Eva Shaw, in her course, Writeriffic 2, recommends writing in the genre we like to read. “If you’re hooked on romance novels, then try your hand at that genre. If it’s a pithy essay that really makes your day, head in that direction.”
When Shaw asked one of her students (an accountant) “What do you like to read?” the student answered “Cookbooks and mysteries.” She then suggested he try writing a mystery where the protagonist is a chef at night and an accountant by day—the student could then incorporate his own expertise and experiences.
What are some areas where you have “expertise” or special interest, keeping in mind that formal education is only part of the knowledge we absorb in our lifetime? A well-known writers’ tip recommends as a starting point that we write from our own experiences.
Why is it good advice to write out of our own experiences? We can draw on our feelings and senses. Our writing will be genuine.
In 1 Corinthians we find an additional reason for writing about what we know. Others have experienced the same kinds of tests and temptations. We may be reluctant to let the world read that we struggle with doubts and temptations—that we don’t always handle problems or challenges in a Christ-like way. However, when we write honestly about what God has taught us—how he has worked in our lives—we can help someone else.
According to Jeremiah 29:11-13 God has a plan for us. Our writing can be a tool God uses--a ministry with eternal importance. In Write His Answer, Marlene Bagnull calls us “literature missionaries" and points out that our writing will go where we cannot go and will touch people whom we will never meet. Like all ministries, in order to minister to others, we need to stay connected to Jesus.
If we want our writing to help others come to know Christ and grow in their faith, we need to take steps to prepare ourselves.
1. PRAY: We read in Ephesians 6:18-20 that Paul needed prayer to share the gospel. So do we. Freelance writer, Virginia Jelinek shares, “From my own experience, I’ve learned that as a writer, my life has to be saturated with prayer. It is the foundation from which I write, creating in me a clean heart and renewing a right spirit within me. I also find prayer indispensable when it comes to getting free of writer’s block. I pray as if ‘priming a pump’—persistently asking God to let the creative juices flow again.”
2. READ AND STUDY THE BIBLE: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 teaches us that God’s Word gives wisdom and can teach, correct, rebuke, and instruct. We need to read and study the Bible to further our understanding of it. God’s Word can speak to our hearts and inspire our writing.
3. FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS: If taken too far, the solitude that many of us crave can actually hinder our writing. We need to stay in touch with our fellow Christians just as Hebrews 10:24-25 recommends.
©2011 Pamela D. Williams