Do you write what you love? What you’ve volunteered to write? What may sell—someday? Or what you’ve been hired to write? How much time do you devote to each?
Do you write for the masses? For a small circle of readers? For the one individual you envision yourself “speaking to” when working on a project?
Do you write for your reader? Your employer? Your client? Yourself?
From a pragmatic standpoint, the answer seems obvious: Write what will earn you the most money, secure rave reviews, and gain a readership in the thousands—even millions.
Even if you knew “the secret” to making that happen, is that what you really want? Oh, sure, if you could accomplish all that while writing something you love—something you believe is important—you might feel as if you’d struck gold, but that’s rarely the case—at least not without years and years of struggle.
Below is a better plan-of-action for the Christian writer who would like to do what he or she loves and earn money while doing so. (These suggestions are not necessarily in chronological order.)
Commit your writing to the Lord.
Make this an ongoing practice with each new project.
Offer your writing abilities to Him.
It’s important to keep your eyes open. Sometimes the doors He opens before you will take you by surprise.
Set long-term goals.
Break down these goals into measurable and achievable increments. Make a detailed list and refer to it often.
Just a word of advice: God may very well have different goals in mind and it’s important to be willing to follow where He leads. However, you should not sit back and wait for Him to open the doors and toss you through.
Seek to develop your craft.
Read nonfiction and fiction. And if you’re so inclined, watch TV and movies and pay particular attention to the writing. What do you like? What don’t you like? And why?
Attend workshops and conferences. Connect with fellow writers on a regular basis.
Take every opportunity to write—and rewrite.
There’s no better way to learn and improve than by doing. Just be careful not to take on too much at any one time.
In the case of writing for others, factor in the time you need to rewrite and polish your work. Don’t, however, wait until it’s “perfect” before firing it off. Just make it the very best you can.
Simply type “writing contests” into your search engine and check out the myriad opportunities that pop up.
A word of warning …
Do your research and check into a site’s credibility before firing off your work—especially before sharing your credit card information.
Peruse the Internet for paying opportunities.
Follow up on those that grab your attention. While personal interests and areas of expertise are great places to start, it’s important to be willing to try your hand at something that will stretch you as well.
Develop relationships with other members of InScribe and other writing organizations you belong to. What you know is important, but so is who you know—and who they know and who they know …
And remember …
Pursue genuine success.
Many writers would love to find an agent, land a multi-book deal, and write best seller after best seller.
But what about the blog post that is just what one particular reader needs that day or the brief devotional that gets selected for a compilation and ends up changing someone’s life?
It isn’t wrong to dream big and shoot for the moon (forgive the clichés) but remember, each life that you touch is someone special.
Success comes in many different shapes and sizes. Don’t be discouraged if your success doesn’t look the way you thought it would.
Steph Beth Nickel is the coauthor of Paralympian Deborah L. Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books. Among other things, Steph is a freelance writer and editor. You can connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org … on her Facebook author page … or on Twitter (Image by Sarah Grace Photography)