Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

Supplementing Your Fiction Habit

Modern-Day Nehemiahs

When you read 2012, what comes to mind? The Mayans? The end of the world? Instead of looking at 2012 as the end of anything, let’s look at it as a brand-new beginning.

I’d like to give you some very practical advice for propelling your writing career forward, using Nehemiah as an example. At the onset of his story, Nehemiah was told that the walls around the city of Jerusalem were broken down and that many of the people were in affliction. The Lord placed a burden on Nehemiah's heart to rebuild the walls and bring about hope in the lives of the people.

What does this have to do with us as writers? Everything! We need modern-day Nehemiahs.

What key things did Nehemiah do?
1. Nehemiah wept over the condition of the people.
• “I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:2−4 NIV).
• Like Nehemiah, our hearts need to break over the condition of our readers. This is why we write, after all, to bring healing and hope.

2. Nehemiah repented on behalf of the people.
• “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses” (vv. 6−7).
• Personal repentance comes first. You can repent on behalf of your city, your country, your home, your family. You can be an instigator for change through your writing.

3. Nehemiah took risks. He approached the king on behalf of the people.
• “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’” ( 2:2−3).
• Even if it looks impossible, you can beat the odds with your writing career. You can earn money in 2012, even if you didn’t in 2011. Stay positive. Don’t walk in fear as you face the huge challenge of building/rebuilding your career. Be bold!

4. Nehemiah carefully examined the damage in all of its detail so he could know exactly what he was dealing with and how best to plan for a successful rebuilding.
• “By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate” (vv. 13−15).
• Examine what went wrong in 2011, but don’t focus on that. Move forward!

5. Nehemiah rallied the troops and encouraged them before the work began, letting them know about God’s favor on him thus far.
• “Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work” (vv. 17−18).
• Make a commitment in 2012 to pray the Scriptures, particularly those related to finances and God’s provision. Keep them posted so that everyone in your house will be reminded daily.

6. Nehemiah created a practical plan, dividing the workload and not putting too much emphasis on any one person or group (see Nehemiah 3).
• Great advice for writers looking to earn income in 2012! Set practical, reachable goals for the New Year.

7. Nehemiah was ready when the enemy reared his head midway through the rebuilding.
• He used careful strategy so as not to fall into the enemy’s hands in the middle of the project. As writers, we need to do the same.

8. When the workers grew weary (and it looked as if the rubble was too great), Nehemiah encouraged them.
• You will get tired, but you can’t give up. God called you to write. Keep going. Sure, the rubble will look great at times. Don’t focus on it. Lift your eyes.

9. As the work finished, Nehemiah made sure there were no gaps in the wall.
• As soon as a situation seems “healed,” check and double-check to make sure there are no gaps―that the enemy has no more room for entrance

10. The first thing Nehemiah did when the wall was rebuilt was to set doors in place with gatekeepers. He also appointed the Levites and singers.
• God has always used gatekeepers—special individuals called to work closely with watchmen on the wall to keep the city safe. As a writer/scribe, you are one of those modern-day gatekeepers.
• Like the Levites, we praise, praise, praise.

11. Nehemiah registered the people (gave them a credibility).
• As a Christian writer, you have a unique testimony! Never forget what God has already done!

12. Nehemiah called Ezra the scribe to bring the Word (the law of Moses), and he read it before the people, who wept (overwhelmed).
• Worship, study, and pray with like-minded writers.

13. Nehemiah called the people to set aside their tears and to celebrate.
• Don’t be overwhelmed with mourning, even if things didn’t go as planned in 2011. God is going to do a great thing!

14. The people were instructed to live in booths and proclaim the word.
• Set yourself apart: Writing for the Lord is a holy calling!
• Proclaim the Word and your testimony often―for your own sake and others

15. The people repented corporately and made a public commitment to God.
• Repent for your areas of weakness (as it relates to your writing), then commit your career to Him.

I’m looking forward to 2012 with great excitement. I can’t wait to see what the Lord does through His scribes as we dive into this New Year!