August 17, 2017

Do you believe in things unseen? - by Rohadi



Writers do. We can pick floating ideas seemingly out of thin air and then...we turn them real.

Anybody can have an idea, but few people will do something about them.

What we do with those unseen ideas matter. Where most others will spend the time watching Netflix, a writer will satiate their ingrained human trait for adventure by creating.

Artists create, we execute, we produce, we ship. And it takes work.

Not only does it take work, but the craft is work, and if not treated as such, that idea, the book, the poem, the song, will never get done.

It may sound trite, but you have to, “just do it”.

The spiritual comparison would be the vicious cycle that prevents activity called “prayer”. Not prayer itself, but the excuses we use with it like, “I’ll pray about it,” which often translates into the veiled answer of, “I’ll do nothing about it.” We need to pray, “as we are going”….

When I decided to treat my writing as a job I scheduled the time as I would any other important task. It was still hard to fight resistance and do literally anything else, but adjusting my perception from hobby to profession helped me complete. It lead me to the place, through scheduled routine, where the idea that planted itself in my head turn into a tangible work one could see, read, touch, and feel.



_____


Visit Rohadi at his blog.

August 16, 2017

Life and Writing: Striking the Right Balance by Nina Faye Morey





Finding time in our busy lives to fit in our writing is a challenge. However, I’ve discovered that “finding” is the wrong word. “Making” time is actually more “fitting.” How can I “balance life on and off the page?” This puzzle led me to read about time management and building good work habits. Knowing this conundrum faces most writers, my life and writing became predictably intertwined. The result was my “Mastering Good Writing Habits” workshop to share the knowledge and strategies I’d gained with other writers at the 2016 InScribe Fall Conference.

Time to Write


Our dream of becoming a writer is often suppressed by other demands on our time. Those close to us might not understand our need to write. They may discourage, or even disparage, the devotion we display towards our “gift.” But if we see our writing as a gift from God, we feel a responsibility to use it to His glory. Regardless of whether we’re writing in obedience to God’s call or simply dedicating our writing to Him, we must trust the Lord to give us everything we need to fulfill our writing ministry:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you,
that you, always having all sufficiency in all things,
may have an abundance for every good work.
—2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV)


But in the end, the only one who can make you a successful writer is you! It’s up to you to make that happen. You can continue to just dream about it and talk about it, or you can act on it. In order to do that, you’ll need to develop good work habits and learn how to be well organized and manage your time effectively and efficiently. In her bestseller, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp said, “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell.”



Mastering good work habits helps free up your mind to think more creatively because you’ll have established a regular writing routine. The words will flow onto the page with less effort because you’ll feel more energized, engaged, and focused on the writing process. There’s no longer any need to waste time and energy on psyching yourself up, making decisions, or struggling with self-control. There’s nothing to distract you from the task at hand, and you’ll finish your day with a real sense of accomplishment.

The bestselling Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami, has won numerous awards for his novels and short stories. He said this about the importance of developing a daily writing routine in a Summer 2004 interview with John Wray in the Paris Review:

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours…. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.



Schedule Time to Write

One of the best ways to fire up your time management skills is to identify your goals. You’re dreaming about writing that 100,000 word Christian suspense novel? If you aim for just 275 words a day, you’ll finish it in one year. You have 168 hours every week. Allowing forty hours for work and fifty-six for sleep leaves you seventy-two hours—plenty of time―right? Right! (Was that you being cynical?) In order to manage those left-over hours better, you’ll need to analyze how you’re spending them now. Then make your writing a top priority—schedule time for it and avoid distractions. Learn to say “no” without giving a reason or feeling guilty. Only have a few minutes today? Keep a notebook handy, and jot down a couple of ideas or observations. Taking just these few simple steps will start you on the right path to fulfilling your dream!



August 15, 2017

The Secret to Balance - Tracy Krauss

WARNING: This post may turn into a sermon! 


"If I only had more time!" How many of us have said that? I know I have. Lack of time seems to be the number one barrier to reaching one's writing goals - or so most people say. What if I said you could actually increase the amount of time you have for writing - or at least make it much more effective? Read on...

We're talking about 'balance' - specifically, finding balance between our writing life and the 'rest' of life in today's time driven world. A few months ago, I would have said things like, "Set SMART goals." "Make a schedule." "Just get your butt in the chair and do it!" I've always been 'big' on all of the above, and I've managed to be quite productive despite a busy life of ministry, working, and raising a family. I've always maintained that if something is important enough, you'll find a way to fit it in, no matter how hectic your life.

While all of those bits of advice are still valid, I've discovered that none of them is actually the real secret to 'finding more time'.

God has launched me on a different trajectory these past few months. For those that don't know, I had an unexpected heart attack in May and subsequent open heart surgery. For the first while I couldn't do much but pray and listen to scripture and worship music on my phone. I had been longing for more time to work on my writing projects, but now that I HAD the time, I simply didn't have the energy.

As I began to recover, God gave me a new thirst for His Word. As I got stronger I could have jumped all over that list of writing goals I had on my bulletin board, but instead, God prompted me to keep on soaking in His Word with the promise that He would help me finish them in His time.

IN HIS TIME. 

I believe God has shown me the 'secret' to living a balanced life. Actually, it's no secret at all. It boils down to one thing: Honour God with the BEST of your time and He will honour you by multiplying what's left. 

It is the same principle we see in regard to tithing. It doesn't make sense to give one tenth of your income away, especially if things are tight. I've heard people say, "I can't afford to tithe right now." The truth is, people can't afford NOT to tithe! When we follow God's principles, He supernaturally gives us increase. It's just one of the ways that the laws of the spiritual realm operate.

The same is true of our time. This is where my post might turn into a sermon, so hang on to your seats and and keep reading if you dare!

How much quality time do we really spend with God? REALLY? Five minutes each morning? Ten minutes? Half an hour? If we applied the tithing principle to our time, we should conceivably spend two hours and forty minutes per day studying, praying and worshipping. I suppose one could factor in the times praying in the shower, listening to worship music while doing other chores, or going to mid-week Bible studies, but I suspect we'd still come up short.

Unfortunately, many Christians feed themselves with, "A chapter a day keeps the devil away." Some are on an even leaner diet of, "A verse a day," or substitute the solid food of God's Word with one of those little devotional books. (I'm not knocking the devotional books, but if that's all you're getting, it amounts to a starvation diet.)

Our rebuttal might be, "But I go to church every Sunday." This brings me to another point, even more serious, I believe, than how much time we spend in daily time with God: Very few Christians keep the Sabbath.

Please don't be offended! (And I'm not talking about keeping a certain day of the week - I will leave that up to individual interpretation.) Instead, we each need to examine our own habits. (I'm examining mine as I write!) God commanded us to keep the Sabbath. Not only is it one of the ten commandments, but it is His first ordinance right at creation. He 'rested' on the seventh day, not because He was tired, but as an example to us. It's that important! Taking an entire day for rest and reflection is a gift for our benefit, not an imposition. It says in Genesis that He 'blessed and sanctified' the Sabbath day.

This is hard for us to hear in our modern 'pressed for time' world. I don't have time to take an entire day off - every week, no less! It seems there's always some chores to be done on a Sunday afternoon; things to prepare for the next week... on and on and on... even down to the 'work' of writing. And so I continue to scramble about trying to 'fit' everything in and hopefully squeeze some time in for writing along the way.

Except... God has promised to BLESS us if we are obedient. I'm beginning to see that God truly can redeem the time if we honour Him FIRST. If I spend quality time with Him each day as well as an entire day once a week, I actually get more accomplished - and with less stress!  Go figure! It doesn't make sense logically, but God's spiritual laws work. Just like tithing doesn't make sense to our natural mind, neither does keeping the Sabbath or spending more personal devotional time make sense in our super-charged-gerbil-on-a-wheel world.

Sermon over. Now for the challenge. 

1. For the rest of this month, spend double the time you normally spend in prayer and Bible study each day. If you spend five minutes, make it ten. If you spend half an hour, make it one hour.

2. Purpose to set aside one entire day as a Sabbath each week for the rest of this month. If Sunday works for you, great. If you want to try the Jewish custom of Friday at 6pm until Saturday at 6pm, that's cool too. You don't have to read your Bible and pray the whole time, although doing that is good, but God made the Sabbath for our enjoyment. Prepare a special meal and eat together as a family or invite friends over. Play games, go for a hike, do something fun with people you love. Fellowship. Socialize. Just don't do any WORK.

3. Keep track of how much more productive you are with the rest of your time. Write it in a journal or just in your head, but I can almost guarantee that you will get more done with the time you have left. Of course, Satan will try to thwart your success, but ignore him and you will be fine!

4. (Optional) Report on your success! I would love to hear about your experiences if you choose to take up this challenge. Comment here, or email me privately: tracy.krauss@gmail.com

In today's fast paced world I think one of our biggest struggles is lack of time. The enemy has tried to rob us of time with God by making us 'too busy'. Take back your right to time with God and you will be surprised at how 'balanced' the rest of your life will become.



Tracy Krauss writes - and rests - from her home in northern BC. Visit her website: tracykrauss.com   
-fiction on the edge without crossing the line- 


August 14, 2017

Joy, Prayer, and Gratitude: Finding perspective and balance as a writer - Ruth L. Snyder

Recently I listened to a webinar where writers shared their challenges and needs. When asked what the biggest challenge in writing was, most answered, "TIME!"

We all feel the crunch. Many of us have families. Many work, at least part-time. When we do squeeze in time for our writing, we are also told we need to research markets; find a group of beta readers; rewrite (several times); work with an editor to hone our manuscript; figure out whether we are self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher; maintain a website; be active on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and others; and market our own work, plus support fellow writers in their marketing efforts.

As Christians, there is a whole extra layer to the demands. We write because we feel called by God to share a message He has laid on our hearts. We write because we see it as a ministry. We write to be a light in a dark world.

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed! 

Sometimes we quit, because it's so difficult.
Sometimes we quit, because we doubt our god-given abilities.
Sometimes we quit, because we listen to others who don't understand our calling.
Sometimes we quit, because we fail to put on our spiritual armour and fight against the devil's schemes (Ephesians 6:10-19). 

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (NIV).

Be joyful is translated, "Rejoice," in the King James Version. These words come from the Greek, "chairo," a verb which means to be full of cheer or calmly happy. Hmm. Calmly happy. It would seem that God wants us to choose to be cheerful. And calm. With four active children, the only time our home is quiet is when everyone is asleep. However, as I go through my day to day activities with my husband and children, and my writing, I can choose to be calm and happy instead of reacting and getting angry.

Prayer is definitely something that helps me maintain a calm and cheerful attitude. I notice when I don't get up early in the morning and have my quiet time before everyone else gets up. (I think others notice too!) Having time to read God's word and pray sets my whole framework for the day. Although I can't spend my whole day on my knees in prayer, I can talk to God throughout the day. Short snippets of conversation:

"Wow! Thanks, Father, for a beautiful sunrise."
"Lord, give me wisdom to know how to motivate my son without giving in to anger."
"Father, you know that I was planning to write today, but my mother-in-law needs a ride to town. Help me to do it cheerfully, for you."
"Lord, I feel sad and angry. I give you my hurt feelings. Help me to respond in love."
"Father, guide my thoughts as I write."

A recent sunset in Alberta
Giving thanks or gratitude is not something that comes naturally to most of us. This too is a choice. Sometimes it's easy to be grateful - for a good harvest, for children who love us, for a welcoming church family, for a contract with a publisher. Other times it is extremely difficult to choose gratitude - when we get a diagnosis of cancer, when our teenagers rebel, when other Christians criticize us for taking a stand against sin, when we get those rejection letters.

For me, finding that equilibrium in my life and writing boils down to two words: relationship and trust. When I have a healthy relationship with my Heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe, then I am able to walk each day with trust in what He allows. I am able to trust that if He has called me to write, He will provide the opportunities and the ability to write. I can trust that He will guide me to the audience He has for me. I am also able to trust that a rejection either means my writing needs more work or it is not a good fit for that publisher or their audience.

Does this mean I am always calmly happy, praying, and giving thanks? Definitely not. I have asked, "Why?" many times. I have pouted. I have blamed others instead of taking responsibility myself. But then God reminds me of His will and the choices I can make.

Each new day, we have choices. God wants us to choose joy, prayer, and gratitude. I'm working on it. How about you?

Ruth L. Snyder
Follower of Jesus. Coach.
President of ICWF.
Creativity is my passion.
My mission is helping other creative people achieve their goals.
How can I help you?
Find more at http://ruthlsnyder.com






August 10, 2017

Life: A Delicate Balance by Sharon Espeseth

Life: A Delicate Balance
Free Pixabay Image
Wisdom from Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way

In her June post, Sandi Somers mentioned The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I found this idle and previously unused book on my shelf and started reading. I quickly decided this book might help me get from feeling stalled and stymied to accomplishing some of what I believed I was meant to do in life.

I was the blocked creative Cameron was talking about. I was the flower seed crowded out by weeds of care and concern for everything and everybody. While trying to fix everybody else, I was short of the sunshine and elbow room I needed to grow myself. Low on sunshine and nutrients, my growth was also stunted by a creative well run dry.

Cameron lists ten Basic Principles, which coincide with my beliefs. Sample: "Creativity is God's gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God."

Two of her Basic Tools are Morning Pages and The Artist Date, which she says are a non-negotiable part of her "recovery" program.  Morning Pages are three pages written first thing each morning; the Artist Date is a session of approximately two-hours set aside each week and "committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist."

Cameron's program, which is designed to help us recover from blocked creativity, is divided into twelve weekly units. For each week, the author provides motivational material, quotes, and activities  suitable to that week's theme.

I have faithfully done my Morning Pages for 58 days. This works best for me when I rise early and write in solitude. I am on Week 6, Day 4. I have been a willing participant in the Morning Pages as this activity seems to keep me moving in the right direction. Often my writing is prayerful.

Not quite an Artist's Date as I am not alone
The Artist Date is something you plan and carry out on your own, which has been more challenging to me that Morning Pages. Sometimes I sit out on the front porch or the back deck and read or write, but I don't go off by myself as the author suggests. Does this mean I'm resisting this assignment? If so, I need strength and determination to overcome this reluctance.

Two weeks ago the assignment was to go on an extended date, one that lasts longer than the two hours. "Julia" suggested a more adventuresome outing. Yeah, right, I thought. If I can't do a two-hour date by myself, how am I going to pull this off? 

Wisdom and Synchronicity Making the Date

I hadn't been to Edmonton by myself since October 2015, when my sister Joan passed. Because of my husband's health, I didn't feel comfortable leaving him home alone. As we get older, Hank has become more protective of me also. I was gearing up for the Wednesday luncheon with my teaching girlfriends from my Fort McMurray years. Hank was going to drive me to the restaurant and wait for me in the hot van, which seemed ridiculous!

On Tuesday evening, Hank wrote down the time for Wednesday's Blue Jay's game. I reminded him we wouldn't be home on time, because, as I'd told him, I wanted to meet my niece and my sister for a dinner. His face fell. Was this an impasse? Would I have to give in and come home after the McMurray Girls Luncheon without seeing my people?

I reminded the Norwegian that I used to drive a lot and I'd be fine. I would pray for safety for both of us. He could pray instead of worry about me.

I would be going by myself. It was too late to make arrangements with my niece, Billie, or my sister Shirley. I'd  call them from Edmonton. Driving on my own was an unexpected pleasure. Comfortable and confident, I felt focussed. I shopped before the late luncheon. Billie-Jo met me for dinner in the evening. I stayed overnight with my daughter and family in Leduc. My sister from Calmar met me in Leduc for brunch on Thursday morning. I was home by 3:00 p.m.

I had a wonderful time and I suspect Hank did too. Julia Cameron would consider this episode synchronicity. When I set out to do what I set out to do, God was there helping with the details and keeping me safe. Everything lined up and I was grateful to all parties, especially my Father in heaven. I also whispered a thank you to "Julia" for giving me the gumption to venture out on my own.

Wisdom from Others

Lacey just trying to be herself
Recently I asked our seven-year-old grandchild, Lacey, "So, how are things going for you, Lacey?" "What have you been up to?"

"I'm just busy trying to be Lacey."

Interesting! I'm thinking, I'm just trying to be Sharon, to be who I believe God wants me to be.

A couple weeks ago, Connie Inglis, our InScribe spiritual advisor, shared her thoughts on Romans 5: 1-5. Because of my following The Artist's Way, the words of verse 2 especially touched me.

"For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be."



 Maintaining Balance in the Ups and Downs of Life

Yesterday was a topsy-turvy day and I struggled to accomplish what I needed to do, i.e. write my blog, and take care of what my loved ones needed from me. For this, I took another look at the New Commandment Christ gave us.
What the good book says!

Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," and then, "Love your neighbour as yourself." Sometimes we cannot, nor should we, meet all our neighbours needs. They must look after some of their own needs. Many of their needs are met by God, which leaves some needs for which we are responsible.

Help me to love my neighbour, Lord, as I love myself, and give me the wisdom to know which duties are mine. Amen.