Just sharing a conference announcement for all of my Christian writer friends… I first attended the Writer Development Track at the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference in 2014. I’ve been contracted to write for LifeWay’s YOU curriculum several times since then. Folks who are serious about investing in themselves and their writing careers should consider this amazing opportunity.
Last week, I wrote about feeling invisible during a crisis. But, what about times when all is well, yet, we still feel unnoticed—even though we’ve brought our A-game? Giving her take on the issue, Andrea Merrell, an editing professional who encouraged writers at the Atlanta Christian Writer’s Conference last month, suggested that sometimes, God purposely “hides” us. During these times He’s equipping us and helping us to refine our craft.
When we work diligently toward our calling, God often allows us to “practice” in a safe environment first. At just the right time, He exposes us. Then, voila: Our fifth album is a hit. Our third book sells 100,000 copies. Or, after 12 years of barely keeping our business afloat, we get a contract with a fortune 100 company. Now, we’re ready.
In the meantime, let’s not despair because our walls aren’t decorated with congratulatory plaques. We can’t give up because our bank accounts aren’t brimming with cash from a recent promotion. And, although it seems the people we’ve helped don’t always remember to say “thank you,” let’s not become discouraged. We can be grateful in knowing that sometimes, God Himself is the One “hiding” us.
What talents are you glad God refined in you before you were “released” to the masses?
I remember the faux wood shelving unit that lined the wall of our family’s dining area in the mid-1970s. Although I was a child then, I still have fond memories of how that piece of furniture was decorated. Trophies—seemingly dozens of them—lined its shelves. Although one or two of the statues were missing heads or arms from my misguided cartwheels, the awards validated my father’s success in basketball. Because of his accomplishments, my dad had earned some serious “street cred.” He even got a spot in the local newspaper.
As I sat in a conference a few weeks ago, an editor made a comment that caused me to reconnect with my childhood memory. This wise editing professional, Andrea Merrell, said that books shouldn’t merely be deemed as trophy pieces. “Having your name on the cover of a book,” she warned, “does not make you a writer.” She continued, saying that when we jot down what God gives us for the purpose of blessing someone else … that makes us writers.
Whether we’re writers, engineers, medical doctors, or even ballers, most of us want to be good at what we do. That’s why aptitude and diligence are important. And, when we show genuine concern for those we serve, everyone benefits.
Don’t we all want to be deemed as credible, proficient, or important? Sometimes, though, we employ drastic, unhealthy measures in the process. Now days, when we want our children to be successful we resort to helicopter parenting. We embellish our résumé to chase our dream career. And, when we seek significance, we belittle others or expose their faults. In the long run, we find that we’ve done ourselves—and others—a terrible disservice.
Folks, we may never earn a spot in the local paper, receive a trophy for a job well done, or get cheered by spectators like my dad did. But, be encouraged. When we walk in our calling, work diligently, and perfect our craft, we’re one step nearer to making the “goal—”or even sweeter—a slam dunk.
How do you stay encouraged when you haven’t been recognized for your efforts? How do you remain humble when your shelves are decorated with awards? What inspires you to keep it movin’?
Even with freshly inked documents to declare their legitimacy as LLCs or S-Corps, new businesses can still fail to deliver on their promises. Although well-meaning, they sometimes experience one pitfall after another: overcommitting, growing too quickly, insufficient cash flow, a hastily designed product or botched service, and other tell-tale signs that scream, “Newbie!” Obviously, good intentions don’t guarantee success; we must hone our craft.
That’s why about two weeks ago, I was happy to see several writers alongside me at the Atlanta Christian Writers Conference (ACWC). Attendees at all experience levels were present, especially since the faculty taught classes on everything from identifying the elements of a good story and writing for magazines to building a platform and writing a book proposal. There were even sessions on making podcasts and finding markets for children’s non-fiction. The personal appointments with agents and editors were invaluable, to boot. Surely, the conferees understood how their personal growth and success required such a wise investment—in this case, nearly three days of their time and a couple hundred dollars out-of-pocket.
Whether we’ve started a grassroots organization, mom and pop eatery, home daycare, or web design company, we thrive when we see training as an investment and not merely a time-sucker or an unnecessary expense. When writers have this perception, everyone wins. The result: More folks will write devotionals that teach without being preachy. Authors will create novels with well-crafted, relatable characters. And, freelancers will pen articles that grab—and keep—readers’ attention. After all, what good is a published piece (whether it’s an indie book, blog post, or content on a professional web site) if it’s constructed so poorly no one wants to read it?
How do you invest in yourself? What rewards have you (or others) reaped as a result?