So you wanna be a writer…Step 1: Face the 7 Deadlies

No, I’m not an expert. I don’t have a degree in writing. In fact, I majored in social work because I wanted to help people. Turns out, that wasn’t a good fit. Now I’m a writer (which is really what I wanted to be all along) – and I still want to help people. So, here goes.

I’m going to share my journey that took me from retail, to real estate, to writing, and lots of other things along the way. Mostly, though, I’m going to share what has worked and what has crashed and burned as I’ve been on this path.

Sound interesting? Great! Keep reading…

My goal is to help others who, like me, dream of being a writer but aren’t sure how to get there. Do I have all the answers? Heck no. But, I’ve learned a few things, and I am currently making a living as a freelancer. I’m hoping that means I have a few helpful tips to pass along.

Two years ago today I was in the midst of trying to decide if I could really “make it” writing full time. Now, I’ve been doing just that since November of 2015. Praise God for helping me achieve the dream I’ve had since old enough to wield a pen!

I am certainly far from reaching many of my goals, but I am excited about where I am on this journey and the progress I’ve made so far. My plan is to share the many small steps I’ve taken to get to this point. This series will be writer-focused, but much of it will be applicable for anyone wanting to forge out on their own in any kind of business – from freelance writer to furniture maker to farmer (or even other careers that aren’t alliterative)!

I pray you’ll be encouraged and inspired by my tidbits and tips. I’d love to hear the experiences from your own journey, too. May we all spur one another on toward love and good deeds in whatever we’re pursuing.

Where to begin…

I’ve decided the only place I can start this series is where I started: facing down the 7 deadly sins for writers. If you can’t overcome at least Sin #1, you’re stuck before you even start.

I wrote these up in a previous blog series, if you want to check out those posts. I’ve also crafted them into a FREE ebook. It’s my gift to you for joining me on this writing adventure.

If those sins don’t scare you away from the craft, watch for the next step:

So you wanna be a writer…Step 2: Get yourself on the interweb

Video Can’t Kill This Radio Star

This week, Nenn Pen, Ink hit the radio waves!

God provided an awesome opportunity to share what He’s done in my life as a writer and to promote the 24 Ways book series. I had a blast with Two Bald Guys and a Microphone on their morning radio show.

The show airs on 101.3 WHIW Harvard Community Radio every Monday, 6-9 am CST. If you’re not local – that’s ok. You can listen live on Harvard Community Radio or on their Facebook Page. 

Meanwhile, check out the video of my radio debut below. The entire show is filled with encouraging, inspirational and humorous content. If you’re specifically looking for the segments about Nenn Pen, Ink and the 24 Ways book series, slide to these times in the video: -2:35, -2:30, -1:44, -0:60, -0:48.

  

Find the book series here.

Share your experiences on the series Facebook page.

How God Made Me a Writer

As I sit in my recliner, I glance up from my keyboard to gather my wordsmithing thoughts. I suddenly pause. As I take in my surroundings, I am struck once again with the realization of what God has done. He really made this my reality. He really did it. It’s still hard for me to believe. He made me a writer.

I love this recliner. I love that this is my office. I love that wherever I want to take myself and my laptop becomes my office. I love that I can “clock in” and “clock out” on my own time and terms. I love that I can hide inside when it’s cold and never have to commute in the snow anymore. I love that I love my work. I love that God answered my prayer.

I love that God made me a writer.

How it happened

I wasn’t always a writer. At least, not by profession. It’s been my dream since I was old enough to wield a pen, but it took until I was in my 30’s to pursue it. What happened then? Well, God used a snowstorm, a country song, a supportive husband, and encouraging family and friends to make my dream come true.

When I shared my snowstorm story, I promised to fill you in on the details of the process God used to do this, so here it is.

By the time I finally found this career, I had wandered down four other paths. A degree in social work and various jobs in retail, real estate and photography had produced a single realization: I still hadn’t decided what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I guess that’s not entirely true. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. The problem was, I just hadn’t figured out how. I didn’t see that as a realistic goal, so I continued to putter along, trying to find something else I could enjoy. And, I actually had. My job as a photographer was a good fit. After several years, though, I realized I still wanted more. Somewhere in my heart I knew that writing was still the best fit.

Starting down a new path

So, I started to dabble. As a school photographer, I had the summers off. This gave me time to pursue side jobs here and there as a freelancer. (Please note the God-at-work aspect of this – providing this job to prepare me for the next one!) I did some web content. A couple blog articles here and there. I found the work exciting, challenging and enjoyable.

However, as I mentioned in my previous post, I saw this simply as a side gig. I didn’t really believe at the time it could be much more. Once God convinced me it could be, I dove in.

Was it scary? Heck yeah! (Read about facing this fear here.)

It was scary to truly go after this goal, but this process was also SOAKED in prayer. I prayed for guidance, for wisdom, for blessings in my writing pursuits. I prayed for God to help me achieve this dream. I prayed. I asked others to pray. We prayed.

And, I put in a lot of hard work. With incredible support from my loving husband, (I kinda thought he was a little crazy when he first told me he thought I could do this full time and be successful at it) and encouragement from my friends and family (whose accountability continues to help me with writing goals today) – I dug in.

What digging in looks like

Like I said, I had already snagged a few writing jobs here and there. Now, though, I didn’t want side jobs. I wanted this to be my only job. My goal was to put together enough regular freelance work from multiple clients that I could do it full time (setting my own hours and working from home).

Achieving this goal required several key steps.

  1. Pray – Frequently and fervently.
  2. Apply for writing jobs – A lot of them. When I really decided to get serious about this, I was applying to at least a dozen jobs some days. (More on where I found these jobs in a later post.)
  3. Pray some more.
  4. Set up a website – You’re lookin’ at it. Previously, I had a blog-only site. I now needed to add info about my writing, including the all-important portfolio. Thankfully, I had those “dabbling” jobs to include on the portfolio page, so potential clients could see samples of my work.
  5. Keep praying.
  6. Choose – Make the leap? Once God brought several opportunities my way, and the writing jobs started building, I had to make an important decision. I had reached a point that I could no longer sustain both jobs – writing and photography. There simply wasn’t enough time in the day. I had to start turning down writing gigs or make the leap and quit my other job. I reached a point when I was making 80% of my photography income through writing. I felt that if I built it up that much, I could quit my photography job and continue to build the writing income to completely replace it (and hopefully grow it even more!) So, that’s what I did. I gave notice to the photography company and officially started working for Nenn Pen, Ink full time on November 1, 2015.
  7. Guess what I did next? Yep – kept praying.

And God continues to answer! He has blessed me with great writing opportunities. He has grown my income to significantly more than I was making before – and I get to do what I enjoy – from home! Praise the Lord!

God would still be an amazingly good, good Father if none of this had happened. But, I am grateful that it did.

I’m thankful that God made me a writer.

How a Country Song Made Me a Writer

Have you ever seen the TV show, Leverage? It’s one of my favorites. I own all five seasons.

Here’s the gist of it:

It’s lighthearted and fun, with enjoyable characters. My favorite is the “hitter,” Eliot, played by Christian Kane. I didn’t realize until I watched the season-three episode, “The Studio Job,” that Christian is also a country singer. I fell in love with this song the moment I heard it:

I liked it so much I did a search to see if I could buy it. That’s when I discovered Christian Kane had an entire album. So, of course, I bought it. Turns out, that’s not the only song of his I like. There are several that I really enjoy.

That brings me to the title of this post. (Did you think I’d never get there? What can I say? We’re talkin’ country music here, so I moseyed to my point.)

When I got this CD, I was working at a job that involved, at minimum, a 40-minute commute. During that drive, I usually listened to the radio, listened to CDs, prayed, or talked on the phone (hands-free of course). As I mentioned in my snowstorm post, some days this commute was bearable. Others, it was not. Either way, it certainly gave me time to think.

I thought about the fact that I had been dreaming of being a writer since I was five. I thought about my hesitation to truly pursue my book ideas. I thought about my “some day” attitude that wasn’t ever going to make my dreams happen.

I liked my job, but I knew I really wanted more. I wanted to be done with commuting. I wanted to set my own hours. Be my own boss. Write.

But, how? Pursuing that dream sounded scary. Should I really go for it? Even with the resolve that the constant snowfall had created, I still had moments of uncertainty. I knew I didn’t want to do “this” anymore, but I didn’t know what “that” looked like, or how to get there.

It was in the midst of this turmoil that I heard what became my favorite song on the album. Here it is:

Did you catch that chorus?

I’ve been sittin’ on the fence for way too long

Warmin’ that bench as chance moves on

And believe me, that ain’t no way to live.

And this barely gettin’ by is really gettin’ old

And it’s hard to turn a wrench on a rusty bolt

But someday something’s gotta give

The lyrics poked me right when I needed to be moved along. In truth, they did more than poke. They reached right into my heart (like good songs do) and plucked a few cords. They were exactly what I needed to hear. They pushed me off that fence. Got me off the bench.

I knew it was time to make some changes. Go for the life I’d been dreaming of. It would be a lot of work, but then again, it’s hard to turn a wrench on a rusty bolt. As I listened to this song, I decided “Someday is today…and something’s gotta give.”

Book Launch Giveaway Today

It’s here!

The new installment of the 24 Ways series, 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, is now available.

As promised, in celebration of the book’s release, I am offering FREE content!

Purchase this paperback TODAY and receive a FREE digital copy! AND receive a FREE digital copy of the first book in the series, 24 Ways To PRAY Through Your Day (2016).

That’s TWO FREE digital books if you purchase the paperback, 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, on its launch day, March 24th!

Simply submit your receipt and email info here, and I’ll send you your FREE digital books.

Get your copy here.

      

Book Giveaway

I can’t wait to share my next book with you! In fact, I’m so excited about how this series will bless you, I am offering FREE content!

The new installment of the 24 Ways series, 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, will be released on March 24, 2017.

Purchase this paperback by March 31, 2017 and receive a FREE digital copy of the first book in the series, 24 Ways To PRAY Through Your Day (2016).

Simply submit your receipt and email info here, and I’ll send you your FREE digital book.

Get even more free content!

Want a free digital copy of 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, too? Purchase a print copy of the new book on its official release date – March 24 – and get a free digital copy.

That’s TWO FREE digital books if you purchase the paperback, 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, on its release day, March 24th!

Get your copy here!

Submit your receipt and email info here.

      

 

How a Snowstorm Made Me a Writer

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was old enough to wield a pen.

In kindergarten, I was crafting whimsical poems inspired by Shel Silverstein’s greatest, and by second grade I had a stack of short stories I loved to share with anyone who would listen.

As I grew, I dreamed of someday achieving Stephen King status – my byline a household name, and my stories read across the nation. 

The problem was, my definition of “writer” was too narrow. I thought this was the only road to writerdom. It wasn’t until years later that God expanded my horizons. I finally realized that “fiction novelist” was not the only category into which writers could fall. Plus, with the invention of the internet and the growing need for online content, a whole new world of writing had been born.

When I realized all this, it was quite the ah-ha moment. I didn’t have to be a prolific novelist to be a writer. Stephen King could have his place in authorville, and I could live there too – in a completely different style of house.

I found my home in freelancing. Website content. Blogs. Newsletters. Magazines. I discovered myriad possibilities. I decided to become “The write scribe for you” and deliver creative, concise, consistent copy for people across the nation (and around the world).

I’ve also dipped my toe in the waters of books, but I discovered Christian living is where my passion lies in bookland, rather than the horror genre I’d read most of my life.

But, that’s skipping ahead a bit. Let’s get back to the snowstorm I mentioned.

Here’s what happened.

I was working as a school photographer at the time. This job freed up my summers for other pursuits. So, I had started dabbling in the freelance world. I’d snagged a job here and there, creating content for websites. I’d even landed a couple of steady gigs writing for newsletters and editing business site content. It wasn’t nearly enough to pay the bills, but it brought in some extra funds and got my foot in the door. I was gaining the experience I needed to create a resume that looked more like that of a writer than a photographer/realtor assistant/retailer/social work major/I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up resume.

I enjoyed these new experiences, but I wasn’t seriously pursuing a writing career. It was a side job that I didn’t really believe at the time could be much more.

God proved me wrong, and he used the winter weather to do it.

The thing is, that photography job was great, but it required driving all over Chicagoland to different schools. When it wasn’t picture-taking season, I was driving to the company’s office five days a week – 17 miles from home. That’s a lot of time on the road. To some of you mega-commuters, that might not sound too bad. For me, it got old – fast. Plus, there wasn’t really a good route to cover those 17 miles to the office. Both of my options involved a lot of traffic and lights. It usually took me 40 minutes or so to make the drive.

Here’s the kicker. It was 40 minutes in good conditions. If you’ve ever been to Chicago in January, you know those conditions are often anything but good. In fact, one of the towns I had to drive through seemed to believe plowing was not a priority before rush hour. The result: my 40-minute commute easily turned into 1.5 hours in the snow.

It was my seventh year with the photography company. I had driven through my fair share of snowstorms over the seasons. They were never fun, but I had always survived and simply looked forward to summer.

This season was different.

I’m not sure if I had simply reached my breaking point, or if we really did get more snow than previous years. Whatever the case, we had snow roughly every other day for weeks on end. Time after time, I was sitting in traffic, slushing through snow at a snail’s pace to get to work. If traffic did move more quickly, that wasn’t any better for me. I’m terrified of driving in those conditions. If I’m going more than 25 mph, I’m convinced I will hit an icy patch and go spinning out of control. If others around me are going more than 25 mph, I’m sure they are about to go spinning out of control and crash into me. 

The point is, I endured day after day and week after week of what seemed to be a never-ending snowstorm.

One day, I experienced my “I’ve had it” moment.

I had been toying with the idea of trying to make my writing pursuits a full-time deal. I was scared to pursue this dream, for a variety of reasons. I also liked a lot about my current job, (except for the commute, of course). Should I give up this job? Should I really try to make it on my own – working for myself? Could I really do it? My doubts and fears were holding me back from diving full-force into my dream of being a writer. I needed an extra nudge to push me in that direction.

So, God sent me some snowflakes. 

I can’t give you an exact date. I can’t even tell you exactly how many horrible commutes I sat through that winter before the snow sent me over the edge. I just know that one day I had had enough. I was determined not to do that commute again next winter. I was done. I would do what it took to be able to work from home, where I could enjoy the snow from the safety of my comfy recliner.

That was the winter of 2015.

The next few months were a flurry of activity as I worked to build a writing business. I took fewer bike rides that summer than I had in previous years. I hosted fewer parties. I skipped a lot of my usual fall festivities. I even worked while my husband and I were on vacation, taking a summer road trip.

It was all worth it. My efforts paid off. God answered my prayers. He sent more and more writing opportunities my way. I received positive responses from applications and inquiries. I was starting to see some real money come in.

(I’ll fill you in on this process with greater detail another time. It’s an encouraging story all its own.)

By October of 2015, (with winter snowstorms looming in the near future!) I was well on my way to making freelance writing my full-time job. I had reached the point where I could no longer do both jobs. There simply wasn’t enough time in the week. So, it was time to make the leap.

I gave notice at the photography company and officially started working for Nenn Pen, Ink as a full-time freelance writer on November 1, 2015 – before the snow started to fall.

Thank you, Lord, for starting this snowball effect that allowed me to live out my dream! Some days, it’s still hard to believe. But, it’s true: I’m a writer. That feels so good to type that I’m gonna do it again:

I’m a writer.

Eat your heart out, Frosty.

 

This Book Will Change the Way You Serve

24serve_cover2

“Serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

Do you want to serve but can’t find the time? Maybe you’re unsure what you have to offer. When you think about serving, what comes to mind? Saturdays at the soup kitchen? Mission trips to Mozambique? These are great ministries, but they might not be for you. Maybe it’s time to rethink your definition of serving.

Try this: serve those around you every day. We all encounter ways to serve others in our day-to-day lives, but we often overlook them. 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day helps you recognize these opportunities and develop a habit of serving. You will discover you don’t have to schedule, scramble or be a superstar to serve. Simply seize the serving opportunities right in front of you. As you do, you’ll develop the heart of a servant and start living a Galatians 5:13 life.

 

24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day is one installment of a four-part series designed to help you live out the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 On these pages, you’ll find practical, daily steps to develop a loving, humble heart of serving—a heart dedicated to God’s purposes.

I pray God uses this content to grow you in your love for Him.

Kerry Nenn

Watch for the book’s release in March.

Coming soon: Keep following Nenn Pen, Ink to learn about giveaways happening next month during the book launch!

 

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