Advice from Writers to Writers

I would say “Don’t lose your joy.”

Authors write because God gives us these beautiful stories to tell, the heart to read and the pleasure of words. When we remember our joy, the edit and rewrite process is alright. But when we forget the joy, the other work becomes a deep bog we get stuck in. The author and finisher of our faith is also the author and finisher or our stories. We need to trust Him completely. He will guide our words and our finished products to the place He wants them to go. And in that is joy. So . . . don’t lose your joy.

Chandra Lynn Smith
*****

The two qualities that have become most vital in serving God on the writing
journey have been my “AA” of writing (and alcohol is not involved.)

Availability and Authenticity.

Availability means I show up. I make the time and plant myself in the chair
and let God know I’m there for Him to use IF He choses to. I ask Him what
KIND of writing He wants me to do, what stories He wants told. It sounds
sort of basic, but it’s been a difficult battle, because walking through
that door into my work space in the morning, I have to push through a
barrier of self-doubt, anxiety, conflicting priorities, anxiety, and
discouragement. I hate that I don’t have something better to bring Him to
work with – which tempts me to not show up. But instead I bring Him what I
have.

For me Authenticity means that I don’t write from a place of sage-like
wisdom and cleverness with all the right answers to every dilemma. I write
from my broken places, in hopes that as I face my hard questions and reveal
my places of failure, others can feel God’s grace.

God’s grace leaks out of our broken places into the lives of others, and so
when I’d rather pretend I didn’t have those cracks and chips – instead I let
my questions and scars breathe life to my characters. I raise questions I
don’t have easy answers for – I don’t write from my strengths, or things I
have all figured out. I write about the things I don’t understand – trusting
that God can whisper answers through the stories.

Sharon Hinck

*****
Be true to yourself and who God made you to be. Never give up!
Michelle Sutton (pen name)

*****
Continuing to grow spiritually and emotionally is so important. There is so
much the Lord wants to do in each one of our hearts and lives! And the more
we grow, the more beauty and depth we will see in our writing.

I recently attended a New Life Ministries conference with two tracks –
Healing is a Choice and Lose it For Life. The teaching was outstanding, and
the insights brilliant. This workshop puts hands and feet on so many great
principles from the Word. You also have small group sessions with a
counselor. My group of eight women became dear friends over the course of
the weekend as we shared the issues in our hearts and worked through many of
them together. That was very powerful.

Understanding myself more and how to apply the principles I learned this
weekend is going to help my writing. It will give me new insight into my
characters and their needs and issues, and also insight and wisdom that God
offers to work through these problems.

Carrie Turansky
*****

When the snake of rejection slithers to spread its venom of discouragement,
I cringe. That familiar and unwanted sensation surges through me. And
nauseous, I splash in the pool of self-pity, turning moist eyes to other
writers who seem to glow at their heap of publications teetering on their
writer’s portfolio.

Doubt about my skill or about my misunderstanding God’s calling also adds
gloom to my disposition. Excuses flutter about-my job commitment robs needed
writing time, no opportunities to attend writer’s conferences, lack of
technical knowledge for marketing on line, and even my blindness piled atop
the mound of reasons.

And why not, I might as well add the hint of envy. Yes, with a green glow to
my countenance, I shamefully admit, the nose-wrinkling attitude toward other
writers’ success. And to add to the mess, I found unhealthy comfort in
thinking my blindness kept me from taking that next step toward author’s
glory.

Then I read this:

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who
makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one
purpose and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”

(1 Corinthians 3:7)

I breathed relief Knowing only God would be the one to make my writing
career grow. So, I adopted the triple A insurance method:

A-Ask myself what would God want me to do next.

A-Assert my belief God will fulfill His promise in Jeremiah 39:11.

A- Accept the challenge to exert diligence in all I do.

The “Three A” method worked. Now, enthusiasm replaces envy. Renewed
determination fuels me beyond rejections. And greater confidence in God’s
promise propels me forward. I found the three “A” system is the best
insurance protection against discouragement. So, with policy in place, I
plunge ahead cheering other writers’ success, and choosing to revel in
gratitude, I look up to God, who, in His timing, opens another door for me.

Janet Perez Eckles — http://www.janeckles.com/
*****

I would say write YOUR truth, even if it’s ugly. The truth resonates. Maybe that’s only for your eyes, but writing it down will help you work through it one way or the other.
Kristin Billerbeck

*****

The best advice I can give to writers is to reiterate what you said last year. You said something like:

“If you truly believe that God is omnipotent, then you won’t worry about your writing. You will believe that whatever happens, God has your best interest in mind.”

That was so freeing to me. I’ve never had much of a problem with waiting. I’ve waited as long as 2 years once before getting a rejection letter, but so many people on the ACFW will say things like, “It’s been so long, maybe God doesn’t want me to write.” Instead of trusting God, they are ready to give up.

Jeanne Marie Leach
*****

I read somewhere to put your best stuff in your manuscript – your best
lines, your favorite story, your most interesting character trait – don’t
hoard it to yourself. As I wrote my first book, a cozy mystery called A
VASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY, I struggled with this advice. After all, I
might need some of these great ideas for the next book! I hoped there
would be a sequel and maybe another and…well, I couldn’t just give it
all away in the first book! What if I needed it later?

Each time I would consider holding back, using something else instead, I
felt a prodding within. It seemed like the Lord was saying, “Go for it!
It’s a great line. Use it! You can trust Me…I’ll give you more when you
need it.”

Really? Well, okay. I would use it…but almost grudgingly. I worried I
was wasting it all on the first book. Then another thought would supplant
that one and I’d think, There will be NO first book if it isn’t
interesting enough, compelling enough, fun enough – good enough. And no
second book either. I had to take the chance and trust the Lord in this.

Yet Who better to trust than the Author of Life Himself? Where else would
I find such creativity than from the One who dotted the backs of ladybugs?
He was REALLY into detail! And so I chose to trust Him and gave my
manuscript everything I had. Poured in all my best “stuff” and He was, as
always, faithful to the call He gave me.

So…give it all away. There’s plenty more where that came from!

Cathy Elliott

*****

Great question. My advice would be to not get your
identity in what you do, but in who you are before
God. God told Abraham in Gen 15:1, I am your exceeding
great reward.

We must remember in this solitary, introspective
business to carry the reward of Jesus within our heart
and mind. He is all we need. But to do that, we have
to hang out with Him, get to know Him.

I’d also advise being careful about taking the
business of writing too far toward ministry ideals and
terms. We all minister through our work. But if we
consider writing “our ministry” it is going to make
the hard times and rejections so much harder – as if
God is not anointing our ministry.

Writing is a job. It’s a business. Yet one in which
we can be very effective ministerially. (is that a
word.) 🙂

So, act professional. Treat writing as a job, a
business, yet pray for God to use you to touch the
lives of others.

Rachel Hauck

*****
Consider critiques, teaching, mentoring and correction gifts.

For a person to be truly brutally honest, they must be vulnerable. If someone tells me that something I’ve written needs work, or stinks, or is not up to my potential, then they are risking my wrath.

Writing is so personal, and the goal should always be clarity. If we don’t want to be understood, why would we write? So for someone to invest vulnerability into my work is a huge gift.

Now remind me I said this the next time I face rejection or correction. : ).
Kelly Klepfer
******

I just finished a weekend of speaking at a book festival and I’m always surprised by the folks who are thinking they might like to try their hands at writing. I always make a point of saying that if one is not compelled to write, then writing is cruel and unusual punishment, and I quote Sidney Sheldon (certainly not my favorite writer) who was asked by a reporter what he would be if he was not a best-selling published author. He replied, “An obscure, unsuccessful author.” I think it takes that kind of dedication/compulsion to truly write–and certainly to publish routinely. I am so compelled to write that I often write out my prayers!

The other “essential” is discipline, and I often speak about inspiration versus discipline and/organization . It takes both. One alone will not provide a successful career as a published author. I believe that discipline and compulsion should go hand-in-hand. If you’re compelled to write, you might as well be disciplined about it!

None of this may be what you are looking for, but if so, feel free to use it. God bless, Debra Rather aka Arlene James

*****

My advice would be to find your passion and write to it, regardless of
what’s popular or selling at the time. I believe we all know what our
passion is but we don’t always follow it, and thus we lose out on some
amazing rewards God has for us. When we write to whatever it is that makes
our hearts ache and our eyes well with tears, we discover more about
ourselves, our world, and our God.

Marilyn Hilton

*****

If I could pass on a snippet of advice, this would be it. I am particularly mindful of this since last week a very frustrated undiscovered writer unloaded on a blog for writers, lashing out against a post by a gifted and gentle novelist that pretty much said getting published and staying published ain’t the end of the rainbow. I could sense how utterly at the end of his or her rope this writer was. Step aside, the writer commanded in response, and let us who dream of being where you are take your place. I know the sorry place where this unfounded, irrational response came from. Anyone who is published probably knows it, too. It’s that place where you think that getting published is all you want, all you’ll ever want, and why, O God, can’t it just happen? The thing is, I found out getting published is a heady step on a ladder of desires that begins with getting published, not ends there. After you’re published all you want is for your books to sell. All you want is to have the kind of publicity and marketing support So-and-So gets for her books. All you want is to be on CBD’s Top Ten. All you want is a Gold Medallion. All you want is a Christy nomination. All you want is film-makers chasing after the rights to make your story a screenplay. All you want are steady sales figures and that next contract. All you want is to go into a bookstore and have the owner say, “It’s you!” instead of “And who are you?”

Longing doesn’t end with getting published. It begins. It’s a lovely beginning but it’s an unbelievable climb to contentment, a steep ascent that can suck the joy out of your life quicker and more steadily than waiting for a contract ever did. I am not saying it’s not worth it, I’m saying it’s hard work. All the effort you put into waiting and proposing and waiting and pitching and waiting and praying and attending conferences and waiting, you will put into maintaining your joy, integrity and contentment once you’re published. There is no natural plateau. You make your own place of rest. It doesn’t happen on its own and it doesn’t happen when you get published. It can be a truly wonderful place of rest, but you have to make it – as surely as you wrote the book that you so earnestly dreamed of seeing in print. They are both wonderful endeavors, they will both tax you to your core. And in the end, we have to find our contentment in who we are in Christ and not what we do.

Susan Meissner

*****

Jesus successfully loved His people and cared for His disciples as He walked among them. But He didn’t step fully into His God-ordained role until two breathless moments–Gethsemane and Calvary. Surrendering to His Father’s perfect will in the Garden, knowing what it would cost Him. And spilling His blood on the ground, dying to give us life. Many people successfully write words. But a writer for God doesn’t step into his or her God-ordained fulfillment until two breathless moments–surrendering our writing to the Lord’s perfect will, knowing what it will cost us. And spilling the blood of our insecurities and vulnerabilities on the pages of our work, dying so others might find life. Mary, these are the thoughts the Lord has impressed on my own heart today as I’m having a Gethsemane afternoon. Cynthia Ruchti

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