February 08, 2016

Connection Through Service by Karma Pratt

Sometimes life can feel lonely, and we experience sadness in the midst of our days. As a writer, this can be magnified by our solitary pursuit, and the time dedicated to putting words on paper.

I find healing through writing. Pouring the words from my heart out onto the page, no matter the purpose, provides a cathartic release for all the parts of me that I've kept bottled up. Whether it's a devotional column destined for FellowScript, a blog post, or a journal entry between me and God, writing is the conduit through which grace flows. 

God knows my heart, and my weakness. He knows my inclination to retreat, and isolate myself from others. Knowing this, he set me up for success when he introduced me to InScribe (through a friend of a friend, no less!) This writing community is the place where I have "come home" to my writing, and found the encouragement and inspiration to continue pushing past my comfort zone into the life and work God has called me to.

I am a very new member to InScribe, having attended my first Fall Conference in September 2015. I was so excited to participate in the conference. I could see God's hand at work in every interaction. I remember sitting next to Bobbi Junior, introducing ourselves during a workshop icebreaker. She told me she wanted to "sit on her hands" when the call came to fill Executive positions, but she volunteered anyway, because that's what God wanted her to do.

Those words proved prophetic for me. When the call came for volunteers at the 2015 AGM, I tried to sit on my hands as well, but God had other plans. I was called to serve InScribe as a member of the Executive.

My connection with the other members of the board has helped me grow significantly as a writer. I very quickly saw the places where I could help contribute to the success of InScribe, while honing my writing skills and learning so much about the craft of writing in the process. I am thankful for the opportunity to apply my skills and experience in professional communication to serve this community. 

Perhaps you feel isolated too? If you can't quite shake that loneliness, or sadness you're experiencing now, reach out to this community of heartfelt, faith-driven writers. Send a quick email or text. Make a call. Reach out to your InScribe family. Don't allow isolation to have the final say. 

This is the beauty of belonging to an organization of Christ followers. We are all seeking His face. We're tuned into the frequency that God's broadcasting on in our lives. We are here for each other.

If you're struggling in any way, know that you're not alone. If you find you have a tendency to turtle like I do, get involved on a deeper level. Volunteer to help out with something. It can be easy to not check Listserv messages, or breeze through the latest copy of FellowScript. Offering up your hands and hearts for service within this community is way to ensure a stronger connection between yourself and your fellow writers.

I am so thankful for the amazing writers God has brought alongside me to walk this path. Life doesn't seem so lonely anymore. 

The song below is called Great are you Lord, by All Sons and Daughters. I am so encouraged by this song. It seemed like a good one to share. Be blessed, everyone.

Karma Pratt is a faith-driven mom of twins, a communicator, a writer, and an encourager from way back. 
You can find Karma online at redraincoatcreations.com or connect on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn, or check out the Passionate. Persistent. Vibrant. Life. Project

February 07, 2016

My Scribe Tribe – Ramona Heikel

The base of the word “encourage” is courage, which comes from the Latin word “cor” meaning “heart”.  And what I need the most help with in my writing is courage and persistence.  I need connections with fellow writers to inject some new enthusiasm when I lose steam: Take heart, don’t give up…That’s pretty good!…What about this market?…Keep trying!  I am fortunate to have a number of these connections, one of which recently surprised me.

One of my encouragers is a friend I used to work with who is a technical writer, who writes mostly corporate and non-fiction articles.  Although we normally get together to socialize (and eat!), sometimes we talk about our writing.  Almost every time we connect, she encourages me to plan ahead and to schedule time to write, and has endless publishing ideas for my many projects.

Another connection is my mother, my cheerleader.  My mom has enjoyed writing for many years and she gets deliriously happy when I have writing successes, or even when I tell her that I have found time to write.  But this connection goes both ways because my mom looks to me for a gauge of what the publishing world is like, and she sometimes asks me to give feedback on her writing.

Probably my most valuable and consistent community is you, the Inscribe bloggers.  It is a privilege to be included as a contributor.  I find it very encouraging when I get comments, and I enjoy commenting on others’ posts.  I also grow and get inspiration online through connections with the Children’s Writer newsletter and a few other writing-related ezines, and CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers).

At the moment, I have an unusual “partnership” with technology.  Three weeks ago, I fractured my elbow and while I can handwrite, I cannot type and probably will not be able to for several more weeks.  Enter voice recognition software!  Yes, Microsoft Word 2003 allowed me to compose this entire post by speaking, what a wonderful help.  I have also recently written a post on my own blog using my cell phone, which has a superior voice recognition tool!  Who knew?

With all of these uplifting partners injecting courage and support into my writing life, I guess I’m not really alone at my computer, am I?

Posted by Ramona

February 05, 2016

Because of Him by Glynis M. Belec

Writing is a lonesome endeavour. But I am good with that. I have the dickens of the time trying to figure out whether I am an introvert or extrovert, though. I LOVE being in my office all by myself creating and reading and doing all sorts of other things in seclusion. I long for extended periods of uninterrupted time to write but it rarely comes. Then again, I am an inspirational speaker and I LOVE doing that, too. I have lots of energy and I find speaking a wonderful way for me to release and to share. I guess that makes me an ambivert - a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.

 Over the years that I have been writing, one of the things I have learned about myself is I am not an oddity in the writing world. I know in the 'real' world a few shake their heads but I am learning that God made me 'that way' for a purpose. Since I have been surrounding myself with other writers who have quirks and odd things happening in their heads, I feel much better. I am not alone

Just at the right times, God has introduced me to some wonderful people - other writers. It's good to be understood. 

I am a member of quite a few writing organizations and groups, but the two professional ones that play the most important part in my writing life are Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship and The Word Guild. I also belong to other professional groups, but these two have influenced and molded me in ways that are hard to describe. Sometimes I wonder why I have to belong to two similar organizations, then I remember my two visuals. Belonging to Inscribe is like grabbing a cup of tea and sitting on the couch talking and sharing all things writing. Membership in The Word Guild is like having a great business luncheon and discussing details of the next project. Many of my writer friends are members of both and I love that. We sharpen each other. 

Quite a few years ago I started Writers Unite. We are a local group who meet in the local Studio Factor, which is a great place for artists to come and be inspired. I was the only published writer to begin with but over the years others have been published while others have gained confidence and write blogs, plays, fiction, Christian inspirational stories and so much more. I don't always have to lead  which is nice for me and it warms my heart to see the passion pour out on the page each month. God has blessed these writers (and me!) so much since we started meeting together. Sometimes we end up being a bit of a therapy session because someone has challenges and we just feel so very safe sharing. We are friends and we have each other's writerly backs. And I love that. 

Back in June of 2015 God laid something on my heart that I am so grateful for. He knew my propensity for hiding in my office, but He also knew I did have a need to communicate and grow. I felt an urge to reach out and start a private Facebook group not only for writers, but also for readers. So I did. 

July 1st was the debut post for our Angel Hope Publishing group. We have 471 members composed of writers, readers, librarians, editors and publishers. I felt God impress upon my heart that this was not about selling my books. It was about sharing, engaging conversation and encouraging Canadian authors and readers who may or may not be Christians - then there is that byproduct of seed-planting.

 At the beginning I had some issues with a couple of members who didn't like the faith aspect (I also felt this would be a place to speak about glorifying God through words). But now, I absolutely love the contact I have here with others. I learn so much and I am encouraged. I pray that that happens for others, too. Some participate regularly. Some when the topic hits home. Others like the contests or the quizzes. While others are just quiet and read. I am so thankful for the way it has worked out. We are a closed group so people have to request to join. I want Angels to feel safe and blessed. 

Sure, I would like to spend more time doing me, me, me things and following my own ideas. Then I hear that little Voice whispering words like, 'Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. . .'

I keep trying (because of Him). 


February 03, 2016

12 Benefits of Belonging to a Writers' Group by Steph Beth Nickel

As a founding member of WWC (Women Writing for Christ), the last 10+ years have been an adventure; one I've been able to share with incredible friends and fellow writers.

Here are a dozen reasons you may want to join (or form) a writers' group:

1. Spend time with people who "get you."

Have you ever been excited about something you've read or something you've written only to share it with those whose eyes glaze over? It's nice when that doesn't happen.

2. Benefit from encouragement.

I'm not talking about flattery, but genuine, authentic encouragement. It's wonderful to spend time with fellow writers who will spur you on to develop your skills and who will point out what you do well and kindly let you know what you can improve.

3. Be challenged to learn new skills.

Whether it's in the form of recommended reading, critiques, or freewriting sessions, there are many ways you can learn as a member of a writers' group. You may even want to take turns teaching lessons. There's nothing like hunting up info to share to increase your knowledge.

4. Grow more courageous. 

Even experienced authors often find it unnerving to share their writing with others. You're in good company.

5. Learn how to take constructive criticism.

It isn't easy to hear what others say about your work, especially if they tell you what you could improve as well as what you did well. But it is a great way to develop as a writer. I've often said writers must be able to pour out their hearts on the page but have hides as thick as an alligator's.

6. Learn to critique others' writing.

It's surprising how much you can learn from critiquing another's work. It will help you improve your writing as well as theirs. Just a note ... It's best to find out what the other person wants you to focus on. A critique is not an edit.

7. Stretch your writing muscles with freewriting sessions.

While other members of WWC find this a real challenge, I love freewriting sessions ... maybe because I see journaling as "rambling until I stumble across truth." Plus, I think it's amazing how we all create completely different pieces from the same writing prompt. (There is no critiquing allowed at this stage. Otherwise, we'd be too timid to write whatever comes to mind and we definitely wouldn't want to share it.)

8. Get your creative juices flowing.

Being around other writers can inspire you to make the time to write no matter how crazy busy life gets. It also helps if you are expected to take something you've written to the next meeting.

9. Be challenged to write something you never considered before.

As I mentioned, each of us will start with the same prompt and produce entirely different pieces, from poems to short stories to nonfiction works. What fun!

10. Make connections with writers beyond your group.

The four founding members of WWC attended Write Canada over a decade ago ... in matching t-shirts no less. Talk about energizing! Even if you find the idea of attending a workshop or conference overwhelming, it's the perfect place to learn new skills and network with others in the writing world.

11. Publish.

It was through the founder of our group, Ruth Waring, that I met Deb Willows. Deb and I went on to coauthor her award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. And who did I want at the launch? Members of WWC, of course.

12. Discover the thrill of "rejoicing with those who rejoice."

It isn't only about your writing successes; it's about celebrating those of other group members as well. The best writers' groups, in my opinion, are those made up of true friends who will challenge you to become all you can be and who will throw a party when you reach a milestone along the way.

To the ladies of WWC ... You are treasured gifts from God Himself. I'm thankful for each of you. 

Please note that I'm also thankful for each InScribe member I've had the privilege of interacting with. Our connection is a result of my membership in WWC. (I love how the Lord weaves our lives together.) 

And by extension, I'm thankful for each of you who is reading this. Without readers, where would writers be anyway?

February 01, 2016

A Community of Writers by Sandi Somers

We writers spend long hours alone at our computers or with our pens and papers. Connecting with other writers helps us move forward, whether through critique groups, online networking, through writing with another—or more.

Prompt: What connecting points, what significant partnerships with other writers do you have? How have they helped you grow? What mutual benefits have you discovered?

A Point of Connection

This weekend I was reminded of how important a community is. I visited my niece, Jill, to give her little boys quilts that I had made. Jill herself has begun quilting, and so we spent the afternoon together sharing quilts and pictures. I loved a quilt Jill had made for her husband, and knew this was the design I wanted for a quilt I would make for another niece, Tammy. So I took pictures to help me remember how to make it. Then on the way home, I swung by a fabric store where I bought the fabric I needed.

Jill said it was so good to “talk quilting” with someone who understood her work.

It was such an invigorating afternoon for both of us.

This illustration encapsulated what a writing community means to me. We are connected to each other. We need each other. We can encourage each other.  

My primary writing community is InScribe. When I joined in 2011, I knew almost no one in the organization and I had few other connection with writers. But year by year, I’ve come to know other writers, through the Fall Conference, through our blogs and Facebook. (I’ll have more to write regarding Fall Conference in a future blog.)  I’ve received so much encouragement from those who critiqued my writing, (contests, and critique group), to commenting on my blog posts. InScribe has opened up an avenue for published writing, as I’ve contributed several FellowScript articles and contributed to our 2015 Anthology and supported other writers’ contributions.

For three years I was Secretary for InScribe. It was such a growing experience, as it gave me an insight into the inner workings of the organization. For me it was the best way to give back to the community in visioning, planning and coordinating reports and minutes. I recently resigned from this position but am continuing to pray for our executive and the needs of our organization.

Since my resignation, I haven’t been too involved with the “community” part of writing. God has pointed out my need to be quiet, to focus on my own works-in-progress. But I continue to regularly pray for InScribe and its writers, sometimes experiencing a burden for a particular person. At times I’ve awakened at night with an InScribe writer in mind, and I pray for him/her. This is one way I can encourage others.

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s prayer for believers: “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)  

I’m also reminded of these two verses:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT).

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).

Now over to you. Tell us about your writing community.