Author of Stay In The Game!: Get Off The Sidelines Of Life, recently sat down with Chicago Flex to discuss the motivation behind his new book, which is filled with words of encouragement.
Stay In The Game!: Get Off The Sidelines Of Life can be purchased here.
Why did you decide to start writing books? Has this always been your passion?
Allen: It’s a long story, man. But let me see if I can break it down for you. Honestly, I give all the credit to God. I never knew I could write a book. It was never a passion of mine. As a matter of fact, it never crossed my mind growing up — even when I was in college. I was scared to write a dissertation (which I’ve still never written to this day), so how in the world was I going to write a book? Ha ha.
It’s funny how God works. He has a way of bringing gifts and talents out of you that you didn’t even know were inside of you. Many times, the way He brings them out is by putting you in tough situations. Hard times. A storm or difficulty.
Truth is, I didn’t think about writing a book until I hit hard times. A tough storm. A storm that was so frustrating, stressful and discouraging that I needed a release. My storm made me want to encourage other people who are going through tough times. I wanted to tell them that things will get better. Never give up no matter how hard it is. Also, there’s one other thing, but you need to grab my first book — Watch Your Words — in order to find out.
Something happened to me, and it gave me the idea to finally write the book. The gift of writing a book and encouraging others came out of me because I hit mad adversity. And that’s real. Now I know I have that gift. God’s ways aren’t our ways.
Is there a reason you focus on themes of encouragement, positivity, and uplifting people in your books?
The world is filled with so much evil. So much hatred. It can beat you to your knees if you let it. Some people are so mean to one another. Why? Life is tough as it is. Why not encourage one another? Why not uplift them and speak life over them? Why not tell them they have what it takes?
I don’t know one person who doesn’t like to be encouraged. It makes you feel good. It gives you motivation, and in some cases — confidence.
The world needs more people who like to spread love, not hate. Encourage instead of discourage. Uplift instead of tear down. You never know what somebody is going through. Your words of encouragement could be saving somebody from committing suicide. They could light a fire under someone who’s thinking about giving up on their dreams. That’s why I like writing them.
What’s the difference between Stay in the Game and Watch Your Words?
Life and death is in the power of the tongue. If you’re constantly speaking negativity into the atmosphere, you’re going to eat the fruits of your lips.
In “Watch Your Words,” I can encourage people to beware of what you’re speaking over your circumstances, career, finances, family, etc. You can’t expect to see victory if you’re always negative. It’s eventually going to come back to bite you. I wholeheartedly believe that.
Your life can follow your thoughts and words. If you’re always saying, ‘I’m never going to be successful. Things will never work out. It’s just not meant to be …’it’s going to come full circle.
There are so many scriptures about it. You don’t even have to be religious to believe it.
For example, here’s one right here:
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the spirit and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
Great verse, right?
Look, we all do it. I do it. You do it. Everybody speaks negativity over their life sometimes. When things are hard and you can’t see a way out, I totally understand. I don’t have it all together either. I’m just trying to get better at it, and encourage people to do so in the process.
“Stay In The Game,” on the other hand, is all about perseverance. Having a never-say-die attitude. Shaking off setbacks, detours, storms, difficult circumstances — the whole nine. I used plenty of examples of how people like Tyler Perry, Les Brown, J.K. Rowling, Steve Harvey — went through hardship, homelessness, etc. and still overcame. They stayed in the game!
I played basketball growing up. It’s my favorite sport. I eat, sleep and breathe it. The game is a metaphor for life. Don’t give up when it’s hard. Don’t throw in the towel. Keep believing no matter what. Keep the faith. Keep your drive. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Stay In The Game!
What type of environment do you like to be in when you write?
I wrote about 95 percent of my books in my crib. There were times where I’d be sitting on the beach, something would come to me and then I’ll start writing in my notes or something like that. There were other times where I’d be at a lounge, bar or what have you, and something would come to me. I’ll jot that down as well. But, for the most part, it was at home. I don’t like loud environments when I’m writing. I like calm, peaceful environments.
I listen to classical music when I write, too. I can’t listen to lyrics. They throw me off. They’re a distraction. I’ll mess around and start reciting them. Classical music is perfect for me: Beethoven, Sebastian Bach, etc. I never listen to classical music outside of me writing though. It’s funny how that works.
Many inner city youth in Chicago are exposed to violence, poverty, and even gang affiliations at a young age that could make them feel like there’s no way out. Share with us some words of wisdom for them.
Well, I’m from Detroit, Michigan. I can definitely relate. I grew up around the same violence and poverty; everything except for the gang banging because it’s not as heavy there.
I want to say this: There’s always a way out. Be strong in your mind. Never lose hope. Keep believing in yourself even when it seems like nobody else does. Stand out! Don’t fit in. Don’t be like everybody else. Value yourself. Value your life. Develop your gifts and talents. They’ll make room for you!
Find mentors. It’s extremely important that you get advice from people who’ve already accomplished what you’re trying to accomplish. Mentors hold you accountable. They tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Learn from them!
Have a vision for yourself. Without a vision, you won’t know what you’re aiming at. You have to envision yourself free, successful and accomplishing great things in life.
Get rid of negative friends. Friends who do you more harm than good. You become who you HANG AROUND!
Finally, keep God first. He will get you to where you want to be. Trust Him!
Who do you hope your books reach and what do you hope readers gain from reading your books?
Everybody in the world! Like I said before, everybody needs encouragement. People need to hear words of faith, victory and life.
More importantly, I want readers to gain a new perspective and outlook on how they view the hard times, setbacks, difficulties and detours of life.
In those tough times, it’s important to keep a good attitude. To feed your mind positive messages. Why? Because thoughts will tell you things will never get better. You’re going to be in that difficulty for the rest of your life. Just settle where you are. No! I want readers to keep going no matter what. Nothing lasts forever. There’s always sunshine after the storm.
Allen is originally from Detroit and graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. He is the first person out of his immediate family to earn a college degree, and two at that. Allen has worked in the fields of news and sports reporting, producing, and radio.