I never had aspirations to be a writer.
Growing up it wasn’t on my radar, and not once did I consider it as a potential aspect of my adult life (with the exception of one occasion when a friend and I decided to write the next top-selling Christian teen novel—that only lasted a day and a few pages).
Yet, here I am, nearly 10 years into my writing journey, grateful every day that the Lord has commissioned me to spend a significant amount of time putting words on paper (well, I guess it’s usually a screen, but you get the idea).
Did I love it when I started? No, not really. Do I love it now? Very much so. Not only because it is a means to convey what God is teaching me with others, but also because I have grown to truly appreciate every aspect behind the creation of written works.
I am asked for writing advice on a fairly regular basis, and although I still have so much to learn, it’s a topic I delight to share about and cheer on others to pursue. So when someone suggested I write a blog post on this subject, I was more than happy to oblige.
There is a vast array of pointers I could share, but I picked three that have proven to be true in my own experience since my very first article. It’s my hope that these will put a gust of wind in your sails as you pursue writing for the glory of God.
1. Be Consistent
Arguably the question I receive the most on this subject is, “How did you have time to write a book with all your little ones?” The answer is: I made time. Granted, it took five years from start to finish, but I sought to be faithful with the time I did have, and kept plugging away until it was printed and in my hands.
If there’s anything I’ve learned being a mama of four little ones with the desire to write (and often having writing deadlines), it’s that if I don’t make time for writing on purpose, it won’t happen. And if it doesn’t happen on a regular basis, I lose momentum and get rusty, or end up getting stressed and rushing when I have an obligation to finish a piece by a certain time. So, I’ve purposefully sought to carve out time in my weekly (and sometimes daily) schedule for this pursuit.
One writer said,
“I only write when I’m inspired, so I see to it that I’m inspired every morning at nine o’clock.”Peter De Vries
Writing is similar to every other skill, in that the more time you invest in it, the better you will likely get. And, the more intentionally you prioritize it in your schedule, the more quickly you will improve.
For quite a few years, I set aside one evening every week to write. Judah graciously watched the kids and got them down for bed, and I would slip over to a nearby coffee shop for some more focused time to form my thoughts into words. Now, the coming of the pandemic meant those evenings out of the house went kaput for a while—which meant I had to get a bit innovative since I still had writing commitments to fulfill. I was surprised to find, then, that instead of my writing suffering, it ended up flourishing more than ever. All those years of cultivating a regular writing habit had paid off, having created mental “reserved space” for this exercise that could be shifted around to fit the circumstance. You know what they say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
There are certainly seasons when writing needs to take a back-burner due to other priorities (like caring for a newborn, which I see on my horizon), but God has given such peace to set it aside when He has other commissions for me to carry out instead. And God will be faithful to you, too, as you seek to write in whatever capacity is fitting for your season.
Schedule a regular daily or weekly time for writing. It may not always be super productive, but you’ll find that you begin to anticipate that time and fall into a mental rhythm that will help you be more productive in your writing over the long haul.
2. Be Edited
This is probably the hardest of my three tips, because it is certainly the most humbling. Allowing someone to not only view your writing, but to critique and offer advice on it, can certainly feel vulnerable. But it’s a critical step for anyone who is seeking to mature in their writing.
I’ll be forever grateful that I’ve had my pieces being edited from the very beginning of my serious writing journey, because it’s meant growth at a much quicker rate than I would’ve otherwise experienced. However, it wasn’t easy to swallow at first. I am someone who tends to take everything personally even when I don’t want to, and having my work spliced and revamped was no different. Even though those editing my writing were so gracious and kind, it still took a good bit of getting used to, and continual self-reminders that this had nothing to do with my character or what they thought of me as a person.
And you know what? Over the years it’s gotten easier. I’ve grown to welcome and deeply appreciate the editing process. I’ve had many “lightbulb” moments I may not have otherwise had if someone hadn’t pointed out ways I could improve. And once a piece has been edited, I’m far more confident that it says what I want it to say, and that those reading it will both understand and enjoy what I spent (often) significant time and effort to compose.
Think of someone who is a few (or many) steps ahead of you in the field of writing; someone you would trust to look over your work. This should also be someone you know will be honest with you about ways you can improve. Welcome any feedback they give you. Be willing to listen, and not immediately bristle or become discouraged at their suggestions. Ask God to help you appropriate the advice you’ve been offered with grace (and a grain of salt when necessary). Trust me, it’s worth it
3. Be Learning
This third tip I want to address on two levels.
First, continually be learning in a broad sense. The more you choose to observe the world around you, study what interests you, gain life experience both exciting and mundane, and set aside time to meditate on biblical truth, the more you will have to offer those who read your writing. I’ve heard it said by a number of people that being a reader improves your writing. Not only do books offer insight on a vast array of topics by those who are knowledgeable in their spheres, but they also gives us the chance to learn how good writing works and distinguish between various writing styles.
When someone is both knowledgeable about what they are writing and genuinely delighted by it, it draws the reader in. Have you ever heard someone share on a topic you previously had no interest in (say, the qualities of dirt), but because of the passion and true enjoyment that person exudes you are now intrigued by the topic as well? I have! And this kind of enthusiasm can only come from being someone who is an avid learner. When this is combined with excellent writing, it’s quite the power pair.
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”Henry David Thoreau
Second, and more specifically, seek to continually learn about writing itself. Consider taking an online course about the kind of writing you want to pursue (i.e. blogging or novel writing), or read books on writing; expand your knowledge on everything from poetry to punctuation. If you get the opportunity, pick the brain of a writer you admire and whose style you resonate with. Then, be courageous and try out the new skills or techniques you’re gleaning. Know that you won’t be perfect in the beginning because, well, you’re a beginner. But you have to start somewhere, and the more practicing and learning you invest in, the more quickly you’ll move from novice to aficionado (with a few steps in-between).
Be a learner. Gain life experience. Make time for reading. Be a faithful student of the Bible, because that is how we know truth, learn to appropriate it in our lives, and share it with others.
Take a writing course. Seek out the advice of experienced writers. Put into practice what you’re gleaning.
Here are a few resources I would recommend:
- Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson
- How to Write with Flair by Heather Holleman
- Intentional Blog course by Jeff Goins
- Hope*Writers (They have an official course, but I’ve only participated in a writing webinar and purchased a few of their individual videos. However, I’ve heard it’s well-worth the investment).
- Young Writers Workshop (Again, I’ve only gleaned from some of the free resources they have put out, but have heard great reviews from others)
There you have it! I hope these tips were both graspable and encouraging to you. I’m cheering you on as you venture more deeply into the exciting waters of writing.
If this post was encouraging to you, would you consider sharing it? Many thanks!