Friday, April 24, 2015

I Want to Write a Book

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

I recently received the following question:

“I know you just finished writing a devotional book, so I'd love to know what your strategy was. Do you have any suggestions on how I could get started?”

As I look back over the years leading up to my books’ publication, I’d like to share three things that have helped me accomplish my dream of becoming a published writer.

1. I blog—twice a week—every week.
I’m in my fourth year of blogging now, and, by God’s good grace, I haven’t missed a post. Blogging has helped me develop as a writer, network with other bloggers, and connect with potential readers. I’ve learned how to write even when I don’t feel inspired, set and meet deadlines, and communicate succinctly. Blogging also gives me a rich cache of material to develop into speaking presentations, submit to other publications, and compile into books.

Twice-weekly blogging continues to be the single greatest thing I do to move forward in my writing journey.

2. I submit my work to other publications.
Using the Christian Writer’s Market Guide, I identify publications that accept devotional pieces and submit my articles and blog posts. When you do this, be sure to go to their websites and familiarize yourself with their submission guidelines. It’s very important to format your work properly. It would be a shame for and editor to discard your submission simply because of improper formatting.

As publications (online and print) accept your work, you’ll begin building your writing resume. This is a vital part of your future book proposal. As editors become familiar with your work, you’ll become the expert, the go-to person on your particular topic. They’ll begin asking you to write pieces for them, and this will expand your reach even further.

3. I continue to learn.
Learning to write well is a lifelong process. In the past, formal education was the only option for someone learning to write. Today wonderful resources are only a click away. Writing and industry blogs abound, and there’s a YouTube webinar or tutorial for just about everything. I subscribe to several writing blogs (The Write Conversation is one of my favorites) and attend writers’ workshops, conferences, and a monthly critique group.

Through these resources, I’ve developed relationships with other writers and editors. When I’m working on an important article, I’ll sometimes ask one of them to critique or edit my piece. I do the same for them. Having another pair of eyes look over my work and offer suggestions always makes it better. Word Weavers International is a great resource for writing development.

Learning through constructive feedback is necessary in this challenging publication world. As a magazine editor myself, I’ll be the first to admit that editors have little patience for a writer who isn’t open to their input and suggestions.

My best advice to you isn’t to sit down and write a devotional book. Instead, I’d like to challenge you to write a blog post, share it with others, and continue to learn. You’ll grow as a writer, develop relationships that will enrich your life, and expand your understanding of the publishing world.

Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Genius or not, writing is hard work. But remember, God didn’t give you your insight, experiences, and abilities to keep them to yourself. Get to work, and may God bless your efforts for his glory.

What suggestions do you have for moving forward in your writing career? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books. Her second, Hungry for God…Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women released in December. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. Connect with her on Twitter at @LoriHatcher2 or on Facebook - Hungry for God, Starving for Time.

10 comments:

  1. Great Advice Lori. I am looking forward to seeing you at the BRMCWC. I will have sweet bread in hand.

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  2. Sounds great, Cherrilynn. It's hard to believe it's less than a month away.

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  3. Lori, words of wisdom! Thank you. I have found blogging the number one way I hone the craft of writing and stay in the writing mode. Your suggestion on ways to find submissions to other publications is helpful. Always-a-student-mindset keeps me grounded in the humble truth that I will "never arrive." While I never want to downplay the absolute power of prayer on this journey, we can pray for God's favor and anointing until we are"blue in the face," but if we haven't taken necessary steps to learn from industry professionals, we have missed the point. My heart's passion is for Jesus to be known and glorified in my writing, His favor is a by-product.

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    1. Karen,
      You make an excellent point. We can't ask God to bless our work if we haven't done any work. It is a beautiful, spiritual symbiosis. God empowers us to honor and glorify him. What a privilege! Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

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  4. Lori,

    What a wonderful and encouraging post! I'm delighted to discover I'm doing at least one thing right, LOL. Blogging is one of the easier things I do!

    My first word of advice to anyone who tells me they want to be a writer, then asks what to do may seem counter-intuitive.

    I tell them to quit if they can.

    The reason is simple. The writing life is not the glamor life a lot of non-writers think it is. Most writers don't sit in idyllic locations, sipping exotic drinks, and letting the words pour out of them. Not at all. Writing any kind of book is arduous, sometimes painful, and always requires sacrifice of some type.

    So if someone thinks they want to be a writer, but they can quit, they should. Chances are they'll quit anyway, and their time would be better spent finding something to do for which they have a true and real passion.

    If, however, they try to quit, but they can't, then the reality is that they're already a writer. They just need to get the words on paper!

    Lest you think this is an off-the-cuff reply, I can back it up with personal experience. There have been a lot of times I've wanted to quit writing and there have been times when I did quit.

    But I've always been drawn back to it. It's almost like breathing or eating. It's something that Must Be Done.

    Thanks again for the wonderful post and the encouragement!

    Best wishes,

    Carrie

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    1. Carrie,
      I don't think your comments frivolous at all. They capture the essence of passion. Passion isn't wine and roses, it is sweat, and agony, and effort. It's also soaring joy and deep satisfaction. Quit? Sometimes I wish I could, but the love of craft and King compels me.

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    2. Lori,

      Likewise. Some days, I sorely wish it was possible to leave the voices and fictional characters and never ending "what if"s behind!

      But that's part of who I am; of who most writers are.

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  5. Thank you for your post as it was very encouraging. I will be attending the conference this year for the first time and I am very excited to learn more. I think sometimes I've quit before I've even begun and this is something that needs to change now. Thank you so much! Can't wait for more.

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  6. Lori - Love your goal to help women get through the craziness of life – and passing along tips and inspiration to continue to learn! So important in a writing ministry!

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  7. I love all your advice and you are such an incredible and inspiration person. Just last night I prayed a heart felt prayer to GOD (usually are the ones that gets to the ears of GOD... sooooo serious) but after months of going to one website to another without any inspiration, I came here quite by accident but anyway I have read many posts here and I am truly inspired. Thanks for the ideas and inspirational aspect. Good luck on all your endeavors and much success to you:)))))

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