I often get emails from people asking me how to get published or how I knew I was called to write, or some variation of that question. Or they might ask what the signs are for the calling of writing. Or whether I think they’re specifically called to write. Before I answer, I must make a distinction. God may call a person to write, but not for publication. When folks ask me about being called to write, they are usually asking if they are called to write a book that gets published, then other people buy it in a bookstore.
That’s a narrower calling than simply placing your words one after the other. For many years God called me to write in my journal in obscurity. Miles of words. Why? In retrospect, He was after my healing. He knew He’d given me the ability to process on the page, so He nudged me to do that. And as I processed, healing came. Slowly, but it came.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. It reflects my own journey and how God called me to write. But I have a feeling that if some of these things are true for you, chances are there’s a calling there you need to take seriously.
You’re probably called to write if:
- People tell you they are changed or challenged by reading your words. And these people are not just your mother or your best friend. Strangers read your words and go out of their way to tell you what you wrote made a difference. I remember writing a short story that got published in the Dallas Seminary student paper (when my husband was a student there). A professor went out of his way to hand write me a thank you note for the story. These kinds of things happen to those who are called to write.
- Professionals in the writing industry (agents, editors, publishers) have commented on your writing in a very positive way. Even when you’re just starting out, you hear from others in the industry that you have potential.
- You weather criticism about your work with grace and are determined to always write better. (If you are unteachable or you think you’re the next John Steinbeck, please rethink pursuing writing as a career.) In light of this, you welcome critique and probably belong to a local critique group.
- You are passionate about the writing craft. Even in your blogs, you strive for great writing, good grammar and usage, and clarity. It bothers you if you send an email with an error in it.
- You have heard from God that this is what He wants you to do. (But be sure you clarify what God means! If you never hear from anyone else about your ability, or you’re too afraid to get your work critiqued, consider that His calling you may be for your benefit only, to bring healing to yourself or perspective to a situation.)
- Even if you never made a dime at writing, you’d do it anyway. (I know this is true for me. I’ll always write. I’ve always written.) Along the same lines, you are willing to labor in obscurity, much like an apprentice, not pushing into publication when you’re not yet ready, but patient for God’s timing.
- You take your writing seriously. You set goals and meet them. You pursue publication in a systematic, informed way.
- You are not afraid to learn about every aspect of the publishing industry: writing, editing, contracts, marketing, speaking, PR, publisher relations.
- You can’t help but mentor other writers early in their publishing path.
- You’ve settled the ego issue–that getting published doesn’t validate who you are as a person. You are wildly loved by God right now, unpublished or published.
So, how did you do? Or do you agree with my list? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Helpful articles and resources:
- How to write a query letter. (It’s the first step toward publication!)
- The difference between traditional publishing and self publishing.
- 12 Ways to get started in writing.
Or if you want to take your writing to the next level, consider getting a copy of The 11 Secrets of Getting Published.