Tag Archives: writers groups

Writers for God, How Can We Answer the Call in All 5 Stages?

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:

  1. Write.
  2. Edit.
  3. Brand.
  4. Network.
  5. Publish.

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.

Thoughts about this blog and the grown-up it may one day become

First, a little sonic amusement…

Wouldnt_you_like_to_write_a_story

  

 In looking deeper to what’s beneath the surface of reality, I’ve been thinking a lot about the new website I’m hoping to expand YWG into. I also thought I’d relay a piece of what’s been an interesting discussion this week going on at the old watering hole, I mean the WaterBrook Multnomah weekly editorial meeting.

  

First, a quote: “Since the Web is killing the old media, we face a situation in which culture is effectively eating its own seed stock.”

  

This comes from a top-trending article in The New York Times from this week by Michico Kakutani. And another quote: William Gibson said in Wired, “Audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital.”

  

A brilliant coworker friend of mine says she thinks this is a big part of why Wikipedia is popular. She’s not convinced its popularity has grown only because it’s free or easy to navigate and search. The interweb’s explosion of OpenSource and CollaborativeThink projects like this feel like home to digital natives perhaps as much because they are “ours” and not something compiled, shaped, and maintained by an outside “them.” And in that way, by being created and policed by its own most active users, Wikipedia is personal, organic, interactive, and alive in ways that more formally-edited and monitored sources are not.

 

But this is the point: Wikipedia is not always accurate or true and its users accept it and even in most cases defend this essential quality. It’s a “work in progress” and this is it’s deeper value. We’re losing something in a trade for something else. Therefore, giving up the expectation of truth (let alone capital-t Truth) for the experience of connectedness becomes a reasonable exchange.

 

When what you find most important is the community surrounding the info source, rather than the actual content, the value of the printed book in our society has fundamentally decreased.

 

And what few in traditional publishing are willing to admit is that this trade off (as the article and Mr. Lanier’s books posit) is exactly what we’re in the midst of.

 

I believe this is why we need conscious writers who value capital-t Truth to step in, first to stave off this systemic decline in the value of truth, but also to show that truth and connectedness aren’t mutually exclusive. Both are actually predictable results of any healthy community. No one need simply accept that artificial division and its fall-out as inevitable.

 

I see this supporting the dream I’ve had for the past 2 years or so, to see a healthy community of invested writers and readers online, a place where the best of collaborative input and responsible, informed truth-sleuthing can come together for the sake of something higher than business as usual What if a bunch of writers, editors, agents, and publishing folks were committed to growing, expanding abilities and inspiring their counterparts? What if we took the new interactive publishing to a community of innovation, collaboration, and remixed (“transformed?”) art and words?

 

What would that look like? Could I find people who'd join?

 

The strange vision I see is of a group that’s like a grand old antique dining table. Follow me here. When we clear off this table and see under the piles and grime to the ancient wood underneath, its lustrous sheen of years and years …and years…of human history, see the deep, rich color of memories reflected in its surface, then we know the true value of our various combined contributions. We find countless somethings we didn’t realize were there or even available before. We remember the deeper importance of what it is we’ve been looking for underneath it all. And we find our places to sit at the table together and just commune, break bread, and listen among the foundational connections we’ve enjoyed over time and space with countless voices throughout the years.

 

There is a way forward here, for many of us, where there wasn't before. In that place, I’m thinking anyone missing this connectedness could find it in a reading and writing community online. Through different seasons of life, talking about writing and authors we’ve loved, new emerging talent, and the beauty of words and literature, a blog is nice. But a bigger community for the book workers, those who do this every day like me, I imagine there are others who feel they could use this as much as I do.

 

Would you be drawn to such a community? Are you currently missing discussion about the deeper purpose of your work? Let me know if you'd like to share.