Dreams Coming True is a new Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
Welcome Jonathan Malm, author of Created for More, to Dreams Coming True! Leave a comment below for the chance to win a copy of the devotional (only U.S. residents are eligible).
Hi! I’m Jonathan Malm. I’m a creative entrepreneur and recently, a published author. I grew up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, then as a pastor’s kid in the United States. Now I work from San Antonio on various projects and do my best not to annoy my wife (too much). I also roast my own coffee and volunteer at my church.
When did this creative dream begin?
I’ve been blogging for a while about creativity—especially for churches. One day, while my wife and I were visiting her family in Argentina, I was trying to explain what I blog about. I translated a few of my blog posts into Spanish so they could understand, and they mentioned that they sounded quite a bit like devotionals. I realized a lot of what I was teaching in my blog posts was based on Biblical principles. That put the idea for Created for More in my head. Over the next couple of years I slowly developed the dream.
How did Created for More get started?
I was planning on self-publishing this project. I’d written and edited everything. But on a whim, I reached out to Moody Collective to see if they might be interested in helping me publish it. After a few calls with their Acquisitions Editor, we decided it was a good fit and we went to work.
What makes Created for More stand out from the crowd?
I’ve always had a hard time finishing devotionals. I think that’s because devotionals rarely talk about the thing I think about the most: my work. I wrote this devotional to show how being creative and making things can be just as spiritual as spending time with your nose buried in a book. Creativity can be a form of worship.
What are the goals and intentions of Created for More?
I’d love for artists to start seeing their work as a spiritual act. And I’d like those who don’t see themselves as artists to start seeing their life and their world differently—through a creative lens.
How does Created for More create community?
I’ve set up a website where readers can post the results of the creative challenges I’ve included in the book. I’d love for people to make new friends and connections through the companion site (www.createdformore.me).
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly…but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
You have to realize that there’s a good chance your creative dream is from God. He gave it to you. And if God gave you that dream, you have the responsibility to act on it. That means realizing this project is more important than that football game . . . that soap opera . . . that magazine. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but they take time away from your dream.
Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your project. Where do the ideas come from? How many are involved in the process? Does each contributor have a specific role?
I’m a slave master when it comes to my work. I break every project into small activities and don’t let myself have fun until I knock off every item from my to-do list. This project meant one day of research, another day of writing a chapter. I did that for 60 workdays. Then I edited for 30 workdays. I included this in my regular to-do list because I knew it wouldn’t get done otherwise.
What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground?
The hardest part was deciding when it was ready. I realized quickly it would never be perfect. But once I got it to a certain place, I knew others would come alongside me to make it as good as possible.
What have you learned?
A good idea is easy. Making it happen isn’t quite as easy. And the strength of every project isn’t in the first draft. It’s in the thousands of edits afterward.
Have there been any unexpected surprises?
My older brother has a book coming out one month after mine with Moody Collective as well. It’s been fun to have a little sibling rivalry going with him.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about starting a book?
I think almost everyone has a book in them. But most people are waiting for the right time to write it. There’s never a right time. Now is the only time you have. You’ll never have more available time than you do right now.
I’ve built a pretty large network of people through other projects. These people believe in what I’m doing and they’re helping me so much. Plus Moody Collective is doing a phenomenal job at getting the word out about the book.
Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised?
I’ve always loved the idea of marketing. It was my major in college. So this has been the perfect marriage of my education and my creative drive.
Any marketing mistakes you would avoid?
The biggest mistake I’d avoid is thinking everyone will love your project. Your project will not be for everyone. Choose who you’re aiming for and do all you can to make them happy. Don’t try to make everyone happy.
What social network has worked best for you?
Twitter has been the best for promotion. But Facebook has been the best to connect with people. It’s hard for people to be too much of a celebrity when their mother comments on all their statuses and deep thoughts.
What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours?
Start now. Get someone you trust to brutally edit your project. Then publish. Practice and practice some more. But ship what you’re practicing on.
Where do you see Created for More in five years?
I’d love this book to have staying power. I hope artists and creative teams around the world will work through this book annually—re-evaluating their own creative nature and the creative nature of God.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your creative dream, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.
What’s your favorite line from the book?
It’s silly, and most people won’t even get the joke. But in quoting Martin Luther, I used this line:
I love this quote from Martin Luther (the German monk, not the junior king).
I fought to keep that line through countless edits. And I’m so glad it’s still there.
How can we find your creative dream come true?
Check out my 30-day devotional, Created for More, at www.jonathanmalm.com/createdformore.