When we hear one of our Write Brilliant graduates publishing yet another book, we throw a 10-minute dance party. And David Ellis’ new book, Losing Dad, Finding Father is no exception. This book is transforming reader’s lives.
In the process of writing and releasing Losing Dad, Finding Father, Ellis learned a treasure trove of rich lessons (read to the end… they’re magical).
But along the way, he raised a question every writer wrestles with along the way.
What will be the impact of your writing?
Is writing really worth it?
What if I just transform one person’s life?
Ellis’ response to these soul wrestling questions took my breath away.
Write Brilliant: How are you different after writing your book?
David Ellis:Although writing, in one form or another, has been part of my life since I was a teenager, I never believed that I had a compelling story to tel l nor that, if I did, I’d have the ability to articulate the narrative in any constructive way.
Now that I can look at a physical book in my hands, one with my name on the cover and my words on its pages, the voice of doubt is forced to contend with proof that the years of unbelief were wrong. Sure, I still wrestle with questions, wondering if I have more to offer, wondering if I can do it all again.
But something almost magical happened when I walked out of the printer’s office with that first book proof in my hand, though I hardly recognized the shift in the moment. Before the book was written, telling myself, “I am a writer,” often felt like an exercise in wishful thinking. Now, book in hand, that statement carries real weight which energizes my writing.
Where were you in your writing before becoming a Write Brilliant Academy graduate?
The term affixed to the method I employed prior to Write Brilliant is “flow-of-consciousness writing”—a random, wandering, often unfocused process of capturing and recording my narrative.
Through Write Brilliant, I learned that a single book did not have to contain every idea, allowing me to set aside content that didn’t belong together and more importantly, relieve the pressure I’d felt trying to jam together every concept.
Second, I discovered the skillful art of book and chapter mapping, giving both a solid, well-thought-out compass to guide me out of the confusion towards a destination yet the freedom to express my ADHD style of writing without the overwhelming structure of a strict outline. I have already started mapping my next book.
What did you learn about impacting lives through your writing?
Though I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many people over the years in retreats, groups and churches, I’ve had to be face-to-face. Writing is allowing that impact to go where I may never reach in person.
But there has been another impact I didn’t anticipate.
When I was in the middle of writing Losing Dad, Finding Father, there was this moment when I prayed, telling God that if my book changed just one life, I’d be satisfied. He asked back, “Have you been changed writing it?” The answer was, “yes,” a profound, “yes.” He replied, “Then I’m satisfied.”
God first intended for me to be helped through my writing, and through that, release me to help others. God continues to remind me that he reaches others through his restoration of my story, not some other way.
What’s the biggest lesson or two you’d tell a new writer that you’ve learned from your journey?
For some reason, I always believed that good writers were born, not made. And yes, I believe God implants different creative gifts in each person, including writers. As much as I’d love to be another Bono, the inside of my shower should really be the only audience to ever hear my loud caterwauling to my favorite tunes.
God definitely created me to write. That is my art. But like any gift, it must be developed and honed or the art will remain immature and limited in its impact. So to all new writers, embrace the hard work of honing your craft—the blood, sweat and tears required—because writers are born, but great writers are formed and remade in the fiery crucible of struggle in order to tell the story God intends for them to tell.
What did you learn from Write Brilliant that helped you move toward publishing, growing a platform, and publishing?
Write Brilliant provided the best mixture of practical, proven instruction, real-world wisdom and truth-based encouragement I have ever encountered in a single program.
There are plenty of well-intentioned coaches available who try to infuse writers with self-belief, there are numbers of social media gurus that can give advice on blogs and SEO, there are experienced pros offering tips and techniques on every aspect of the writing journey. I know. I’ve read dozens and dozens trying to piece together a cohesive plan to get me moving.
Write Brilliant’s step-by-step guidance put first things first which made each subsequent step make sense. Why start writing a book before you’ve even figured out your audience or the unique voice you have to offer? Nailing down the foundation, even though this was in many ways the hardest work, created a secure place to start to build my platform and the confidence needed to take the bold, scary steps of believing I could publish.
Practically speaking, the information shared at Write Brilliant regarding marketing efforts, building a network, practical considerations when pursuing traditional publishing and the benefits that could be realized with just a little more work helped me choose to self-publish. It wasn’t a fallback position, but a strategic decision because of the knowledge gained from the program.
What’s one secret tip that can help new writers succeed?
Create and commit to a specific time and place that allows your creativity to show up. I used to wait till I “felt creative” to sit down and write. I still capture those moments when the words are flowing out of my brain faster than my hands can seem to capture them (side tip: ALWAYS keep a method on your person to capture the creative thoughts of the moment—iPhone, pen and paper, voice recorder, I’ve grabbed napkins in a pinch), but nothing beats a consistent time and a controlled place to make significant progress. The problem lies in a misconception.
We think we need to “get creative” in order to write. But if you are a writer, you ARE creative… already. The problem is the thousands of distractions that keep creativity away, like a nervous deer in the woods. Make the space and environment. Then watch creativity emerge out of hiding nearly every time.
How has your traffic increased from some of the methods you learned from Write Brilliant?
For Losing Dad, Finding Father, I’m on this leg of the journey right now. Writing and publishing was part one, marketing is part two, so this is a work-in-progress.
However, the changes I am in the midst of making–to my website, social media accounts and in-person networks–have already started to pay off. Two weeks ago I sold my first case of books to a network contact who wanted to offer them to attendees at his retreat. I’ve seen traffic on some of my Facebook posts reaching thousands, not the hundreds as before.
Honing my marketing messages so I can tell someone about the book in a succinct statement has resulted in numerous book sales on the spot. All this and I have yet to launch the major changes which are in the works coming in just a few weeks, so I am encouraged (and a bit nervous) about the audience that I anticipate reaching soon from the powerful methods I’ve learned from Write Brilliant.
How have you seen someone else’s life impacted by your work?
Last week I had a total stranger message through my Facebook page relaying how Losing Dad, Finding Father took him back into the very places he’d been seeking restoration for the last ten years.
Like me, he had lost his dad in his mid-twenties and found himself struggling in so many areas of life, even questioning the foundations of his faith.
My book opened his eyes to the impact in a way he’d never seen before, guiding him back to our True Father and gave him significant hope.
I mean, how much better can it get than that? The tagline for David Ellis Media, the imprint I self-publish under, is “Unearthing True Stories of Revolutionary Hope.” To receive a report like that, and dozens more like it, is humbling yet confirming that this adventure of writing is where God wants me to be.
To learn more about David Ellis, visit his website. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter. Grab a copy of his book, Losing Dad, Finding Father, here.
"Jonathan and Margaret are two of the best writing coaches in America, and I've learned much from them over the years. Their Write Brilliant program will help you grow deep roots and a wide reach. Do not wait to sign-up!"
– Gabe Lyons
Bestselling author of Good Faith and founder of Q
"I highly recommend Jonathan and Margaret's program for writers of any level!"
– Jennie Allen,
bestselling author of Nothing to Prove and founder of IF:Gathering
"The firehose of information I absorbed through Write Brilliant transformed the way I write. Jonathan and Margaret bring a combined breadth of knowledge and a straight-shooting style that helped me clarify my target audience, expand my platform, and get practical about what it takes to dedicate myself to my craft. I learned more in this one course than in all past conferences, books, blogs, and videos I’ve engaged. Write Brilliant is a one-stop-shop for taking your writing to the next level."
– September Vaudrey,
author of Colors of Goodbye
"In all my years of leading organizations, I've encountered dozens of how-to programs, but none of them has been more effective then this one. I should know. The Write Brilliant strategy gave me the boost of confidence I needed to create two books on leadership. Whether you want to author a book or just create a blog, make sure you don't miss this fantastic course."
– Brad Lomenick,
author of H3 Leadership and former director of Catalyst
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