February 20, 2009

THE HEART OF A CHRISTIAN WRITER

by

DiAnn Mills - Expect an Adventure

www.diannmills.com


Even though we are called to write, that doesn’t mean everything we write is bound for publication. Some of our writing will never grace the published page. What God does with our writing is an outward expression of what He wants for our lives. Sometimes we write to teach or entertain others. Sometimes we write to help others heal or deal with painful issues. Sometimes God has us write to teach, entertain, experience healing, or deal with painful issues in our own lives. Whatever the reason, the work is the Lord's. We strive to do our best and work at our craft, but in reality, it's God's craft given to us on a golden platter to use as He sees fit.


What I’d like to do is dissect the writer’s heart, and lay out the pieces for us to examine and then fit them back together.


The first and largest portion of a Christian writer’s heart goes to God.


The gift of writing has been given to us for a purpose – not to glorify ourselves but to glorify God. As in all ministries, we have a responsibility to help other writers – to share what we have learned and to encourage them.


Remember the words of Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”


God has a purpose for your writing ministry.


God designed you to work for His glory.


---Ephesians 2:10 says: For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


God wants your work to be fulfilling.


---Psalm 128:1-2 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labors; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

---I Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

God wants us to worship Him through our work

---Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship

God wants us to choose a work that matches our gifts and abilities.

---Romans 12:6a We have different gifts, according to the grace given us

God wants us to work as though we are working for Him

---Colossians. 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.


When we work with enthusiasm and excellence, we worship the Lord. By transposing your writing into worship, you are glorifying God with the talents He gave you.


Jeremiah 20:9 But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot.


The Second Portion of the Christian Writer’s Heart – Creativity


Plotting Your Work and Making Decisions


Do you pray for your work? Carefully consider your answer. Do you say “if I pray for my manuscript then I’m being prideful?” If this is your response, let me remind you that if you had been given the gift of preaching, would you not pray for God to anoint your messages? Music, would you not practice and ask God to sing through you? What of other gifts such as teaching, evangelism, hospitality, encouragement, etc?


Let’s stop right here and tape a big sign over our computers that says: PRAY.


---Thank God for the gift of writing

---To give you direction

---For Him to be in charge of your schedule

---To bless your endeavors


Every one of us has experienced moments of inspiration and creativity, but how do we nurture this process? Remember if we push ourselves to create, the material will be stagnant. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, creativity is characterized by originality, expressiveness, and imagination. All of these are part of your God-given talents. Here are a few suggestions.


---Devote time to prayer and mediation through God’s word.

---In order to clear the cobwebs from your mind, take a walk, work in the garden, go for a drive, listen quietly to music. But the important thing is to get away from your office.

---Whether your best ideas come in the morning or at night, make sure you have paper and pen positioned throughout your home. Invest in a pen that lights up in the dark. :)

---Some ideas come as a result of a movie, another book, experiences related to you, or personal experiences. The best writing includes a trace of something personal through which the writer projects emotions.

---Your dreams are an excellent source of creativity. Our sleep world shoves aside logic, time, setting, and reality vs the fictitious, and provides unique settings that we wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

---Let your mind wander to yesteryear. Old memories have a way of sparking new stories, especially when you use insight. Those embarrassing, irritating, sad, or humorous happenings can be put to good use.

---Put yourself in the mind of a child. Kids have a way of seeing things through a unique perspective.


Plotting:


This aspect of creativity involves: a premise, characterization, setting, goals, conflict, dialogue, climax, and resolution. We could spend days and weeks discussing all the workings of what goes into plotting. Does your method of establishing these crucial elements involve prayer for creativity, wisdom, discernment, and obedience?


Do you believe that the answers to the above must come solely from God and His word? Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God states:


“God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” Mr. Blackaby goes on to say: “You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.”


The Third Portion of the Christian Writer’s Heart – The Challenge of Editing, Critiques, and Rejections


You, the writer, have finished your manuscript. You have worshiped the Lord with your craft, you have prayerfully plotted your story – being careful to follow the guidelines of those who are authorities dealing with good writing, and you have finally completed your book. What comes next?


Are you to pray over the publication and whisk it off to a publisher? What are your responsibilities as a Christian writer?


Here are a few ground floor guidelines for you to consider before you begin the editing process.


Have you:


---Told the truth by establishing the spiritual core of your story?

---Established believable characters who became live and real to the reader? The heart of the Christian novel is in the characters.

---Established conflict and plot through the flaws, wants, needs, and desires of your characters?

---Shown not told?

---Established emotional conflict?


The Fourth Portion of the Christian Writer’s Heart – Marketing and Professionalism


We’ve all dealt with those kind of people. You know whom I mean, the ones who profess to be a Christian until you deal with them on a professional level. Unfortunately, you can’t always tell the difference between your secular and Christian acquaintances.

Some Christian writers believe that because they have the security of a heavenly home, and God has given them the gift of writing, that God will put their work at the top of the best sellers list. They refuse to edit, listen to constructive critiques, or market their work appropriately.


This is not a session on how to market your book with professionalism, but how to approach your plan with a Christian prospective.


The following is an “edited” version of Guerrilla Publicity - by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, and Jill Lublin. I will attempt to take their suggestions and put a godly twist on them.


---Introduce yourself with a sound bite. You don’t have to shout the words “I’m a Christian” but you can be respectful, state your genre, and pitch your book with clarity and conciseness. Few people have time to listen to the full story, so not only must you choose language that will grab and captivate the media, but show your faith by mirroring Jesus. He (Jesus) is the star of the book. Represent Him rather than yourself. Your first impression to the media representative advances or crashes your career.

---Speak from the heart. To successfully promote your writing, you must honestly believe in what you're promoting, which is the story God has given you. You can't fake enthusiasm or dismiss the fact you are representing a work originated by the Creator.

---Follow up. The magic formula for getting publicity is to follow up, follow up, follow up. Wasn’t Jesus persistent?

---Enlist others to spread the word. Be a part of a writer’s group. Aren’t we a great bunch of Christian writers? Don’t we love and encourage our own? We have a number of great book-reviewers who will go to tremendous lengths to promote your work. Word of mouth is the best way to promote your work. To build a successful writing ministry, you need networks, strategic alliances, etc. to help advance your work. Everyone you know, hear about, meet, and do business with is a prospect for your network.

---Speak before groups: ladies groups, writing groups. Speaking before

groups increases your visibility, reputation as a writer, and stature in your industry. It establishes you as an authority in your field, draws media attention, and makes you more attractive to others.

---If you want to promote your work, give to others what you want given to you. Does that sound familiar?

---Return God’s blessings by giving of your time, talent, and tithe.


The Christian writer’s heart belongs to God. He made us creative so that others can see Him. Let’s step up to the task at hand by writing the best possible books and let others see God in us.


DiAnn Mills - Expect an Adventure

www.diannmills.com

2 comments:

Vickie McDonough said...

Very well said, DiAnn. Thanks for reminding us of what's important.

Leigh said...

Thanks for the reminders, DiAnn.

I've had a hard time getting past feeling guilty when I 'steal' time to work on my novel, devotionals, etc. God has helped me realize that writing is part of who I am and that the time I spend writing is a way to give to Him rather than something selfish I'm just doing for myself. He's given me a love for words and the gift of being able to string them together. When I sit to write I return that gift to Him as a love offering and I think He's pleased.