Author: Ashley Gatewood

The Power of Your Words

The Power of Your Words

One of the most powerful tools you have is your word.

The Bible describes the tongue as one of the smallest, yet most powerful parts of the body. Like a bit over the tongue of a horse moves its entire body in the direction you want it to go, so the tongue moves our entire lives and wellbeing in the direction of our words. Think that seems impossible? That your life is a result of your words? I’m going to show you how it is possible.

The tongue – your words – house incredible power within them. Why do you think God exalts his word over his name?  Have you ever had to have faith in yourself that you could get something done? Well so does God! It’s just that he has full authority and knowledge of himself and so the word he speaks goes forth without doubt or error to accomplish exactly what He sent it to accomplish. Have you ever caught yourself talking to yourself saying things like ‘you got this’, ‘you can do this’, ‘be strong’? God doesn’t have to do this; instead, he spoke it once and it is truth:

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:11

Done. He doesn’t have to build himself up like we do because he knows his word is good. Paul said we should build ourselves up on our holy faith. Which means we’ve got work to d0. God does not mince words and He takes them very seriously. What He speaks happens. If He were to say “Man this is a terrible day” then you can believe, it’s going to be one terrible day! But He understands himself and his power and the power of his words. And he tells us clearly that the power of the tongue holds death and life in it. He’s not joking. Let’s look at a few things we can do to start steering our lives in a more positive direction with good results.

Take a day and be cognizant of what you say.

Are your words overall positive, helpful and hopeful? Or are they negative, sarcastic and tainted with a hopeless outlook? Are the words you’re using building people (including yourself) up and encouraging? Or are they critical, dismissive and hurtful? The power of life and death are in the tongue. Proverbs 18:20

Is there a difficult situation you’re going through concerning another person? What you can start doing today is speaking positive and good words over them and the situation. Words are powerful and God hears them. Think about it; do you respond favorably to praise and encouragment? Then other people do as well. If we are biting and cutting others down then their demeanor will be overall downcast, angry and negative around us. Even if only as a self defense measure. It’s a reaction, like the instinct to stay alive, we close off to criticism. That should tell us that words are more powerful -affecting even the human body- than we perhaps thought. This goes for you as well, self talk is extremely important. Don’t put yourself down and be critical or negative of yourself. Learn how to be patient with yourself and forgive yourself. We are all growing and learning – God loves you and knows that we struggle. The Bible says his mercy endures forever. Know that.

Try to speak positive words over difficult situations.

I try to be aware of what I am saying as much as possible. We all can fall into a rut without realizing it – there’s something satisfying about speaking to someone about our trials and tribulations. There is nothing wrong in telling your story and seeking comfort from a trusted family member or friend. We have to be able to work through issues and someone else’s advice can be helpful. But just know that when you’re able to keep things positive you lead a healthier life. Talk through your problems and seek advice, but don’t degrade others or gossip about people. If you can limit this, you will feel much better, it’s a proven fact.

Stay positive – it releases positive energy.

I would also urge you not to get bogged down by this either. Saying you have a stomach ache is a whole lot different than saying I always get stomach aches. Stating what the current situation is, is not a problem. You have to communicate after all. But you can always speak peace over any situation – there is nothing false about speaking peace over your mind, your heart, your physical body or anything else. Stay positive – it releases positive energy (God knows this!) into everything around you. We are living breathing organisms and if God says you can speak life or death into something, you better believe you can. Let’s not kill the tender shoots of new beginnings or venturing into new projects you’ve never tried before. Practice patience and keep your outlook and words positive. I promise this will give you a much better, longer take-off area for changing your life.

Despise not small beginnings…

If God Gave You A Gift

If God Gave You A Gift

We can get overloaded with life’s daily duties and not realize how quickly our time here is passing. It’s as if our list of obligations dictate to us how and what our lives are going to be like every minute of the day. And we can be so tired by the end, that we flop into bed without another thought and hope to sleep through the night. (Sometimes if things are really stressful, even a good night’s sleep is difficult to achieve.)

We slumber through our days without realizing that God has a purpose for us. He has a purpose for you. We get what we focus on the most – ever heard that you veer your car in the direction your eyes are going? Same concept here. If we are only focused on getting the next thing on our list checked off, we are stifling our creative side, our own dreams and hopes. The time we spend getting to know and understand what God has called us to and just who we are in Christ is precious. It’s like spending dinner with your family around the table so everyone can talk and share about their day. It’s bonding time, learning about each other and growing together.

We also need time like this to reflect on God and on our own heart’s desire whether it is something creative like painting, or starting that business you’ve been dreaming about for years (if only you weren’t so busy) or turning your hobbies into something more profitable. How much more fulfilled would we be if we pursued and worked at what we loved to do the most?

There are many things that can set you on the path to a more happy and fulfilled life, and the foremost step to achieving this is spending the extra time to get to know God, His word, and who you are in Him. Searching His word and understanding that there’s so much more to life than just the daily grind is a great place to start. God should always be the place from which we branch out in anything – He is our firm foundation. Then we can add on His foundation with confidence.

“If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?” -Stephen King

Think about this for a moment. All good things come from God. What has he given you that perhaps you have forgotten about? Something that you are good at doing but maybe you thought it was a small thing of no real significance. What small thing have you always enjoyed doing but you never have time to do it? Could it be that this is the gift God has given you? That this one small (or large) thing could be the key to changing your life and being happier for it?

So I hope you take some thought of these things and begin to think about how you can take control and not let you schedule dictate your life to you; but instead dedicate a portion of your time each day to learn and to reach out and pray God’s will in your life so you can begin to direct your focus on what He is calling you to do.  Search your heart for what truly matters to you and don’t be afraid to begin pursuing it.

 

If you have questions or need direction on how to begin to make a change, don’t hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment or email me – you can also reach out on social media like Linked In or Google+. 

Love will get you to where you need to be~

Writing Across Genres

Writing Across Genres

As someone with a pretty wild imagination, I find myself drawn to fiction writing. I love making up stories and watching characters develop and make decisions in their worlds which I’ve created for them.

But as a Christian who loves to help people, I also love writing what I have experienced, what I know and how to apply it in other’s lives to help them along their journey in life. I’ve also read that it is important that authors stick to one genre so there is no confusion for the audience which makes it easier for the agency/publishing company to brand and sell your books.

Hmmm, this is a disappointing discovery. So I started searching online to see what information I could find about writing in multiple genres or fiction vs. non-fiction. My heart was lifted when I read some of the blogs below addressing these questions.

Concerning the execution of writing in different genres, here are two key thoughts that I love from Joel Friedlander’s blog The Book Designer:

But ultimately, your goal is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership–regardless of genre.

It’s your style, your unique voice, and the combination of recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing.

-The Book Designer

Click on the link above to read the full article – it’s encouraging. As a writer, I don’t have to be stuck in one niche when I have so many ideas floating around in my head. It’s a natural bridge that I’m looking for and one that will come about organically because if people know from the start that I write in different genres, then it won’t be like a betrayal or that I’m trying to be something I’m not – it will be I already am. Well, I hope anyway~

So in trying to think about this for myself – we as writers all go through this when we are starting out – I would be writing Christian non-fiction and Suspense fiction. I can’t see how in the world this could possibly work but sometimes you don’t see how the future will pan out until you get to the fork in the road.  Here’s another perspective from Rachelle Gardner:

It’s a little different if you’re talking about writing both fiction and non-fiction. If you want to do this, understand that you’ll be working to build two different audiences simultaneously. Sure, there may be some crossover, but you can’t count on it.

-Rachelle Gardner

My plan is to seek representation for my Christian non-fiction and submit to individual magazine publications for the fiction short stories. We’ll see how well this works out for me – that’s one thing about starting this blog – I’ll have a history of what works and what doesn’t.  I believe everyone’s path is different and there are many ways to get from point A to point B. You just have to choose the one that best suits you – and then go for it!

Launching a Writing Career Part II

Launching a Writing Career Part II

So now that you’ve got your writing software, you’ve been practicing writing in a journal or similar way just to get the wheels spinning again and you’ve learned a bit about writing and the industry, where do you go from here?

It’s time to start exploring what type of genre and what type of books you want to write. And the only way you’ll find this out is by reading books and practice writing about the things that interest you. So here are 5 ways that you can set out on the next leg of the journey.

1. Buy a Writer’s Market Guide

This is an excellent guide to publishers and agents that will help you connect to the outlets and venues for which to submit your work. You can read about what the magazine or publishing company is looking for, details about length and subject matter. The Writer’s Market provides contact information to send queries and a whole lot of other great details to get you started. It’s organized in a way that if you want to write about travel, you look up Travel in the table of contents and you have a whole handful of magazines that would accept articles on your traveling adventures. Or if you are a scientist and want to write an article on your profession, just look up the info and take your pick.

2. Look up writing competitions online and enter them.

Sometimes writers will enter contests to challenge themselves, never intending to actually submit what they’ve written. But I enjoy the anticipation of entering a contest, no matter the odds, and it gives me something to think about besides pushing paper around on a desk all day. This will increase your writing proficiency and challenge you to work on a deadline. Also, the more you write the more you will begin to develop your voice and craft.  There are contests for short stories, novels and poetry.

3. Start a blog or website

This is a great way to get into the habit of writing and to build a fun community of people who love what you love. My other blog, Ebeye Island: A Spacious Place, I started in 2008 just before I left for the Marshall Islands for two years. The blog has been super fun with people commenting and enjoying all the photos and adventures we had on the island and with the Marshallese. It was so much fun and a great tool to keep me writing and in touch with people.

4. Join a local critique group

You may have some trial and error here to get exactly what your looking for. Some groups will focus more on reading and sharing than critiquing, others on networking and sharing information about events and activities but mostly it’s a great way to meet up with people who have similar goals and interests. Just make sure the majority of your time is spent writing – because that’s what it’s all about. Everything else is in support of that dream.

5. Create a cozy little writer’s nook and set it up with the essentials

I find writing in my living room on the couch is a recipe for distraction. The only desk I had at the time was covered in art supplies, canvases, turpentine and a stack of bills I didn’t want to file away. The rest of the room was no better organized – paint cans, stretchers, cleaning supplies, tubs and bins – it was a big storage room. So, I determined to clean it all out and put things away properly. I cleaned off the desk and bought an average comfy office chair and this is now my writer’s nook.

 

Hopefully these few baby steps can help someone just starting out to get your feet under you and have firm ground from which to launch. These simple things can really help you start learning about writing and give you a bit of confidence so you can begin to make your own success out there in this industry.

 

Launching a Writing Career: One Small Step at a Time

Launching a Writing Career: One Small Step at a Time

The idea of launching a writing career was overwhelming to me. Until I started looking for all the small ways I could get my feet wet.  Writing in general was a hard habit to restart. It takes hard work and determination. It’s not a leisurely past time hobby. I just determined within myself one day that I wanted to go for it; that I had something to say and I was going to get it down on paper in case it might help others in some small way.

Here are 5 simple things I did to jump start my rusty writing engines and get the spark back into my dream:

1. Upgrade your computer. 

Sounds petty but it isn’t. The computer I had been using cost me $250 four years ago. It is a clunker. The hinge had broken loose on the flip top screen, it was bulky, heavy and the keypad and built-in mouse were atrocious. A bundle of frustration. I knew I needed something better if I was going to take this writing craft seriously. Lighter, more portable and a much more comfortable keypad and responsive mouse take the frustration out of utilizing the tool to get my writing done.

2. Acquire a good writing software program to assist in organizing your projects.

This is so important. I happened to go with Scrivner. You can do some research and get the best software for your needs and preferences. Scrivener was a God-send. The ability to point and click to a chapter, rearrange, delete whole sections – all this without scrolling through hundreds of pages to find my place in a word doc – was just what I needed to ease the pain of minor details and get to the fun creative stuff! Invest in a software program, you will be happy you did.

3. Open a blank project that will be a stream of conscience or journal so-to-speak

So once you get that awesome writer’s tool, open up a blank project and start typing away. This is very important to get all the rust out and begin to flow in writing again. I simply leave this project open at all times and whenever I need to loosen the brain and fingers I start typing. No particular idea in mind, no structure and no cares for typos – just pure brain to fingers word-spill. Write about whatever you want – the carpet in front of you, your pets, the phone or show you watched last night – doesn’t matter just get those fingers typing and the brain exercising.

Simple as that. Once I get the rust off, I move on to my serious writing projects.

4. Start reading as much as you can about writing; just start reading anything that tickles your fancy. To write, one must read. 

I’ve found the internet to be an extremely helpful tool. Anything you want to know about agents, publishers, statistics, pros and cons, you name it – if you have a question the internet has an answer. Make sure the answers your getting are echoed by more than one individual who is an expert in the field and you can be pretty certain the info is accurate.

And books about writing. I started with Stephen King’s On Writing and it has kicked me in the pants and inspired me to get on with it. For me, it takes a good mix of how-to and inspirational gusto to keep the fires going.

5. Get thyself to a writer’s conference.

I signed up for the Kentucky Writer’s Conference which will be taking place this month. I’m looking forward to connecting with other writers and pitching an agent – that should be fun! But practice makes perfect – if all else fails you take away from your experiences and fix mistakes for future opportunities.  Chose a conference that will teach interest you. The one I’m attending is not so much writing workshops as it is the publishing industry and how to navigate it.

Keep writing brave and fearless cadets – we’re all in this together, might as well have fun as we go!

 

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