My writing career began as an intern for Christian Retailing magazine. My first published pieces were reviews of books, music, and products in the back of various publications. I spent years honing the craft of writing in segments of 250-words or less.
This slow, humble beginning taught me the basics of writing and publishing.
Don’t miss a deadline.
Be good to your editor.
Make every word count.
Stay within the word limitation.
Earn trust, then spend it to earn more.
Find new ways to convey old expressions.
Study the publications where you want to be published.
Every piece provided the opportunity to learn more and grow in the craft of writing. Here are three things I wish someone had told me sooner:
1. Don’t kick the footnotes.
Most of the most stunning insights, connections, and facts I’ve ever discovered came through following a trail of footnotes. Whenever I discover an author I adore, I study every reference they mention. I hunt down links. Buy books. Track down original studies. Exhaust every mention. I want to know who they read and how they find their sources. Often one footnoted source will lead to another until I discover a powerful body of work.
Footnotes tell me where to find mineshafts and enable me to dig for similar treasure. I don’t just do this when I read, but when I listen to presentations or watch television. I’ll Google unfamiliar words and references as well as trendy expressions to track down their origin. You’ll become a deeper, better writer if you practice this discipline.
2. Listen for the ping.
The Sacred Echo explores the repetitive nature of God’s voice in our life. Long before I wrote this book or developed the title phrase, I discovered the importance of listening for what I called, “the ping.” You hear the ping whenever you encounter the same decibel of an idea or concept in multiple situations.
Let me give you an example. I’ve been journeying with a friend enduring a painful divorce marked by betrayal. She decided to change her name—not just return to her maiden name but change her first name, too. Earlier this week she shared the meaning of her new name and how healing it has been for her.
This morning I spent time with another friend who does rescues Bichons. She explained that whenever they adopt a new dog they change the dog’s name. Why? Because an abused dog will often connect their abuse with their name. A new name helps the dog with a fresh start. I thought of my friend walking through the divorce.
Then, Revelation 2:17 came to mind:
“To the one who is victorious, I will give… that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
The power of a new name.
I’m beginning to hear the ping. One day I will write more on this, but for now, I’m listening to expand the concept’s depth and search for fresh meaning.
If you live your life where you hit “publish” on every story and idea the day it happens, you’ll miss the hearing the ping. But if you listen for the ping your writing will become more savory and full-bodied.
3. Shift focus from the bothersome to the beauty.
Honing the craft of writing (or any art), requires analyzing the quality and consistency of pacing, storytelling, plot development, and word choice.
The role of constant critic soon becomes second nature. But this will only hurt your writing. The same clunky voice that finds fault with other’s work will unleash its vengeance on you.
That voice will grow louder.
Your writing will slow.
You’ll encounter difficulty constructing a story. Then a paragraph. Then a sentence.
You must train your mind to shift from what’s bothersome to what’s beautiful. Instead of only asking, “What’s wrong with this?” or “Why didn’t this work?”, you must discipline yourself to ask, “What worked well?” and “What is worth emulating?”
Your writing will improve 10 times faster if you develop the practice of searching for beauty early.
I have many other lessons I wish someone had told me earlier as a writer. But I only share these with those who attend Writers Boot Camp. This boutique event is designed to help give you an edge in publishing, building a platform, and writing.
God has given you a story. Now is your time to tell it.
That’s why our team has created Writers Boot Camp, the most rigorous and revolutionary writer’s retreat you’ll ever attend. At Writers Boot Camp, we will help you become a more focused, savvy, and confident communicator who is prepared to enter and succeed in today’s publishing world. Attendance is extremely limited so we can be accessible to you.
You won’t be a number in a crowd, but have access to industry insiders throughout our time together.
It’s time to invest in the story God has called you to tell. Join us at Writers Boot Camp in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 20-22.
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