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Basics of Becoming a Writer – Part One

Become a writer“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two elements that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”

S. King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

 

You have started your business and have the all-too-real awareness that you are now required to write. At a minimum, you probably need to write your business bio. If you are creating a website, you will have a lot more to write, or you will have to hire someone to do it for you. But, before you do that, consider these basics of becoming a writer.

 

All of us have the ability to write. My first piece of advice is to stop freaking out about writing. If you can talk - you can write. At first, it may need some editing, but if you can string your ideas together and tell someone about yourself or your business, you can write. Here are practical approaches to getting started, composing and improving your writing.

 

Getting started.

 

Many professional writers will tell you the hardest part is getting started. For some it is the blank page, for others, it is the act of putting yourself in front of the screen and actually typing. Procrastination is one of the most common reasons for not finishing your writing. So to get started follow these tips.

 

Brainstorm to get going.

 

I love to brainstorm everything. I will do it from everything from business strategy to meal planning. Brainstorming is way to get all the ideas out of your head and on a piece of paper of on the screen. Don’t hold back when you brainstorm. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. It doesn’t matter if it sounds like the worst idea on the planet it gets spit out of your head and onto the page. Don’t judge anything while you are brainstorm. This is counterproductive and will freeze you up.

 

You can set a timer for a set period while you have a personal brainstorm session. You can also work with another person or a group of people. No matter who you work with, same rules apply. Everything gets written down, nothing gets judged as useless, stupid or off topic.

 

Once time is up, then review your ideas. Determine which ones you will keep, which ones are irrelevant and which ones should be revisited later. This is also a great way to always have ideas so if writer’s block sneaks up on you there is fodder for content.

 

Look for inspiration.

 

This can be tricky. All of us have done it. We think I will just go on Facebook or Pinterest for a second. I just need to clear my head or get a little inspiration. Then we get sucked in and three hours later nothing is done. We are frustrated and we still haven’t started our writing. (I have definitely been there -- it is my go-to procrastination technique. Shhh- don’t tell.)

 

There is something to be said for seeking inspiration when you are getting started. Setting limits to seeking inspiration is a great way to make sure you stay on track and get started. Get out your handy dandy timer and put a limit on your search. When I go looking to be inspired, I have some go to sites. I love looking up quotes and scripture.

 

Another way I get inspired is to get away from the gadgets. Go outside. Take a walk. Stare at the trees. Take off your shoes and walk in the grass. Observe the nature around you. Mediate on the wonder and miracles of God in your surroundings.

 

Start with pen and paper.

 

As old fashion as it sounds there is something that happens in your brain when you put pencil to paper. There are times when I want to use the computer to write. I use the computer when I know exactly what I want to write and it’s all mapped out in my head. I also use the computer when I am writing for business.

 

However, my prayer journal is all pen and paper. Things I write for myself are often on pen and paper. Some of my best writing starts out in my journal or as a personal struggle I am working through. This is a way to slow down, connect with your ideas and your words. It is also a great way to connect with God and the Holy Spirit. It gives you the opportunity to listen as your write.

 

Start simple with your writing.

 

Don’t go for perfection. Don’t go for a pulitzer prize winning piece of literature. Just start simple. Start with short simple sentences. They will create short simple paragraphs. Simple is the best way to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper.

 

When you are getting started with writing you want to aim for finished. Unedited-error ridden-spelling goofs-punctuation omissions-forgotten caps rough draft. A rough draft is a finished draft. You can’t get close to finishing until you get a rough draft.

NACWE Member Spotlight: Karen Lindwall-Bourg

1_2333_WEBWhen Karen Lindwall-Bourg founded RHEMA Counseling Associates in 2007, she had no idea the next seven years would take her on a journey beyond anything she ever could have anticipated. RHEMA Counseling Associates biblical counseling center serving the Dallas area, and Karen has built it on the concept that collaborative, team-based counseling is the best approach for all of life's problems toward godly solutions. “We seek to be a companion for families in stress on a shared journey toward insight and inspiration,” Karen said. She began her career as a counselor in 1995 with a focus on grieving families. “I was greatly helped in support groups after the death of my young husband in 1993 when the children were seven, six, and four years old,” Karen remembered. “I wanted to offer that help to others who were struggling to live after loss.”

By the summer of 2013, though, Karen was ready to close her business and quit counseling altogether. “I'd been through a year-long battle with an associate of my organization which culminated in a dissolving of our relationship on all levels,” Karen said. “I was so shaken by this devastating turn of events that I was considering selling the counseling practice I had started in 2007.” Thankfully, she became connected with Diane over the internet. “I stumbled upon and joined a few NACWE Café webinars where I won a 90-day coaching program from Diane for October, November, and December,” Karen said. “After about the twenty-first day of this 90-day program, I was calling her asking her to help me save my business!”Logo thumbnail

Since then, RHEMA Counseling Associates has thrived, and Karen even cut the ribbon on brand-new facilities last year. She has also since founded her own association. “The Helping Professionals Alliance network was established just two months after I started working with Diane because I wanted to honor the Lord with other helping professionals as we led each other toward inspired growth in our businesses and ministries,” Karen said. “I wanted to—and actually couldn't not—share what I was learning in my coaching with Diane!” The HPA meets at live events every quarter to network and share knowledge with each other. They also host monthly webinars with experts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which help members expand their creativity and spark inspiration in their businesses and practices.

Over the past two years, Karen has absorbed countless tips and tools provided by NACWE. “One of the first things I did was devour Diane's Inspired Business Toolkit—there have been times that a fellow entrepreneur has asked Diane a question, and as she has given an explanation, I have jumped in with, ‘Hey, that's in your toolkit book on page 87!’” Karen also believes having a business coach has been a vital key to revitalizing her business and saving it from going under. “Working one-on-one with a business coach has held me accountable to be prepared to talk with her at least every other week about my progress, to share my frustrations and ask for new directions, to celebrate every milestone, and to seek to prioritize tasks and clarify my purpose within my organization,” Karen said.

large HPA Logo blackTo an extent, NACWE does the same thing—just on a larger scale. “Being part of the membership program has opened up a brand new world of friendships and creative ideas and encouragement to me,” Karen said. “Before joining this group, outside of my family and my own team of associates, I didn't know who to talk to and actually was afraid to talk to people in my own profession about what I was doing.” Now, she’s connecting with other professionals daily. NACWE has turned Karen’s world upside-down in the best way possible. "Unless you can do it on your own (have you yet?!), you need the community and encouragement offered by this amazing group of women under the expert leadership of Diane Cunningham!” Karen said. “The first year we worked together, our association did 2.4 times the business we did the year before. Whoo-hoo! I want to do that again! I have praised God for every moment we've spent together and look forward to the growth this next season brings."

Karen’s advice for other entrepreneurs includes treasuring Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “I can build these businesses because He gives me strength to do what He has called me to do,” Karen said. She also urges others to seek help when needed and not to try to do everything alone. It’s a good thing to take advantage of the resources others offer. Finally, one mantra helps Karen stay focused when things feel overwhelming: “Just do the next right thing!”

For Karen, faith and business are irrevocably intertwined. “I believe we all have one purpose: to bring glory and honor to God,” Karen said. “Then, we all have specific and unique vocations and callings given to us by the Lord. In all that I do in both of my organizations, I try to remember that primary purpose and serve others in ways that point them to the Lord and what He has called us to do. It is a privilege and an honor to manage two organizations that focus primarily on the Lord and secondarily on encouraging each other. I and my team of associates are doubly encouraged by the clients and customers we serve!”

Encouraging each other is especially important in a group of women. “Being female means wearing many hats and being able to think of 1,001 issues all at the same time,” Karen said. “What a blessing, and yet, what a challenge! Some of the biggest challenges include clarifying what we've been called to do, prioritizing the tasks needed to serve others in ways that please the Lord, and moving forward one task at a time until a project is completed.” However, Karen refuses to get discouraged by any extra challenges she faces as a woman in business for herself. “My favorite part about being an entrepreneur is knowing each day that I am fulfilling the calling given to me by God and that I have freedoms to create an organization—an association according to my own gifts and talents and dreams!”

Overall, Karen finds encouragement from other like-minded professionals, other female entrepreneurs, and from scripture, specifically Jeremiah 29:11–14:1_2335_Web

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

“Remembering that God has good purposes for us in the most difficult times and in the most blessed times keeps me grounded and focused on building a business that honors Him,” Karen said.

KLindwallB_charter

Written by Callie Revell

Wellness for Women Entrepreneurs

by Karen Lindwall-Bourg

 

11067829_10206602038074440_7894390764424740891_nAs women entrepreneurs, we are focused on our calling and our passion. We have taken our God-given vision, and with grace and elbow grease, we are making it work!

Performance Pressures Hinder Wellness

Let’s be honest, though—there are times when we get frustrated and discouraged. This entrepreneur journey is hard. And it’s not the only “performance” pressure we have in our lives. Relationships, parenting, friendship, and being a business leader all require our energy and effort to successfully maintain.

Personally, I sometimes struggle to stay encouraged and motivated when things aren’t unfolding the way I want them to. When I started out, there were times I felt I just couldn’t keep up. There was often no more “go” in my “get up and go”.

How do we get unstuck? How do we manage when we’ve lost sight of the horizon? How do we press on when discouragement lurks?

Wellness Checks: We are Multi-dimensional!

God wants us to be holy and blessed in every aspect of our lives.

 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
—Mark 10:52

A huge portion of His ministry included healing and restoring people to wholeness.

We are spirit, soul, and body. Whenever I feel super stuck, I check in within these three dimensions. What’s going on in my body? Is my soul getting what it needs? Am I neglecting something regarding my spirit?

Check Your Physical Wellness

  • Sleep
    • Our physical and physiological needs cannot be overlooked. Just like a toddler gets grumpy without enough sleep, our bodies and personalities are also compromised. Are we going to bed at a healthy time? Are we getting quality sleep? I can no longer go to bed with my iPad, iPhone, or laptop.
    • Turn off your devices, including the TV. Put your head on the pillow, and close your eyes. If needed, put a pen and paper by the bed for those lists that rush in when your head hits the pillow.
  • Nutrition
    • When I get busy or excited about something I am working on, I will put off eating. And put it off. And put it off. Then, I am starving and eat a big, poorly chosen meal at the end of the day. Take it from experience, this is not healthy. Eating healthy and regularly is such an important factor to our mood, energy level, and brain function.
    • Your body is trying to tell you what it needs when you feel hungry. It’s important you listen. That 3 p.m. energy slump with brain fog can be easily managed with a healthful snack.
  • Hormones
    • We are all women here, and let’s be real. To deny that hormones play a part in our bodies is naive. I know I have one or two crazy days when I feel really down and out. I don’t need medication; I need to be gentle with myself and aware of the pattern. For me, I know it will pass.
    • Take a month and recognize when your mood swings to places you are not so fond of. Depending on your age and health, it may take more medical investigation. However, be encouraged; it’s totally manageable.
  • Movement
    • I know, I know. We hear it all the time. Exercise makes you feel better. And we aren’t talking marathon training!
    • Did you know a 20-minute walk every day can help improve clarity and boost creativity? And a pace a little faster than a stroll can clear your head, wake up your body, and renew your energy.

Check Your Soul Wellness

Your soul can also be thought of as your heart, mind, will, and emotions. It’s the place where your spirit meets your decision-making process. Your soul finds peace and strength when you listen to the Spirit.

  • Desires
    • Sometimes, we ignore the desires of our hearts, and everything gets off kilter. We get disheartened.
    • Checking in on your heart’s desire with prayer and listening can help ease discouragement.
  • Positivism
    • Thankfulness can transform a negative attitude into a positive one. Our soul is also influenced by the people around us—negative and positive alike.
    • Selectively listen to those who speak into your life! Increase the positive influences and uplifting voices in your life.

Check Your Spiritual Wellness

Our spirit is that holy part inside where God dwells and communicates with us. Having an active and intentional spiritual life produces spiritual health. It is where we find the strength to keep going when we feel we can’t take another step.

  • Prayer
    • It requires conversation and listening to be a good friend, a good wife, or a good mother. The same is true with God. Prayer is the conversation. Quiet time is not just about reading and praying; it’s also about listening to what God is saying.
    • Prayer can happen at any time. It doesn’t just have to be the 20 minutes you set aside in the morning before the kids get up. It can be part of your daily walk or in the shower.
    • Find exhortation and encouragement from God’s Word.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

—Philippians 4: 29

  • Worship
    • Worship is similar to prayer in that you can do it anytime, anywhere.
    • Worship is the singing we do. It includes the little moments when we take the time to recognize what a great and amazing God we have. It encompasses noticing the stunning clouds on a stormy day. It embraces appreciating the luxuries we have in life and acknowledging that He is the source.
  • Thankfulness
    • Gratitude is a popular concept today. It is effective in creating a positive and appreciative life view.
    • It is also a great way to remind yourself of all the wondrous things in your life by taking the time to recognize and thank God for them.

11070483_10206602040354497_444182184261363099_nWalk in Love

. . . be filled with the Spirit,  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
—Ephesians 5:18-21

Those moments of feeling like giving up will come. But, before we make up our minds to quit, we need to check in with the most important parts of ourselves and our God-given purpose!

Are there things you do to help keep moving forward?

What tips do you have for making progress when you feel stuck?

 

KarenLKaren Lindwall-Bourg is the Founder of RHEMA Counseling Associates, a Biblical Counseling, Coaching, and Training Center seeking to honor the Lord by leading others to the Sovereign God and the cross and Life of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit and equipped with the Sufficient Word [Greek: rhema] of God for abundant life and ministry. Karen lives with her husband Fred in North Central Texas, and spends as much time as possible with their 6 children, 5 grandchildren, extended family, and menagerie of ranch animals. www.rhemacounseling.com.

Taking Time to Love Your Business

by Karen Lindwall-Bourg

 

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

Psalm 90:17

Love is in the air! Just like every February. This year, why not show some love to your business? Try out these suggestions to help your business grow.

 

karenfeb

Send personal notes to your clients.

You might not have the type of business where you can send a personal note to each customer; if that’s the case, you can pick out a strategic few. Consider how much more of an impact you can have if the note is handwritten. Keep it short and personal. Think of it as a professional “Valentine” for your clients and customers.

 

Reach out with a handwritten inquiry to a new contact.

Who is the one person you’ve wanted to contact and start building a relationship? This is a networking contact that has the potential to show your business love and for whom you can reciprocate. Send a personal and specific handwritten note introducing yourself and offering value to your contact. Spend some time creating your letter. Don’t forget to politely request a response or offer a specific time you will follow-up.

 

Use this short month to accomplish that “to-do” you keep pushing back.

Boy, do I need this one!  The list grows!  We all have that thing on our to-do list we push back from month to month. Use these 28 days to get it done. Focus on the fact that you only have this month to finish it, and finally cross it off the list!

 

Invest in yourself to grow your biz.

You can’t do it all by yourself. Now, we superwomen can do a lot, but there are some things you just need help with. Take some time to determine a good way to invest in yourself or in your business to help it grow. Maybe you should commit to a coaching program, or perhaps your investment should be in a virtual assistant to help free up your time. You know what area of your business needs some love better than anyone.karenfeb2

 

Take some time off to recharge.

Entrepreneurs tend to work all the time. So, it is very important we schedule time off to rest and recharge. Taking a little time off for self-care can open up the creative flow again. Rest can actually make you more productive and more creative. Consider taking a break when your ideas are starting to feel stale.

 

Schedule a brainstorming session.

If you are stuck and not coming up with new ideas or the next steps on how to grow your business, schedule a session with some trusted business women. Brainstorming sessions should focus on collecting as many ideas as possible without filtering and without judging. Once you get a list, you can discuss which idea will work best for you. You can also use a brainstorming session to help devise an implementation plan for an idea you already have.

 

You know your business better than anyone. You know where it needs a little TLC and what is going well. Take some time to give yourself and/or your business a little extra love this month. It will help enhance your clarity, improve your creativity, and invigorate your purpose.

 

Karen Lindwall-Bourg is the Founder of RHEMA Counseling Associates, a Biblical Counseling, KarenLCoaching, and Training Center seeking to honor the Lord by leading others to the Sovereign God and the cross and Life of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit and equipped with the Sufficient Word [Greek: rhema] of God for abundant life and ministry. Karen lives with her husband Fred in North Central Texas, and spends as much time as possible with their 6 children, 5 grandchildren, extended family, and menagerie of ranch animals. www.rhemacounseling.com.

Overcoming Entrepreneurial Overwhelm!

by Karen Lindwall-Bourg

KarenB “There are very few certainties that touch us all in this mortal experience, but one of the absolutes is that we will experience hardship and stress at some point.”
—James Dobson

…BUT why does this stress have to be so exacerbated during the holidays?

I love this time of year! Not only is everything beautifully decorated and oh-so romantic with lights, music, and the smells of the holiday season; it is also a time to look back on the year and evaluate successes and challenges and to look at accomplished goals and places where I fell short of my dreams.

During that self-evaluation process, I am sure not to judge myself too harshly—after all, life does happen, and even with my best intentions things just don’t always come together as planned. Fortunately for us, the Lord directs our steps. Proverbs 16:9 states,

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.”

God’s answer is the real power that shapes events and enables me to give the right answer and take the right steps.

Another part of my evaluation process involves looking at how I felt while accomplishing my goals. This might not seem relevant, but being frustrated, overwhelmed, or disorganized while trying to make things happen can actually keep them from happening!

One of the reasons I like looking at my goals around Christmas and New Year’s is because this is one of the busiest times of year. Having a lot to do in a little bit of time and the stresses that surround the season may lead to a renewal of those feelings that kept me from achieving my goals. So, when I start to feel that oh-so-familiar overwhelm and frustration, I can focus on solutions for my next set of goals.

When I look at my goals and the never-ending to-do list, I will do a few things differently this time to help soothe that sense of “oh-my-how-will-I-ever-get-this-done” panic.

Let’s work on these together this season!

Let’s Get Organized

Find something that works for you, and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Use a spreadsheet or an online project management tool. Basecamp works for me, but there are many others available. Just keep it simple. Your time-organizing project should not take more time to construct than it takes to complete the items on your to-do list (talking to myself, here!).

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

This is one of the most underrated and under-observed skills. Create a quarter or a year’s worth of goals and put a realistic timeline on them. You can’t make your life and business dreams come true by wishing. There has to be a concrete plan. Part of that plan includes putting firm deadlines on your goals. Making those timelines and each action step concrete will be a huge help in limiting overwhelm while achieving your goals. After all, it is often procrastination that makes us feel pressure to complete things, which leads to stress, overwhelm, and frustration.

…or…

Work Through & Celebrate Your POWER-HOUR!

Blocking off 15, 30, 45 minutes or an hour to focus on one specific task has worked well for me. Set a time, power through the hour, and see how much you can accomplish!  Celebrate what you have achieved rather than mourning over what you didn’t compete.

Hire Help

While it might seem weird to hire help during the holidays, it will help you keep up continuity in your business while you attend to all your holiday festivities. The absolute best way to achieve your goals is to get help. You can’t do it all by yourself. You need someone who can help shoulder the workload. You can outsource small stuff like research or reports. You can hire experts to manage your social media. You can contract with a freelance writer to keep up your blog posts and other writing. You can hire a virtual assistant to help with almost anything (thank you, Courtenay!). For busy moms, I suggest a housekeeper. You’d be surprised what a load that takes off (thanks, Lorena!).karenA

 

Take some time to think about how you feel during this busy time of year and how those same feelings may carry over into other projects later in the year. Now, as you write your goals for the year, add in solutions for overcoming those difficult spots. Solutions may include:

  • Taking a weekend retreat to pray, plan, and write your goals.
  • Hiring help in the form of a VA, freelance writer, social media expert, or housekeeper.
  • Setting realistic timelines on your goals, especially if you are working with a team.
  • Planning on days off when you unplug and focus on things that are not your business.

Comment below with solutions you will write into your goals this next year to help you avoid overwhelm at the holidays and all year long!

The Lord’s certain purpose and His answers will stand in spite of and in the midst of my plans.

 

Don’t wait until you feel you are at the end of your rope!

Visit our website at rhemacounseling.com.

Call us at 214-491-1991.

For monthly support, join us at the Helping Professionals Alliance webpage and the HPA Facebook page.

At RHEMA, our Licensed or Pastoral Counselors can help you get back on track.

Ask for an “Entrepreneurial Discount” through the end of January 2015!

See also Proverbs 16:1-2, 9; 19:21; 20:24 and Psalm 37:23 and Jeremiah 10:23.

 

Karen Lindwall-Bourg is the Founder of RHEMA Counseling Associates, a Biblical Counseling, KarenLCoaching, and Training Center seeking to honor the Lord by leading others to the Sovereign God and the cross and Life of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit and equipped with the Sufficient Word [Greek: rhema] of God for abundant life and ministry. Karen lives with her husband Fred in North Central Texas, and spends as much time as possible with their 6 children, 5 grandchildren, extended family, and menagerie of ranch animals. www.rhemacounseling.com.