by Becky Wade
1) Let every critique you receive sway you. Ever hear that “too many cooks spoil the broth”? Sometimes it’s better to whip up something all by yourself that you absolutely LOVE than to let lots of “adviser cooks” taste your recipe, comment on it, alter it, season it, and subdue it.
2) Write Safe. If you’re working hard to offend no one with your book, then you may end up pleasing no one. Some of us are called to write sweet and gentle stories. But the rest of us should be willing to offend a few folks in order to stay true to the book that God is leading us to write. Jesus’s ministry on earth was about saving the lost, not about making sure everyone felt comfortable.
3) Try to write like someone else. Are you consciously (or unconsciously?) striving to write like your favorite author? There’s no sense trying to channel Francine Rivers when you sit down at your keyboard because our readers already have a Francine Rivers. God made us all amazingly unique. He made YOU amazingly unique so that you’d be fitted for specific purposes in His kingdom. He wants you to write a one-and-only kind of book as individual as you are.
4) Write what you think will sell. If you’re so hungry for publication that you’re writing something you’re not crazy about because you think it might get your work into print, your voice will pay the price. If anyone is ever going to adore your book, you must adore it first. Chase after your passion instead of trends.
5) Follow all the rules. Heard any of the following? Don’t put in a prologue. Don’t use an exclamation mark! You must cultivate a platform if you hope to receive a contract. Always show and never tell. Don’t use omniscient POV.
Um… phooey! If you follow every so-called “rule” you hear, your novel will read as bland because it will be shaped more by outside forces than by your own signature style.
6) Read narrowly. If you only read the kind of Christian fiction you’re writing, your voice will begin to sound like everyone else’s. If you read all types of books, your horizons will broaden and so will your creative freedom.
7) Only attempt to write one kind of book. For some of us, our favorite type of book to read is not the same as our favorite type of book to write… and we don’t know this yet. We authors are inventors. And all inventors learn through trial and error. If you’re struggling to find your voice, give yourself permission to pen a few chapters in a new and different genre. If that doesn’t thrill you, try a few chapters in yet another new and different genre. You might just discover the niche that God had in mind for you all along.
I finally found my voice after writing for seven years, making several of the above mistakes, retiring for seven years, and returning to writing. Do you think you might be stifling your unique voice? How?
Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children. Her inspirational contemporary romance, My Stubborn Heart, was released by Bethany House last spring. When she’s not writing, she’s taking care of kids, playing tennis, or trying to tidy a house that refuses to stay clean.