Every Story has Already Been told–except for yours

There is nothing new under the sun the saying goes. Nothing. Everything has been said, seen and done. What is the point? The point is the uniqueness of you–the priceless one-of-a-kind—you.

The problem is we often look at others and covet their experiences or their ability to deftly convey their experience. I believe that each generation has an collectively—as well as its individual voice. The cry of a generation is often thematic and we may not realize what they were trying to convey s until the time has passed. We look back on the 60’s and late 70’s and say that was the hippie generation or the 80’s as the Me generation. But today, now for those stories may be reflective of the times.  Your voice is filled with all of the idiosyncrasies of your time, culture and experience. It cannot be duplicated.

It is unavoidable that you will be influenced by those who have gone before (remember nothing new?) but those that will hear or read your story will be filled with fresh wonderment. God’s beautiful creative power allows us to relive the past without living in the past. A new generation needs to hear your voice. An old generation needs to be reminded of this story.

So do not try to duplicate but reach into your depth and express what God has given you, exactly as he has given it to you. You may be surprised at the results.

Write Your Experience

Write Your Experience

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The benefit of doing it everyday: Establishing a Writing Routine

The benefit of doing it everyday: Establishing a Writing Routine

My daughter is bent on becoming a connoisseur of musical instruments. She started in sixth grade with the flute—a dainty little instrument and a favorite among girls (probably for its size and sound). I was so proud of the fact that at their first band concert she not only had a duet but also a beautiful solo. We videoed and took pictures; we were beaming proud parents, cousin and grandma. She was on her way to becoming quite a flutist. She enjoyed the idea and liked being a part of the group.

The band director suggested at least an hour a day for practice—gets you acclimated to the instrument and you only become a better player. One hour. It doesn’t seem like much until you have to do it every day—everyday. Then she met the trombone. Perhaps what she didn’t quite get with the flute is that practice is a fundamental task with any instrument—long after the concert is over and no one is asking so how do you like band? And no one is saying, Oh, neat, you play flute. Trombone? Awesome!

It was a commitment–one hour a day including the days her favorite show was running some ridiculous marathon, days when she couldn’t have cared less about a flute because she had a ton of math, days when she realized that lugging that trombone around was no joke.

That’s the thing about being repetitive with any task there are some days that you just don’t want to—including writing. I suppose if I only wrote when I felt like it, I’d be an old woman determined to finish that second chapter. But contrary to what you might believe habit not only creates momentum but it also creates a rhythm of sorts. Everything in life has a rhythm, a cycle, a cadence. Some are established and cannot be changed like the Earth revolving around the sun or the changing of the seasons. But others we can both establish and change, like a 40-hour work week, or a part-time job. Both mentally and physically our bodies and minds adapt to the change and suddenly the kid who crammed for physic exams on the weekend and worked part-time all through college is propelled into the real world and is working 40 hours every week without fail.

For those who say that they don’t have any time to write I say writing is not important to you right now. But if you feel that it is remember it’s not the quantity of time, it is just making time. Period. If it is 15 minutes in the morning before you go to work, commit to it—everyday. If it is 20 minutes after the kids are put to bed do it. Once you establish a time you will suddenly look forward to it. And by looking forward I don’t mean you’ll always be ecstatic about it, but your body and mind will know it’s coming and suddenly you will become focused if only for 15 or 20 minutes.

When I started to write my novel it wasn’t time but pages I used as my focus—five days a week, three to four pages per day. I found that over time I could do no more and no less. But over time, within a year I had written a book. The rhythm of a thing propels it forward and keeps it moving. Established habits keep your story moving and even when it feels like you are stuck you will sit and be able to write something. It may not be stellar or perfect and it may require a rewrite, but your body and soul will know that this time is for writing. Over time you may be surprised at what you achieve.

Why Inspiration may be the biggest enemy to your success

The thing about success is that it is elusive to most of us. It is a risky thing to work at something for weeks, months or even years before seeing results. In the beginning everyone is your biggest supporter. Everyone likes a good success story; more than that, people just like new, including you. That fresh, clean smell of a brand, spanking new project is like euphoria unleashed. The air feels cleaner, your back’s a little straighter and you have a positive word for everyone who crosses your path.

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Even if you haven’t quite done anything yet; you’ve thought it through, talked about it, prayed over it, read as much as you could take on it. You’ve inspired yourself into a type of: Tony Robbins/T.D Jakes/Joel Olsteen fit. You and your parents, mentors, sisters, brothers and closest friends all agree that this is the perfect time to do it.

So there it is. Grinning like a guy in an ad for a Colgate commercial, you give your sleeves the proverbial roll-up, turn from the inspiration to the task it takes to get there and…sigh.

 

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It is then you remember the errand you have to run, that phone call to what’s-his-name that has to be made now because you haven’t spoken to him in forever. You find everything to do but work. I could call this procrastination, but this really wouldn’t be digging deep enough.

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It is that fear of, I am not enough that creeps in after the dust clears and all you can see is labor. Let’s face it inspiration doesn’t last forever. It’s like falling in love. At some point in the relationship, your stomach doesn’t do that, ‘thing’ when you see him, down the line you won’t think of him every hour or giggle to yourself when you do. Nope. It’s doesn’t mean that the love is gone. It simply means that you have settled into something more sustainable. The energy of love is still there but it has been redirected to the needful things…nursing him back to health when he or she is sick, washing her clothes, remembering to order the Chinese food without shrimp because he’s allergic.

Likewise, with projects the energy of shouting it to the mountaintop has to be redirected to actually developing the business plan, making the cold calls and perhaps hearing a 101 ‘nos’ before you hear a ‘yes’. Writers know this all too well. We spend months, even years creating our masterpiece hoping that someone will connect with our story without even a glimmer of indication that they will. It can be both exhilarating and debilitating at the same time

The thing with inspiration is that it is a great starter, a springboard. But too often we keep returning to that starting point instead of trudging ahead. Tremble in the face of fear, but move forward anyway. There is always the fear that you will invest time and money in this and your project will mock you and then kneel over and die. A tiny dark voice will whisper that you are not enough; no one will ever read, invest or believe in this thing and that they will all stare at you with glazed eyes in the middle of your presentation. Your books will sit in an unused corner of your basement. There will be that sickly feeling inside that all those who are on board with you will be embarrassed and disappointed by this fantastic dream of yours. And yet you will have to tell yourself that this will work and it is meant to be. When you stop believing it, you will have to say it again and again until you believe it again. Eventually you will have to find that place inside that will sustain you through this task. It is not always inspiration. It is will. It is God. It is this fine line that separates the winners from those that just like winners–we all do.

This thing of yours is not for any prize or accolade but it is because something has weld up inside of you and won’t go away until it is realized. It is the God inside of you telling you that this is His plan, His will, His way. But it won’t work itself. When inspiration kicks rocks, work it still.

Moving with Purpose: Reaching goals in the new year

Moving with Purpose: Reaching goals in the new year

As a kid I had a best friend that was the complete opposite of me. She was the six- o’clock-in- the morning kind of perky; she would swing her arms around me as an every time greeting (which, as a shy kid made my palms sweat) and looked at everyday things as adventures. As a nine-year-old growing up in a Pentecostal household where there were rules for everything from the way we ate to the way we wore our hair, she was a cool breeze. She was unshackled and unpredictable and perfect in small doses. With her the day could bring…anything. As we grew, I did the proper thing and went to school, eventually married and had children. For the most part I had goals and some plans and accomplished many of them. I don’t think she ever had any long term goals or plans; her life shifted often, she moved from state to state on a whim and had more phone numbers and addresses than I could possibly keep up with(Growing up we only had one and I still remember the number.). Even as I write this, her life is a series of blunders and missteps. No definitive purpose in her movements. No structure.

 

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On the other hand, the children’s church leader at my church has the kids’ schedule down to increments of five minutes. I get this feeling of being forced under water even as I think about it.

Flying freely and without a compass may make you sound brash and spirited when exchanging stories with your bestie who has one kiddo propped on her hip and the other smearing chocolate frosting on her shoes but the reality is life is a succession of moments carefully strung together by time and left unfettered we may one day look back and wonder how we used it all. On the other hand structuring our life down to the very minute is not only unrealistic but almost guarantees failure.

There is a middle ground. As you walk into 2015 look back not only on where you’ve come but where you want to go. Think about those goals. Now write them out–every one of them. No matter how ridiculous they may sound to others. Write them out. Then write out your objectives—how will you accomplish those goals? If you don’t have all of the specifics as of yet, that’s OK. Get something down. This will be a working document. It will become clearer or more focus as you move towards it. Be as specific as you can. What do you plan to accomplish by spring? Summer? Or before the next cold spell hits? Moving with purpose is essential.

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Now print it out and post it. Post it somewhere conspicuous for yourself—perhaps your home office or closet door. It is not for the whole world to see. Ensure it is somewhere you will be forced to look at every day. Write small goals, large ones and lofty ones. The small ones can be accomplished with ease and will keep you motivated. And then visit them often. Don’t be afraid if months into the year you haven’t achieved them, but make it a point to do something to work towards them every day. Take small steps. Move with purpose. And if you find you are off course—re-evaluate and figure out why. You may find you need help. Perhaps ask someone who knows you well and is not afraid to be honest with you. Ask them how they see you. Don’t be offended by what you hear. Pray. Pray daily and seek God. And then listen for his voice. When he speaks, listen and obey. You’ll be surprised at how far you get from listening to the divine One who had your life planned out well in advance. His plan is complete and always purposeful.