A self-published friend recently asked me what I learned during the upcoming launch of my debut book (set for the end of this month). Her question referred to steps such as book formatting, cover design, marketing, etc. But what first came to mind were lessons I learned about myself.
Does that count?
In a subscriber-email-only letter, I recently shared parts of my spiritual journey in the past months. And that journey has transcended my writing too.
Often times, we write (or live life) with two voices in our head.
One voice belongs to the Critic. This voice says, “Your friends or peers may not like your work? Worse, you know So-n-So will hate it!”
“Who do you think you are?”
“You could fail!”
“You’re putting yourself out there, why risk it?”
“You’re sloppy and lack analytical, time management skills.”
“Apologize ahead of time to those one-star readers you know are telepathetically hating your words right now!”
The other voice belongs to the Encourager. This voice pushes you out of your comfort zones because you have that one reader in mind you want to help. This voice says, “Give words to lift their spirit.”
“Show them what you’ve learned so they don’t have to struggle like you did.”
“Help them see a better way.”
“Brighten their day and give them hope.”
“Provide practical information that’ll make their life easier.”
“Point them in the direction where peace and joy abide.”
We may begin with the Encourager, but it’s the Critic that stops us. It’s the Critic that paralyzes us with insecurity and inaction. And if we proceed with the Critic, we move with such caution we end up writing to the Critic instead for the Encourager. In fact, the Critic wrestles the pen out of our hand and so, we add disclaimers until our whole book is about placating the Critic.
We want the Critic to like us.
We want the Critic to see our good intentions.
He doesn’t care.
We want the Critic to know we understand.
He’ll only slap at our attempts, laugh in our face with pungent garlic breath, and still hate whatever we’re doing.
When I began writing my debut book about social media strategies, I wrote to help the struggling artist, writer, or entrepreneur take advantage of what’s available at their fingertips. I wanted to provide applicable information to improve their understanding and presence. My desire included helping them get ahead while also remembering where their true hope comes.
But that all changed when the Critic showed up.
Instead, I added disclaimers before every chapter, like:
“Hey, if you don’t like this stuff, I’m so sorry, just skip this chapter, in fact, just skip this whole book. K? So sorry. Hate that you don’t like social media. I know it sucks. It sucks, right? Like big time? I know. So sorry. Social media can be the devil’s spawn. I totally get it. No, really I do. I’m a worm for writing that it can be used for good. So sorry to bother you with this. Oh look, squirrel!”
Yeah, true story.
Thankfully, I stopped doing that. I edited and rewrote. I got back to work and penned my book for the Encourager.
So here are the 8 things I learned (and hopefully you will too):
#1 Stop apologizing.
This bad habit can follow you anywhere you go. Don’t let it.
Go ahead and grab the life God gave you (and your words) by both horns and stop apologizing for them.
So what, if your gift happens to be bold and scary and open to scrutiny.
Embrace the fear and the gift and God in the process. He teaches us how to get over ourselves by that thing-a-ma-jiggy called the cross. It’s all good.
Experience grows you into a better, mature person. And you just might have to lean into the Spirit more than ever before.
But don’t apologize when working with the Encourager. Just aim your life in that direction and go.
#2 Stop Obsessing.
Perfection is a myth. As a writer, you’re constantly triple-checking every crossed “t” and dotted “i.” Your desire to get better at the craft keeps you coming back to edit-and re-edit. But skillful writing does not happen overnight.
In fact, many successful people admit to years of hard work, slithering rejections, and crushing disappointments along the way. But they learned the hard way–failure is an option but it’s not the end all.
No matter what you’re trying to attain, belt it out like Carrie Underwood and let “Jesus take the wheel.” Failure or success are neither guaranteed or permanent.
Stop obsessing over change, progress, and perfectionism and start living a generous, emboldened life.
#3 Stop Comparing.
On the heels of obsessing comes comparison. You look across the table and see so-n-so doing this thing much better. You’re frozen by the sheer awesome-ness of their obvious superior awesome.
I mean, look at her. Her life, her looks, her writing, her followers are much more excellent than yours. Sheesh. Quit now while you’re still behind.
Um, no. Just no.
You’ve got your own lane to run and only you can run that race. You can not hijack someone else’s lane. Nor do us, out here, want you to be a carbon copy of someone else, thank you very much. We want you. That is all.
Besides, you don’t know what that lane cost her. To each his own.
Comparison kills your creative energy faster than Hot Shot takes down a wasp. Be thankful for your lane, whatever length, size, or time you have in it.
#4 Stop over-analyzing.
Those metrics, “likes”, shares, and little hearts (on Instagram), do not define you. Those questions you keep asking yourself as you look at it (“it” being The Situation –insert yours–) from every possible angle only to wake up in cold sweats or hyperventilating over the million-th question that you won’t let yourself rest over?
See how unhealthy this is?
You can stare so long at The Situation, you need Visine to get the red out.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, not one over-analyzed-sleepless-heart-palpitating night could change the future by the sheer volume of worried-over-analyzing-drive-yourself-crazy thinking.
All you can do is look into Jesus’ face and allow Him to analyze you.
And then, allow Him to extravagantly love on you.
#5 Stop believing a lie.
Obvious, right? If it were so apparent, the enemy would be unemployed.
Wrestle your truth. And no need to argue with the enemy.
Instead, lay hold of your life in Christ, allowing Him to take it up again.
Fill your mind with God’s word as He speaks truth about you, specifically and corporately.
Keep guard against the enemy. But recognize the power of the Holy Spirit. If you allow Him to work on you, God will show you what needs healed in order to set you free-er from lies you’ve believed about yourself.
#6 Stop focusing on the size of your offering.
Where you see two fish and a few loaves of bread, God sees potential for multiplication.
Nothing is too small for Him. Not all of us are meant to feed the thousands. But with what you’ve been given, He multiplies your good stewardship in a thousand different ways.
You never know what your obedience means to someone else’s life, let alone to your self. Focus, instead, on going with God in everything you do, big or small.
#7 Stop living for the Critic.
You cannot please the Critic. Might as well stop trying.
The Critic plays by his own rules. You’ll waste precious energy when rolling the dice with him.
Let the Critic do his job and move on. You have your own job to do.
Live your life. Submit to Christ. Obey God. And write if that’s what you’re called too. But in whatever you do, let the Encourager show you how it’s done.
Evaluating yourself through a lens of conviction by the Spirit is good and noble. Condemning your self through the lenses of the enemy is plain, demonic.
When necessary, push the Critic out of the way and focus on the ones who need you to keep doing what you’re doing.
#8 Stop procrastinating.
You can be your own worst enemy. I take that back.
Your enemy can deceive you to believe you are your own worst enemy (see #5).
Fear can be traced back to rejection. There’s the healthy kind of fear like not walking in front of a Mack truck.
But then there’s fear that paralyzes. You procrastinate because what if? What if they don’t like me or hate my idea or think I’m silly or stupid or naive or proud or annoying or boastful or ugly or disappointing or…?
If you play safe and nice, the world will be one big yawn. So let’s stop.
Let’s stop from stopping our self, ‘K?
Let’s make our life about listening to the Encourager.
And if baby steps lead to walking, let’s take the first one now.
(if you’re a subscriber, you’ve already seen these. Thank you for being here with me!)
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All this fuss about what I’ve learned in launching my first book comes from that up there ^^. I’ve launched this.
The most important part of this book is the writing under the word “Strategies”. It states: “Discover Powerful Tools of the Trade without Losing Your Soul.” I’m a social media manager who spent years blogging and feeling like my soul was sucked out by all the platform-talk I focused on.
Add to that, the Christian publishing industry heavily relies on the number of followers you have before taking a risk on you, to the point, your whole worth as an author, a person can get wrapped up in a number. Sheesh. The pressure to be popular and viral can be defeating.
Also, I taught classes to local small business owners and entrepreneurs on how to maximize their social media presence. Essentially, I encouraged them (as a consumer myself) that clients, consumers, and community can’t find you if they don’t know about you. So this is as much as service to your potential clients and community as it is for your business. But I found many business owners were overwhelmed by the deluge of information regarding social media.
That’s where this book comes in. I wrote it to be a help to others, but especially to Christians who feel like their souls die a little more every time they try to tackle social media, platforms, and latest changes in the social media landscape.
I look forward to sharing more, later.