Stop Writing Badly: Quick Tips to Improve Your Writing

Stop Writing Badly: Quick Tips to Improve Your Writing
If you could sit down with your favorite Christian authors, what questions would you ask? Today we’ve gathered the advice from three industry greats in order to spur you on in your writing journey.

How do I build a platform?

lysa sidebar

Lysa Terkeurst is one of Christian writing’s biggest names. Her newest book It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, is having a profound impact because of its brutal honesty and transparency. Lysa wrote this book in the midst of her husband’s infidelity and her cancer diagnosis.

In a recent blog post, Lysa Terkeurst answered the question of “How do I build a platform?”

Usually, a platform created by the author's own hard work has to come before the book. Now, there are exceptions to this. Sometimes, a writer’s idea is so fantastic that the publisher feels there is a market for the book based on the title and subject matter alone. But most of the time someone who wants to be an author needs to lay some groundwork first. Here are some things you can do to help build a platform:

* Pray and ask God what message might be inside of you that is something you feel passionate about and that could add value to other people’s lives.

* Look for opportunities to share this message in both the spoken and written form.

* Start in your own home church. Talk with your pastor and or women’s ministry leader about what is stirring in your heart and how you might be used to fill a need in your church.

* If your message is Biblical in nature- lead a Bible study in your home for your friends and neighbors.
* Build your blog. Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer has some great advice on this here.

* Be willing to invest in going to a conference that can help clarify your calling and give you the tools you need for speaking and or writing.

* Don’t get discouraged about starting small. I started small. Very small. But over time small can grow. For me, writing and speaking has been a whole lot more about what God needed to do in me rather than through me. He would never let the size of my opportunity be bigger than what my spiritual maturity could handle. And I praise Him for that.

* Each day, ask for your assignment from God. Today, your assignment might not look like it is accomplishing much toward your goal of writing a book. But if you ask God and follow His lead, His assignment is the exact right thing for you. I’ve said it and lived it for years— “God’s shortest route to His richest blessing is paved with one obedience decision after another.”

How do I balance writing and family obligations?

priscillashirer c 400x600Priscilla Shirer may be one of Christiandom’s highest grossing authors and speakers, but she still struggles to balance work and family life like any other writer. In a recent interview on CBN, Ms. Shirer details an experience with God that eased the tension between writing and family obligations:

“You know, balancing this crazy life is just like every other mother,” Priscilla explains. “It is a continuous matter of prayer, a continuous matter of pulling my hair out and going, ah! Lord…what did I get into this? How do I balance this? That is just life — that is just the nature of every mom’s life I am sure — just trying to keep it all balanced.”

Priscilla says she will never forget one morning when God displayed his faithfulness and ability to balance her life.

“I was pregnant with my second son at the time, Jackson was 18 months. At the time a very demanding, too demanding travel schedule to be honest…,” Jackson admits. “And to be honest, I was shedding a tear or two. I was looking at life, saying…this is not working. How am I going to be able to handle all of this?”

“And just as I was crying out to the Lord, the sun came up…the birds starting singing, the flowers were opening up, dew was on the grass. I just kind of saw the world come to life, and as clear as a bell, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Priscilla, if I can handle all of this…don't you think I can take care of your life too?’ And I will never forget…God promised He would balance my life for me.”

How can I maintain my writing integrity, especially if I am in ministry?

webrns eugene petersonProlific writer Eugene Peterson will always be best known for writing The Message, a beloved Bible paraphrase. Peterson was also a Presbyterian pastor for much of his life and a true theologian. Writing integrity was of paramount importance to Peterson, which he explained in an interview with The Gospel Coalition:

Good writers are people who pay attention to language, are interested in telling the truth, and are in some ways finding themselves inoculated against the fads of what will sell, what will please. Good literature almost always goes against the grain of the culture: interpreting it, subtly criticizing it, maybe not polemically. Pastors are right in the center of deceit and corruption and bad use of language. We have a commitment to use words accurately and honestly.

Good writing does not come easy; it takes a lot of discipline, a lot of self-criticism. A lot of people in my position want to know how to write, and after talking to them for a while I realize, “You don’t want to write, you want to get published; you’re not willing to go through the disciplines, the rejections.” Rejections are often compliments because we’re not writing for popular taste or the stuff that just titillates people, what makes them feel good or bad or whatever. Propaganda is the worst kind of writing; there’s almost something pornographic about it. It just dehumanizes what’s going on, and we’re just filled with it right now politically, so I think of the importance of poets and novelists, because I think of poets as the high priests of the language. No poet writes in order to get published, not in America, so anybody who takes the path of poetry is going a lonely way and a not lucrative way.

It’s hard to be a good novelist in America because of all the Stephen Kings. There are good novelists and great novelists, but I think for pastors their training isn’t how to use their imagination like novelists in the sense that they see the narrative connection of everything, how everything fits into the story. So if our imagination isn’t trained to see these connections, relationships, and the way words work to bring out truth rather than just facts, we are just giving lectures from the pulpit, moralisms in a counseling place. It’s a great responsibility, I think, to learn to use words rightly. Pastors don’t realize how much we owe to our congregations, to the public, to learn how to use words rightly and skillfully and truthfully.

At Certa Publishing, we want nothing more than to see our authors develop and thrive in their craft. What other questions do you need to be answered? Contact us today to find out how we can help you grow as a writer.

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