Writer’s Platform: The group of activities you engage in that get your name and work noticed by the public. It’s marketing, not of a specific work, but of you as the author. It’s everything you do to build your brand (Cliff Daigle)
December of 2016, I was flyin’ high! My first solo book, Repurposed Faith, had just been published and I still smile thinking about the celebration with family and friends as we launched it into the world. Writing the book had been a God-given dream from the time I was a child going with my parents to Christian Booksellers conventions, but the book had been on the back burner for a very long time. If you could see into my billfold, the little red, white and blue Medicare card might give you a clue as to just how long that wait was!
I had certainly made some mistakes along the way. For one thing, I had talked my publisher into publishing the book before I wrote it, based on a bare bones proposal and outline. Now it was on the front burner and I had to deliver. That led to numerous middle of the night sessions where I sat staring at a chapter title and a blank computer screen staring back at me. That’s when I would pray, pleading with the Holy Spirit to give me His words to write…words that would inspire others to have a meaningful and intimate quiet time in the Word that would draw them close to the heart of the Lord in a loving and personal relationship. Night after night God answered those prayers, and four months later, with the brilliant editing skills of DIL Rebecca, the book was done.
I began attending writing conferences and planning how I wanted to share the words God had inspired me to write. After getting the website developed, I was told to concentrate on the Facebook page. Then it was fine tuning the platform, identifying my reader, growing my email list, developing lead magnets, blogging, planning book signings and speaking. But wait, I heard Twitter was the way to market, and as soon as I started that, then Instagram. I found myself pedaling as fast as I could to keep up with the social media side of things and to step-by-step develop my platform. So now, I was no longer writing as I so longed to do, but had become a marketer…of me! Because those are two different skill sets and two different parts of the brain firing, it’s really no surprise that one of the places I ended up was in the counsellor’s office trying to sort things out.
The other place I ended up was in the hospital. That was Dec. of last year…and that was the day my writer’s platform collapsed. I had been hospitalized three years prior for the same thing, acute recurring pancreatitis, but had thought maybe I was over that. Not so. It was only ten days after I had been released from the hospital that I had another attack, and spent Christmas last year in the hospital for another week. The book so carefully orchestrated to be front and center was now solidly placed once again on the back burner.
When I got out of the hospital, I was exhausted, depressed and confused as to the “what now?”.
I realize now that I was being tested in each chapter that I had written about. I didn’t know what to do about the platform and had no energy to deal with it. All I knew was that I wanted to stay connected to the Lord through those daily times of prayer and QT. I continued in counseling and now, a year later, I am beginning to see more clearly the road ahead. Here are three lessons I am learning.
- When fear and anxiety overwhelmed me (of the unknown, of failing health, of the welfare of my family/friends or the evil events in the world), I realized it was ok and wise to seek professional help. I also had my sweet husband and dear friends who pointed me to the Word of God and encouraged me in practical ways.
As I meditated on Psalm 94:19, I noticed the two extremes of anxiety and delight. One version says fear and cheer. The definition of consolations is the state of being consoled or comforted. A person or thing that is a source of comfort in a time of suffering, grief or disappointment. How encouraging it was to me to realize that the person offering comfort in my disappointment was Christ himself! I didn’t have to stay stuck in the negative emotions of anxiety and fear!
Some books that were of great help to me were Peace For A Lifetime by Lisa Murray, Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengston and Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller
- When my “platform” collapsed, I had to take a long look at my areas of weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.
I realized how quickly I took the credit for something God had done through me as I reached for worldly approval and acclaim. Psalm 29:2 “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name”. David Ross, in his book, A Table Before Me says “God always has a purpose for allowing the Enemy to attack His people, and it is to make us stronger in Him”.
- Surrendering to God’s plan
As I’ve been learning how to have less of “me” and more of God, I’ve been trying to lay everything and everyone, especially those closest to my heart, at the cross of Christ and surrender my need for control. We have three sons. Five months ago, the younger son and his family moved to the East Coast. Then we learned that our oldest son and his family will be moving to the West Coast. I am thankful that our middle son will still be close by here in Kansas. I recently ran across this scripture which reaffirmed to me that God’s plans are certainly the best, although sometimes not what I would choose.
Acts 5:38-39 “So in the present case (Christ’s apostles being threatened with imprisonment for preaching the Gospel), I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
I am learning to pray more, wait more and humbly seek God’s plan, standing by as He reconstructs His platform which will give Him the glory due His name!