Life is Easier When Our Goals are Completed

Constantly moving forward takes work. Whether you are engaging in writing a book, publishing the book, marketing the book, or in any other area of self-improvement, gaining and maintaining momentum is hard.

Nearly all of us procrastinate. We put off that which we deem difficult or unpleasant. The infographic below provides some great information on how you can confront obstacles and practical tips to overcome them to work toward your goals.

I like the advice about moving forward in this infographic. It says:

Pick one thing you want to get better at and do it every day.”

It’s good advice, but hard to follow. Yet the rewards are worth it. According to the One Percent Solution:

Improve your business (or yourself) by 1% each day. In 70 days, you will be 2x as good as you are now”.

Now that is some incentive!

Managing Momentum

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You Can’t Avoid Criticism

I know a retired pastor who continues to be active in his church and teach or preach whenever he is invited to do so. He recently was criticized quite severely by a member of his church for:

  • Preaching without notes.
  • Being able to quote passages from the Bible without reading them.
  • Drawing large crowds whenever he teaches.
  • Speaking the truth (because truth makes people uncomfortable).

You Can't Avoid Criticism

Wow. These are all things one would usually commend someone for. Instead, someone criticized this retired pastor for these things.

Why? I don’t think we will know the answer this side of eternity, and it really is not important. What I believe this scenario illustrates is that we will always have critics.

If you do anything publicly—author a book, speak to a group, write a blog post or article, post on social media—someone is going to disagree with you. There is always someone in a crowd who is a naysayer.

What does this mean for authors? It means that you should be prepared to receive criticism and know how to handle it.

1. Expect criticism.

Don’t get upset or irritated when it comes. Know that you will receive criticism.

Every author receives criticism at some point. Famous authors are criticized. An article written about Mark Twain in 1910 said of him:

“But Mark Twain was neither a poet nor a playwright nor an historian. he was hardly a novelist, either, for his share in ‘The Gilded Age’ does not seriously count, and his work in the form of fiction is not remarkable as story-telling pure and simple.”

2. Evaluate the criticism.

Don’t just throw it out. Evaluate it. Ask yourself:

  • Is it given in a spirit of love or condemnation?
  • Is any part of it true?
  • What can you learn from this?

If you are still struggling with what was said, then run it by a trusted friend. Ask this person to help you ferret out what is really about you and what is not. Be sure that you ask someone you trust who can be honest with you.

Whatever you do, don’t repay criticism with criticism. If an answer is expected, respond with respect and love. Remember Dale Carnegie’s advice from his book How to Win Friends and Influence People:

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.”

3. Pray about it.

Ask God to show you what is true in the criticism and what you should pay attention to. Ask Him to guide you in knowing what to accept and what to throw away.

Whatever you do, don’t let criticism stop you. Learn from it, but keep doing that which God has called you to do. If He has called you to write and publish, keep doing that. Learn the craft, learn the ropes of the industry, and continue to put your best effort into all you do—working at it as for the Lord, not for man. For your reward is in heaven.

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Photo courtesy of geralt.

Don’t Lose Focus

The events in our world and our country in 2020 cannot be ignored. They are affecting all of us.  Yet, I would encourage you to not allow these events to sidetrack you from the message that God has given you.

Don't Lose Focus

I recently read a post by an influencer in the indie publishing world. This individual was advocating that indie authors take a break from marketing their books to spend some time dealing with the pressing issues in our country.

While this advice might be beneficial for secular authors, I don’t think it is good advice for Christian authors.

2 Timothy 2:4 says “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” In season and out of season means when it is favorable to do so and when it is not favorable to do so – or when it is convenient to do so and when it is not convenient to do so.

We are in an out of season time. There is pressure all around us to jump on the hot topic of the moment. Don’t get sidetracked.

It is easy to get dragged down by worldly concerns involving conflicts and fears. When this happens, we get distracted from the hope we have in Christ.

Do not lose your focus. As a Christian author, your gaze should remain fixed on spiritual things that offer the hope, security, and peace people need in this trying time.

Whatever your message was before the events happening this year, it is still needed. People’s spiritual needs have not diminished with current events—in fact, these needs are growing since churches have not been open and people have been isolated.

People are still struggling with relationships, parenting, finances, health problems and other issues related to Christian living and spiritual growth. They need the hope you offer in your books. Hope both for this life and the life to come.

So, I encourage you to not veer from the message God has given you. Your message is timely. Your message is needed. God’s word never goes out of season.

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Photo courtesy of Elena Taranenko.

A Prayer for Writers

My son graduated from high school this year and is enrolled in a university for his college degree. One of the courses that this university offers as an elective course (and which fulfills a required general education credit) unnerves me:

A Prayer for Writers

 

“Magic and Religion Ancient incantations and adjurations, spells and amulets, magic words, prophecy, divination – in what ways can and do religious practices, ideas and ritual intersect with magic? To answer these questions (or, at least, try to), we’ll begin by studying what ‘religion’ and ‘magic’ mean for scholars. Then we’ll explore how magic and religion overlap in both ancient and modern societies – including some of our own time.”

Sadly, I did not see a similar general education course offered on Christianity or the Bible for students to choose from.

As Christian authors and publishers we sometimes need to be reminded that our work is important. We are in a war. Our fight is about demolishing arguments and every proud thing that is raised against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Earlier this year—before the pandemic hit—I was honored to be a key note speaker at the Capital Christian Writers Fellowship writers conference. This group of writers had compiled a handbook for praying for your writing life titled Prayers for Writers.

The following prayer, written by Jean Soehnlin, is from that book. May it bless you and your writing efforts.Prayers for Writers

Heavenly Father,

Bless me with confidence in the anointing You have given me to write. Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)

Open my eyes and ears and heart to hear Your whispers of truth and love You have for me and those You want me to share them with.

Protect me from the lies and deceit of the evil one. May I rest confidently in Your truths and in my anointing, rather than getting sidetracked by doubts, insecurities, and distractions.

Bless my writing ministry, Father God. May my pen flow with Your words and message burning in my heart to share with others, to bring healing and hope to hurting hearts.

Bless my writing time, that it would be productive and fruitful.

May I be able to grasp how wide and deep and long is Your love for me as I write and always.

Amen.

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Photo courtesy of Ben White.

 

Free Tools Any Author Can Use

No one is good at everything. We all need help, whether that is with our grammar, our time management, or just concentrating so we can be productive.

Following are five free tools. Check them out. You might find one or more of them helpful in your quest to be the best author that you can be.

Free Tools Any Author Can Use

1.  Make Sure Your Titles Are Capitalized Correctly.

Are you confused about which words to capitalize in a headline? Do you guess when capitalizing a title or headline?  Check out Capitalize My Title. This program applies the correct capitalization based on the style you want to use: Chicago, APA, MLA or AP.

2.  Reduce the Number of Clichés in Your Writing.

Too many clichés can make your writing uninteresting. Don’t be trite. Ditch the clichés. Cliché Finder is a free program that finds and highlights clichés in your writing so you can remove them.

3.  Get Organized.

An organized writer is a more productive writer. There are many tools that can help you become more organized. Milanote is an easy-to-use creative writing app to organize your research, ideas, characters and outline in one place.

4.  Be More Productive with Time Management Help.

Many people struggle with time management. Marinara Timer is a free time management timer promotes productivity. The timer allows you to choose to work for 25 minutes with a 5-minute break at the end, or you can choose your own time limits.

5.  Block Out Background Noise so You Can Focus Better.

Do background noises interrupt your concentration when writing? Noisli can help. This program provides free background sounds that help to mask annoying noises in order to keep you sane, improve your focus, and boost your productivity.

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