For nearly six years, each week I’ve posted my best teaching on writing and editing for motivation and practical help.
I’ve taken a break or two, but the archive of several hundred posts prove it’s a priority for me–and it’s largely because I need to keep the wind in my sails and the breeze at my back.
I write to myself to remind myself of what I know and all I’m learning. It’s an intentional strategy though it didn’t start out that way. I sensed I’d lose much of it if I didn’t keep a record.
And I felt that early on.
Using my own recent and previous experience makes the posts honest, inspirational and often embarrassing/humorous.
The past few weeks I’ve focused on some specific help to improve your approach to writing and the overall quality of your work. Today, I’m struck by how writing and editing are similar yet distinct and have very different objectives–or strategic priorities.
I heard this phrase at church a lot this weekend as about 25 of us met to discuss next steps in implementing our “strategic priorities.” If you’re like me, you’re a bit cynical about marketing speak, particularly in reference to God’s people. But it’s just a phrase. And it describes well what we always try to do when we communicate.
We each have priorities we’re promoting, whether we realize them or not. And if we can be more strategic about how we promote and inspire those priorities in others–be it a congregation or an audience of readers–that’s worth our time.
For our church, identifying those required some hard work and discussion over several weekends with an outside consulting group. It ended up looking something like this. The process revealed so many surprises, just like my work with authors in identifying their vision and goals.
I found it cool how well this correlated to books, especially in seeking God’s inspiration throughout the process to define the plan of action. (I probably can’t claim it’s a coincidence that I was assigned the task of “communication coordinator” between the task forces.) While I didn’t like the phrase, I’ve long felt that identifying your “strategic objectives” should probably be a first step toward writing at a competitive level.
But here’s the idea I want to unpack over the next few weeks: Writing has a different strategic priority than editing. And from my experience with books that go through minimal editing and those that go through extensive editing, the importance of this distinction can’t be overstated.
Too often, new writers conflate writing and editing as one task or at least as closely related tasks, and miss the fundamental difference between them. Where writing is necessarily an exercise in listening exclusively to the inspiration in your own heart, the priority when editing is serving the reader. One focuses on what the writer feels, wants, and needs, the other focuses on what the reader feels, wants, and needs.
They aren’t 100% exclusive, and there’s overlap with both. But I believe being clear about these different strategic priorities helps tremendously when it comes to creating books that will stand the test of time.
Making such distinctions is critical all along the journey of writing and editing a book. So let’s explore this together in the coming weeks and be aware there’s more to this task than is visible at first glance.
After all, becoming aware of all that remains unseen is obviously one of God’s strategic objectives for our lives as sensitive observers and recorders of his wonders. Let’s commit to exploring the depth and breadth of his inspiration to us through the original creative Word.
For it’s all, “to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Eph. 3:20,21)
His power is at work within us–that is nothing short of amazing.
To him be the glory.
Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God. Not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what he can do. Expect unexpected things, ‘above all that we ask or think’. Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!
For his higher purpose today in all He inspires,