crumpled paperEach day begins with prayer and either household errands or blogging.  As much as I enjoy writing, the daily household demands of living often interfere with what I feel God has called me to do.  The author of thousands of magazine articles and more than 40 books, Jamie Buckingham often said,  “Writers write.  That’s why they are writers.  Publishing may or may not happen.”

Shelly is a writer.  Many Sundays she sticks a poem or article into my hands and says confidently.  “I knew that you would want to read this.  It’s the best work I’ve ever done.”  After I hug her, she walks away satisfied that someone else appreciates her writing efforts.

the writerEric has a different writing style.  He takes a Scripture and then applies it to his life.  I must ply his works from him one finger at a time.  They are neatly handwritten in pencil.  I always receive a nugget from his scriptural commentary that I’d not seen before reading his manuscript.

Even though Shelly and Eric are intellectually disabled, they have dedicated themselves to sharing from what God puts in their hearts.  Shelly’s poetry has been published and republished.  She has been asked to speak at a high school English Composition Class.  There is much to learn from her poetry.

Eric’s works are equally provocative.  However, he is less likely to share his works with others.  His personality is more private and reserved.

On the other hand, Jeremy wants to write and talks about it often.  Yet, he never seems to be able to put onto paper the many ideas that swim through his fertile mind.  Jeremy is by far the most able of the three to put into a readable form his thoughts and idea; but Jeremy lets the tasks of the day get in his way.

There are four things I see which hinder Jeremy that Shelly and Eric do allow to work against their writing.

1.  As I said before, Jeremy is a busy person.  He flits from one thing to another.  While he says that he really wants to write, he never seems to find the time.  Therefore, it never gets done.

2.  He wants someone to work with him.  He wants a class.  Shelley and Eric simply write.  They don’t need a teacher or tutor to inspire them to put pin to paper.  They are writers and writers write.

3.  Jeremy wants his works to be as close to perfect as possible.  Perfection works against the writer, as it does in almost every area of life.  No matter how many times I go over a piece, I can never seem to find all the mistakes until I hit the PUBLISH button.

4.   There is passion in Jeremy but not for writing.  He desires to teach and he is willing to prepare to make it happen.  A writers passion much be writing, first and forever.

Jamie BuckinghamAs Buckingham said, “Writers write.”  We can’t help it.  It is born and bred into our DNA.  Sharing the Gospel of Jesus is perhaps the main reason the Lord has given many Christians a passion for writing.  Each time, I get an article, teaching or poetry from Eric or Shelley, I’m impressed with the value of the written word which shares God’s love for us or our love for God.

If you are reading this, you have probably thought at some point in your life.  I can write better than this and I actually have something to say.  If you are in ministry, you have probably longed to be able to tell your story in a way that will communicate the joy and love you have for the people you serve.

While the number one fear in the U.S. is public speaking, my experience has been that everyone would like to be able to write “their story.”  It has been said that each person has at least one book in them.  After my first book was published, I was astonished at how many people came up to me and said, “I can make you a $1 million.  All you need to do is write my book.” 

Some of these folks I knew personally and unless I’d missed something extremely adventuresome, their book would be a small bedside table volume read to put you to sleep.  Of course, a few people said, “I read your book.  If you can get that book published, I figure anyone can get published.” 

After a couple of years, I learned to smile pleasantly and say, “Hey, the best thing for you to do is learn how to type.  It’s your book.  You are the only person who can adequately tell it.”  It wasn’t merely a way to get the person to leave me alone.  This was my honest assessment.

Over the years, I’ve broadened my advice.  In fact, it is remarkable how many people make the exact, same mistakes. Here are a couple of suggestions you might be able to use.

1.  Be sure that you actually have a story to tell.  There must also be a point (or a lesson) to your tale.  A good question to ask yourself, “What is the lesson I learned from this incident?”  Then be sure that you make that lesson the point of your adventure.

2.  Writing is a skill.  Learn the basics of grammar and punctuation.  You would not even attempt to mow the lawn without some rudimentary knowledge of lawnmowers and grass.  However, we often feel that we don’t need to know the rules of the English language.  You don’t have to be a perfect grammarian.  You do need to know what the regulations are and how to apply them.

3.  Learn how to type.  Sure, you can get up to about 30 to 40 words a minute with the hunt and peck method.  Yet, anyone who can type that quickly without proper training could be typing at 120 to 130 words per minutes if you would take a class and learn the correct positioning of your fingers for typing.

4.  In elementary school, when you were being taught to give a speech or write a paragraph, you learned:  Tell them what you are going to tell them.  Tell them.  Then tell them what you told them.  The same applies to everything you write.  There must always be what is called a “take away.”

5.  Remember the reader comes to the page with absolutely no knowledge of what you are going to say.  You must explain clearly and exactly all the details of your story.  I ask myself, “If I knew nothing about this, would I understand what I’m talking about?”

5.  There are certain words you don’t use.  They are just, very and so.  There are many wonderful words that are equally as effective as these three sorrowful excuses for descriptives.

6.  Unless someone is screaming, “Fire!”  Do not use an exclamation point.  Never, never use two or three exclamation points.  Let the words you use give the emphasis, not the misusage of a punctuation point.

7.  When you break grammatical rules, do it for emphasis, not out of ignorance.  And do not start a sentence with “and” unless you are doing it to make a point.

8.  Do not use the same word twice in a paragraph.  The English language has many thousand’s of words that can and should be used.  Repeating the same word again and again is not necessary and it is boring.

9.  Buy a Thesaurus and use it.  There is a Thesaurus on every word computer processing program.  Use it.

10.  Practice your writing skills in everything you write.  Don’t be sloppy when you write anything. 

11.  Reread every sentence you write several times.  Prose should flow as beautifully as poetry.  There is as much a rhythm in your favorite novel as there is your favorite poem. 

12.  “Good writing is rewriting” is a phrase repeated often at writer’s workshops.  You should expect to rewrite whatever you write at least four or five times. 

13. Read your finished product out loud.  Change what doesn’t flow.

14.  Show.  Don’t tell.  Use descriptive verbs and adverbs to give your writing action and color.  She didn’t walk into the room.  She waltzed into the room.  She hopped into the room.  Or she sauntered into the room. 

Of course, there is much more.  But those are for another day.  Remember writing is a skill.  Learn the rules.  Practicing your skill allows the talents and gifting to flow.

What is a writing principle that I didn’t include?  What is a rule that you see ignored often?