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 2010 – 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

In the Beginning

from “Adorning the Dark” by Andrew Peterson

 

You mumble a phrase. It’s gibberish, but it suggests a melody. You’ve gotten melodies in your head before, but this one feels different, like it’s made of something stronger and older. You notice this because you’re able to repeat it, and you like it, and you sing it again and again, enough times that you pull out your phone and record it. As soon as you get it down, you forget about it and move on.

Skip ahead a few days. Now you have your guitar in your lap. Fear and self-doubt are taunting ghosts at either shoulder. You try to find some combination of chords that doesn’t sound like everything else you’ve ever played, or everything everyone else has ever played. But after twenty minutes you’re sick of yourself and your guitar and the weather and your lack of talent. Then with a thrill of hope you remember that voicemail message you left yourself in the moment of mumbled inspiration. You listen to the voicemail, and you’re disappointed. It’s not terrible, but it’s missing whatever magic it had before. With nothing else to do, you try and find the chords that the mumbling melody wants. You play it through on the guitar a few times in standard tuning, key of G—the same four chords you learned when you were in eighth grade. Then you capo it up and try it with a different voicing. You happen upon a little pull-off with your index finger, a slightly different way of playing the same old chord. That sparks a melody that suits the gibberish a little better, and like a dying man in the desert who discovers a cactus, you get just enough juice to keep crawling. “O God,” you pray, “I’m so small and the universe is so big. What can I possibly say? What can I add to this explosion of glory? My mind is slow and unsteady, my heart is twisted and tired, my hands are smudged with sin. I have nothing—nothing—to offer.”

Write about that.

“What do you mean?”

Write about your smallness. Write about your sin, your heart, your inability to say anything worth saying. Watch what happens.

And so, with a deep breath, you strum the chords again, quieting the inner taunts, the self-mockery. And you sing something that feels somehow like an echo of the music and the murky waters you’re wallowing in and the words you mumbled several days ago. Then, after hours and days of the same miserable slog, something happens that you cannot explain: you realize you have a song. Behold, there is something new under the sun.

Writing about writing is precarious. On one hand it could be terribly self-indulgent, while on the other it could be terribly boring—both of which are cardinal sins when it comes to the written word. I spent way too much money on books about writing before Reed Arvin, a record producer-turned-novelist, told me, “Trash all those books about writing. Just sit down and write the darn book.” (Only he didn’t say “darn.”) I didn’t throw all the books away, but I did stop reading them. There are a few that did me some good, and even fewer that did more than offer up pointers on writing—they taught me to think about the creative act as a kind of worship, as a way to be human.

Since we were made to glorify God, worship happens when someone is doing exactly what he or she was made to do. I ask myself when I feel God’s pleasure, in the Eric Liddell sense, and it happens—seldom, to be sure, but it happens—when I’ve just broken through to a song after hours of effort, days of thinking, months of circling the song like an airplane low on fuel, searching desperately for the runway. Then I feel my own pleasure, too, a runner’s high, a rush of adrenaline. I literally tremble. There is no proper response but gratitude. The spark of the idea was hope; the work that led to the song was faith; the completion of the song leads to worship, because in that startling moment of clarity when the song exists in time and history and takes up narrative space in the story of the world,—a space that had been empty, unwritten, unknown by all who are subject to time—then it is obvious (and humbling) that a great mystery is at play.

I hope it’s clear that I’m not talking about the quality (or lack thereof) of the song itself. That’s irrelevant. The point is, time is unfolding like a scroll, and we’re letters on the parchment, helping to make up the words that tell the story. Each of us is a character, in both senses of the word. At times, characters become aware that they’re part of a story, and that brings the realization that, first, there is an author, and second, they are not him.

This realization is good and proper, and leads into the courts of praise, if not the throne room itself.

I wish I were a contemplative like Merton. I wish I could order my thoughts and follow them to their ends. I wish I could track an idea to its logical or illogical conclusion the way C. S. Lewis did. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I can’t learn without doing; I won’t know the story until I write it down. As long as the idea stays in the conceptual realm it withers.

 

Learning the Wrong Lesson from Feedback

 

 by John Backman

Never would I expect an offer of unsolicited feedback on a contest submission, but that’s what I found in my emailbox one morning. Apparently the reviewers had liked my essay—a lot—but felt it wasn’t ready for further consideration, and the editor wrote to ask if she should forward their comments. Would you say no? Me neither.

As it turned out, the comments were excellent: highlighting the sections I should keep, where the essay went awry, what its best form would be. I wrote the editor, thanked her profusely, and applied the advice to my essay, with wonderful results.

And then I made a mistake, because I’d learned the wrong lesson from their criticism.

In a nutshell, my essays want to be like my hair—an overall style with messy bits sticking out—and the reviewers suggested more polish. Somehow, in polishing this one essay, some part of my brain decided that all future essays should have the same polish. In other words, I should become a different writer to meet the market. Self-doubt crept in, and the writing slowed to a crawl.

After a few weeks of struggle, I stumbled across one of my older, messier essays. It reminded me how my prose thrived amid the quasi-controlled chaos. More than that, it reminded me of the joy I felt writing it. There had to be a way to start with that joy, let each essay determine how much “polish” it needed, and proceed accordingly. Once on that path, the joy returned, so did the energy, and the prose flowed again.

For the moral of this story, I can’t do better than the well-known quote attributed to Mark Twain. “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there, lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well, but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” 

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