Tag s | Writers

Your Obligations to Yourself

Anyone who writes books knows it’s not a sprint, but a journey. Here are some tips for staying on the path:

Allow Yourself Time

No matter where you are in your career, allow yourself time to write. Making time may be especially hard before you start seeing income from your work if for no other reason, because someone paying you to write is a form of validation. But the more you persist, the greater your chances are for success.

Take Yourself Seriously

If you’re still at the stage where your writing is a hobby, that’s fine. It’s even a natural part of the process. However, this is one hobby that you must treat as a job if you want it to blossom into a career. Once you’ve allowed yourself the time to write, stick to it. If the reason for not writing wouldn’t hold up with your supervisor at a traditional job, then don’t let that reason excuse yourself.

Commit to the Relationships You Need

You’d make friends at a traditional office, right? Spend some of your time forming meaningful friendships in our industry. This is one instance where social media is a great thing!

Decide on a Budget

Being self-employed has its freedoms but it also means a company won’t cover expenses such as conferences and office supplies. You don’t have to be wealthy to write, nor is it imperative for you to go to conferences to be published. But do go through the process of deciding how much you can spend, and where best to spend your money to further your career. This is one place where an agent can advise.

Ask Your Tax Advisor

Transitioning to a new tax situation can be tricky. I recommend consulting a professional at least one or two years to help you learn how to pay taxes as a self-employed person.

Call Yourself a Writer

Putting a label on yourself is the scariest part. However, who will take you seriously as a writer if you never call yourself one? Soon, the label will feel natural – and wonderful.

 

Your turn:

What advice can you offer writers?

What commitments have you made to yourself as an author?

Leave a Comment

Two Kinds of Writers in the World

I often tell developing writers at conferences that there are two kinds of writers in the world: the “hobbyist” and the “professional.” Yes, it’s an oversimplification. It’s shorthand. But I think it gets the point across. Both the hobbyist and the professional may be good writers, even great. Both may …

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How Do You Know What Will (or Will Not) Sell?

There is a mysterious magic embedded in the mythos of the publishing industry…the ability to pick successful books. I was recently asked “You say ‘no’ so often, how do you know when to say ‘yes?’” I wish I could claim that every agent and publisher have a secret formula that we consult …

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10 Things Every Writer Should Do

    I’m a list person. In part, that’s because said lists serve to bump my memory when it gets…um…lost. But I also just love lists—especially lists of things you should (or shouldn’t) do. So here, for your perusal, are my top ten things every writer should do every day: …

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Wanted: More Choir Members

Dan Balow

At some point in their writing career, many Christian authors express a desire to write a book that would reach the un-churched. That desire is a completely honorable and wonderful goal, just as any believer should desire to represent Christ in their lives in such a way that unbelievers would ask them questions about the hope that is in them. 

However, the inference by such statements as “preaching to the choir” is that writing to churchgoers is somehow less desirable.  I know the intent of those authors is to have their books used for pre-evangelism, but unfortunately, when most Christian authors use the term “cross-over” to describe their book, it is code for “leave out anything Christian”.  I am not sure this is a wise use of your time unless you are very gifted and unique writer.

Indulge me for just another minute before you start writing a reply, hitting me with examples of Lewis, Tolkien, Sayers, MacDonald, Bunyan, Tolstoy, Chesterton, etc.

First, God Almighty can and does use whatever he wants to get people’s attention.  I hear God even used a talking donkey once. Second, it is a matter of fact that the books that God has used most frequently for evangelism have testified strongly to Jesus Christ and the power of the Gospel to change a life.  Consider these:

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The Writing Book for Your Year

by Steve Laube

Note the title of this post did not say “of the year” but “for your year.” It is rare for me to recommend books on writing because there are so many good ones out there, but this one is an exception.

The spiritual foundation of the writer is critical to surviving and even thriving in the call as an artist.  Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer (published by Eerdmans) is a book each one of you should acquire and make a part of your reading plan.

The book description includes:  “This book offers prayers that correspond with each stage of the writer’s work — from finding inspiration to penning the first words to ‘offering it to God’ at completion. Gary Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, experienced writers themselves, introduce each chapter of prayers with pithy pastoral reflections that will encourage writers in their craft.” Gary has twice won the Newberry Honor Award for his children’s books and is a professor of English at Calvin College. Elizabeth, Gary’s wife, wrote a wonderful blog called “Language and Prayer” where she introduces the book and she explores the weaving of faith and writing.

Throughout the book I was inspired by material from writers such as Augustine, Dante Alighieri, William Barclay, Thomas Merton, Dwight L. Moody, Reinhold Niebuhr, C.S. Lewis, Soren Kierkegaard, and Richard Baxter. Ranging across the entire spectrum of the Faith. It is a book that should be examined slowly and without haste.

Make this the book of your year and let the words from great writers be a cool splash of water on your soul.

Below is a brief book trailer citing one example from the book.

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Proper Care and Feeding of …You!

Thanks so much for all your thoughtful responses last week. I gained a great deal from reading and pondering them. This week, I’d like to take a look from the other side of the desk. As an author myself, I know how hard the writing gig is. And I know a LOT of authors, published and not, who have hit speed-bumps -or even felt like the Editor/Publisher/Agent semi just flattened them in the middle of the publishing highway. As hard as agents’/editors’ jobs may be, the author’s job is pretty tough too. You spend months and years working on your craft, only to have everyone tell you how to do it better. And then there are the lovely people who keep asking when you’re going to get a real job, or would you mind baby-sitting today since you don’t have a job, or any of a multitude of other ignorant comments that nibble at us like rabid ducks as we struggle to be creative.

Sadly, the criticism and ignorance doesn’t end when you get published. Just read some of the reviews on Amazon, Christianbook.com, or Barnes&Noble. Or ask an author to share his or her reader letters with you. I know one group of writers that gets together once a year and gives out a prize for the worst review/reader letter. Some of them are, to say the least, brutal. Let’s face it, when your words are on the printed page, you can pretty much know someone isn’t going to like what you said or how you said it. And the ol’ Internet has made it waaaay too easy for folks to share their blistering thoughts.

No, writing isn’t easy. Not by a long shot.

So here’s what I’d like to do.

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