Tuesday, June 19, 2018

5 Tips for the Discouraged Writer

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

You got excited. Inspired to write. Motivated to minister. Challenged to pursue dreams.

And, for a while there—surrounded by kindred spirits cheering you on—you could almost taste the success. A book published. A conference keynote scheduled. A popular blog.

But now. Now you live in reality. Of words that won’t come. At least not in the right order. Of emails that say your social media numbers aren’t high enough. Of family and friends who still treat your holy calling as a mere hobby.

Today discouragement is your new companion. 

What’s a writer to do?

1. Reflect and Review. Ask yourself the hard questions: Why am I writing? What is my unique message? When and how did I confirm God’s calling to share my story? Who are those who have encouraged and challenged me to do this—and what did they say? What scripture has spoken directly to me as I have sought to pursue writing and speaking? Which biblical character do I most identify with on this journey and what can I learn from them?  Then take it all to your heavenly Father in prayer. Pray with surrender and supplication for guidance and provision. Be quiet and ask for peace deep in your soul over all things in the publishing industry which are causing fear, hesitation or confusion. God will meet you where you are. Open your hands. To both release and to receive.

2. Plan Strategically. What is your first step? An outline? A strategic blog? Chances are you have already begun to write and even gotten quite far along this path so far (submission to potential agents or editors, etc.) Still, it helps to write down the steps necessary to reach your goal. In doing so, you may just be reminded of something or someone you neglected to contact. Perhaps that writers conference workshop recording you haven’t listened to yet. Set realistic goals for each week of this summer and do your best to reach them. 

3. Reach Out. No matter how engaged you are with readers (or potential readers and audience) you could always use more “friends and followers” right? This is just part of how our world operates today. It won’t help to bemoan the process of platform building. Think of it this way—an opportunity to get your vitally important message out to hurting people who need to hear Good News! So yes, you are going to have to reach out and “invite” people to “like” you.Groan. Yes, you will need to spend time online (when, I suspect, you would far rather be writing) engaging with others in the field. Just do it.

4. Gather. Writing is such a solitary profession that it is vital you make time to gather with others for learning, prayer and iron-sharpening-iron growth. Are you in a local writers’ group? Even if you can’t find someone geographically nearby, there are online groups. And I highly suggest making it a priority to attend a Writers Event every year if possible. There you will meet other like-minded creative souls just like you. They understand. They know what it takes and will encourage and pray for you. (I’m co-directing our fifth “reNEW – retreat for New England Writing” Oct. 5-7 near Hartford CT and would love to have you with us—it’s not an intense big conference, but a spiritual retreat and time to learn, write, and worship.)

5. Do the Next Thing. I hope the first four tips haven’t come across as demands, but more of suggestions. As always, I am writing this blog to myself first. Reminders of what I already know after a lifetime of writing and speaking. And yes, a lifetime of occasional times of discouragement in both areas. Still, I cannot tell YOU what God is asking of you at this moment. He may be saying “lay it down” for a season. He may be “kicking you in the pants” and urging courage and risk. But I do believe that as you and I make all our concerns a matter of prayer, God will guide us to the next thing. For me today, it was to write this blog for The Write Conversation. That was my ongoing assignment and how grateful I am to have it. Because in the obedience of doing such, I was reminded of truth and practical ideas. Spend some time listening and you will know what your Next Thing is. Then, by faith and in obedience, do it. God will them give you another next thing…

“Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 (TLB)

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Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she delights in weaving grace and mercy into ordinary life situations. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning, Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing Best Award for Devotional) , Ordinary Graces Live These Words Refresh! and Role of a Lifetime.  A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), Lucinda received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for The Write Conversation.Whether co-directing  "reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,"  pouring into young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.encouragingwords.net/ 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Why Tags and Labels are Important to Blogging & How to Use Them Correctly


by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I get the opportunity to evaluate a lot of blogs, from writers I meet with at conferences to clients. And they all have many of the same questions. One of the most common is what are some tips to help their blogs get found.

There’s one easy answer—proper tagging/labeling with each post.

When I give this answer, I get a lot of blank looks. This is one critical step a lot of blogger miss when posting a blog. Today, I’m going to give you the tools that make labeling/tagging a breeze and immediately help your blog come up in the search engine rankings.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

She’s Got Her Father’s Eye

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson 

It's been almost two-and-a-half-years since Daddy won his ultimate battle with Alzheimer's and Jesus took him home. Today, in honor of Father's Day, I'd like to share some of my memories of him. 


My daddy was a man who knew how to follow his dreams—always traveling via the scenic route. As a young man, he played in numerous bands—the big band type, not the rock band type—built his own sailboat, and took to the road as he embraced his love of photography and travel. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

How Writer Dogs Can Add Dimension to our Stories


by Emme Gannon @GannonEmme

I’ve been looking for a dog. Not just any dog. A writer dog—a well-behaved pooch who will follow me into my writing room and lay at my feet until I’ve written my word count for the day. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

How to Build an Indie Empire—What You're Selling Matters


by Traci Tyne Hilton @TraciTyneHilton

*disclaimer. This series is about following rules. I know that Indies don’t have to follow rules. That’s the whole point of being indie. But indies who pay attention to what rich and famous authors do, have a much better shot at fame and riches.*

I mentioned a software program called Vellum in part 5 of this series. I highly recommend you get this software, by hook or by crook. It makes life as an indie so much easier! Sure, you have to invest in a Mac computer to get it, but empires cost money. If you have Vellum, with the push of a few buttons, your perfectly formatted ebook becomes a perfectly formatted paperback, and having a paperback for sale matters.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Social Media Strategies in this New World of Algorithms


by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

This has been a world-shifting year in the realm of social media. It began with the new Facebook algorithms in January. This was followed by the changes in the Twitter algorithms. Directly related to these two shifts, we've seen somethings change. Thunderclap has been shut down, and this past week so has Klout.

With all these changes many people are scrambling and scurrying. Chasing trends, new apps, and giving up aren't the way to deal with this new world. Today I'm going to lay out my strategy to help you find a blueprint to continue to make valuable online connections.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book Signings – What’s a Writer to Say?


by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Recently I was signing a book for someone and a friend stood nearby. After the reader left, my friend said, “How do you decide what to write when you sign a book?”

Good question. As I pondered that, several things came to mind.