Thursday, April 28, 2016

So You Want to Be a Writer...

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

So you want to be a writer...
So, You Want to Be a Writer?

For all you aspiring writers out there, I have a tip. Are you ready?

Here it is:  Put down your pen or pencil. Close your laptop.

And RUN.

To quote Dorothy Parker: If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.

Take up auto mechanics or brain surgery or lawn maintenance.

Did I dissuade you from writing?


All right, then dig in for the ride of your life.

Get ready to put in long, lonely hours.
Get ready to put in long, lonely hours. Getting up earlier. Staying up later. Squeezing precious writing minutes out of daily activities.

Get ready to stuff your brain with more information than you think it can handle. Information that will be contradictory. Information that will sound like Yoda channeling Yogi Berra. And Darth Vader will be on the sidelines saying, “Come to the dark side.” You’ll feel like you’re already there.

Get ready to be rejected. A lot. From critique partners who’ll leave you wondering if you can put three words together coherently. From agents who say, “Interesting concept, but I can’t sell it.” From publishers who say, “It doesn’t meet our needs at this time. But if you make your hero an Amish vampire, we’ll take another look at it.” From family and friends who say, “Are you ready to give that writing stuff up and get back to reality?”

Get ready for an adventure like none other.

See worlds and characters come to life under your fingers.

See your creations take almost magical
journeys through your imagination.
See your creations take almost-magical journeys through your imagination and overcome humongous obstacles to achieve their story goals, to grow and change as people.

Experience God guiding your writing to touch readers’ lives, to give them greater insight into themselves, to draw closer to Him and to His plan for them.

Want to write? Then hang on. It’s going to be a wild ride.

And worth every minute.

If you’re an aspiring writer, what drives you to take up this humbling profession?

If you’re an experienced writer, what drives you to keep at it?

So you want to be a writer... thoughts from author Henry McLaughlin, @RiverBendSagas (Click to Tweet)

Becoming a writer is a wild ride, but worth every minute - @RiverBendSagas on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. 

He serves as Associate Director of North Texas Christian Writers. 

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers. 

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.


  1. Henry, Thank you for the truth. Obedience to God motivates me to write. The knowledge that 1 person may be encouraged by my writing keeps me at the keyboard. 18 months ago I began my journey. I study the art everyday and try to read everyday. My tools are getting sharpened but I have a long way to go.

  2. Thanks, Cherrilynn. In my early writing days, one of my critique partners was touched by something I wrote in my first novel. And God told me if my novel never got published, it still achieved his purpose. It brought that partner closer to him.

  3. This is great, Henry. Feeling God's calling and permission to write keeps me going. Also, great books and music also inspire me to write "right now."

    1. Thanks, Jenny. I usually have music playing while I'm working.

  4. Also... (Since I can't go back and edit out my extra "also," I decided to add another!) ;)

  5. Thanks, David, for putting it all in perspective. I've been writing for many decades and I still haven't mastered the craft. That's because things change over time and there's always something new to learn, no matter how old you are. When I write, I listen to the characters in my mind and let them express themselves through my heart. It's hard to explain that to anyone, much less readers, who are sometimes looking for nothing more than a quick, exciting trip rather than a meaningful journey of the spirit.

    1. I'm sorry...I don't know why I wrote "David" when I meant "Henry." My apologies, but my thanks all the same! :)

    2. I'm like you, Linda Lee. I've learned to enjoy the serendipitous journeys my characters take me on.

  6. Henry, thank you for sharing this truth about writing. It's certainly not what I thought it would be, and sometimes I wonder why I began this journey. But I press on (Philippians 3:14). How do I describe what drives me? I'm compelled to finish a job, to honor a commitment I was called to do.

    1. Thanks, Marilyn. I think we share the same drive to keep our commitments.

  7. One of the most fascinating and enlightening posts I've read in a while. Thanks for this perspective.

  8. because i might just need to know about being an auto mechanic or a brain surgeon or a lawn maintenance person, you know 'cause i've a character who is.
    writing "fits" me like nothing ever has, and i thank Father God for it every day, and i write as unto Him.

    1. Thanks, Robin. I know that feeling of how writing fits. It's part of who we are as people and believers.

  9. I am searching for markets to which I can submit devotions and Christian esssays. I have been writing for several years. I write because God tells me to. I have had thoughts of doing other things but then I receive a complimentary comment on a blog post and I feel the need to continue in this difficult craft.

    1. Amen. I'm always amazed at how God can use my writing to touch others even before it's been published.
      Blessings as you continue your journey.

  10. When I retired in 2010, writing became my full-time passion after flirting around with it for years. Now I have four published faith-based novels under my belt and the most rewarding part is having readers share with me that my writing has been an inspiration to them and pulled them through some difficult times. I am so thankful to God for giving me the words to say. When the words flow, I know they're not from me, but from Him.

  11. Ah, Henry! I love the way you write. Thank you for letting me ride along with you on this crazy journey. Who could ask for more?

  12. Aww, Jayme. You're making me blush. It's great to share the ride with writers like you who make the crazy journey so enjoyable.