I’ve been an author/writer for years. Since my early years at college and following my Bread Loaf School of English courses, I’ve worked quietly and consistently–plugging away at my vocation. Little known, but read by a small and faithful tribe.
Every writer or author I know (and I know many) writes to be read. He writes to communicate. She usually has something to say.
Some write for self-gratification. Others seek recognition, perhaps for a cause or personal fame. Some hope to make a living at it. Some write to change their tribe or the world. Most write because–know it or not–they have an innate desire to create.
I write because my Father is an author. And His writing has changed my life forever. I know the power of words. I’ve tasted the power of His Word. I’ve experienced the effect of words from both sides–changing and being changed. And I want to see lives changed for the better.
Though many writers may not know or acknowledge it, this subconscious, creative drive to write is in them because they are made in the image of God–who is Creator. Consciously, we all do it because wonderful rewards come from both the finished work and the process itself. Here are some of the rewards for writing well which I’ve been able to identify.
Many write just to write, but writing well can end in recognition. I’m not convinced that those who set out to be recognized get recognized, but it can end up being one of the rewards. Especially for those who write well.
Recognition can lead to influence. Perhaps they desire to influence history or simply a few souls. It can also lead to the next reward.
Some of us go on to receive remuneration. Perhaps we don’t make our living at our writing–though undoubtedly some do–but we receive some form of remuneration. For my first published writing, I received only experience. Then, mugs, thanks, and more assignments. Once editors know that you will deliver and that you meet your deadlines without excuse, invitations increase.
For a while, I wrote for an online magazine that paid nicely and gave me regular work (until the editor left and the new one went in a different editorial direction. It happens). But remuneration–payment–can be a huge motivator and reward.
Joy in the Process
Being in the zone is a great reward of writing well. I love “the zone” I enter when writing. Everything else kind of fades away. My writing mentor–Ron Hansen–once told me, “David, turn off the editor, teacher, preacher, critic, and simply tell the story you have to tell.” Don’t be the perfectionist at the first draft stage. That can come later.
Jeff Goins once gave the same advice. That first write is such a creative act. Just get it out! And when I’m doing it well, I’m in the zone. Perfectly at peace, I’m writing what flows. Sometimes I may need to stop and mull things over, but I try to just keep going.
By the time I’m through, reentry is always amazing. Twenty minutes or several hours may have passed. Then I leave the work. Coming back to it later, I’m always amazed at the material I have to work with. Editing is its own kind of enjoyment for some of us. Hell for others. But nothing tops being in the zone or flow.
Satisfaction at a job well done
Good writers take great satisfaction at a job well done. They love the feeling of reading the finished work. Hearing themselves read to others and having them feedback is almost always rewarding.
I love knowing I’ve done my best. I enjoy knowing that something I wrote worked something good in someone else. That brings us to the superlative reward for writing as a believer.
A reader once told me that my first book literally changed his life. He has a whole new perspective on his value to God. If I never wrote another thing, that would be enough reward for me. Another reader, and friend, actually adopted a child on the basis of something I wrote. It doesn’t get any better for me. Not money, not fame or notoriety, not awards can compete with the joy that comes hearing you’ve altered someone’s life for the better.
I’m sure I’ve left out other rewards for writing well, but these are some of which I’m aware. I’d love to hear why you write.
QUESTION: What rewards for writing well have I left out? Are there some you agree with? Why?
You know, I was sitting here wondering why I persist to type words into a OneNote 2010 page, when it struck me that writing is a true act of faith.
Who knows whether or not anyone will read them? I mean, most of us write because we want to connect with others. But honestly, my book did not sell anything like I thought it would when I dreamt of its release. For years I had ideas of what it would be like to be a published author. Not because I wanted fame or fortune. The realities are much different than movies. But because I wanted to serve and impact readers. Wow! Where was my head?
WRITING FOR CHANGE
No, I believe that my first book and my blog have taught me a lot. I still want to connect, but now whether I do or not I realize that I write because I have something to say and I love saying it. I believe that God has given me a perspective that combines with a gift of encouragement, to help others to be all that they can be in Christ.
I also know how much I love a helpful book. I’m changed by the reading and applying of what I read to my life. When a good book mentors me, I’m a better man for that. I want to pass that gift along to those who read my books. I want my books to mentor, coach along the journey to Christ’s Kingdom reign.
Truly, faith is keeping at something, even when you don’t see the results you expected. It’s believing what cannot be seen but being assured that it’s the right thing to believe.
Before I completed and published my first book, I had breakfast with Gordon MacDonald at Friendlies. I wanted him to mentor me as a writer. He asked me to tell him my story. I talked. He listened graciously. I realized even while I was talking that I wasn’t communicating my passion for writing. Instead, I was telling him something else. It was as though God was allowing him to see something in me that needed addressing.
After breakfast, he recommended that I read a book. “This is not a Christian book I’m recommending, but it will be helpful for you to read it,” he said.
The title was In the Shadow of Fame: A Memoir by the Daughter of Erik H. Erikson by Susan Erikson Bloland, the daughter of famed child psychologist, Erik Erickson. As a sidenote, I’m just finishing a memoir of a woman who separated from her husband for a year and met Joan Erickson while walking along the beach. They became close friends. That book is entitled A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, by Joan Anderson.
In retrospect, I realized that my reasons for publishing were mixed. Shortly after I read Bloland’s book, I completed my book. I sought the Lord to purify my motives. Then I released the book at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and for Kindle and Nook. Sales were mainly to family, friends, and fellow pastors. Of course my church family and fellow associational leaders encouraged me as well. But that was about it. For the first year, I continued to write. But then I stopped.
I went into a depression which, I later found out, was a “dark night of the soul.” I withdrew from people and things I usually enjoyed. I felt exhausted all the time. Because I was a busy pastor and associational leader as well, I began to question my calling.
Everything lost is taste and savor. Fortunately for me, I had praying friends and ministry partners. Some wise counsel helped me recognize God at work, not the enemy. He was taking everything but Him. Funny, because I thought I had given him everything already–many times. But He sees deeper than we ever could.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
I’m on the other side of all that now. It took two and a half more years to slowly let go of everything but Him. It was truly a spiritual winter. But the great thing about tracking through the winter with the Lord is that spring is the next season to follow. Spring is a time for sowing and planting, digging around and preparation.
Now I’m settled in a great peace, waiting only on Him. I am also searching out a coach on the road ahead of me in spiritual formation, while at the same time coaching those whom God has sent my way. But I’m no longer an expert–Dr. Alves. I’m merely a witness, testifying to whatever the Lord shows or entrusts to me.
And . . . I’m writing again. Writing by faith. My one prayer is that the Lord will use the process of writing by faith in my life first . . . And if He so chooses, in the lives of those who may be drawn by His Spirit to read.
QUESTION: Have you ever experienced what I’m talking about?
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I’m so grateful for each of you who have “Followed” or signed up for email notifications.
I truly appreciate you and value your time. I want to do the very best work I can for you. I’m hoping to find a way to make my forthcoming (2nd) book available to you for free as soon as I can figure out how to do it. I need to find out from someone who has done it successfully. I’d hate to offer something and then mess it up and not get it to the right people. Plus I don’t know how to send a copy (and in this day and age, who would give out their address? I wouldn’t. Not even for a free book. But I know there’s a way. And I hope someone who reads this can point me there. Thanks in advance )
Where was I?
For those of you who, like me, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, along with your newspaper or favorite blog posts delivered direct to your Kindle, I thought you might like to know that “David’s Place” is available for your Kindle. My posts appear on my Kindle the morning I publish them (I normally write 2-3 posts per week and publish them at 4:30AM EST).
If you follow this link, or click on the thumbnail of the blog in this post, they will take you to the product page at Amazon.com where you can get a FREE 14-day trial subscription.
If you decide to stay, then the subscription is just .99/month to Amazon.com. Yes, they take credit cards. You can unsubscribe easily at any time. Of course, I’m hoping you’ll never unsubscribe (Marcy and I have to eat you know. And organic food–which Marcy needs to battle the cancer–is getting very expensive. Our Social Security cost of living increase does not take into consideration natural ways of combating cancer).
As a matter of fact, please share this post or the subscription link with some friends, we’d be really blessed and grateful. As a brother in Christ, I’m not asking for a handout, just a hand-up.
A reader wrote last week and asked me if I use OneNote 2010 for journaling or jotting down writing ideas. He is planning to leave a set of journals for his daughter and wondered how I did my journals.
Here’s my response …………………………..
Thanks for writing.
Everyone has his or her own way of doing things like this. I think as long as you’re asking, it means you’re open. And as long as you’re open, you’ll learn and you’ll be able to find a way that best suits you.
I like to record and date my journals. I keep several: A Reading Journal; A Travel Journal; A Spiritual Journal; and a Writing Notebook. Any one of these can be password protected if you need that kind of security. I mainly use PW protection only on my list of passwords. That way only my wife and I can access our passwords.
As far as your question about printing the journals, every once in awhile, I print a journal and make punch holes in the pages. Then I mount them in a 1.5 inch white 3-ring binder. A different binder for every 5 years. My spiritual journals are the largest, so I put them in a 2″ binder. Then I place them in my bookshelves.
But primarily I use and access them in OneNote itself. Use OneNote as your electronic index to the printed notebooks. That way if you need to see the larger context, you can simply find a topic or keyword in OneNote, then go to your printed edition and open to it. The less paper I use though, the better I like it. I enjoy the speed with which I can retrieve an idea that would otherwise be lost in the pages of my ink journals.
I still enjoy taking a book journal and pen with me when I’m in a park or on the beach, but I’m always thinking about how this will be accessed once I get back home and enter it into OneNote. I also like to scan things into one note or send photos to myself that I can print to OneNote.
EVERYTHING I need to retrieve or search is in OneNote. I never have to wonder where to find a special quote, because all of my Kindle highlights and notes have been saved to OneNote. I’m retaining a lot more of my reading that way. I can enter any keyword that I can remember from the quote or from my editing keywording of that quote when I chopped out some of the junk. I can recall that so-and-so said something about Joy. Control +E . . . BANG! I’m on it. Copy. Paste into Word. Move on.
Hope this is helpful. Hey, maybe I should post this answer to your question for others who have journals and are thinking about moving them to OneNote. Or beginning a journal on OneNote. What do you think?
He wrote back: “You should. Great answer and great process.”
- First look: OneNote 2013 (arstechnica.com)
- The Office 365 secret organiser – OneNote 2010 Part 1 (itproportal.com)
- How To Plan More Fun Into Your Summer With OneNote (5minutesformom.com)
FYI – David Fay is my birth name. I use it for my poetry, fiction, literary essays, etc.
Please visit Five Reflections too. When we find something worth mentioning, isn’t it great to pass that along?
This blog, David’s Place and my Litblog, Realm of Fay are both available for your Kindle.
Thanks for reading.