You Can Do It: Overcoming the Language Barrier as an Author with Christel Owoo
Click here to listen to Christel’s full interview!
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How Christel discovered a style of writing she actually enjoyed, after years of not liking to write at all
- What it really means to be a coach – and how to tell if coaching is right for you
- The action Christel took to publish her book and succeed as an author despite the language barrier she faced
- How to define your message in a way that resonates with the right audience
- Christel’s advice for the writer who wrestles with fear and insecurity due to a language barrier or other challenges
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important information and links!
No one said becoming a successful author would be easy. Like any goal, it takes hard work, determination, faith, and grit to achieve. But what if English isn’t your first language – is it still possible for you to achieve your dream of being a global author?
Christel Owoo is a living example of what is possible when you persist, even when the odds seem stacked against you. Every great author has to overcome hurdles, and a language barrier is no exception. And yet, Christel continues to overcome. Let her story inspire you to walk away determined not to let anything stand in your way. Keep writing and pushing yourself – with God’s help – to become the best writer you can be.
More Than One Way To Write
Funnily enough, Christel says she never thought she’d become an author, because even though she loved to read, she didn’t like writing. But that’s the thing about God: He has a way of calling us to things we had no idea would – or could – ever happen.
After becoming a Christian, Christel started to get more and more involved in church ministry. In that ministry, she was preparing a speech using the Bible to encourage a group of women when she made a discovery: she loved to teach. And she had enjoyed the writing part of preparing her speech more than giving the speech itself. “I realized that I love digging in God’s words and putting an explanation on it,” she says. “I don’t write stories – I’m more of a teacher-writer.”
Once Christel had identified her love for teaching through writing, she started speaking more, and eventually worked to turn that first speech into a book.
It’s such a testament to God’s handiwork. Writing wasn’t anywhere on Christel’s radar, and yet He tapped into something she really loved – teaching – and then used it to show her how she could use her gifts in new ways.
Maybe you’re in need of a similar revelation. Maybe you know that God is calling you to write, but you don’t know how it’s going to get done. If so, remember that you never know what God can use. Think about it: is there a speech you’ve given or something you’ve shared in Bible study that you could take and bless others with? If you’re open and willing to seek God’s will, He might just use something that you’ve already done, or that you’re working on now, to impact even more people.
But God wasn’t finished with Christel after the one book. From teaching and writing, she’s also moved into coaching. “Coaching is not teaching somebody,” she points out, “it’s drawing out what God has already placed in a person. And that actually has always been my ministry.” Christel believes that God has placed something special in each of us, even though we often don’t see it until someone like a coach helps us draw it out. She loves looking for and finding that potential that people don’t see in themselves, and then empowering them to be able to live out that potential as God intended.
That’s the perfect description of what coaching is: looking for the best in people and helping them see it, and then helping them to actually take the steps they need to take to see that potential realized. So if you have a heart and a passion for helping people learn and grow and step into all that God wants them to be – then coaching may be for you.
Overcoming the Language Barrier – and Other Hurdles
Of course, even after Christel realized her speech could become a book, it was not all smooth sailing. She faced many challenges in the process, and at times wanted to just give up. But despite moments of discouragement, Christel was determined to do it anyway, trusting that through Christ, all things are possible.
“That’s how I am,” Christel explains. “Even if I think I don’t know how to do it, or I’m discouraged, I do it. I’m not somebody who will sit down and watch. I will do it. And of course, by sitting down, and passive waiting, nothing will happen. So I will go out. Even if I’m afraid, I will go out. So it’s like, do it afraid.”
Christel actually began working on her first book, The God of New Beginnings, more than 3 years ago. However, a severe spinal injury threw a wrench in her plans and forced her to stop working entirely for some time.
Following that hurdle, Christel had to battle insecurity caused by a language barrier, as English is her second language. On top of that, she knew very little about the publishing industry. So, she studied, and she found someone to read her manuscript and give her feedback. Although the feedback was disheartening at first – the friend who read her manuscript could understand her intention, but the manuscript itself didn’t fully communicate that message in the best way – Christel worked hard to improve. With her friend’s help, she rewrote the book.
“For me, it was a step of overcoming, ‘Am I good enough?’” Christel recalls. “That’s when I was able to write it. And I just realized that she got my message, and that’s, for me, more important than anything else. Maybe my English may not be of high standards, but it’s the message that counts. And I saw when she read it – because she read it aloud, which will help me to know whether she understands my message – she got exactly what I wanted to write.”
Next, Christel faced the obstacle of figuring out how to get her book in front of the right audience. Despite never using social media, she opened her own accounts and started learning how to use them as an author. And, in the process, she came to love using social media, too.
Maybe you, like Christel, are struggling to take the message God has given you and translate it into English in a way that will resonate. Or maybe English is your first language, and your challenge is to understand how to communicate with a global audience whose first language is not English. Regardless, we all have an opportunity to grow and learn how to communicate with each other despite any language barrier, so that we can reach a wider audience.
Christel gives us a great example to follow. If, like Christel, we can be humble enough and willing to be shocked, to realize, “I thought I was communicating in this way, but it wasn’t coming across,” we can then go back to the drawing board and continue working and improving – and our work can have much greater impact.
Finally, Christel’s story also shows us that in the author journey, we must hold onto what we believe God has called us to do, even if it’s not what others around us advise. Not everyone will see what you see. But as an author and a believer, you have a unique vision that God has given to you and no one else. If you can hold on to that vision – and believe God for something that may seem impossible to you or to others – Scripture reminds us that things that seem impossible are possible with God.
A One-Sentence Message Drives Effective Branding
As Christel learned to navigate social media, that led her to our Christian Authors Network community. Because she had become so consistent with her social media practices and proactively took advantage of a contest we were running, she was able to join our podcast tour, where we look to connect each author with podcast hosts and influencers that can help get their message out.
According to Christel, one of the biggest takeaways from working toward this tour has been learning to define her message very specifically and succinctly: “God has given me my message in me, so that if I would have to say it, I will use 1000 words. And you really helped me to finetune what I actually do in one sentence.”
Christel is right: that’s a very important part of the marketing process. It’s not enough just to connect with any influencers you choose – you have to understand exactly who it is that you want to reach with your message. That’s because you want appearing on others’ podcasts to be a win-win situation. For the host, you want it to be awesome that they get a guest who speaks to something they’re passionate about. And for you, you want to be able to get in front of your ideal audience.
So if you don’t define your message in a short, clear statement, you risk pitching yourself to the wrong influencer. Then you won’t be getting in front of the audience you actually want, and it might even be a negative experience for the host if you end up speaking about something completely different from what they expected.
Of course, there are other important components to effective marketing. But, as Christel has learned, that one exercise of defining a single sentence that encapsulates your message has so many ripple effects. When you get that sentence right, it becomes your motto, your key message, and defines how you’re showing up in the world.
That’s why Christel calls her one-sentence statement her entire branding. “Branding is also about letter type, color, etc.,” she says, “but I believe as an author or as a coach, you have a message. So it has become the branding of what I do and how I live.”
What is Christel’s one sentence? “I help Christian women grow in faith and become confident no matter what life throws at them.” She uses it on her website and in her messaging, and she applies it to everything she does, from blogging to her newsletter freebie (which provides “Power Declarations” to affirm God’s word over one’s life) to her Facebook group dedicated to encouraging Christian women to find greater confidence in Christ.
It’s Time To Take Action
Are you letting challenges like a language barrier hold you back from putting the message God has given you out into the world? If so, Christel’s advice is that you push through and do it anyway, no matter how afraid you are: “Don’t ever think you can’t do it. God put a message in your heart. So take the step, do what you have to do, and just do it.”
Christel adds that it’s very easy for us to compare ourselves with others and feed our own doubts, but that we should be confident in who we are as individuals. She reminds us that each person is at a different place in their own journey – so there’s no point comparing where you are right now with where someone else is, because each journey, like each person, is unique.
As Christel has learned, when we learn to stop comparing ourselves to others, we can believe in who God has made us to be. “In the beginning, I found it difficult,” she recalls, “because I was looking at it like, okay, everybody writes this way or that way. But I’ve learned now my passion is different. And I believe that this is the way God wants me to speak and to reach people, because in the audience will be people like me. And so I just want to say to everybody: believe in yourself because of what God has put in you. And then, just do it. Take the action.”
Christel Owoo is a living example of how a woman’s mindset can make or break her. As an atheist, Christel had a grim outlook on life. When she converted to Christianity in 1994, everything changed for the better. Now she is in love with God and has dedicated herself to helping other Christian women find their confidence and purpose in life, through speaking, coaching, writing projects, and more. Christel’s 20+ years as a Human Resource Manager has uniquely equipped her to encourage women to experience their full God-given potential. She is a contributor to Christian Women Living Magazine and PraywithConfidence.com.
CONNECT WITH CHRISTEL
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/christel.owoo/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChristelOwoo
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/163282985869873
Connect with Fellow Authors and Learn about the Podcast Tour: http://christianauthors.net/fbgroup