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?
Though no two people may agree upon the 10 Books that Every Christian writer should own and have assimilated, I offer these as my 10—The ones I have read and found invaluable. I also recommend others for other reasons, but these are a good start and should make up the foundation of any small library of any serious Christian writer. The Bible is not found in this list simply because I have already assumed that any writer who is a believer has several excellent translations in his library already.
The order I have chosen lays a foundation in its class (esthetics, craft of writing, publishing, enrichment, etc.) and builds upon it. Some of the books have been mentioned already in my “14 Helpful Websites for Christian Writers.” A second mention merely underscores a particular book’s importance.
Each book is available in my “Featured Books” List to the right (for as long as this blog is on my front page, thereafter check my “Essential Books for Believing Writers”). Simply click on the book’s title and you can purchase the book either new or used. So . . here you have it:
Help in Forming A Christian Aesthetic:
- The Christian Imagination, Leland Ryken
- The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers
- Mystery and Manners, Flannery O’Connor
- A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction, Ron Hansen
- The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
- The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, Hudson & Townsend
- Writing for the Soul: Instruction And Advice from an Extraordinary Writing Life, Jerry Jenkins
Publishing and Marketing
- Book Proposals that Sell, Terry Whalin
- Christian Writer’s Market, Susan
- Writing Non-fiction, Dan Poynter
- The Well-ordered Office: How To Create An Efficient And Serene Workspace, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett
Hope you find these helpful. Have a blessed holiday season!
I welcome all serious comments to this community of readers. Please leave comments which would be helpful to any Christian writer. It could have been 10 or 100 Books that every Christian writer should have read, so please add to our list if you know something with the following three qualities: relevant, readable and significant.
Feel free to leave legitimate links that relate to our topic. You may also point us to your blog if it will serve the purposes of this article (Consider that you are in my home, and I am protective of my visiting readers. So I always reserve the right to delete comments or links that are not helpful to the community that visits my site). Consider also your own reputation as you comment. I would like it to continue unsullied.