Writing is one of those professions or hobbies that most people believe they can do and be good at. Most adults in America believe they have a book within them that needs to be written, but they just never have the time or inclination to do so. You know what? They are probably correct in part of that statement, they probably do have book inside them that could be written, but they might not be the best one to write it. Writing is one of those tricky professions that has in the traditional realm, gatekeepers who are called agents, editors, and publishers. If you are not willing to face rejection and lots of hard work to get your book out there traditionally, then you probably should keep to blogging where you are the only gatekeeper. You also may want to consider self-publishing or becoming your own independent publisher. While self-publishing and indie publishing is becoming more acceptable (that is a very good thing), there is still the need for writers to have the skills necessary to write well. This applies whether they are traditionally represented or go the self-publishing/indie route.
I will admit when it comes to writing, in my mind I am an amateur. Even though, I would be considered a professional writer due to the fact I have received money for writing, I still consider myself an amateur. My journey and story is not unlike yours. An aspiring writer who believes I have a story to share that can actually change someone’s life. My writing focuses on how a person can have vision and leadership in their life and actually put wheels on that vision to get it rolling to its destiny. In doing so, I have written three books, VisionalLife (out of print), Missionary Writing (eBook) and the last one, Uncluttered which is currently being represented by Alice Crider of WordServe Literary. The content of each book is similar, but the direction is much different. I have also written for print magazines, online magazines and blogs as well as a contributing author to another book.
All of this just kind of happened slowly over time and sometimes when I wasn’t looking for it to happen, it just did. I struggled with the questions, “If I write to help people, will anyone read what I have written and why should they?” And then the really big question we all ask ourselves, “Am I really a writer?” I have learned that I do not write to please other people, but to help other people. If my writing does not inspire or help other people, then I should not be putting it out there publicly.
Over the next few days I will be cover the topics below that I believe make for a great writer and for stories that need to be told. I hope you tune in and join me in becoming a better writer.
The Need For Inspiration
The Need For Passion
The Need For An Advocate
The Need For Tools
The Need For A Platform
By the way, the title of this blog post will be the title of a future book I will be writing.
I am not going to bore you to death with a list of the Top Ten posts I written, because if you are like me, I really don’t have time to read ten blog posts right now. So, I am going to bore you with the five most visited blog posts I wrote in 2013. Enjoy!
1. New E-Book Available – http://www.jeffcalloway.com/new-ebook-available.html
2. Four Quick Signs of Bad Leadership – http://www.jeffcalloway.com/four-quick-signs-of-bad-leadership.html
3. Dealing With Difficult People – What About Bob? – http://www.jeffcalloway.com/dealing-bobs-life.html
4. When You Start Something, You’re Asking For A Battle – http://www.jeffcalloway.com/when-you-start-something-youre-asking-for-a-battle.html
5. Gospel Movements – http://www.jeffcalloway.com/movements.html
Whether you like it or not, your staff is on social media and probably on it quiet often. If you are smart, you will have your company or ministry on social media as well. You can be a knucklehead and ignore social media or you can leverage it to help your company or ministry fulfill it’s mission. Google+, Blogs, Facebook and Twitter are popular and powerful tools. And like most tools, they could be helpful if used correctly or dangerous if used inappropriately.
I can share examples of how I have tweeted complaints to companies such as McDonalds and Delta Airlines and gotten great responses back from them, while at other times I have tweeted suggestions or something I was having a problem with to other companies and you could hear the crickets for the silence. I believe it essential that your business or church have a social media presence and you will need someone who is dedicated to presenting your organization in a professional and compelling manner. They will need to answer any questions and be involved in the conversation as it relates to your business or ministry. In other words, be involved in what is going on in the cyber-world as it relates to your ministry or business.
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For years at Christmas we journeyed back to Tennessee and Alabama to visit our families and enjoy a respite from the lake effect snow machine that usually cranks up in November in northeast Ohio. A few weeks after we returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Promised Land in East Tennessee in 2006, my wife Julie comes in the house laughing. She was holding in her hand an envelope addressed from the City of Knoxville, Tennessee. Inside the envelope were a couple of photographs that showed what looked like our vehicle going through a stop light. After closer examination of the license plate, I did determine that it was indeed our vehicle. Who was driving is still debatable in our home as both Julie and I took turns operating the vehicle while in Tennessee. I hope the City of Knoxville puts my fifty-dollar fine to good use.
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I really enjoy Seth Godin’s blog. Seth is an entrepreneur, agent of change, and he blogs as well. His latest book, Tribes is a must read for anyone who is involved in any organization. He posted a few days ago on Ignoring Your Critics and I want my readers to be introduced to Seth’s blog and thinking. Enjoy!
If you find 100 comments on a blog post or 100 reviews of a new book or 100 tweets about you…
and two of them are negative, while 98 are positive…
which ones are you going to read first?
If you’re a human being and you’re telling the truth, the answer is pretty obvious: you want to know which misguided losers had nasty things to say and you want to know what they said. In fact, if we’re being totally truthful, it’s likely you’re going to take what the critics had to say to heart.
That’s a shame. The critics are never going to be happy with you, that’s why they’re critics. You might bore them by doing what they say… but that won’t turn them into fans, it will merely encourage them to go criticize someone else.
It doesn’t matter what Groucho or Elvis or Britney or any other one-name performer does or did… the critics won’t be placated. Changing your act to make them happy is a fool’s game.
Here’s a surprising thought, though. You should ignore your fans as well.
Your fans don’t want you to change, your fans want you to maintain the essence of what you bring them but add a laundry list of features. You fans want lower prices and more contributions, bigger portions and more frequent deliveries.
So, who should you listen to?
You should listen to the people who tell the most people about you. Listen to the people who thrive on sharing your good works with others. If you delight these people, you grow.
Some of us are alone this Christmas and its so discouraging to be alone. In the Charlie Brown Christmas special; Charlie Brown checks his mailbox but there’s no Christmas cards for him. And he remarks, “I know no one likes me but why do we have to have a holiday to emphasize it!”
Statistics tell us that Christmas time is a very lonely time of the year for many people in America even though they are surrounded by family and friends. But if you’re lonely, what does God have to say to you? He wants to say first, “I understand exactly how you feel.” Jesus, the Bible says, “was tempted in all points as we yet he sinned not.” He understood every human emotion. There were times when Jesus was lonely. Even in the closing moments of His life when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, knowing that the next day He would be crucified on the cross, He takes His three best friends. Even Jesus had a need for human companionship. He takes His three best friends — Peter, James, John — and says, “Tarry with me a while, while I sweat this thing out!” And they fell asleep on Him. Jesus comes back and says, “Can’t even you wait with Me an hour?” And He felt all alone.
How do you deal with loneliness? Normally we do the wrong things. People will try all kinds of things to overcome their loneliness. Some people will try being a workaholic. They think if they stay busy they’ll overcome their loneliness. They’ll work and then fall in bed late at night totally fatigued. They get up in the morning and they’re still lonely. Some people think they’ll cure their loneliness through things, materialism. They surround their life with beautiful objects — nice clothes, nice cars, nice art objects, a beautiful home. But you cannot purchase happiness. It doesn’t last. I could put you on a desert island and tell you that you could have every single thing that you want — anything. Except people. How long would you be happy? Not very long. Why do you think solitary confinement is the most devastating form of punishment. We were made for each other. Some people will try to overcome their loneliness by having an affair. Some people get drunk, take drugs, go to bars. Some people do nothing. They just sit around and have a pity party and say, “Poor me!” Loneliness will paralyze you if you let it.
A lot of our loneliness is really a spiritual vacuum. We have a God shaped vacuum in our lives and when we try to fill it with anything else besides God it’s like filling a round hole with a square peg. It doesn’t fit! But when you invite Christ into your life and ask His Spirit to fill you, He puts His presence in you, a presence that will never, never leave you. Some of you may be thinking, “Nobody loves me. Nobody cares for me. Nobody even knows I exist.” I know somebody who does. His names is Jesus Christ.
This past weekend our family had the great opportunity to be commissioned as missionaries with the North American Mission Board in Atlanta. We met missionaries doing everything from church planting, inner city ministry, chaplains, collegiate ministry, to truck stop ministry.
To hear the stories… They were rich with the power of God at work in places like Newfoundland, Phoenix, Seattle, San Diego, Nova Scotia, Oklahoma, South Dakota and all across North America. It was encouraging as always to hear God stories of believers doing the work in new, refreshing ways. We developed new friendships with Hispanic Church Planter Enrique, who we gave the nickname John Wayne. Ty is from Dayton and is doing collegiate ministry with Baptists in Ohio. I could go on about the friendships.
The one thing we all had in common is our faith through the risen one – Jesus. God is on the move in North America, but believers must be in the trenches now more than ever. In a country that has 300 million people of whom 225 million are not yet believers, the task of introducing the 225 million to Jesus looms larger than ever.
My thoughts on this cloudy, cool Wednesday morning from northeast Ohio.