask yourself a few questions.

 

Do you see the mountain top?

You’re not the first writer to wonder if you’re meant to write … or meant to be read by others. Sometimes it seems like no one’s even reading—like it doesn’t really matter. Your words might be read by hundreds or maybe just your mom and three subscribers. With those numbers, it might be hard to feel like the work is worth the return—like the view is worth the hike. But you’re not on this road for the view, are you? What’s at the top of that mountain, anyway? It’s strange up there. The air is thin and you’re laid bare, and your words cease to be your words. Instead, they become little sacrifices offered up, let go, and given away, maybe to return and maybe not. You write the stories, and you let him do the rest. Are you willing to climb the mountain to offer your sacrifice?

Can you hear the difference?

Despite the whole nothing new under the sun thing, what you bring—your story filtered through your experiences and told by your voice is unique and special. It’s not like that guy sitting behind you who just got a three-book deal. It’s you. Not the next person. It’s your story, and it carries with it part of you. Don’t compare that to anyone else. It won’t compare. It can’t. And it shouldn’t. Sure, someone’s probably written about that before, but you haven’t, and maybe in the variation of your voice and word choices, someone will finally see and understand. Are you okay with being different?

Are you willing to work?

Of course, putting it all in God’s hands and embracing your uniqueness may not have quite the impact you’re hoping for, if you don’t know your subject from your verb, learn the difference between there and their, and figure out how to write an exciting sentence without using an exclamation point. Writing requires work. The story may be there. Your idea might be gold, but regardless of how easy it looks to throw those words on a page, really making them shine takes skill, practice, and perseverance. “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” (Hemingway) Are you up for that challenge?

Write on

If you said yes to those questions, then the next time the rejection letter comes, or you get a bad review, or you start wondering why you should even bother, remember you have purpose. You bring something unique to the world. Complex sentences and the Oxford comma have not undone you. Stay strong, and write on, dear friends. Write on.

 

 

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Courage can take Words from Good to Great

courage 1Courage isn’t not being afraid. It’s just not letting that stop you.

 

I’m no expert, but I’d venture a guess that one reason writers never see publication isn’t that they lack skill or creativity, but rather that they lack courage.

 

They lack the courage to believe in themselves and what they are writing.

 

Maybe that sounds a little harsh. It would be easier to talk about how it’s scary to send that sweet manuscript off and then wait for it to be judged, criticized, and possibly rejected by some editor or agent. Or maybe we could dawdle along the quiet roads of being misunderstood to have a little chat about how hard it is out there in the big bad writing world.

 

But focusing on those things might keep us from missing a crucial part of the journey.

 

Great writing requires something more. In all fairness, truly great writing requires many things– skill, effort, creativity, and well, I guess actually there is a fairly long list of very specific things that are part of being not just a good writer, but a great one. But sitting on a bench behind all of those things is Courage.

 

Now, I’m not talking about the courage to press Send or the courage to go to that critique group. There’s a deeper kind of courage needed to go the distance. It’s the courage to believe in yourself enough to work hard, keep growing, and not give up.

 

Did you know that procrastinating is what some people do when they fear failure? They put things off so long that it would actually be impossible for them to truly excel, and then they have an “excuse”…if they’d had more time, they could have done better.

 

Procrastinating requires nothing of you. Fretting and worrying impose no demands. Hiding behind a screen and not sharing what you write will never take you down the failure road.

 

It will also never show you the door to greatness.

 

courage 2Great writing resides at the end of long roads, over mountains and through valleys.

 

It takes courage.

 

It’s not easy working hard, not settling for less, believing you can actually do it. It takes courage being who you’ve been created to be and sharing what only you can share.

 

Don’t let the fear stop you.

 

Now I know some would say, “I don’t want greatness. I don’t do this to be great.” And I applaud you, but don’t get me wrong. Sure, it’s admirable to not be so wrapped up in ourselves that we can truly do whatever we are doing for someone else’s pleasure or glory or greatness. But that doesn’t take the kind of courage I’m talking about.

 

This kind of be-yourself courage is required to do the work,  polish something until it shines, make it better, more beautiful, deeper, and more rich with the truth.

 

It takes courage to move from good to great, and greatness should be the goal. Not because we need to be known as great, but because God deserves it. He deserves for us to do our very best, to outshine the rest, to not produce some half-written piece of martyrdom, but to offer up a story born on hours of work, founded in the depths of research, and written in the spare moments stolen from sleep and fun.

 

Have courage, dear writers! Your gift deserves someone to fight for it. Work hard and pour out yourself until your words shine and sparkle and become a gift to the King of Heaven.

 

Be a light with stories

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How to Succeed in Your Marketing– Try Caring

Caring beyond the pageCaring starts when you’re no longer looking at what others can do for you, but rather at what you can do for others.

 

There’s one thing that surpasses platform and marketing and all the publicity a writer can buy. There’s one thing that speaks louder, reaches deeper, and can make more of a difference then a bunch of statistics and a witty tagline.

 

In the publishing world, platform matters.

 

Nowadays, authors have to also be marketers. They have to know how to publicize their stories and thoughts to the masses, and they have to be willing to work above and beyond merely writing the stories and recording the ideas. They need to develop their audience.

 

Marketing your Writing 

 

Marketing professionals guide new writers toward social media to build their platform and increase their sphere. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and on and on. How many likes? How many follows? How many reblogs? All those numbers work together to give publishers an idea of just how many people out there might want to buy your book. It’s business. And for some authors this business side of things is much harder than putting words together to form a novel.

 

There’s nothing wrong with advertising and marketing. It’s part of the business. A necessary part. But there’s one thing that every writer should keep in mind as he/she works to get the word out about his/her novel or book.

 

It’s caring.

 

Caring with your Writing

 

Caring about the people who read what you write can make more of an impact than hitting the 100 review mark on Amazon or mastering the next social media platform. You see, there’s a danger to only referring to people as readers and numbers. It takes them farther away from being a living, breathing, struggling person and puts them in par with being a means to an end. But when you care—when you take the time to listen to those people who are reading what you write, then a kind of engaging happens that can’t be bought or bottled.

 

It’s relationship.

 

It’s togetherness.

 

Caring I JohnIt’s a selfless kind of interaction that brings someone else’s needs and thoughts into your world and affords you the opportunity to be a part of not only sharing the truth, but hearing it as well.

 

Caring may seem small—maybe even assumed, but it’s something many writers forget along their marketing way. The drive to publication is so competitive that the audience can cease to be that mom struggling to make ends meet who just splurged to buy a book or that teenager longing to find some meaning in his life. It can cease to be those individuals and instead become the faceless reader who will make your numbers look better and give you something to flaunt to the next editor reading your stuff.

 

Fostering Relationship with your Writing

 

How do you not fall prey to the uncaring world of posting just to post and commenting because you’re supposed to? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s different for different people. What an extrovert might do wouldn’t feel right to the introvert. Or maybe it’s all about the heart and your motives. Maybe it comes down to why you’re writing what you’re writing. Have you thought through those things?

 

When we care for people, they move beyond being those wonderful readers who make us special to being fellow pilgrims on the same journey who are special. We need to love them. We may not know all their names or the influence our words may have, but we can always care and pray and seek to produce stories that will be of some use to them on their walk through life.

 

Caring may not raise your numbers and build your platform like a well-planned marketing campaign, but it can elevate the heart and construct something that neither rust nor moth can ever destroy.

 

5 Ways to Care Better

 

  1. Pray for your readers.
  2. Value your work and not your numbers.
  3. Give more on social media than you ask for.
  4. Seek to produce material that will do more than entertain.
  5. Listen

 

How about you? What would you add to the list?

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5 Signs You Might be a Writer

 

One of the worst things a writer can do is waste time wondering if he should write.

 

A WriterOne question plagues new writers probably longer than it should.

Does it stem from insecurity?

Curiosity?

Or a simple desire for purpose?

Those questions may have multiple answers depending on the time of day and the latest rejection letter. But figuring out whether or not you’re a real, live writer doesn’t have to be terribly complicated. If any of the signs below apply, you just might be a writer.

 

  1. You love to write. You write messages to go along with greeting cards because they just don’t quite say it the right way. You can often be found leaving little notes around for others.

 

  1. You have something to say. Not all writers have something to say, mind you, but the good ones do. You have thoughts, ideas, and stories to share. Please note this may not always be clear and may take some time to find.

 

  1. You like to read. It’s not a prerequisite to being a writer, but enjoying reading does show an appreciation for the thoughts, ideas, and stories of others. They inspire, and the true writer can take their appreciation of a good book into their own work making it better and helping it grow.

 

  1. You see stories and meaning in the smallest of things. Does your mind wander sometimes when people are talking to you? Do you see a butterfly land on your car and think of things like love, hope, or starting over? Does your imagination keep dull days from draining you? This might surprise you, but not everybody thinks that way. Finding meaning in things that others overlook can be a sign you should be a writer.

 

  1. You can’t stop. If you can put away the keyboard and never write again or silence the words swirling in your head, then writing may not be for you. True writers must write. It’s like breathing air, and although they can take a break from it, then can never totally walk away.

 

This list isn’t definitive, but maybe it will give you some assurance. One of the most wasteful things a writer can do is spend time wondering if they’re a writer instead of actually writing.

You might be a writer