Top 10 Reliable Signs:  When Writing Is Your Gift

by Cherie Trahan

 

Do you remember how you first discovered your passion for writing? Better yet, when did you realize writing is your God-given gift? Was it revealed to you all at once or was it more like piece by piece? Since the latter is usually the case, moments of reflection can often help you with retracing—and then connecting—the dots.

Perhaps, as far back as childhood, you can remember subtle signs or even some obvious hints. Maybe English was always your favorite subject in school. Maybe you always loved being around books. Maybe expanding your vocabulary provided you with sheer excitement. Nevertheless, if you can relate to any number of these next reliable signs or have experienced similar real-life moments, this top 10 countdown is sure to generate an affirmative head nod, an appreciative smile, or maybe even both!

 

Number 10:  While growing up, math and science classes were always a struggle—or were extremely boring to you; however, your entire existence from the inside out lit up during your English classes, and you aced every grammar test you ever took.

 

Number 9:  It was never a sibling, a friend, a coworker, or another human being; instead your journal has always been your “BFF” for sharing everything, including good and bad news, sentimental life moments, and your innermost thoughts and feelings.

 

Number 8:  Your church and community organization families have interestingly created brand-new positions that center solely around you; as a new Editor-in-Chief and as a part of the new Editorial Ministry, all written materials must first be cleared by you to remedy negative comments previously received, regarding typos and misspelled words.

 

Number 7:  During your annual performance reviews, the feedback from your supervisor often includes how they are impressed by your write-ups, because they flow “poetically” and provide a colorful visual of your accomplishments for the year.

 

Number 6:  Your office colleagues regularly give you high-fives and kudos to express how well you eloquently recounted events and took office managers on a journey when simply presenting your drafted bullet points and status updates for team projects.

 

Number 5:  Amongst family and friends, you are the go-to person for random written tasks, including book reports, resumes, college papers, notifications for excused absences, thank-you letters, and even love notes for significant others.

 

Number 4:  As you read through daily e-mails, you meticulously identify and note all capitalization and grammatical errors with a keen eye; however, this includes and pertains to the e-mails that were sent to you as the recipient.

 

Number 3:  Opportunities to use a dictionary and a thesaurus to confirm correct spellings, check definitions, and research alternative or big-sounding words provide you with secret thrills.

 

Number 2:  You wholeheartedly care about the correct placement of every comma, semicolon, and period in each of your social media thoughts and cell phone text messages, and you will not hit “post” or “send” until everything is correct.

 

Number 1:  Remarkably, life is constantly presenting you with situations and circumstances that often lead to some form of a written document being needed, as you have written numerous letters, e-mails, facsimiles, certified notices, brief descriptions, detailed summaries, written proposals, legal affidavits, and official complaints in just about every season of your adult life.

 

As you think back and further reflect, do any of these light-hearted yet indicative signs or possible real-life occurrences sound familiar to you? Collectively, do they help to jog some additional memories of your own—and along these same lines? Overall, it is simply amazing how the early signs and everyday hints tended to be deeply embedded within your journey since the beginning. They pointed you directly towards your gift of writing and seamlessly worked together to heavily influence what you strongly gravitated towards as a child, what became some of your favorite things to do as a teenager, and well-placed writing opportunities that always seemed to find and follow you right into adulthood.

Further, James 1:17 biblically tells us every good and perfect gift is from above; and Ephesians 2:10 tells of how we are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus to do the good works God prepared in advance for us to do. These foundational biblical scriptures make it even more fascinating when you can identify and spiritually recognize just how much the foretelling hints and signs were naturally woven into your everyday experiences.

In hindsight, it should not be viewed as a coincidence or come as any surprise—just how reliable the indicative signs turned out to be, as they existed and were evidenced during the different ages and stages throughout your life. This in itself is also a strong indication of how God, as the sovereign Gift-Giver, is always at work, lovingly and purposefully perfecting your gift with every step you take while on your path, as a writer. In the process, whether you’ve discovered your remarkable ability to tell colorful stories, navigate adventurous journeys, or provide educational experiences, God has been graciously molding, shaping, and fine-tuning what He has gifted and entrusted you with—your natural ability to choose and combine words to creatively influence, inspire, and empower while also creating a legacy, as the passionate and gifted writer you are today and were destined to become.

 

Cherie D. Trahan is a Christian author, poet, and inspirational speaker. It is simply her lifelong goal to use her powerful testimony and gift of writing to positively influence, engage, and inspire audiences with diverse backgrounds worldwide to help stimulate and build strong spiritual lives. Cherie has served as a featured guest for ministry events and Christian media outlets. Her literary works are deeply inspired by her strong spirituality and extraordinary real-life story of seven accumulated miracle blessings that speak to the power of faith.

This Little Row of Books

This little row of books holds the best stuff in the world for me. This writing, as a friend of mine once said about some writing she loved, “touches the best in me and makes all that is less than my best better for having read it.”

Even though I have read them over and over, they make me want to get up in the morning and write my six hundred words.

They give me the courage to rewrite and rewrite until I have done the best I can do. They remind me my writing might matter somehow.

I try to make sure I read some of this good stuff every day. Or every night.

I keep them under the lamp in the hallway so I can find them when I am in the dark.

 

from “Dancing on the Head of a Pen” by Robert Benson

 

 

The Alpha Audience

I first introduced this concept in my book The Content Code. Alpha Audience refers to an elite circle of people – probably less than 2 percent of your entire social media following – who are responsible for sharing your content the most.

Research points to the amazing benefits provided by this special tribe:

  • The act of sharing content creates advocacy. When people share your content, in a virtual way they’re saying, “I believe in this, and you should too.”
  • Sharing content promotes understanding. According to a study by The New York Times, 85 percent of the people who share content say they better understand the person or organization who created it. The simple reason is that they’re probably not going to share content unless they trust you.
  • According to the Boston Consulting Group, the recommendations of the Alpha Audience account for eight times their own purchases.

Do you know who shares your content the most? Do you know your Alpha Audience … by name? If you spend any time at all nurturing an emotional connection with your followers, it should be with these special people.

 

from “Known” by Mark Schaefer

 

How Do I Find An Agent?

 

– by Christopher Ferebee

 

Whenever I am speaking at any form of writer’s event, be it a Learning Community during the Q Conference, at Writer’s Boot Camp or the Frederick Buechner Writer’s Workshop at Princeton Seminary, one question is asked more than any other.

How do I find an agent?

We’ll be answering questions throughout this series on how you approach an agent, but assuming you’re all ready to go, here are some ideas on how you might go about actually finding one.

Agents are a lot like publishers, in that each has their own unique approach to the business. They have certain genres they represent authors in and others they don’t. There are certain types of voices and projects they’re drawn to and others they’re not. The number one thing you can do to advance your cause of successfully finding an agent to represent you is to do your research.

There are a number of ways to accomplish this. First, go to the bookstore or library and find books similar to the genre your writing in. Often times the author’s agent is thanked in the acknowledgments or listed on the copyright page. Find authors similar to you and check who their agent is. Websites like Writer’s Digest are all over the internet with agent information you can find through a simple search. There are books such as the Guide to Literary Agents, which has tons of information about the agencies working in the business and the types of projects they’re acquiring.

If you’re willing to spend a little money, you can subscribe to a site like Publisher’s Marketplace. This site not only has contact information for agents and publishers, but also has comprehensive deal reporting where you can track the projects specific agents have actually sold and get a feel for the types of projects that agent is working with and the publishers they do business with.

But once you’ve compiled a list of potential agents, do a little more digging. Most agents list their clients on their website or have specific submissions guidelines. Even with an agency like ours where we’ve intentionally left a list of our clients off the site, we post agency news and blogs about what our clients are up to. You can find out a lot about who we represent and the books we work on by doing a little digging. When you ultimately query an agent, anything you can do to personalize your query by telling the agent why you think you’d be a fit based on their previous work will go a LONG way.

My last piece of advice? You have to persevere. I often tell my clients and prospective clients that this is a business of rejection. Even when I am representing a well established author to publishers, I hear “no” more often than yes. You don’t need every agent banging down your door asking to represent you. You just need one. And doing your research will get you a lot closer to finding the right one.

Stay Healthy Through Prayer

Prayer and other spiritual disciplines can help creativity simply because they are helping the interior life stay healthy.

 

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press

 

Unleash Your Creativity

by S. D. Grimm

 

Writing flash fiction is great for writers in general. Here are a few thoughts on why.

 

  1. Publishing Credit

Flash Fiction stories are a real publishing credit. This looks great on query letters for those of you looking to eventually find and agent or publisher. I work for Splickety Publishing Group, and we publish a flash fiction magazine every month. That’s twelve opportunities a year with just one venue. Get out there and see who publishes flash fiction.

 

  1. Promotional Materials/Freebies for Websites and Newsletters

Readers want all kinds of extras, whether it’s a unique original flash fiction piece, or a flash fiction piece that’s in the story world of a longer piece you’ve written.

 

  1. Keeping Your Creative Muscles Strong

Creativity is like a muscle. Keep using it and it keeps getting stronger. Sometimes when I’m between projects or waiting for one to sit while I stay away from editing it, I still want to keep that creativity muscle going. It’s fabulous for helping that.

 

  1. The Satisfaction of Completing a Story

Sometimes we writers work on a longer piece of fiction as well and when we do, we can work on something for months or even years before typing “the end.” Then we have to go through the whole editing process. With flash fiction, you still have to write the piece and you still have to go through the editing process, but with 1000 words or less, the whole process is so much faster. At the end you have a complete story, and you’re using your editing muscles. It’s win/win.

 

What are you waiting for? Give it a try. Flex your creativity. Write on.

 

from “Jot That Down; Encouraging Essays for New Writers” edited by A. L. Rogers

 

Aborted Creativity Serves No One

Writing for writing’s sake is marvelous so long as the writer isn’t in denial about his or her dreams. Most writers, whether we admit it or not, want our creations to be recognizably dynamic, in the private sphere as well as for a broader readership. We write because we want to communicate. When fear of playing to an audience or facing an audience upon completion keeps us from ever developing our work, everyone loses. The writer never experiences the wild ride of revision, nor receives revision’s gifts. No readers benefit. Aborted projects may lead to energizing new projects, but aborted creativity serves no one.

 

from “Living Revision” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

 

 

How Do You Find Influencers?

How do you find influencers who can make a difference to you? Here are five tips to find the people who are having an impact in your field:

 

  1. Use BuzzSumo’s free influencer search tool. You can use keywords and find Twitter handles of accounts sharing similar keyword-related content. Filters let you sort results by reach, authority, influence, and engagement.
  2. Try Followerwonk, a free app on Rand Fishkin’s Moz site. This tool lets you search Twitter users based on keywords in their bios and sort results based on their number of followers and social authority.
  3. Twellow is a very useful site that can help you build your audience in several ways. It allows you to search influencers by industry and breaks down results based on location, subject matter, and profession. Another way to find possible influencers by location is to Google it. For example, searching for “mommy bloggers in Pittsburgh” would return lists of top bloggers in the area.
  4. Check out industry-related conferences and scan the speaker list. These are likely to be well-known and influential leaders in your field.
  5. Hashtag research can help you identify influencers with similar interests. Search for a topical hashtag (like #organicfood, #librarian, or #electricalengineer, for example) on Google, Twitter, and Instagram to find others interested in a topic. Dig a little deeper to look at how many followers they have, the engagement they get on their posts, and what kind of content they publish.

 

Once you’ve created a list of influencers, it’s time to start finding ways to connect with them. Don’t “pitch” influencers. Befriend them.

 

from “Known” by Mark Schaefer

 

 

True Faith…. Do You Have It!

– by Alfreda Branch Jones

 

Faith, one of the most talked about words all over the world!  Most people can quote the famous Hebrew 11: 1.  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, like their address or birth date, yet when ask how do you know that you have “True Faith”, they began to tell you things like, well I love God, or I can’t see Jesus, but I trust Him!  However, neither of the two mentioned statements truly determines if one has “True Faith”!

 

So how do you really know for certain if you have “True Faith”?  Are there any sure-fire signs that can be witness by others or by one’s self?  Well, I am glad these questions have been asked, because the answer is yes!  First, I must say this, that “True Faith” is an ever-growing power and should be continuously prayed for on a regular basis, if not daily!  Try saying this “Lord please increase my Faith”, and sincerely mean it!

 

So here are a few tell-tell signs that you and others can be absolutely certain that one definitely has “True Faith”!  Our world appears to be totally out of control, and yet, you wake up happy, and looking forward to all seeing the beauty of the day unfold!  So, many are being killed, and you are not afraid to move about and enjoy life freely, because you have faith the God will shield and protect you!  Matter-of-fact, you have come to say things like, “I don’t have to worry about anything, because I had a talk with God and He promise to work everything out for the good of those who love Him, I am going to sleep!  2.  You began to quote statements like, I don’t care how things look right now, God can do anything, and nothing will make you change your mind!  3. You have become a witness for God, in the name of Jesus, that there is no failure in God, and everything is already alright!  4.  Even though death has knocked on your love one’s door, you can truly say, I know that God will see me through!  5.  You stop believing and come to know that according to God’s Will all shall manifest.  6.  Every single day you have joy and a smile on your face because you know what God can do!  7.  You have tried your faith and found out that it works, and nothing can make you doubt it!  8. True Faith has taught you how to consult God on all things!  9.  You at Peace regardless of what is going on!

 

Sure, I could go on and on, because “True Faith” is never ending!   I do hope that  what I have written, has also helped you determine if you have “True Faith”, or if the faith that you do have needs to be fine-tuned by seeking the word of God and developing you’re relationship with Him!

Get in touch!