Where do you begin when you want to be a writer…

Sep 13, 2005Write!

A friend recently wrote: “To be honest, I’ve been encouraged to pursue writing/publication but have no idea where to start, how to go about it. And whenever I do a little “checking out” of some things to figure out how to do so, I always end up feeling really overwhelmed about it all. I really admire your commitment to writing and have huge respect for your ability to sort through all the red tape, etc in order to get published. I’ve thought before about asking you about all this, but, to be honest, I thought: “Don’t trouble Mary. She’s a professional and the last thing she needs is to hold the hand of an amateur such as yourself.” Also, I do realize that you have your hands full with writing projects of your own, and are most likely very limited in your availability to offer help to beginners. So, I in no way want to take advantage of you or your expertise.”

This post, pulled from my monthly RelevantProse ezine (subscribe by emailing here) is dedicated to writers like the one above, who feel a passion in their bones to write for publication, but don’t know exactly how to start.

Before you begin, count the cost. Remember that Scripture about the tower? Luke 14:28 says, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” Being a writer is a lot like building a skyscraper (a modern-day tower). It takes a lot of preparation to lay a deep, earthquake-proof foundation. It takes expertise. It takes time. No skyscraper is built in a day; nor is any writing career built on one chance encounter with an editor.

If you want proof of this, I invite you to check out Brandilyn Collin’s blog, particularly in February, March and April where she tells her story of how she was published. It reads like a suspense thriller (which makes sense, since that’s what she’s writing). Here’s the link.

Learn the craft of writing. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Many writers I meet believe God has called them to write. If that is so, then wouldn’t you want to be excellent in that calling? What if God called you to be a professional pianist? Wouldn’t you study the masters, practice all the time, join a symphony, and maybe teach? Why would we think writing is any different? It is both art and craft. I can’t emphasize the importance of craft enough. Last year, I attended Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference as faculty. A lot of my time I spent reading through people’s submissions. Some were stellar. Others were mediocre. A few were downright needy. There’s no point going to a conference, in my opinion, if you haven’t taken the time to learn the craft.

How do you learn the craft? By reading. By BOC time (behind on chair), writing. By being risky and daring enough to join a critique group. Dedicate time to write. Set goals. Start a prayer team for your writing. (You’ll notice in every acknowledgements section of the books I write, I thank my prayer team. I don’t think I could do it without them.) Go to a writer’s conference. Read writing magazines. But mostly, just write, write, write, write, write, write, write.