The Wrong Focus
I started writing in 1994 when I was pregnant with my third baby. I was 22 years old with some college under my belt. I’d been a Christian less than five years, and I’d read only one book about writing before I prepared my proposal for submission to a publisher via a writer’s conference. And as my friend and I drove to Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference, do you want to know what my biggest worry was? (Drumroll, please.) My biggest worry was WHAT IF more than one publisher wanted my book!
(The truth is that I had nothing to worry about!)
Publishers, Oh My!
Like most wanna-be authors, when I first started writing I was focused on the elusive publishers. They were the ones who were going to make all my dreams come true. I attended Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference year after year after year. I had appointments with editors. I attended their workshops. I read the market guides and schooled myself on their needs. Yet it took nearly ten years before I landed a contract, and looking back I realized I’d been focused on the wrong thing: publishers. I’d set my sights on THEM, not realizing God had some work to do with ME.
First of all, I needed to grow up. I needed to grow in my knowledge of God, the Bible, and how to live and love as a Christian. I had great ideas for books, but when I first started writing I wasn’t mature enough to share an impacting spiritual message. God had work to do.
In my years of striving toward publication God led me through times of testing and times of healing. He connected me with a Bible-believing church and mature Christian friends. I started reaching out to help others, and I cared for my dying grandfather. I became a student of God’s Word and prayer. All these things changed me, matured me.
Writing Skill 101
I thought I knew how to write a book because I loved to read books. I wrote diligently for many years and received many, many rejections. But you know what? With the rejections, I learned what didn’t work. And I continued to read books on writing—and attend writer’s conferences—learning what did work.
My big breakthrough came when I was taking a class on scene writing at our local community college and I had an “ah-ha” moment. What the teacher (a former Hollywood Scriptwriter) shared about scenes changed how I wrote, and I had a book contract within a year. But I kept learning, kept trying, and my efforts paid off.
Humility and Dependence
When I first started writing I wanted to prove myself. I never would have admitted it to anyone, but I wanted to prove that a teen mom could make something of herself. Through the years of struggle I was humbled. I realized I could not do this writing thing without God’s help. Instead of counting on myself, I had to depend on Him. And that is where God wanted me to be. That’s still where He wants me to be.
Here is something I recently read in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) notes that struck a chord with me: “Those who teach or preach with life-changing spiritual power come into the presence of people after time in the presence of God” (lesson 3 notes).
I only have something to say when I’m in God’s Word, spending time with Him and listening to His heart. I only have words to share when I humble myself and depend on Him.
Don’t Give Up
I’m not sure where you are on the wanna-be-published journey, but I urge you not to get discouraged. Yes, it’s important to know the publishing world you want to enter, but it’s even more important to become a student of what God’s doing within you and through you.
God has a writer in mind who can impact the world . . . and He has a plan for getting you there. Trust Him, lean on Him, depend on Him, relinquish to Him. God’s approaching this writing thing with the end in mind. He knows where He’d gonna take you, and now He’s doing the work of preparing you to be the person He can trust to go there.
What about you? What has God been doing to make you the right writer?
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