Ministering Through Writing: The World Needs to Hear Your Voice

I moderate an online critique group, the Christian Writers Circle, on Scribophile. Certainly, it is not a ministry outlet I expected when I left the private sector to work in ministry. As it turns out, God has had a different plan for ministry than I personally had envisioned. Today, I recognize that for me, writing is ministry, just as much as being a worship musician is.

Part of my writing ministry is this blog, The Devotional Guy. Since launching it at the end of 2013, I’ve seen the blog grow, albeit slowly. Ministry isn’t quick. Often, individuals minister without fully seeing the fruit of their efforts. Noah built an ark. None of his neighbors appear to have been converted by his monumental exercise in faith. Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, not only didn’t have any converts, he made people angry by preaching the truth. They wanted to silence him in a very permanent way (if you know what I mean). Yet, he wrote prolifically and so his voice continues to be heard in the generations that came long after his. The results of God at work aren’t always as clear and obvious as people (like me) want them to be. Yet, we press on faithfully.

You may have recently decided to use your writing talent to share the Gospel, to inspire people, and to do good things for the advancement of the Kingdom. You quickly learn that writing is often a solitary endeavor. Know that you are never alone. There are others–you just have to find and seek them out–who share your passion for blogging and writing to inspire.

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This past week, rummaging through the clearance shelves at my local Half-Price Books, I ran across the book “Writing to Inspire.” It looks like an old book. The print is reminiscent of the early word processor fonts that we thought were so impressive when they first hit the scene. Yes, kids, word processors were considered advanced technology once upon a time. Crazy. The cover is faded and slightly tattered. Published in 1982. Yikes! I feel as old as the book looks now.

“Writing to Inspire” is an anthology edited by William Gentz featuring articles written by several faith writers of a generation past. In the 1980s, the religious market for writing was exploding. The book offers insights on how to get published and find niche markets geared for Christian writers. Several of the articles offer insights into writing better and producing marketable, readable stories, poems, articles and scripts for Christian television and film. It’s a good book highlighting an expansive subject.

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Knowing that others came before us helps us. The Bible, supernaturally inspired by God, is written by human hands. Jeremiah had a friend, Baruch, who served as his scribe and is believed to have helped Jeremiah with writing the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and the Book of Kings (1 Kings and 2 Kings).

2 Timothy 3:16-17(NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So, you see, writing has played a significant role throughout the history of faith and has proven to be an instrumental ministry to believers through the ages. Blogging is simply a digital form of writing, that can be used to advance God’s kingdom and bring Him praise and glory in the process. Do not be discouraged my faith-writing friend; God promises us that He is with us wherever we go.

Keep writing and blogging! 

The world needs to hear your voice. 

 

Images courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.

Wrestling with Show v. Tell

We love stories. Sit in any critique group for longer than 10 minutes and you’ll hear the phrase “Show, Don’t Tell.”  While it is true that all stories mix and balance showing and telling, the best yarns that keep us turning the page show characters acting, feeling, and responding. It’s not that you never tell. Sometimes, writers have to tell us that Jack climbed up the hill.

Telling has a place in storytelling. As readers, we don’t need to be told every tiny detail, particularly when it involves a mundane activity that doesn’t move the story forward, build tension, or impact the outcome of the story. Good writers use telling to share secondary information. For example, you can write “Jill drove to work.” You don’t want to spend sentences, let alone paragraphs, sharing every detail of Jill’s drive to work. That would be less gripping than watching outdoor paint dry on a rainy day. Save your details for revealing significant plot twists or scene descriptions. When you need to be clear and precise, tell.

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Showing builds intimacy between the reader and your characters. It helps us get in their head and peak inside their soul. Showing reveals a piece of your character’s heart. Showing builds tension and makes your reader curious to find out more. Done right, you’ll have your reader salivating like Pavlov’s dog.

A brief example of showing:

Mom sobbed as I stood at the edge of my father’s hospital bed. “Dad, do you know who I am?”

The man who I’d once considered invincible shot me a blank stare. “No. Who are you?” He glanced over at my mom, kneeling at his bedside. “Who is he?”

Deafening silence filled the room. I could hear my heart thump. In that moment, I realized that the anger I thought I’d let go still raged deep inside me. We had our share of disagreements, the old man and me. Now, I was the only one able to keep score.

“Dad, it’s me. Your son.”

Nothing but a glazed stare returned my plea.

Mom rose from the floor, pressed her hand on my shoulder, “He’ll remember you. You’ll see. He’ll get better. You can’t keep a good man down.”

My eyes welled up, my hands balled up in fists. Good man?  The man who’d once been my hero quit being a good man years ago.

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Good writing leans in favor of showing, sparing the telling for those things that can only be told. A great sentence doesn’t come easy. Writing riveting paragraphs demands effort. We only get better at writing by sitting down and hammering out words on our laptop’s keyboard. There are no shortcuts to becoming a good writer. What are you waiting for?

Get writing!

 

Writing After 50: You Can Do It!

You have been hammering out stories since you were a young whippersnapper fresh out of diapers, but you do not have much to show for it. Sure, you have had the odd success here and there, but that Great American Novel you were projecting to finish by the time you turned 27 didn’t happened.

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Your life has sped past 50 and the pedal is grinding metal. You can see more years in your rearview mirror than are waiting over the horizon. You ponder chunking your notebooks in the fireplace and lighting a match. Perhaps the stack of finished, semi-finished, and unfinished manuscripts hiding in your closet need to meet Mister Shredder. If you’re over 50 aren’t you too old to do anything, much less publish a book?

NO!

Writing demands discipline—stick-to-it-ness—as much as it requires talent. In our day and age, it’s natural to be skeptical, if not downright cynical, especially about writing. Yet, there are more outlets for writing than ever before in the history of mankind. Let’s face it: publishing your Great American Novel ain’t gonna happen just ‘cos you sit there wishin’ it would.

  • Bram Stoker published Dracula after he turned 50.
  • Raymond Chandler’s published his first novel, The Big Sleep, at the ripe-old age of 51. He went on to publish six more novels during his lifetime.
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe’s debut novel, first hit the bookstores when he was 59.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first Little House on the Prairie book at age 65. She kept writing until her late 70s.
  • Angela’s Ashes, a memoir written by Frank McCourt, debuted when he turned 66.

These are just a small handful of examples of the writing life striking gold after age 50. Not published yet? Your Great American Novel still stashed in assorted folders strewn across your desk? Don’t give up. Keep writing! You can do it!

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