At the recent InScribe Fall Conference, keynote and poet DS Martin shared some profound insights that are the focus of the next couple of posts. I hope readers glean something of value, whether it’s a refresher for those who attended the event or whether it’s new information.
As Christian writers, we need to overcome the traditional western dichotomy between the “sacred” and the “secular.” The two are often seen as opposing forces, but God should be the centre of all we do, not just in spiritual situations. For some, writing is a calling—just as any vocation can be a calling. Not all are called to be pastors or missionaries, but we are all called to do whatever God has asked of us to the best of our ability.
Often this dichotomy is rooted in a misunderstanding of what it means to give glory to God. What we write doesn’t necessarily have to be overtly spiritual or full of Christian content in order for it to glorify God. God can, and should, be glorified by the art itself, not because it contains spiritual content. A beautiful painting or magnificent piece of architecture glorifies God because of the creative genius behind it, not because it contains Christian imagery.
The real challenge for Christian writers is to demonstrate spiritual and artistic integrity, no matter what genre we write in. It is about approaching the art (or writing) from a Christian worldview even if the content isn’t overtly Christian. It is about doing the work to the best of our ability, as unto the Lord. “Like the sea, like the rivers, like the mountains which bring Him glory simply by being what He’s made them to be, those who are called to write are called to write to the glory of God.” ~ DS Martin
In a nutshell, bringing glory to God is about excellence. Writers don’t bring glory to God by writing mediocre books. Our focus should be continual growth, striving to be the best we can be. Here are a few nuggets to ponder when defining what makes a good writer:
- Good writers pay attention!
- Good writers write from a place of empathy, not just experience.
- Good writers read! They read a lot. They read well.
- Good writers write for a future audience, not a past audience. (We can write in a particular “style” but should take the genre and move beyond it.)
- Good writers write from inspiration. Inspiration can come from the Bible, the natural world, our own lives and the lives of others, from art, from reading—basically anywhere! (Even the mundane!)
- Good writers are persistent.
Inspiration and discipline are like ART and CRAFT. Once we are inspired, it takes work and practice to write well. Disciplined writers remain persistent and keep on learning. Margaret Renkl said, “Writing is something like muscle memory and it’s something like prayer. The more you do it, the easier it is to do. Writing begets writing.” (https://lithub.com/margaret-renkl-on-finding-ideas-everywhere/)
Next time I’ll share more from DS Martin’s inspiring keynote addresses.
Tracy Krauss is the past president of InScribe. She has more than 30 novels, books and stageplays in print. Her novels strike a chord with those looking for thought-provoking romance with a twist of suspense and a touch of humour. It’s “fiction on the edge without crossing the line.”