I've made the recipe dozens of times. It was to be our entree for the evening served with salad, broccoli and a heaping bowl of fresh fruit. As I added each ingredient to the recipe, I made a shocking discovery, the milk needed to moisten the crust, was sour. What to do? I could drive to the grocery store and get another gallon of milk - after all, we'd need it in the morning anyway. But that seemed like a bit of a hassle. I scoured my cupboards for powdered milk that I could use as a substitute. There it was on the top shelf behind the honey, and any number of rubs used for grilling.
With the clever substitute mixed into the crust, I popped the sloppy-joe casserole into the oven. Hopefully no one would notice! But I noticed. Although the crust was light and fluffy, it had that distinct powdered milk aftertaste, that didn't leave me begging for more. Sometimes creativity in a recipe can be good, this was definitely not one of those times! Next time, I'll skip the short cut and go to the store to get the ingredient I'm missing, so the recipe turns out right.
Many things in life require that I follow a 'recipe' of sorts in order to be successful. Writing is no exception. Planning, goal-setting, persevering, and praying are some of the 'key ingredients' necessary to produce a winning piece.
In the planning stage, it's important for me to be realistic in evaluating what it will take to complete my project, whether it's an article, a Bible study, or a devotional series. Do I have what it will take to see the project through to completion? The Bible refers to this 'planning stage' as counting the cost. Using the example of building, Luke instructs, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28; KJV).
Part of planning includes setting goals. My goals for article writing are different than the goals I create when writing a devotional series. Goals should be realistic and measureable. Challenging, yet attainable. After consulting my calendar and crossing out the holidays, vacation days and special occasions, I have a basic idea of what my year will look like. With a bit of forethought, I can begin penciling-in my writing projects and set myself up for success. I may decide that I have time to post 2 devotional blogs per week, write eight articles this year, and complete three books of a nine book devotional series. For some, this would be a walk in the park, for others, this would be a stretch. Find what works for you and then stick with it!
When the third ingredient is mixed in with the proper measurements of the first two, there's a good possibility that your dream will be on its way to becoming a reality. Perseverance. The dictionary definition of 'persevere' is "To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement." When faced with an obstacle, we can either choose the easy way out and quit, or dig our heals in, and keep going.
Accountability partners go a long way toward keeping us on track. They are familiar with our weaknesses and are there to walk and talk us through the tough times. When we're discouraged, there's nothing quite like having a cheerleader who can help pick up the pieces and encourage us to continue moving forward. Years ago, the Apostle Paul shared the importance of this concept, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2)
The final ingredient is prayer. In reality, it needs to be the main ingredient liberally sprinkled throughout the entire process. Pray prior to planning, prior to goal-setting, and especially when you hit the proverbial 'bumps in the road.' I think of Paul's directive to the Philippians, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). The great God of the universe bids us to come before Him in prayer - to seek clear direction and wisdom for the task He's called us to.
Are you ready to blend these four ingredients: prayer, planning, goal-setting and perseverance? Mix equal parts planning, goal-setting and perseverance with a double portion of prayer and be prepared for successful results!
Do you have a 'recipe' for success? Whether you're a writer, or God has called you to a different task, I'd love to hear about the 'ingredients' you mix together for success!