Writing Tip #1: Yes, Say “NO”!

9781490813882_COVER.inddIt’s been a while since I posted on my own website. I’ve been busy over at that other site, www.conqueringdepression.com  promoting our new book, “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression”. I just received a letter from my warehouse and I need to move many more of my copies of “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” if I want to put out the next book by the spring. So, here is the deal. I’ve now officially published four books since 2011 and for the next few posts I want to share with my readers some tips I learned about the process of finally getting that book on the shelves. These tips came to me over the past 20 years and they apply not only to publishing but to any creative endeavor.

But first, a word from our sponsor. There are three books in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel beginning with “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” introducing Jonathan Steel and his “crew”. The second book is “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” and features Steel encountering a clan of vampires! The latest and third book, “The 11th Demon: Ark of the Demon Rose” explores secret societies of ghouls and conspiracy theories. Halloween is right around the corner and these books are frightening, scary, but ultimately have an inspiring message.

You can order these books at this link (https://brucehennigan.com/order/).

Now, to the tips.

TIP #1:

LEARN TO SAY “NO” TO THE GOOD IDEAS SO YOU CAN SAY “YES” TO THE GOD IDEAS!

Marilyn Ramsey has been one of my favorite friends for years. We won’t discuss how many! She loves to write and is one of the most creative people I know. When I released my first fiction book, “The 13th Demon”, she asked me “How do you find the time?”

My response: “You don’t FIND the time. You MAKE the time.” This means that you have to prioritize your time and efforts. You have to carve out specific time in your life to make that creative project happen. And, in order to prioritize, you have to filter your choices carefully. Let me explain.

In 1995, as Bilbo said in The Fellowship of the Ring, I was spread too thin “like too little butter on bread”. Let’s see, I was on the Long Range Planning Committee exploring the very contentious issue of relocating our church and building a new campus. I was on the deacon board. I was teaching a college and career Bible Study Class. I was a full time doctor. I was a full time father. I was a full time husband. And, I was in charge of the Drama ministry of Brookwood Baptist Church developing over a dozen major productions a year and overseeing, oh, about 150 cast and crew. And, I had decided to form my own non profit media company, The Foundation of Inspirational Arts to promote inspirational drama, music, movies, and books. That was the year I slid down the mountain of my own hubris on an avalanche of burn out into a deep, dark pit of depression.

Why?

I couldn’t say “no”. I wanted everyone to like me. So, I absolutely refused to say no to anyone. If I said no they might not like me anymore. In the process, I was spread so thin that something had to give. It was my sanity!

In the aftermath, I recalled something I learned from John Maxwell, well known author and leadership expert. In an encounter in the foyer of a convention center where he was speaking, we struck up a casual conversation. I told him about my frustration at not becoming a published author. He gave me some simple advice. He said there are lots of people who are crying out for my attention and my help. But, there is only one Voice I should listen to. God. You see, God has a plan for my life and part of that plan is God’s desire to use my spiritual gifts, inborn talents, and acquire skills in his work. But, if I am saying “yes” to everyone who requests my help, I am turning down God!

Thus, Maxwell told me, “Learn how to say ‘no’ to all of those good ideas so you have the freedom to say ‘yes’ to God’s ideas.” After I went through my depression, I remembered this advice and developed my “LifeFilters” (you can learn more about them at conqueringdepression.com ). These LifeFilters had five questions on one side and a Bible verse on the other. These questions were “filters” for requests for my time and efforts. Only if I answered “yes” to all five questions would I then say “yes” to the person requesting my help. In fact, my standard reply would be, “If you will give me 48 hours to think and pray about this I might say ‘yes’. But, if you want an answer right now it’s ‘no’.”

This strategy CHANGED MY LIFE. The result was a more even keel to my life. I was able to concentrate on one project at a time and now, I am the author of four published books! So, stop right now and learn how to filter those request through your own LifeFilters so you can comfortably say “no” to the good ideas so you can say “yes” to the God ideas!

Next week, in fact, I plan on finishing up the final edit on my next Jonathan Steel novel, “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone”. And, if I can sell enough copies of “The 11th Demon”, that book will be available around March, 2015.

About Bruce Hennigan

Published novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.

Posted on October 28, 2014, in Breaking News, Speculative Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. That is a lesson I’m learning right now as well. I’ve had to tell several people “no” over the past few weeks just to ensure I had time for my family. There was always the initial “Oh no, they’re gonna be mad at me” reaction. But every time, regardless of their response, I appreciated and was glad for the time that saying “no” brought. Looking forward to more tips!!

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  2. Sometimes, we have to take care of ourselves. God can’t use a worn out, used up tool. We have to be able to give God our best and we can’t give God our best if we have squandered it on others just because we are afraid they might get mad at us. This one issue was largely at the foundation of why I became so depressed. It wasn’t that I didn’t want people to not like me, I didn’t want them to be MAD at me! It’s tough to learn to say “no”. Mark Sutton and I deal with that in a chapter of our new book “Hope Again” on how to say “no” to all the voices screaming for our attention. Thanks for the kind comments and my prayer is for you to have discernment about when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. Just remember, Jesus couldn’t heal everyone and there were many times he had to say no!

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