What I Learned from a Summer of Not Blogging

What I Learned from a Summer of Not Blogging

IMG_0149I haven’t posted a new blog entry in months and I’m trying not to feel guilty about that. The summer was filled with writing two books which, frankly, took priority over blogging.

One book was a co-writing project with Bill Blacquiere, soon-to-be-retiring director of Bethany Christian Services. The Call to Care helps focus readers on how each one of us is called to care for vulnerable children and families. How we work out that call day to day is different for everyone.

The other project was my own book, Christian Publishing 101, releasing in January 2018. I interviewed many experts in the publishing field—editors, agents, authors, publicists—to help create this writer’s-conference-in-a-book.

Throw in a family vacation, writers retreat, helping plan and pull off the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and being a good family/church member and mom/wife, and suddenly it’s early November.  There are a couple of lessons I learned during this blogging hiatus. Hopefully you can take some of them to heart.

1. Social media is fluid. I didn’t blog, but discovered the joys of Instagram. Who knew that #writingwithchickens would be so much fun for me and for readers? It started because every time I wrote outside on the deck or swing, our three chickens would rush over to get in my business. They walked across the keyboard, pecked at the keys, studied the screen, did other crazy chicken stuff.

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Once I started posting goofy pictures on Instagram, #writingwithchickens became a thing. People started liking and following the girls. We don’t have a ton of followers, yet I’m always surprised when people talk to me about those chickens. And they buy me chicken stuff! I now am proud owner of a tiny chicken notebook and a stack of chicken plates, plus a chicken item or two that I purchased.

I may not have blogged, but I now have an Instagram following and friends on Facebook who comment on the crazy fowl. Plus I’ve taken the girls on the road thanks to a traveling flock of three tiny chickens that fit in my pocket. (See if you can find them in the photo.)

2. Interns are fun and make me work. I had my first intern over the summer: the lovely Sarah Traill. Her guest blog posts will appear here soon. She was a true gift, helping me research, writing a bit, and generally making my writing life easier. This fall Hannah VanKampen, a senior at Cornerstone University, interns for two afternoons a week. She took the photo of my cool chicken stuff. Hannah is eager to work and learn, too, and a real gift.

Sarah and Hannah help me focus my writing life—because I have to give them something to do! Being accountable is always a good thing, and these two have helped me tremendously.

3. Guilt is a choice. I knew this already, but it’s good to reinforce that I don’t have to feel guilty about not doing everything all the time. As many in the publishing industry say, focus on what social media platforms you enjoy and let some of the others go for the time being. I was good at Instagram this summer; I’m adding blogging, which I enjoy, back into the mix now. It’s all good!

(Photos by Hannah VanKampen)

I would love to hear how you have balanced writing and social media, how others have helped you along the way, and how you’ve dealt with guilt as it has assailed you in your writing life.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about Christian Publishing 101 and entering for a chance to win a free copy in January, email me at annbyle@gmail.com.

 

Welcome! The Inaugural Blog Post

Welcome! The Inaugural Blog Post

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Today is the kickoff of my new social media presence via this blog and Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts. Not sure if I understand how to do it all yet, but I know one thing: I want this to be a place to learn, grow, and explore.

Learn: Gather information on the latest publishing news, details about writers’ conferences, instruction on the craft of writing from authors and editors, and how to navigate the writing life.

Grow: Expand your writing world via links to useful websites, discover the newest writing books and resources, challenge yourself with writing prompts and exercises, and practice what you learn so you can share with others.

Explore: Consider what it means to be a writer, learn how to stay relevant in today’s culture, review books that are meaningful and interesting, and discuss the struggles and triumphs of the writing life.

That’s a lot to do in two blog posts a week!

This summer is one of travel and conferences. St. David’s Christian Writers’ Conference in Grove City, PA, happened in late June, then I moved on to the International Christian Retail Show in Cincinnati.

ICRS is always interesting as the Christian publishing industry flexes and changes and grows and shrinks all at the same time. I’ll report on details on this blog soon.

In the meantime, I leave you with words from a discussion about rejection that occurred within my beloved Guild, a group of six women enmeshed in the writing life. We all experience rejection daily in one form or another. Sometimes it’s an editor’s rejection; sometimes it’s as mundane as a snide look from someone in the grocery story. Rejection is part of any writer’s life. Here are words to inspire and calm and stiffen our spines.

“Rejection stinks. But as a believer it should (eventually) bring us exactly to this place . . . of taking a step back to look at the huge panorama of our timeline. The truth is, some people sell big and some people sell small. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

“Truth sets me free to mind my own business and do what I’m supposed to do, and find contentment in that.”

Finally, “We are fragile. (We’re also strong.) I’m so glad that we can talk through all this together.”

May you find inspiration and encouragement on this blog. I welcome your comments, and look forward to getting to know you.