If you’re a writer, you might as well accept it: you need help.
Your friends have been saying it for years, right? But if you write for God, you need more than mental help. In 2004 I started this blog to inspire authors to write for a greater purpose. I envisioned a website where writers could learn, socialize, develop and spout off. Since then, the industry has changed. A lot. Some say we’re in the perfect publishing storm and no one knows what will emerge out the other side. Many people are holding their breath, afraid to blink or cough too hard.
Bottom line, it’s not getting any easier. And if you're still fighting to believe and write for God, it's probably safe to say you've been "called." I'm not entirely comfortable with the implications (how do you know that you know?) and it's Christianese, but if you're called to write for a greater purpose than seeing your name in print, you're part of a quiet writing revolution. Yes, a revolution.
Why? Read on.
But first, here are the five things you must do to answer the call to write for God:
Now, traditional publishing may or may not have something to do with that last one. But it has nothing at all to do with the first 4. Before the first 4 stages have been thoroughly exhausted, no publishing option is right. And obviously, each has multiple steps; entire libraries have been written about each one.
So which stage are you in? I’m somewhere around 1.6.4 and maybe I'll be 1.6.5 by next week. I’ve lost track, but my novel’s been more than 7 years in the making and I’m doing it to the glory of God, nothing half-assed. And someday soon, I'll think about publishing options.
But first things first. All writers must be driven to completion.
Of course, drive isn’t all we need. Each of these 5 things require humility, teachability, tenacity, patience, and some would say stupidity. Vital components, each one. But to fully complete any of these stages, I’ve found writers absolutely must keep the inspiration level high. Like, full tilt. There will be times you'll want to quit and never open that document again. You’ll lose your way. Lose your file. You won’t want to keep going. You’ll doubt. One way to improve is to begin thinking like a professional. This helps you resist the resistance (thanks to Ann for her recommendation of Steven Pressfield's The War of Art).
But after we've prepared for setbacks and failures along the way, after you've accepted and learned from them, we still need support to keep on going.
I've seen this is true for many writers no matter which stage they're in. We can take each stage one at a time and commit and pray and push ourselves forward, but that's not enough. Today, from my new home office in Beaverton, Oregon, surrounded by boxes and paint cans and wondering when I’ll have a normal work schedule again, I know if I can push through to just the next task in this stage, and the next, the work will eventually get done. But will it be as good as it could have been if I'd had a community around me providing input?
See, I need help, as I've found many writers do. Maybe you, too.
Now if you're in the writing stage like me, there are some great options for support out there. But what if you want to develop in the other 4 areas as well and learn from professionals, not just peers? And what if you're writing Christian nonfiction? Memoir, advice, self-help, devotionals, studies, your options are slimmer. And what if you want balanced info about what the changes in publishing mean to you?
Publishing is changing almost completely and over the past decade, no single year has held so much change. And it's not over yet. There are some blogs and websites out there where you can pick up some pieces about this and the different stages. Conferences can be a great option too, if expensive.
But rarely do we get the whole package of what we need–experienced advice, hands-on help, considered wisdom, inspiration, and encouragement.
This is what I want from Your Writers Group. Tall order, I know. But the view I've gotten from behind closed doors has made me realize that the same needs to apply to me personally and professionally: I need to completely change how I've been doing what I do. And I need encouragement and inspiration to consistently grab my opportunities and actualize them. You see, I have several steps and several stages beyond that left to go.
For years I’ve been dreaming about starting a website dedicated to developing the whole writer. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s right on time. I'm hanging out my shingle with as much restraint as I can muster and beginning to gather the best advice from my time as an acquisitions and developmental editor, editing manuscripts for publication, consulting others who needed advice, and preparing authors for their release into the wild. This has been my day job and will continue to be. But while I work through the 5 stages, I want to offer my experience as lessons, especially as publishing gets stranger and stranger by the day.
If you’ve been looking for help and inspiration to navigate the emerging professional writing world, I hope you’ll stick around. My big idea here is no more than being open to new talent and offering an open forum to develop our talents through some good old cooperation—like Sesame Street used to be. Only in this neighborhood, we’ll also have everything to develop the whole writer for the new opportunities before us—creatively, mentally, spiritually, and practically. And everyone is invited.
I want to introduce you to some of my favorite people, the amazing writers I’ve gotten to know in my travels around the country. The ones who’ve continued to smile while shelling out good money to be told most publishers don’t want them. The ones who’ve continued to believe, despite rampant questionable practices in mainstream publishing, that there's a place in the new market for them.
I can’t tell much more than this but it’ll be a low-fee paid service for serious authors looking for serious help. And I’m giving away 100 free 1-year memberships to make sure people know this is comprehensive information you just can’t find anywhere.
Who knows, this may be someone’s ticket to future fame and fortune. And no reason we can't make some great friends in the meantime.
It’s all coming very soon, so hang on. I think you’re going to like this new frontier.
And as always, if you have a comment or suggestion, feel free.