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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Whatever He Does

Psalm 1:3 is great teaching. "And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]." The Amplified Bible

In reading this a few mornings back, I was struck by the fact that we are required to do something in order to prosper. Notice it doesn't say, "whatever he thinks about doing shall prosper." Whatever he does.

Writers are strange creatures. Face it, we're a little off kilter, our plumb line is not quite as straight as the rest of humanity. We see the world in a vastly different way; it's what makes us good writers. However, we also spend way too much time alone and we're notoriously undisciplined. Many can't fathom ever reaching a deadline on time let alone ahead of schedule (although, maybe it's a good thing because if we ever did finish on time, our agents would probably stroke out). Read writer's blogs. I know of at least one well-established author who, 4 months from deadline, asked readers for a plot because he/she hadn't started the book! Poor us. When faced with sitting down in front of the computer screen one more day, we often find other important things to do: catching butterflies, taste-testing chocolate, picking lint from our navels.

Talent. Having it isn't enough. Yet many (especially the neophytes) slap down a story, zip it to a publishing house and can't understand why some editor isn't beating down their door with a zillion dollar contract. Do your homework, folks. Learn something about the business end of the publishing world. Do your homework, read books on how to improve and hone your skills. Join a competent writers group and have your work regularly critiqued. If you can afford it, attend a writers conference yearly. As this scripture teaches, we need to put some perspiration and muscle into our writing else the promise remains unfilled--this is the qualifier.

Discipline. We will never succeed without it. I know, it's an ugly word, like drinking cod liver oil, but success depends on it. On those nights when friends call to invite us out but we've committed to 3 hours of writing, what do we say? We say: No. I know, it hurts but if you practice saying it, the gag reflex is desensitized and one day it will flow from your lips with real conviction instead of an anemic dribble. What I've learned is that great writing is a product not just of talent but of discipline and ...

Teachablity. Another four-letter word. Many of us are simply not teachable. I've met writers--bright, exceptionally intelligent, with a ton of ability who think they know better than everyone else. They say things like (and I've actually heard these): "Writing classes are for those other people. I can teach myself. I don't need to listen to editor after editor who tells me the same thing about my work. They don't know what they're talking about." What this demonstrates is an unwillingness to learn--even a haughtiness because somehow it's insulting to a person's intelligence to have to learn from lesser mortals. Yet, the Bible is clear, Christians are to be and remain teachable. It's no fun to have an agent blast our work, it's no fun to receive yet another rejection letter, it may be a humbling experience but it is for our good. We can learn something positive from each of these.

I am encouraged by God's word. Every time I've decided maybe I should give up and pursue some less painful career (walking on hot coals, for instance), He encourages me to keep at it. God says it like it is and in this instance, I know that the more perspiration I invest in my writing, He will eventually honor His promise.

4 comments:

Kate said...

Debbi,
Reading this encourages me to focus...and listen. Discipline is an area in my life that definitely needs an overhaul. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Debbie said...

You are so right. Everything in His time. That is perfect.

Jane said...

Good words of advice - even it is hard to take sometimes. I liked the part about the gag reflex - so true!

Louis Edwards said...

Debbi

The article that you wrote rings so true. I'm a new writer and engoy writting. I'm a menber of the "Christian Writers," and enjoy the comments of others.

Believe it or not, I have taken some steps in learning the writing craft. I've purched sevral books on writing skills, charectors, plots, and many more. I would like to here more.

Thanks again for your insight to writing.

Louis

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