books

“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the University stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” 

― Flannery O’Connor

Let me start by saying that I’m no authority on these things. But I get asked about publishing and writing in general often enough to justify me putting down some thoughts and advice I hope will encourage and discourage. I write these as a writer and as reader. A banker and sometimes pastor.

First, make sure you have the support of your elders in your church for your writing. Writing as a believer is for the benefit of the church. If you do not have the support of those who you would have lead you, then stop. Don’t write. Close this post, because there is no need for you to continue.

Second, make sure you have writers who will be gut-level honest about your writing. Not accountants, writers. While it is necessary for you to have non-writers affirm your writing, you need writers even more. And you need  writers who will be honest and not be the kind of people who will affirm you in hopes they get your support for their writing. You need to have people, especially writers, in your life who will tell you that you are not ready and need to take up knitting. Or manga. Anything for God’s sake.

Third, if you are writing for acclaim or money, you will more than likely be very disappointed. It’s just true. A hard truth, of course but truth nonetheless.

Fourth, you need to ask yourself if you are the kind of person who enjoys having written more than writing. If you are not, don’t do it. Chances are, you will not be read all that widely. You need to be in a place, emotionally and spiritually where you can write and not be read and that be OK.

Fifth, be prepared to be tested by what you’ve written. I wrote about contentment where you are and God has pushed me on that one every freaking day since. I wrote about our need as believers to be ok with being nobodies and I’ve proved to be a smashing success.

Writers and readers, feel free to add your own advice in the comments.

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