“A writer who does nothing but talk about writing is not a writer. When anyone comes to me with stars in their eyes and asks, “How do I know I’m a writer?” I often give this advice:
“Try not writing. If you can put away the dreams and do something else and it doesn’t bother you, you’re no writer. It’s too much work. Don’t bother yourself trying to be something God never planned for you to be.” –Ethel Herr, from An Introduction to Christian Writing (2nd Edition)
I read Mrs. Herr’s advice after attending the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s conference in April 2011. I learned this lesson, however, in 2005, the year I asked God to take away my desire to write if He didn’t want me to pursue my passion.
Torn between supporting my husband as he tried to save our family business and devoting time to honing my craft and learning the business of writing, my personal life was strained.
To celebrate my birthday, however, my husband sent me to SCBWI’s 2005 Working Writer’s Retreat.
During introductions, a woman at a neighboring table stood up. “I don’t know who I am saying this for,” she said, glancing around the room. “We have no right to sit on a gift God gives us. If He’s calling you to write, learn everything you can and go for it. You can’t quit.”
An overwhelming peace gushed through me. Writing wasn’t my hobby; it was an extension of my heartbeat.
After the conference, we lost our family business and, on November 23, 2007, I received my first “good” rejection letter for my YA Contemporary novel.
I committed to studying the craft of writing, with my husband’s full support, and invested in Christian Writer’s conferences.
In 2010, after attending the Writing for the Soul conference, I was hired to edit a Youth Bible Curriculum series. On May 27, 2011, eleven years after God ignited my desire to write, I sold my first short story to Encounter Magazine, through a connection I made at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference.
As I’ve stumbled along the path toward publication, I discovered valuable and vital resources for us who are serious about developing the writing ministry God has placed on our hearts:
- A growing relationship with Christ and willingness to bend to His will.
- A strong foundation in the study of God’s Word.
- A commitment to investing in quality training to learn the art and business of writing.
- An honest critique group, diligent in praying for you as they, too, hone their craft.
I’ve learned there are a few books that all Christian writers should have on their shelf, as well:
- The Bible.
- An Introduction to Christian Writing, by Ethel Herr
- The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, edited by Robert Hudson
- The Christian Writer’s Market Guide, by Sally Stuart
- A variety of great books on writing.
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein is a fabulous book to start your collection.
If writing is an extension of your heartbeat, getting equipped is part of honoring God with the gift He’s blessed you with. I look forward to encouraging you and learning with you as He molds us to be the writers He created us to be.