Should You Really Write a Book?

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Did you see what he tweeted?

Did you watch her Instagram story?

Did you stream his podcast?

Did you watch their Facebook Live?

With so much flashy content available, it’s easy to wonder if there is still room for the printed book, and if anyone is still asking, Did you read her book?

You may feel that books are going the way of the dinosaur… or the CD player. And if so, is it really worth all the time and effort? In fact, you may be tempted to set aside your manuscript and focus exclusively on pithy tweets, profound blog posts and your Instagram account.

Our advice? No. Don’t give up on the printed word. And here’s why.

Books open doors

It isn’t often that a conference speaker is chosen based on her tweets. Few churches bring in workshop leaders due to their YouTube account. Organizations of substance want experts of substance. And nothing proves substance like a book.

In his article for Harvard Business Review, John Butman writes,

The book is the most widely-accepted credential at the largest number of content venues. “Has new book” is a standard, and often required, box to tick for the gatekeepers who control access to areas of the ideaplex you would most like to enter: lecture halls, television studios, boardrooms, media pages, special events, people’s minds.

Book establish credibility

In his article for Forbes, John Hall writes,

People look at you differently when you’ve published a book. They assume that if you’ve literally written the book on a topic, you know what you’re talking about. You’re a leading voice in your space, and they’ll defer to your insights over those shared by influencers who aren’t authors.

Any freelance writer can do some quick research and pump out a 750-word blog post about a topic. But not just anyone can write a 20-chapter book on a single topic, survive the editing process and have it published. Doing so says something about you. It says that…

  • You are passionate about the subject of the book.
  • You have made a commitment to thinking about and researching the topic, as well as seeking out other experts.
  • You felt the subject so salient that it was worthy of this effort on your part.

Michael S. Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, wrote the following in a recent blog post,

People work for years to land an important job or get a graduate degree. Both of these can be important steps in your career path, but neither provide the level of credibility that comes with having a book with your name on it. In our culture, this is still regarded as the ultimate proof of your mastery.

Books have longevity

Long after a live-streamed talk has faded from memory or a blog post has been overtaken by newer posts, a book remains. It remains on the pastor’s bookshelf, on the business man’s nightstand, or on the student’s Kindle. It sits on library shelves and families’ coffee tables. It is ever ready to be read again, referenced or gifted to a friend or colleague.

Yes, blog posts and Facebook accounts last forever (even if we wish otherwise!) but there is something more permanent about a printed book. It maintains a type of authoritative weight unmatched by its digital counterparts.

So pick up that manuscript again with a new appreciation for its importance. Tweet, post and stream all you want, but let the work of authoring a book remain your ultimate task.

At Certa Publishing, we are passionate about partnering with writers who are doing just that. We look forward to working with you in pursuit of this consequential achievement.

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Beth Moore’s Advice for New Writers

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Beth Moore is something of a legend in Christian circles.  Her wit, wisdom and Southern charm have propelled her into the upper echelon of authors and speakers. Yet writing wasn’t always a part of Ms. Moore’s life, nor has she always been a confident author. In 2012 she wrote,

When I was 30 years old, the thought of the first [bible study] never occurred to me. After that one was finished and originally placed on a shelf, I didn’t imagine a second one.

So what advice does Beth Moore have for new writers? This excerpt from her article, To New Writers, With Love, offers a wonderful insight.

Writing a book will be harder than you think and take longer than you want. You very often will lose passion for the project somewhere in the middle of it and even sprint mentally in a mad blaze toward a new direction and new title. Expect it. It’s completely normal and, on occasion, projects really do need to be abandoned. Maybe God’s just not in it. Maybe it was better off as a blog post or a thought-worthy entry on Tumblr. Maybe we didn’t think it through and mistook it for a long-term project. It just wasn’t the right direction. We miss it sometimes. But, more often, the maddening ebb is part of the writing process that you must work and pray and cry and press through until the fire returns because, if you don’t? Well, if you don’t, you will start fifteen books and finish none of them. And, if you do, your blaze for the project will often boomerang with a satisfaction that plunges all the deeper because you fought the demon and won. In the immutable words of Hebrews 10:36, you need to persevere.

You have to factor in more than writing time. Decent writing requires much more time than it takes to actually type the sentences. Decent writing requires thinking and spinning and mulling and living and watching and listening and experiencing and reaching. These bring the strokes to the page that turn the transfer of information into true connection.

I meditate on all You have done; I ponder the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land. Psalm 143:5-6

Turn to the psalmists and trace with your fingertips the times they talk about meditating on God and His precepts, His ways, His acts, and the human condition with and without Him.  Study the contexts. See the results. The loss of such an art may be gradual but make no mistake. It will also be incalculable.

The NIV translates Jesus’ words in John 12:49 in terms that stand up on the page like a pop-up book for any believer hoping to communicate.

For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.

Panic only exacerbates inevitable waves of writer’s block. I don’t care how elementary and predictable this piece of advice is going to sound. When it happens – and it will – get up from your desk, down on the floor, tell God your struggle and pray for Him to move you past the block. Then, as you get up from the floor, thank Him for His kindness and mercy and complete dependability. The block may pass right away. It may not pass until the next day. Or week. Or month. But, if the project is from God, the boulder will most definitely tumble from the path and, when it does, you’ll know who kicked it. Appropriately, God wants us to credit Him with every victory. Hasten to it.

Do the work. Study. Prepare. Don’t have all of your research done by someone else. The discovery itself is often the gift.

God will most often take the message we’re writing and prove us genuine by hammering the themes relentlessly on the anvil of our souls. Does it say anything that I had to type the word “anvil” very slowly to keep from writing “advil.” Knowing how much time to allow on the manuscript due-date for a holy hammering is hard to navigate but, whenever it’s finished, it will be ten times the untested version. Oh, I know, I know. We all hope we’ve already lived the process in advance which is why we feel qualified to speak to it in book form but, from my experience, that’s a sweet dream.  If we sow to our flesh we’ll reap the flesh. Only if we go to the extra trouble to sow to the Spirit will we reap something of authentic, eternal spiritual value.

Submit to the angst of decent editing. That means we have to let our works and ourselves be critiqued. Criticized. Questioned. Challenged. A good editor can be a solid gold pain in the neck that we oughtn’t to want to trade for all the e-book space in the universe. Think of all we’ve gotten in trouble for saying, then think of all we could have said. Lord, help me. An editorial cut can sometimes swerve you right out of the path of a flatbed trailer full of fertilizer.

Perfectionism will snuff the flame. Period. Give it up. It’s cheating us out of hearing your genuine voice.

These are a few reasons why we may never read books by some of the greatest writers on the planet. Some are too narcissistic to take the criticism, too undisciplined to see it through the dry spells, or too committed to greatness to settle for publishing something good.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. We don’t have to strive for fabulous. Purely doing some good can be really great.

Ecclesiastes 12:12 says, Of making many books there is no end.

And I – more reader than writer – for one am glad.

Write on, sister or brother. Don’t wait for a publisher or a book deal. A true writer has to write even with no one to read. Scribble down rogue phrases and incomplete sentences as they come whether or not they seem strung together. Write on the backs of sales receipts or the palm of your other hand. Just write! That book is in there somewhere.

If it seems slow, wait for it. (Habakkuk 2:3)

And when it comes, may God speak.

At Certa Publishing we endeavor to equip our authors to excel at the divine work of writing.  Our recent highlights of renowned Christian authors, such as John Piper, Max Lucado, and now Beth Moore, are meant to offer you a behind-the-scenes look at how great writers write. We know that within our audience lies the potential for similar achievements and success in the Kingdom of God and we look forward to having a front row seat!

First Things First :: Writing the Rough Draft

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After months, maybe years of hearing “You should write a book!” you’ve finally sat down at your computer to release your wisdom and wit for the masses. And it hits you. Panic. Never has a blank page looked so large or so… blank. Sure you have an outline and key points, but how do you turn that into the life-changing, bestselling manuscript you thought for sure you were capable of?

Never fear, dear writers. We have all been there. There are few harder components of writing than the beginning, so we are here to help!

3 Ways to Get Started on Your Rough Draft

1. Embrace the ugliness

It’s going to be ugly. Accept it. No one will be impressed. Embrace it. If you can begin with this mindset about your rough draft, you’re on the road to success!

Dan J. Fiore, winner of the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition states,

Know what one of the most frustrating things about first drafts are? They’re always terrible…

Instead of letting this discourage you, flip it around and use it to your advantage. Remind yourself over and over again as you’re writing that you give yourself permission to write terribly. Tell that little voice in your head that keeps saying to you, This is awful, that it’s okay. Name an author, any author. Go ahead. Guess what? His or her first drafts [are terrible too.] Keep reminding yourself of that.

By embracing the ugliness of the rough draft, you can simply pour out your ideas onto the page without concern for their readability. Are you missing the perfect anecdote? Skip over it. Are you still waiting for just the right voice for your character? You can fix that later. Are you realizing that a certain portion needs further research? Set aside some time to do that soon.

Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes, suggests,

Ban self-slandering remarks. Don’t beat yourself up by saying things like I’m a crappy writer or this is awful. [The first draft] is the content equivalent of staying home alone in your jammies all day and eating peanut butter straight from the jar. Revel in it. There’s no one around to judge.

2. Be willing to take a step back

Often it isn’t the writing that is so hard about the rough draft, but instead the thinking. If you’ve been stuck on that first page for a while, perhaps you need to spend more time thinking about the message.

Have you really honed in on the key points? Do you have a great deal of clarity on what you want the reader to walk away with? If you are muddled here, you will really struggle to get those first words on paper.

Doug Kessler, a successful content writer, is quoted as saying,

If I’m really struggling, it’s usually not about the writing – it’s about the thinking: I just don’t really have the story down yet. So more research or groping with the outline can unstick me.

3. The best outline is one you don’t always obey

We believe in outlines. We do! But we also know that often the best parts of a story emerge as we are writing it. So begin with an outline, perhaps using one of these methods:

  • The traditional format we all learned in school
  • A simple list of ideas
  • Key point headers with sub-points underneath
  • Mind mapping
  • Or one of these methods

However, once you begin writing, don’t let the outline boss you around too much. Or, as Dan Fiore thinks of it, the outline shouldn’t be a GPS barking at you when you deviate off course. He states,

If a character wants to go in a direction you hadn’t anticipated, by all means go check it out. See where that scary road leads. It might lead to a better story. It might lead to fixing a problem you had earlier (or will run into later) in the story. Or it could be a dead end. But guess what, dead ends are okay. Dead ends make you a better writer. Just go back the way you came and find a new route.

By embracing the ugliness, giving more thought to your main point and utilizing an outline, the daunting task of writing your rough draft can easily be accomplished!

Once you have that ugly rough draft finished, the fun begins! Be on the lookout for our next post, Is this really what you meant to say?  where we discuss voice, tone and how to craft your words into your message.