Uncertainty Is Our Friend

 

We humans dislike being undone. However much we enjoy writing, we find the disorderly process unsettling. We yearn for arrival or permission to quit. The state of incompletion is uncomfortable, as is vulnerability and unknowing. We have an unrelenting urge to wrap things up.

 

“During deep revision,” poet Mark Doty writes, “the longer we can stay in the state of uncertainty, of unfolding possibility, the better.” As in any prayer or meditation practice, we must learn to love, and stick with, the process. Once, when I was struggling with a prolonged depression in which I felt like I was groping my way down a dark tunnel, my therapist asked if I could see any light. I told her no. “Well, then,” she replied cheerily, “You’re halfway through!” Writers stumble through a lot of darkness before we begin to see our way out. It’s unnerving. It’s easy to despair.

 

Uncertainty, messiness, the sense of being overwhelmed—these states define creativity; they are signs that we’re in the thick of things. We can welcome them and proceed regardless, harnessing discomfort as a motivating force. 

 

from “Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice” by @Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew @Skinner House

Nowhere Near As Easy As It Looks

Sometimes the people who ask the question go on to say they are not sure they can be creative on paper every day. I tell them with all seriousness I am not sure I can be creative on paper each day either. Most of the time, writing a book more closely resembles digging a ditch than participating in some transcendent creative experience.

 

A pen and a keyboard and paper and ink are nothing more or less than the tools of a writer. They are to be regarded the way a construction worker regards a well-worn set of boots and a well loved shovel. The tools simply remind the worker to get up each day and go back to work no matter how much or little progress was made the day before. I became better at the craft of writing sentences on the day I finally understood I was engaged in a construction project as much as an artistic pursuit.

 

Writing a book is nowhere near as easy as it looks and heaven knows not as easy as some claim. Writing a book is seldom easy, even for those who have written some of them.

 

– Robert Benson – “Dancing on the Head of a Pen”

What Can I Accomplish in Six Months?

  by Angela Enos

Whew, six months have passed since I attended my first Writing for Your Life conference. Many of the knowledgeable speakers left me feeling suitably equipped and inspired to write.  I must admit though, my jaw did hit the ground several times during the conference as we discussed building a platform. Brian’s teachings were accurate, to the point, and tremendously informative; yet the task of building a platform seemed so overwhelming to me.

Do not dismay my friend.  If you apply the wealth of information you have gained at your recent conference, and add some blood, sweat, and tears–okay, perhaps not blood–you can build a platform.

I attended my first WFYL conference in June, 2019.  For reinforcement and encouragement, I attended The Business of Being a Writer, in October, 2019. Heeding the saying “two heads are better than one,” I invited my husband to attend the October Business seminar with me, and we were educated together.  A great idea.

Six months have now passed since I began my endeavor to build a platform. Please allow me to highlight what I have accomplished.

  • Brainstormed and birthed a brand, business plan, funding, and strategy for Prayers for Life, my free, innovative, online prayer school.
  • Attended professional photo shoot.
  • Had a professional website designed and launched.
  • Learned how to produce videos, edit said videos, and add sounds, music, and subtitles.
  • Began Facebook business page and YouTube channel.
  • Learned how to produce and manage Facebook ads.
  • August 2019 – Launched Prayers for Life, my online prayer school, on Facebook and YouTube.
  • Produced weekly teaching videos and posted videos to website, Facebook, and YouTube.
  • Produced a weekly Newsletter to obtain email subscribers.
  • Designed two Prayers for Life t-shirts. Preparing to sell in 2020.
  • Submitted articles for possible print to various magazines.
  • My husband and I attended The Business of Being a Spiritual Writer workshop by Brian Allain in Nashville, TN.
  • Began working towards gaining speaking engagements. (Taught at five successful speaking engagements in 2019).
  • Began Instagram channel, Morning Prayers. A video prayer is posted each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  • Inaugurated and advertised my 2020 plan for Prayers for Life, “Claiming the Prize.”

Well, what is left to do in 2020?

  • Procure many more speaking engagements through a mailing campaign, which was launched January 2020.
  • Add Spanish subtitles to my videos in order to open the door to a whole new audience.
  • Produce e-teachings as giveaways in order to obtain more email addresses and subscribers.
  • Submit more articles to magazines and enter writing contests.
  • Attend additional writer’s conferences.

I have worked tirelessly in 2019, and I am just getting started.  Why?  Because I believe in my books and in God’s healing power as it comes alive through my writings.  That is the key. Believe in yourself and what you are producing, whether in writing or video.  Speak those things that are not as if they are (Romans 4:17), run the race and receive your crown (I Cor. 9:24).  Be encouraged, it is possible.

______________________

 

Angela Enos is a retired youth pastor and children’s pastor; now author, speaker, and the founder of Prayers for Life, an innovative online prayer school designed to bring power and victory to God’s people.  Angela produces a weekly 10-minute teaching video, a bi-weekly electronic Newsletter, and supplemental videos and inspirational postings.  Check out Angela’s website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page for further details and to view her life-changing videos.

 

Website: www.angelaenoslive.com

Designer Jeans or Bermuda Shorts?

– by Leona Choy

 

Here’s the long and the short of it.

Let’s personify an IDEA as if it were a person. When writers get a heads-up that an idea is approaching, they would do well to deliberate wisely what to clothe it in appropriately, since it appears stark naked! One size of trousers doesn’t fit all, and there are many styles from which to choose.

You can expedite your attire decision by whittling down your idea to a couple of concise, descriptive sentences. That will stand you in good stead and save you time and grief by not selecting proper clothing.

Problems arise when the writer tries to convince the idea to wear long pants when short pants are more suitable. A writer may try to force an idea to become a book when it would be much better dressed in shorts—an article in a magazine, a short story, a guest post, an editorial, newspaper column or a blog post. Perhaps it would do better as many pairs of shorts of different colors and styles slanted to various publications. It’s important to realize whether an idea has enough substance to carry you through an entire book and whether there is a market for it.

Or the other hand, while in the process of clothing your idea in shorts, the writer may discover that several short articles are beginning to bond and could be morphed into chapters of a book. One’s own E pluribus unum, (out of many, one). One book of many chapters may come forth from what were previously separate or short stories, if the right adhesive is applied by a creative writer to bind them together.

Throughout my ten years as a blogger, I wrote a considerable number of posts on related themes each with a fresh hook and slant. For several of my recently published inspirational books, I stitched the “shorts” together with a compatible theme. With considerable editing, of course, I assembled them into full length books. The more abbreviated ideas appeared in long designer jeans.

In another of my books I used an interview format in each of the twenty-four chapters imagining dialogue with prominent religious persons of the past century. I based the interviews on their writings and bound them together under a common theme. Each chapter was dressed in shorts. After the book was published, one of the persons (chapters) began to “speak out” and ask for a change of clothing—it demanded, as it were, long trousers instead of abbreviated shorts.  During my research I accumulated more than enough fascinating material to propose a new book project to a publisher devoted to the person that chapter was about. The single short chapter turned into an extensive biography of Dr. Andrew Murray, a missionary statesman of the nineteenth century. In fact, I became his “authorized biographer.” After wearing shorts, this idea changed clothes and wore long trousers.

My original, productive over-researching led me to discover in library archives several out-of-print books Murray wrote which were unknown to modern readers. I proposed to another editor that I would be available to “contemporize” them into a more user-friendly edition since they were now in common domain. Three more long trouser books came from that proposal. What was originally only a short chapter in a book multiplied into an entire wardrobe which has since been translated into six foreign languages.

Writers don’t always know in the beginning how to clothe an idea when it comes strolling into the edges of our minds.  It’s critical to success in writing to know when to go long or short with the material and be open to change or exchange its attire as time goes by. We should even muster up the courage to discard the idea entirely and move on. Sometimes an idea that we think is grandiose turns out not to be suitable either for book length or a short article. It might simply be happy to wear a pair of short-shorts—like a poem?

 

THE GENESIS OF IDEATION

In the beginning I had a bright idea,

and the idea bounced around in my head

without form and void

of structure or organization.

 

Should I let it live or die?

Is it meant to swim or fly?

Should I let it soar? How high?

Does God’s Spirit brood over it

and breathe into it the breath of life?

 

Or was it a thoughtless notion,

a product of my own concept or emotion?

Is it simply my ephemeral opinion,

sentiment, persuasion, or view,

inclination or speculation?

 

Should I tenderly nurture it?

Let it simmer or bring to a boil?

Or jettison it to the circular file?

Is it worthwhile marketing?

Will an editor smile?

Lord, give me wisdom to discern.

Writing a Business Plan for Your Platform

by Angela Enos

 

Attending a WFYL Writer’s conference certainly provides a writer with a wealth of information.  And, if you have made the decision to dig your heels in, climb the mountain, and build a platform, attending the Business of Being a Writer conference is invaluable.  Afterall, we are all writers, but we are not all business savvy.  Yet, a writer is an entrepreneur, and being a successful author requires more than just creating a winning manuscript.  Though formerly unchartered ground for me, the business of becoming a writer has now become a well-traveled path.

I needed to formulate a plan and organize my thoughts into concise steps.  First thought, financing.  How much is this going to cost?  I had a family friend that I thought might help me get started by investing in my vision to build a platform.  Therefore, I began to write out the steps I needed to take, and the money required.  I spent days working out the details and rehearsed my speech.  In the end, as I stood and presented the sales pitch to my friend, I realized that I was selling myself as well. I truly believed in the plan I was about to initiate.

Below are the steps to my business plan, along with the dollar values I paid, which will obviously vary.  I pray that these steps help you get started as you begin writing, pitching, and believing in your platform.

Things I need to do: 

  • Establish your brand and platform. See previous blog “After the Conference – How to Determine Your Brand and Platform,” posted 1/13/2020.
  • Obtain professional photos (to be used on website, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) – $300
  • Obtain website professional to create a website, produce a banner for Facebook business page, set up YouTube channel, create business email, and create email marketing service provider $1,500
  • Pay for website subscription for one year – $250
  • Create business cards with new photo – $30
  • Clean up personal Facebook
  • Update Linkedin
  • Write out a realistic timeline: photo shoot to launch date
  • Order banner for marketing and video production – $20
  • Learn how to create a meme
  • Giveaways?!
  • Create a launch team
  • Send Launch team members some business cards and a free gift for signing up
  • Purchase free gift for launch team members – $25
  • Learn how to create Facebook ads – (I spent $10-$15 a week on ads. You can spend $5 a week or $500 a week.)
  • Learn Instagram and begin to post on Instagram
  • Consider Etsy and Twitter benefits and use if appropriate
  • Create three-fold brochure for marketing
  • Obtain speaking engagements

Videography

  • Learn how to make videos for Facebook and Youtube and learn how to post videos.
  • Download video editing software and learn how to use it.
  • What equipment do I need? Microphone?  Camera? Teleprompter?
  • Find free music to add to videos during editing.

 

You may note that many of these steps did not involve money.  It is possible to do all of this on a low budget.  You don’t need an MBA or a fat wallet.  You need a vision and a few organizational skills. WFYL offers professional assistance in many of these areas.  See: https://writingforyourlife.com/writer-support-services/

Now, combine your creative juices with a dash of organizational skills and begin to type.  You can create a business plan that fits your platform.  Begin to believe in yourself and your mission; and stay passionate.

 

Angela Enos is a retired youth pastor and children’s pastor; now author, speaker, and the founder of Prayers for Life, an innovative online prayer school designed to bring power and victory to God’s people.  Angela produces a weekly 10-minute teaching video, a bi-weekly electronic Newsletter, and supplemental videos and inspirational postings.  Check out Angela’s website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page for further details and to view her life-changing videos.

Website: www.angelaenoslive.com

“Beret Man”

When I begin to write a book, writing my daily word count with my fountain pen in my hand, following one sentence with the next, struggling to find the tone and feel and thread of a book, trying to discover what might be discovered at the end of the line of words, I am Beret Man.

 

In those early days of writing a new book, the heady days, the days when I feel as though I am an actual artist, going to work wearing such a stylish chapeau is in order.

 

The first trick is to keep the artist working.

 

When I have my beret on, I do not look back at the work as I write. If I criticize and edit and point out the flaws too soon, I can dampen my spirit and discourage myself before I have a chance to discover what it turns out I am trying to make.

 

I already know better than anyone that much of what Beret Man writes at this stage will reveal itself to be not good enough to be read by anyone. But many of the holes the new book has can be fixed later. Right now nothing can be allowed to get in the way of this new thing.

 

I do not bother Beret Man with the hard work of craftsmanship required to turn a pile of scribbling into a book that someone might want to read. The time for rewriting will come soon enough but not until the man in the beret has finished.

 

“Writing anything,” as Gordon Lightfoot once observed about the art he made brilliantly for so many years, “is a fragile magic at best.” He and Mr. Updike may or may not have known each other, but they were clearly on the same page.

 

Criticize the man in the beret too often or too soon or too harshly in the beginning, and he will put down his pen, afraid and discouraged and hesitant. It is right to leave him alone a bit, let him believe the work is golden.

 

Soon enough the truth will be apparent.

 

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

 

Wildly Controversial

Erring on the side of audaciousness – trying to grab the customer by the throat – is partly why a lot of the projects we are talking about were wildly controversial and, in some cases, deeply upsetting when they launched. Think of Orson Welles combining fact and fiction in his famous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds – in that moment he was reinventing entertainment and deeply scaring people at the same time.  Think of Matisse’s Blue Nude being burned in effigy in 1913. (Today you can buy a print of it at Walmart.) Think of D. H. Lawrence’s novels banned for their obscenity. Think of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which invented a new genre of nonfiction – people were incensed; was it real or not? Think of the technology that is subject to protests and reactive legislation – from Airbnb to Uber. Eventually, they become a part of our daily lives, but at first there is something deeply shocking and forceful to them. “Either you’re controversial,” as the perpetually controversial writer Elizabeth Wurtzel advises creatives, “or nothing at all is happening.”

 

– from “Perennial Seller” by Ryan Holiday

 

After the Conference – How to Determine Your Brand and Platform

by Angela Enos

 

I attended my first Writing for Your Life conference in June 2019. In addition to making new friends, I was inspired by other writers and taught by knowledgeable speakers.  My weekend also included an encouraging one-on-one with a literary agent that left me dancing in the streets.  And now…nothing left but to build a platform.  My head was spinning with a tidal wave of ideas during my three-hour drive home.

The next morning as I sat at my home computer, those ideas began to overwhelm me.   I quickly realized that this was going to be work, hard work.  Hard work, yes; impossible, no.

If you have attended a writer’s conference, I am rather confident that you have experienced some of the same highs and lows that I have described above.  Now, what is your next step?

The conference left me with a treasure chest full of information, newly formed ideas and, the challenge of building a platform.  I decided to accept the task at hand.  Now, how do I create and build a platform?

Allow me to offer the following springboard.

It is time to contemplate what you might have to offer on social media.  What will be your specific platform and how will you take that first plunge?  Time to grab a pencil with a large eraser or, sit at your computer, willing to cut and paste, and answer the following questions.

  1. This is, perhaps, the same first question you asked yourself before writing a manuscript. What information do I have to share?  In what area(s) am I knowledgeable?  In what arena can I be accepted as skilled and proficient?  What am I passionate about?
  2. What are your talents?  What are your strengths?  Are you a good speaker?  Are you comfortable on camera? Perhaps a vlog?  Or, are you more of an introvert, no crowds or camera for you?  A blog is more your style.
  3. What are people looking for on social media?   Where is there an open niche, a need?  Write some questions that you believe are most commonly Googled in your area of expertise and experience.
  4. Lastly, how can I combine my knowledge and talent to produce something that meets that need, something that encourages people to tune in because they are receiving the desired information they have been looking for?

For the next few days I sat at my computer, typed feverously; cut, pasted, and deleted. After days of brainstorming, I birthed my platform, Prayers for Life, a free online prayer school.  You see, I love being in front of people, I am comfortable teaching God’s Word, and people are always coming to me for prayer, even asking me to write them a prayer.  My platform:  videography, teaching, and prayer.

What’s yours?  Commence the brainstorming and take the plunge.

 

Angela Enos is a retired youth pastor and children’s pastor; now author, speaker, and the founder of Prayers for Life, an innovative online prayer school designed to bring power and victory to God’s people.  Angela produces a weekly 10-minute teaching video, a bi-weekly electronic Newsletter, and supplemental videos and inspirational postings.  Check out Angela’s website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page for further details and to view her life-changing videos.

Website: www.angelaenoslive.com

Revising Ourselves

 
Change, on the page as in life, does not happen when we’re stubborn and clingy. Revision asks that we cast the small world we’ve created in words—and all it represents within our being—in entirely new light. As we learn to revise, we gain skills in listening, letting go, creating, communicating, enduring, and trusting our intuition. Our voice gets stronger. We honor the fullness of our creative impulses. We claim our stories despite their brokenness. We own our authority; we become authors. The changes we need to make in our text are miniscule compared with the changes revision demands of our hearts.
 
Good as this sounds, it’s also scary. “When we feel resistance in any form, it’s because we haven’t fully committed to seeing what’s true,” writes Rosanne Bane, creativity coach and author. “We want to be thoughtless so life can be fraughtless. We want to avert our eyes.” But self-deception hinders spiritual growth, and readers know when stories don’t ring true or when a voice isn’t authentic. Revision means drilling down to the hot core of our subject and bringing that burning substance to light. We have to face the truth, and this changes us.
 
No wonder we resist revision! Real creativity summons us to become more fully ourselves.
 
 
from “Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew Skinner House

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