The power to inspire. The ability to encourage. The responsibility to inform. The written word has an abundance of functions. There’s a strange phenomenon among people who are gifted in the area of writing. As believers in Christ, the gravity of communicating truth about God, about the eternity and about ourselves seems to only accentuate the divide?
From Concept to Contract
Let’s start with some essential truths. You are a writer. You have something valuable to communicate to another. Regardless of the possibility of what is hidden within you, you may be writing the next American novel, the lyrics to the song we’ll all soon be singing, or a Bible Study. The first step is often recognizing that God has made you a steward of a treasure.
This New Year may bring the realization of a dream you have held in your heart for years, but only if this year is unlike last year. As elusive as the fulfillment of a dream can seem, it often is founded in some plain old-fashioned hard work. Will 2011 find you bemoaning another year without discernible progress towards your goal or celebrating that 2011 was the year you made some significant forward progress? What determines your accomplishments are the steps you are willing to take right now. Some steps are individual, others best done in community… while others will impact the masses.
There is the physical element of sitting down and setting the words on to paper. Writing requires you to demonstrate great personal discipline as applying your body to the chair is often the missing element before applying word to a page. Many of us don’t like writing nearly as much as we like having written. Know yourself. Do you write better early in the morning before your family rises? Do you collect snatches of dialogue and possible plot twists on your PDA during work only to dump it all at the end of the day? Do you need to take a weekend away where you hole up in a borrowed beach house or hotel room where you do nothing but write for eighteen hours at a stretch? Whatever works for you is effective only if you apply it. Look at what has been successful for you in the past and apply the same wisdom to your writing. Do it now. You must write something down if you ever want to be a writer (or at the very least get it recorded for transcription).
Once the words are safely affixed to the page and you have determined that they are the right words in the right order, it is time to bring them into the harsh light of day. You have taken them as far as you can without outside critique. Whether you have a friend who is an editor or you are a member of a critique group such as Word Weavers (Word Weaversof SouthFlorida.com), shining the bright light of someone else’s perspective will not only point out the places that your writing sparkles, it will also illuminate the glaring cracks that must be fixed before your project moves towards publication. Resist the temptation to shield your project by showing it only to those in your “friends and family” circle. Much of our writing was never intended for the masses. We often write for ourselves and for those closest to us, but when your project is destined for a wider audience, you must gird yourself for a critical review that holds nothing back. Treasure the encouragement and consider the criticism. What you will end up with at the end of the process is something that has been tested and purified.
“I went from an unpublished regular guy with a dream of writing a novel to a full-time professional writer with five novels.”
Word of Encouragement
I love that Word Weavers now has a South Florida Chapter. A critique group I was a part of four years ago played an important part of my own journey to becoming published. Now when people ask me about publishing their own stories I can point them to Word Weavers. It’s a critique group, but it’s so much more. It’s a place to get together with other writers, to learn about the business, to encourage others and be encouraged. It’s a great resource for writers and I think it’s the community of people who are a part of Word Weavers that make it such a great resource –
Laura Ann Miller, Author of I See the Me God Made, I See the World God Made, I See the Creatures God Made, and I See the Colors God Made
You’ve written, edited and have been critiqued. Now it’s time to test the waters of publication. Your first purchase? The latest copy of Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide. Knowing the details about the publishing houses, magazine, e-zines or devotionals to which you’ll be submitting to is vital. When writing a resume or a business proposal, we wouldn’t think of glossing over typos or being content with addressing the cover letter Dear Mr. Franks when the decision maker is Ms. Brown, but often we fail to take the same care before submitting query letters, articles or book proposals. Attending a writers’ conference can be the perfect next step. The 24th Florida Christian Writers’ Conference (FLWriters.org), happening on March 3-6, 2011, includes editors, agents, writers, and speakers from around the country with the express purpose of advancing your writing and fulfilling your dream of being published. Classes, mentor tracks, and seminars combined with the opportunity to schedule appointments with editors will provide you with all the tools you need to advance your writing.
Words of Encouragement
“When I first attended The Florida Christian Writers Conference over ten years ago, I had no idea what an impact this one event would have on my life. I met with editors, writers, and teachers who gently guided me in the craft of writing. I met my agent at the conference and went from an unpublished regular guy with a dream of writing a novel to a full-time professional writer with five novels and numerous articles published. Every year I look forward to the conference not just for the professional growth, but also to reconnect with friends and to experience the deep spiritual renewal that recharges and refocuses me. This year I have the honor of teaching the Fiction block, so I can give back to eager writers, just like others did for me. This conference is a must for anyone who is serious about writing in the Christian market.”-
Mark Mynheir, Retired Palm Bay homicide detective and author of The Truth Chasers and Ray Quinn series.