Encouraging Words for the Christian writer
Blog for writers
Inspiration for writers
|Posted on 8 September, 2020 at 9:05||comments (589)|
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:26,27, NLT
I got up one morning to accomplish my writing routine for the day. Although I expended a lot of time putting words down on paper, after looking at what I had written I realized I had just been "punching the air."
What does "'punching the air" mean? It means I didn’t have a specific goal in mind when I sat down to write and rather than hitting a specific writing target for the day, I wrote aimlessly.
In today's bible passage, the apostle Paul reminds me that I can’t just punch the air when I write; like a good boxer who doesn't miss his punches, I must make sure that every time I write, I write with a specific goal in mind. For example, is it my goal for the day to write x number of pages or a chapter for a book? Is it my goal to write a devotion to post and share on my social media pages? Is it my goal to write an op-ed article I'd like to submit to an online publication or newspaper?
In his biblical commentary regarding today's scripture,, Erwin Lutzer said that it matters not how fast the swing or how powerful the punch of a boxer; if the opponent takes no hits, he is wasting his energy. Similarly, it matters not how much time you're investing into writing every day if you're not writing with a specific goal or purpose in mind. So make sure you've defined your writing goal before you begin writing to ensure your'e not just punching the air, but making every hit count..
Sharing the journey,
|Posted on 14 August, 2020 at 11:55||comments (9408)|
In your strength I can crush an army. With my God I can scale any wall. Psalms 18:29, NLT
But I have given as much I know how to give. I have nothing else to say; I have nothing left to give!
Those are the words I told my editor after receiving her feedback about a manuscript I sent her to review. I had labored for hours writing the manuscript and felt like I had given it my all. Yet she sent it back letting me know that although the manuscript was good, she wanted more.
But then I recalled that is the job of a good editor. Their job is to read your manuscript from an objective point of view. Their job is to look at it from a panoramic perspective to see if there are any holes or other problems that need to be addressed to help it become the best manuscript it can be. Their job is to provide you with constructive feedback to help you see the weaknesses as well as the strengths of your manuscript. Their job is not to be your friend, but your editor.
But adding more when I”ve given it my all seems like an impossible feat when I don’t feel like I have anything else to give. That’s when I'm reminded of the words King David, a great soldier and warrior shared each time he faced a challenge in conquering the towns of his enemies: “In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale a wall.” Yes, I face a daunting challenge in adding more to my manuscript, but I too must believe that with the Lord's strength, I can crush this army of additional writing and with His help, leap over my wall of tiredness and get my manuscript where the editor believes it can be.
Is there a challenge you are facing today on your journey to become a Christian author? Whatever it is, be encouraged in knowing that you also have someone who can help you crush any problem you face today and help you climb over any wall that seeks to keep you from achieving your goal to write for the kingdom.
Sharing the Journey,
|Posted on 14 August, 2020 at 8:40||comments (87)|
I am currently in the process of publishing another book and at the stage of having to choose a cover design. And because I have spent countless hours perusing pictures and talking to my graphic designer about the concept I want for the cover of my book, sometimes I feel like I should just design the cover myself.
And to a great degree, I am doing just that. Because I've chosen to self-publish, that means I not only wear the role of the writer of my book, but also the role of the publisher, which means I am responsible for ensuring my manuscript is properly edited, formatted and has a great cover design before I submit it for publication.
Choosing to self-publish my book is a route I chose to take because I felt doing so would give me the best return on the time and energy I invested writing my book. I also felt that I had the skill set required to get my book ready for publication. What about you? Is self-publishing your manuscript a publishing route that is right for you? Take one of these short quizzes to find out.
Quiz #1: https://selfpublishingrelief.com/quiz-are-you-candidate-for-self-publishing/" target="_blank">Are you a good candidate for self-publishing?
Quiz #2: https://www.redbrush.com/resources/quiz.html" target="_blank">Are you a good candidate for self-publishing?
Writing a book is hard work. Publishing a book can be even harder work. So before your manuscript is finished, be sure to take some time to determine whether self -publishing your book is right for you. If you need further help choosing the publishing path that is right for you, set up an author https://calendly.com/jeaninnestokes/pick-my-brain-one-hour-coaching-session?back=1&month=2020-08" target="_blank">consultation.
Sharing the journey,
|Posted on 25 May, 2020 at 14:55||comments (98)|
"Ms. Stokes, your manuscript has been received."
This is the message I received today after submitting my manuscript to a publisher who requested to review it for possible publication. I can't begin to explain the many feelings I experienced after I hit the submit button. The feelings of joy and happiness knowing I had finally sent my manuscript to a publisher. The feelings of elation and excitement knowing a publisher would now read my manuscript and let me know if it would be accepted for publication. The feeling of relief knowing my manuscript was finally submitted after months of writing, editing and rewriting, and the feeling of satisfaction knowing I had given it my all.
But I also have to share the feelings I experienced before I pressed the submit button. The feelings of anxiety and fear that kept getting in the way of my pressing the button because I didn't know if the response would be good or bad, and the feelings of perfectionism that caused me to edit my manuscript several times, rather than submitting it sooner than I did.
Author Joanna Penn states in her book, The Successful Mind Set that " at some point you have to stop listening to your inner critic , do your best and let your book out into the world." I realized she was right when I finally pressed the submit button and sent my manuscript to the publisher, for my manuscript would never be as perfect as I desired it to be, but the time had come to get my book out into the world.
Is it also time for you to get your book out into the world? Then let it go!
Sharing the journey,
|Posted on 18 May, 2020 at 11:10||comments (128)|
I enjoy watching documentaries of how great athletes came
into being. And watching the documentary called The
Last Dance these last few weeks about Michael Jordan was
a reminder once again that great athletes aren't just born,
they are made.
You see, Michael Jordan's documentary illustrated that he
didn't become a great player simply because of his innate
talent; while that was a good start, Michael became a great
player because he practiced and perfected his craft. He
went to the court, night or day and practiced his basketball
skills. He trained and disciplined his body to do what it
needed to do each time he entered the basketball arena to
play a basketball game. He disciplined himself by saying no
to the distractions that kept him from focusing on his game,
and he learned how to take and use constructive criticism
from his high school, college and pro coaches to help
him become a great basketball player
Is it your desire to be like Mike? To be not
just a good writer, but a great one? Then practice your craft
daily to perfect your writing skills. Discipline your mind and
body by creating a set time and place to write. Be willing to
say no to the distractions that will seek to keep you from
writing, and be willing to accept criticism when needed to
help you become a better writer.
Being like Michael Jordan doesn't just have to be a lyric
you remember from an old commercial jingle. With hard
work and determination on your part, you can be like Mike
and become the great Christian writer God has called you
Sharing the journey,
Questions for discussion: In what ways are you seeking to
be like Mike today? Share your comments here on my blog.
|Posted on 21 April, 2020 at 10:25||comments (85)|
I didn’t feel like writing my blog post today. I needed to write my blog post so I'd have it ready to include in my weekly newsletter, but the motivation just wasn't there. So I almost didn't write a blog post for today's newsletter. Until I remembered my why.
You see, my why determines why I write. My why is my purpose for writing. It helps me get up every day and stay committed to my writing goals. And it reenergizes me when the journey of writing gets weary along the way.
So I took some time this morning to reflect on the following question: Why am I writing?
I am writing because I want to make a living as a writer
I am writing because I want to inspire other Christian writers
I am writing because I want to teach
I am writing because I want to create a body of work I can be proud of and leave as a legacy
Why are you writing? Here are eight reasons to consider from Joannna Penn, Author of The Successful Author Mindset:
It is my life goal to write a book I can be proud of and can hold in my hand
I want to get an agent and a publishing deal
I want to see my book on the shelves of a bookstore
I want to reach readers with my words
I want to sell lots of books.
I want to receive critical acclam and win a literary prize
I want to make a full-time living with my writing
I want to create a body of work that I can be proud of over my lifetime.
Are you feeling a bit weary on your journey as a Christian writer? Then take a moment to remember your why.
Sharing the journey,
Responding to your call to write: What is your "why" for writing? Share your feedback via my blog or Facebook page!
|Posted on 21 April, 2020 at 9:25||comments (376)|
Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice In Wonderland, perfectly illustrates the importance of goal setting during an exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat.
Alice asks, “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”
The cat replies, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where—“
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go, so long as you get somewhere.”
Gettng somewhere may have been okay for Alice, but just getting somewhere isn’t enough of a goal if you’re serious about writing your book while you're sheltering-in. You will need concrete and specific goals for how you plan to get there. In an article by Heather Kreke called Setting S.M.A.R. T goals, she challenges writers to use the following strategy to help them achieve their writing goals:
Specific: Know what you want. “I want to write” is too broad. Do you want to write a non-fiction book, a novel, a devotional, or an article? Do you want to write 300 or 30,000 words?
Measurable: Set wirting goals that will produce results you can see. Measure your progress in daily, weekly or monthly word counts.
Attainable: “I will write 10,000 words a day,” is not likely attainable. Make your goals reasonable. When you accomplish them, you will feel the excitement. If you set the bar too high you may end up being discouraged.
Realistic: Dreaming big is good. But when you set goals to obtain those dreams, keep a firm grasp on reality. Know your limits. Know when to ask for help.
Timely: Set or accept only reasonable deadlines, given your other commitments. Too soon and you’ll be stressed. Too long and you’ll procrastinate.
Are you still having to shelter-in today? Then you can accomplish your writing goals as long as you're being smart!
Sharing the journey,
|Posted on 31 December, 2019 at 9:30||comments (92)|
Can you believe it? Another year is almost done.. And as I reflect today on the lessons I’ve learned in 2019 as a self-published author, here are ten I’d like to share with you in my last blog post for the year:
Lesson # 1 – If I had to do it over again this year, I would pay a fee and submit a book proposal to a Christian Manuscript Submission service
Although this resource is mainly for aspiring Christian authors who want to pursue the traditional publishing route, even if you decide to self-publish, it won’t hurt to submit a book proposal through this service, to see if a traditional publisher is interested in publishing your book. If a traditional publisher shows interest, you then have the option to decide which publishing route is best for your book, or you may decide to go with a hybrid option. Here is the link t o learn more about this resource:
Lesson #2 – Remember, it’s not the book that sells, but the platform. Build a platform for your book and it will sell itself.
If you decide to self-publish, it’s very important to build a platform for your book. You do this by determining who the audience is you want to reach, and how best you can reach them using the skills, experiences and credentials you bring to the table. For example, are you a motivational Christian speaker who’s written a book on how to inspire others to succeed in life after a terrible tragedy or trial you've had to overcome? Tthen your platform will serve as a great marketing tool for your book.
Lesson #3 – Most bookstores are still not willing to house a self-published book, so don’t be surprised if they say no when you ask.
Although more aspiring authors are self-publishing every day, due to the long-standing relationships that have been established with traditional publishers through the years, most of the major Christian and non-Christian bookstores are still not accepting self-published books. So no matter how good your self-published book may be, and how well you think it would sell in a local bookstore, don’t be surprised if you contact the bookstore manager and they say no.
Lesson 4 – Know whether you work better with a soft deadline or a hard deadline.
A soft deadline is one you create as a self-published author for when you will complete your book; a hard deadline is one that is created for you by a traditional publisher. It’s important to determine which type of deadline you prefer. Are you self-disciplined? Can you set goals for yourself as an aspiring author and strive to complete them? Do you prefer not to work under a lot of time pressure? Then self-publishing may be a good route for you to consider.
Lesson #5 – It doesn’t matter how many books you write and self-publish, if you don’t have a good marketing and distribution system for how you’ll sell every one.
Be sure to create the marketing and promotion plan you’ll have for your book before it’s self- published. You’ll need to define who your target audience will be, and the type of advertising you plan to use to reach your target audience. At the end of the day, this will help to ensure you end up with a lot of book sales and not a lot of books.
Lesson #6 – Know your strengths as well as your weaknesses if you plan to self-publish.
As a self-published author, you are responsible for not only writing your book, but also marketing and distributing your book to your targeted audience. If the marketing and promoting of your book is something you won’t enjoy doing, or you simply don’t have time to do it, then be prepared to hire someone to do it for you.
Lesson #7 – Remember It takes money to make money.
If you are planning to self-publish your book, you’ll need money to not only self-publish your book, but to pay someone to market and promote your book to your targeted audience. You'll also need money to get to and from the various speaking engagements and book signings you’ll be asked to attend. Make sure in your planning that you create a budget to take care of the monetary responsibilities that will be required to publish and promote your book.
Lesson #8 – Don’t quit your day job just yet.
Most authors do not survive on book sales, so it’s important to keep your day job or have other streams of income until your book sales demonstrate you are able to sustain yourself financially if your goal is to write professinally. If you have already stepped away from an existing career to pursue a career as a writer, determine how best to sustain yourself financially until your writing will sustain you.
Lesson #9- Expect obstacles along the way.
If you aer planning to self--publish your book, expect challenges along the way, but if you believe this is the route God wants you to take to get your book out to your audience, then remain confident in the path you have chosen and follow it, no matter the obstacles.
Lesson # 10 – Don’t give up.
Although you desired to do so, maybe you weren’t’ able to self- publish your manuscript this year, for various reasons, and are feeling as the year draws to a close that it may never happen. I’ve been there and want to encourage you not to give up, for “the one who calls you (to write) is faithful, and he will do it.” I Thessalonians 5:24. Remember: God knows his plans for your writing ministry and he will help you accomplish your writing goals, so even as another years ends, don’t give up!
These are my top ten lessons for 2019 that I wanted to pass on to you as a self-published author. I pray they will encourage you in some way as you end another year as an aspiring Christian author. Happy new year and keep writing for Him in 2020!
Sharing the journey,
|Posted on 1 October, 2019 at 8:45||comments (340)|
At the Lord’s directions, Moses kept a written record of their progress. Numbers 33:2 NLT
Recently I attended the funeral of a friend’s father. Initially, I found it difficult sitting through the funeral because I didn’t know him. But as I listened to what others said about my friend’s father and watched his life scroll across the monitor, I was connected to him by his story.
At the Lord’s direction, Moses recorded the progress of the Israelites. God had delivered them from Egyptian bondage and knew their journey through the wilderness would be chock full of lessons that could benefit the next generation who read their story.
What can others learn from you about your life journey? What is God teaching you about waiting, illness, relationships, failure, sorrow, love, happiness? Maybe you thought the lessons you are learning along the way weren’t important enough to write down, but they are. And one day, although your readers may have never gotten a chance to know you, they will know your story.
Are you keeping a written record of your progress?
Sharing the journey,
|Posted on 13 August, 2019 at 9:35||comments (77)|
Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19, 20, NLT
I’m always excited to hear when my Pastor puts emphasis on our congregation going outside of the walls of our church to share the good news of Jesus Christ, for it’s just a reminder of our primary purpose as Christians – to go and make disciples.
Did you know that your primary purpose as a Christian writer is to also go and make disciples? For you are called to write words to help others know about the good news of Jesus Christ. You are called to write words to let others know of the wonderful plan God has for their lives when they choose to place their faith and trust in him. You are called to write to let others know of his desire to heal them from their deepest hurts and their deepest wounds.
Christian author Marlene Bagnull states: “While we may never never go more than a few hundred miles from our homes, our written words can go around the world and make a difference for all eternity”.
Are you ready to use your written words to make a difference in the world you live in today? Then go, write and make disciples!
Sharing the journey,
Responding to the call of writing:
As you reflect on the great commission found in Matthew 28:19-20, how do you believe God wants to use you as a Christian writer to make disciples for his kingdom? Post your answer on my blog or engage with me on my Facebook group page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/345280025595641/?ref=bookmarks) for Christian writers. I enjoy hearing from you!