So excited to have you guest posting today, Vanessa. Take it away!
As a new writer, you’re filled with passion and excitement and a love for stories. These early
years of writing are some of the most enjoyable in their own ways, and I hope you remember
this enthusiasm and carry it with you to all the wonderful stories in your future.
As a new writer, I simply plunged into the unknown without abandon. That’s certainly one way to
learn! But here are a few tips that I would’ve liked to know when I was a new writer—and these
can also work for more experienced writers, because we’ve gotta keep learning, too!
Read, Write … and Edit
Ask anyone how to become a better writer, and you’re sure to get the advice of reading and
writing more. And though that’s extremely obvious, sometimes the most obvious answer is one
of the best!
Confession: I far preferred writing to reading when I was a kid. (Yes, I know, that sounds terrible
as an author.) But when I made myself start reading more, I enjoyed reading much more and
gained knowledge from the books I read. We really do learn well when our teachers model
(yeah, my education classes are coming in handy here), and that’s exactly what happens when
we read good books. We learn the structures, the styles, and all the stuff in between.
And of course, we must write to become a better writer. Write consistently, even if that’s just a
hundred words per day. Some writers do really well with monthly goals, others weekly, others
daily. I prefer not to use a numerical goal, but I always shared what I wrote each day with my
sister. Needless to say, there’s some accountability there for you!
Now those two are basic pieces of advice, but I’m going to add something: edit. In my early
years of writing, I never wanted to edit. I’d make myself go back over the book when I finished it,
and only then would I “edit” (aka read through it, gloss over everything, and try to pick out a
single typo.) Not good. But when I began thinking about publishing, that was when I actually
began editing—restructuring sentences and plots, really digging into who the characters were,
being picky about my wording, thinking through the exact style I wanted, etc.
So don’t wait until you’re thinking about publishing to dive into editing. Editing has especially
helped me find my own style, which was a huge struggle for me as a younger writer. Granted, all
writers are going to have style changes, especially if you cross over in genres, but editing truly
made me realize what I wanted to sound like and gave me a goal for which to strive.
So above, I mentioned that we should read other authors’ works, and that is something we have
to do. However, don’t over-compare yourself to your favorite authors. Don’t be discouraged because a bestselling author has a more complex plot than you—and hey, who said complex
plots were the best, anyway? If you’re writing a romantic suspense, don’t except yourself to
sound just like Lynette Eason or Susan May Warren. If you’re a historical writer, don’t expect to
sound exactly like Laura Frantz or Lori Benton. Our favorite authors are those who sound
different from others, after all, and you will be the same. We pick and choose little stylistic things
from the authors we like, and eventually it all comes together to create our own, unique style.
Don’t Rush—but Don’t Fear!
As a young writer, I always dreamed of being published, and I think that’s a beautiful dream.
However, don’t feel like you have to publish the moment you complete your first novel. If you
don’t want to publish or don’t feel ready, don’t let yourself be pressured to publish before you’re
twenty-one or eighteen or forty-five. Being a published author is amazing, but in some ways, it’s
easier just write for yourself and for the Lord. Savor these times of honing your craft without any
And on the other hand … don’t be afraid to publish. If God has called you to publish, He will
provide, and He will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says,
Write your heart out, pray your heart out, and let the Lord lead you. You might never
feel like you’ve edited a book enough or are ready to publish, but if God has laid publishing on
your heart, do it. After all, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it:
except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” (Psalms 127:1) You do all
you can, and the Lord will do His marvelous Will with this story.
Why Do You Write?
Of all the advice I could give, this is the most important. You’ll have to come back to this again
and again, no matter how long you’ve been writing. Remember why you write.
As Christian writers, we have one goal (the same one that all Christians have): to glorify the
Lord. And we glorify Him by writing stories filled with His truth and His love. He has given us a
precious gift, and it is an honor for us to be able to spread His Gospel and encourage our
brothers and sisters through the books we write.
So whether that’s in a published book that’ll be read by millions or a short story that’ll be read by
your grandparents, glorify the Lord. Write His truth. Shine His light into this dark world. Be
faithful in what the Lord has called you to, and in the end, it’s not about you. It’s about Him.
New writer, you have stepped into a beautiful calling. Don’t be afraid. Practice your craft for
countless hours. Read and write and edit and do it all again. But most of all, keep your eyes on
the Lord, and write for Him.
Keep on marching, author, because your King leads the way.
Hopefully you all enjoyed the special post today! I know that I definitely did. Writing can be such an intimidating thing, and sometimes it’s easy to feel discouraged or nervous. But, if you are writing to bring glory to God, He will bless that.
If y’all haven’t yet, make sure to stop by and check out Vanessa’s blog.