You Want to Be a Writer? Get theReflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
That’s like a person deciding they are going to do brain surgery by following the instructions in an open textbook. Telling a story and learning to write it well enough for it to deserve publication are two different things.
When I started writing, I participated in all of the above, took a couple of writing courses at college and the Writer’s Digest Course. I learned my craft for six years before I was competent enough to get a book published, and by that time I had quite a bit of short work published.
Now, as an agent, I am sent work all the time by people who have a story, but who are miles away from having it competently written. I see others that are a pretty good book, but there are thousands of good books competing for scarce publishing slots. No, even a good book is not good enough, it takes an exceptional book. It takes a unique story in a unique voice aimed at a good market that is currently acquiring.
I can’t imagine anyone expecting to do something well without getting the training to do it. I still try to write on the side and even after some twenty years of trying to do so I continue to try to learn and improve.
There is no shortage of training available. I just came from the Jerry Jenkins “Writing for the Soul” conference in Denver Colorado. It goes along with his Christian Writer’s Guild that has a mission of “equipping the next generation of Christian writers.” I work these conferences to try and find those exceptional books I was talking about. I also have been told that one of my spiritual gifts is the ‘gift of encouragement’ and I work them to use it to encourage writers and to pass on things that I believe will help them. Things I have learned from all of my writing training and from all of the conferences and workshops that I’ve attended not to mention the ones I have learned the hard way.
Every writer should ask themselves if they are getting the necessary training to be successful at getting published or if they think they just “know how to write a good book,” maybe because they have read so many. And when have we gotten enough training that we know what we are doing and can begin to teach? My opinion is that any teacher who is not also continuing to learn will soon be presenting stale or outdated material. I was fascinated at the Denver conference to look over and notice Jerry Jenkins making notes during Max Lucado’s program on writing. If a bestselling writer like Jerry is still working to improve his craft what excuse could the rest of us possibly have?