Monday, October 12, 2009

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Got

I started writing when I wasn't quite five years old. I wrote and illustrated my first novel around that time. "The Pupe (meaning Puppy)" was an enthralling tale about a little black puppy who took a nap and then woke up. I drew the whole thing on pink paper, then I cut it out and Mom helped me staple it together. I still have it.

I turned seventeen and decided, thanks to the encouragement from my parents, that I wanted to be a writer. So, Mom and I went to writing conferences together (some of my favorite memories!). At each conference, I would ask published writers what their best advice for me would be.

"Always start with an action scene," one author told me. So, I cut the first six pages of my WIP and worked on a new proposal.

"Stick with it and don't be afraid of rejection," another writer said. So, I stuck with the writing. Ideas came and went - some ideas I stuck with, some I didn't. I proposed without abandon and took rejection with a deep breath.

"Read everything you can get your hands on," another author mentioned. "But don't read as a reader, read as a writer." I tried to read with a discerning eye and discovered that my favorite books possessed a flow and poetry that I never noticed before.

But the best advice I ever got came from my Mom. We were talking late, late, late one night in our hotel room at one of the conferences and she said something that has stuck with me. "The writers I respect the most are the ones who are humble," she said.

A Christian writer is much more than just a writer. If the pen is mightier than the sword and the Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, think of the power that goes into each word you type. And be humbled.

CJ, Betsy and BJ talked about being called to write last week. Think about that call and think about the audience that you want to reach. And be humbled.

My copy-editor reminded me of the everlasting quality of the written word a little while ago. She was asking what my least favorite thing about writing was and I said that I hated how long everything took. You have to brainstorm an idea and really feel it out. You have to write a fabulous proposal. You have to find a great agent to propose this fabulous proposal. Then, you have to wait for what feels like forever for a decision from this magical entity called "The Publisher" and if it comes back as a "YAY!", then you get to write, wait for edits, make corrections, wait for copyedits, make more corrections, and wait for the finished product.

Tia said, "But words last for all eternity in a book!"

Be humbled.

If God has called you write, don't be proud. Don't be boasting about your talent. If anything, be scared. Wars begin and end with the written word. People live and die by the written word. God shares His love through the written Word.

Hone your gift. Work hard at what you do. Learn from the best. Words do last for eternity.

But humility is exemplified in Christ. And that is what we should aspire to.


  1. That is powerful. I have honestly never thought of writing like that before! Now I'm kinda scared, and excited.

  2. Those are some of my most favorite memories, too! We became best friends, we had a blast, and, you were discovered!! What more could we ask for??

    Hmmmm...I'm thinking we might just need to find another conference to attend. It's been far too long...don't you think?