by Susan Lyttek
Writing can be a lonely business.
With exceptions of co-authored materials or group brainstorming, most writing and editing is done solo. That is the nature of it and that is a good thing. God designed the process with the authors and researchers of the Holy Scripture. The quiet aloneness takes us out of the immediacy of the world and helps us, if we allow it, to sense our Creator’s call on our lives and our writing. Therefore, most writers need alone time or even quiet time to create. But because of that, we can forget that we need each other.
In light of the annual conference coming up and the beginning of the school year, I thought I’d post about the different ways we can nurture our fellow writers.
1) The Honest Compliment. If we’ve read something and enjoyed it, make sure to pass that on. If you will meet the author at a conference, be sure to tell him or her in person what the book, story or article did for you. If you won’t have that opportunity, post a review online or e-mail your friends about what you read. Word of mouth praise is the best way to help your fellow writer market his or her efforts.
2) The Honest Critique. Meet with your fellow writers and bounce ideas off of each other whenever possible. Be willing to offer and receive helpful criticism. Make sure to sandwich your comment about what needs work within two thoughtful recognitions about what was done well. We all respond better to the bitter lemon when it’s coated in honey!
3) Teach what you can. If you have experience in a particular area of writing, tutor that at a high school or community college. Offer to develop one of ACFW’s online courses or run a co-op class for homeschoolers. Do what you can, where you can to nurture your fellow writers at all levels. Besides, if you want to learn your material really well, you must teach it to someone else.
4) Learn what you can. Not one of us knows everything we need to know or everything we could benefit from. Read voraciously. Active readers make better writers because the sound of the words fill your mind and the rhythm of good sentences percolate down into your subconscious. In addition to reading, study new subjects and take classes at conferences in areas you feel weak in. But don’t ignore learning more about what you know well. There’s always room to grow.
5) Fellowship. As much as our families and friends love us, they don’t ‘get’ us like another writer will. When you surround yourself with other writers in person or online, you realize that talking out loud to your characters isn’t off-the-deep-end strange and having a notepad next to your bed for middle of the night inspiration might be a good tip. (Remember to be open and honest about your writing life, but this is not the time to dump your personal issues or complain about the non-writers.)
When you pass on what you have learned and how our Lord has worked in your life, you never know who you may encourage or what audience he or she will minister to. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of the kids’ comedy, Guzzy Goofball and the Homeschool Play from Outer Space (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and two cozy mysteries: Killer Field Trip and Homeschooling Can Be Murder by Harbourlight Books, writes in the shadow of our nation’s capital. She enjoys training up the next generation of writers online through Write At Home, and by teaching middle and high school co-op classes.