Monthly Archives: January 2013

An Interview with Sarah Martin

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In July, I had the privilege of meeting Sarah Martin, author of Stress Point:Thriving through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama. She also blogs at www.liveitoutblog.com, a place where she encourages twenty and thirtysomethings to live out the kingship of Christ in everyday life. She talked to me recently about what it is like to be a writer and how she balances that with the many other facets of her life.

1) Tell me about yourself.

I’m a Texas girl at heart who now loves living in North Carolina. I am an author, a mom and a wife. When I’m not typing away on my laptop, I enjoy sneaking away to my “studio” to play with my art supplies.

2) When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I dreamed as a little kid that one day I would write a book. Since then, I really didn’t entertain that thought until I was in my late twenties. I think God planted that dream in my heart and His timing of it coming to fruition is always amazing to me.

3) How did you carve out your “niche” of writing for twenty something women?

As I worked with a ministry where we wrote devotions for 20-somethings I noticed that there are not many resources out there for this age group. I love hanging out both in real life and online with young adults so it made sense to write a book for them.

4) As you know, writers must read in order to be better writers. Who already writes for this audience and what  have you learned from them?

A good friend of mine, Renee Fisher, also writes books for young adults. I love how she thinks outside the box in writing her blog and coming up with topics.

5) What message do you wish to tell young women?

My ministry and life message is to encourage women to LIVE OUT! the Kingship of Christ in everyday life. God and His Word is ever so relevant in each square inch of our life including our finances, our career, our love life, our

friendships, etc.

Blogging, blogging, blogging. I aso partner up with other bloggers to do guest posts.

7) How do you balance life with writing?
I make sure that I have set times for writing and working each day. There are some seasons where I have to sacrifice time with family or time playing with my art in order to get a project finished. But, I’ve come to set goals and evaluate projects to figure out the urgency of deadlines. If a writing project can wait, it will wait while I make time for other parts of my
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You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks (Or Can You?)

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You know the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” That’s a myth.

It may be more difficult to get in the habit of learning something new, but it is not impossible. If food or shelter or the basic necessities in life were the reward for learning that new trick, you can bet that old dog wouldn’t hesitate.

We are all motivated by something.

So, what if your life was at stake, your securities and luxuries stolen, your freedoms violated? Would you find learning that new trick important then?

Paul did (and he wasn’t even old!)

In 2 Timothy 4:13, Paul says “When you come, bring  cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”

Paul still found it important to learn not only from the scholars who had come before him (the scrolls), but also wanted to write that knowledge down, preserve it and pass it on to whomever crossed his path (the parchments).

Do you value learning as much as Paul did?

You are never too old to learn something new.

What are Your Writer’s Goals?

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Last year at this time, I participated in a writer’s group led by a friend of mine. She challenged us to make goals for ourselves to grow in our writing careers. I made eleven goals for myself and promised I would do my best to achieve them. One year later, I pulled out those goals to see how far I had come.  I’m happy to report I accomplished nine of them! It motivated me to make a new set of goals for 2013.

Now that I teach a writer’s group of my own, I realize how important making those goals were to my growth as a writer. I have grown exponentially in my writing style and voice since then, and so has my platform. Since this is a blog for writers, I want to challenge you to set your own goals for 2013. Let me take a moment and walk through the exercise with you:

1) Take out a sheet of paper (or sit at your computer if you are more comfortable.)

2) Number the sheet (or a blank word document) from one to ten.

3) Brainstorm. Some can be short term goals, like what you want to get done by next week. Some can be long term, like what you want to accomplish six months from now or by year’s end. No goal is a silly goal. Let your mind go wild!

A couple of things to note:

1) Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T:

Specific– Goals are not just generic, but specific to your gift and style.The more specific the better.

Measurable– How will you know if you have achieved these goals? Do you have the resources and tools necessary to accomplish them? For example, if you want to book ten speaking engagements to promote your new writing project, how will you know you hit all ten? Record keeping is essential. Excel spreadsheets, Evernote Apps and analytic websites are great tools to keep it all in one place.

Attainable– Much like weight loss goals, smaller goals are easier to achieve then bigger ones. “I want to lose twenty pounds by next week” probably won’t get you where you want to go. But two or three by next week is achievable.

Relevant– Does it relate to your overarching goal to excel as a writer? Setting goals for things other than your specific ministry is not helpful.

Timed– A good goal looks like this: I will write one magazine article suitable for publication by April 2013. Put a deadline on them. Deadlines are great motivators (and great practice for when you get your big publishing break).

2)Be accountable to those goals– Share your goals with another person in the writing world. That could be someone in a critique group, the professor of a writer’s course or facilitator of a writers’ conference. If you don’t have connections in these three areas. put it as a status on your Facebook page. You can even write about them in a blog post. Allow your readers to be your accountability partners. Weight Watchers is the most successful weight loss program not because of their delicious food or celebrity endorsements, but for the accountability  achieved during their weekly meetings. Any goal worth achieving requires accepting help, prayer pr support from someone else.

What goals do you want to set for yourself  for 2013?  Write them down and share them with someone today!

Are You Called to Be a Writer (Part Two)

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Bradley Cooper in the movie The Words is an aspiring yet struggling writer with a great fiction book idea but with no agent or publisher interested in his work. One day, on a trip to Europe, he stumbles upon an old, tattered briefcase. He later finds hidden inside an opening of the briefcase, an equally old and tattered manuscript of another fiction book. He is so moved by the author’s writing, he types it into his own computer, in an effort to preserve the story, but also to get a feel for how a good book is written. Upon the encouragement from his wife, he submits it to a literary agency who loves the idea. Cooper pretends the manuscript is his and becomes a huge writing success. Later, an older gentleman confronts Cooper and reveals the staggering truth that he is the real author of the book.

All throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but be convicted by the overarching message:

As a writer, am I more interested in the fame associated with writing, or with the craft itself?

What lengths am I willing to go to achieve that same level of success?

The thing I think Cooper was missing was not passion or excitement but calling. It’s nice to have passion for something, but being called to it changes your perspective on it.

Do you have to be called to be a writer? I think so.

Why?

Because:

The calling is what makes you sit in front of the computer hour after hour even after the rejection letters pour in.

The calling is what makes lose sleep at night because you can’t wait to write another word on another blank page.

The calling is what makes you reexamine the manuscript you put away long ago, afraid it’s not good enough to publish.

The calling is the difference between writing for the pure joy of writing even if you never  receive a paycheck for it.

Are You Called to be a Writer? (Part One)

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Many people have asked me:

Do you have to be called to be a writer?

If so, How do you know if you are called?

As a Christian, my intimate relationship with the Lord allows me to be in tune with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes calling comes in the form of an intuition, the encouragement of others or an audible voice.  As I pray and seek God’s direction, His spirit prods me at times to specific tasks.

I felt this prodding from the Spirit to pursue writing in a moment of prayer and solitude in 2009. It was not an audible voice, but a strong sense during a time of worship. I had not thought about writing in many years. In fact, I had not written anything for  about twelve years. That is how I knew I was called to be a writer. It just happened.

But is that the only way we know we are called to something?

Perhaps you are struggling with whether or not you are called to be a writer or just write as a hobby or interest. I thought I would  explore the bible to see what it has to say about the concept of the calling.

Here are some of the people who felt a calling on their lives by God:

Moses

Abraham

The Prophets

John the Baptist

The twelve disciples

The additional seventy two disciples in Luke 9 and 10

Paul

All of Rome

The churches under Paul’s leadership

Timothy

Here are some of the things they were called to:*

1) Prepare the way of the Lord and to comfort God’s people (Isaiah 40:1-3)

2)  Follow him (Matthew 9:9, Mark 1:20; Luke 5:27)

3) Be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)

4)  Live a life worthy of His calling by being patient, humble, gentle, bearing with each other in love and keeping the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3)

5) Be set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1)

6) Be his holy people (Romans 1:5)

7) Be  saints ( Romans 1:7)

8) Preach the good news to the poor (numerous verses)

 

 

Other verses worth noting:

1) By being worthy of our calling, God will bring to fruition our every desire for goodness and our every deed prompted by faith.” ( 1 Thessalonians 1:11)

2)As holy brothers and sisters, we all share the same calling (Hebrews 3:1)

3) If we confirm our calling, we will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:9)

*Verses taken from the New International Bible, 2011

 

Ironically, most of these people used writing as a tool to fulfill these callings.

So, are you called to be a writer?

The answer:

I don’t know.

I can’t tell you whether you have a specific call to write. I also can’t dictate what  role writing will play in your daily life. But much like all things, we are called to “eagerly desire the gifts” (1 corinthians 12:31). The only way you know if you have a gift, is to open it, and try it out.

The Beauty of Community

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As we celebrate the New Year, we always think about resolutions. Normally those resolutions revolve around losing something: losing weight, quitting a bad habit, etc.  Sometimes it involves starting something new: exercising more, drinking more water, cleaning up your credit card debt. We do these individually, expecting that we will meet our personal goals by ourselves. But how successful is that?

As writers, we take this same approach. We sit secluded in our individual offices and settings, and rarely approach other writers for feedback, support or prayer. We set goals for ourselves and do not enlist the support of others to get us there. The reason why weight Watchers is the most successful program for weight loss is not because of its fabulous food or celebrity endorsements (although that helps).  The reason why women lose weight and keep it off is because of the meetings. Women who have a similar goal come together once a week and support each other as they strive to reach their goals. Community is essential when reaching goals, including ones involving our writing.

But I don’t know anyone who is a writer,  you think to yourself.

In the age of technology, there is no better time to be a writer. With the explosion of social media sites, online forums and the popularity of critique groups and book clubs, it is easy to find at least one person who shares your love for the craft. Here are some tips for resources where you can find the support and help you desire:

Online writers’ groups– Google “online writers’ groups” and see what comes up. These sites are often free and open up the door to people, maybe even in your area, that can help. Check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.   There may be more information there then you realize.

BooksThe Christian Writers’ Market Guide by the Christian Writers’ Guild dedicates an entire section to critique groups and online sites for writing help.

Libraries– Sometimes local authors host writers’ workshops at their local library or coffee shop where writers gather monthly for feedback and information. I host my writers’ group at a coffee shop in my town to welcome not only people from my church but also customers.  I want to pass on whatever I know to others and many other writers are willing to do the same.

When setting writing goals for this coming year, set a goal to network with other writers.They have been instrumental in my writing success and will be in yours, too.