Friday, July 15, 2016

Get to the P. O. I. N. T. of Being a Serious Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Many of us came to the world of writing in a roundabout way. A lot of us don’t have degrees that qualify us. Because of that, we often struggle with insecurity. 

We strive for validation through publication. 

But no matter how many awards we win, things we publish, followers we have, the only validation that lasts is confidence.

And confidence is a decision, not a designation.

Our confidence may come from knowing who we are, knowing what we were called to do or even where we are on the journey. But it always takes a great dollop of faith to make it stick.

And some days it sticks better than others.

So here is my acronym for getting to the point of confidence, which is foundational to being a serious writer.

The P. O. I. N. T. of Being a Writer

P is for persistence, permission, and patience. Being a writer is a journey, not a destination, so it takes persistence to stay the course. Beyond that, it’s not a path that ends in perfection. To be confident in ourselves means we have to give ourselves permission to to try things and fail. Failure is an option and frequently holds the key to learning the best secrets. Finally, we must have patience. Nothing about being a serious writer comes overnight.

There are always obstacles in our writing path.
O is for optimism, organic, and obstacles. The writing journey isn’t easy, and that’s especially true if we’re only looking for the worst in ourselves and everything around us. We have to develop a glass-half-full-mentality to survive. Organic is the best kind of growth for a writer. We all progress at our own speed. Comparison is the quickest way to discouragement. Finally obstacles—there are always bumps in the writing road, no matter how far along we are. Obstacles are challenges to be met, hardships to be conquered, and barriers to get around. They are NOT excuses to stop.

I is for insecurity, intuition, and inconceivable. Insecurity isn’t something that disappears on its own. It’s one of those obstacles that must be conquered—sometimes on a daily or even hourly basis. Accept the fact that almost one hundred percent of those writing feel insecure. Intuition is often something we must learn to trust. We should take critique well, but we must become secure in our own abilities. Finally inconceivable is the emotion that happens when we take a minute to realize we’re living out our dream. It isn’t easy, but it’s a courageous thing to do and we should lean into that and celebrate on a daily basis.

N is for noise, never, and nevertheless. Noise is the chaos of life threatening to drown out the words clamoring to escape our souls. We must fight against the siren call of busyness and be about the work of writing. Never is the time when we quit. We never give up the pen. The only way to fail as a writer is to quit, so never is the driving beat deep within our souls. Nevertheless is how we keep moving forward. Certain things happen, but nevertheless we keep writing.

Toiling is what we do—the driving force that keeps
us writing.
T is for toiling, testing, and THE call. Toiling is what we do. It’s more than just work, it’s the driving force that keeps us writing through the night and through the chaos of life. Testing is what happens again and again as we prove to ourselves we can persevere. Finally THE call is why I do what I do. I felt God whisper that I was a writer. I feel His joy as exercise the gift He’s given me. And one day I pray to receive the ultimate affirmation when I stand before Him. “Well done good and faithful servant.”

These are the points that make up the lines that create the words that we share with the world. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this writing life.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!



  1. A very "pointed" post, Edie! I couldn't agree with your various points more. I do, however, take issue with one statement in your lead. You wrote, "A lot of us don’t have degrees that qualify us." A degree in itself doesn't qualify anyone for anything. It merely means that one has completed a particular course of study, passed the required tests, done all the required tasks that the instructors have assigned. It does not, however, "qualify" the person for anything. I know quite a few people with degrees in English, literature, or fine arts who can't write any better (some actually write worse) than any other writer.

    For example, in my particular fields (teaching and history), a lot of people who have degrees in education find out in their first year of teaching that they actually are not "cut out" for teaching although they are "qualified" by possessing a degree in education. Conversely, I once interviewed a nondegreed school janitor who was the best historian I ever met. A reenactor, he had learned by self-initiated study of the Civil War more about that period of history than the typical history major.

    The same is true for writers. It doesn't matter how many degrees one has--or lacks--that qualifies or disqualifies. It's what one actually DOES. Writers write--regardless of their other "qualifications." Part of gaining the confidence of which you write is realizing and accepting that fact.

    1. Dennis you are absolutely correct! We aren't qualified by a degree. I meant that as tongue-in-cheek statement, but re-reading it I see it didn't come across that way. Thank you so much for your reinterpretation of that statement. I couldn't agree more! Blessings, E

  2. Dennis Peterson's comment above is spot on. I do not have a degree and have considered myself a writer since childhood. I also participate in Civil War re-enacting and can vouch for the amazing historians they are, each equally gifted at teaching when we engage audiences at events. I have taught in private Christian schools without a degree but with specialized training in teaching from a biblical worldview. I have also taught as an arts professional in public schools and witnessed some terrible writers and teachers who all posed the coveted college degree. It has been a lifetime of overcoming my insecurity in not possessing that piece of paper, but I have a mile long resume of accomplishments that only God's hand in the pursuit of my calling has allowed. Just do what He has called you to do and know He will help you improve and steward your gifts, making a place for them to touch lives along the way.

    1. Kathy, I completely agree! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Blessings, E

  3. Awesome!
    You have been God's gift as a writer's motivator. This post shows that fact in writing once more.
    Serve on.

    1. Carolyn, Thank you for your encouragement! Blessings, E

  4. Thank you for your inspiration!

    1. Therese, I'm so glad you found inspiration here! Blessings, E

  5. Edie, What a refreshing reminder. You have inspired me to act on these points and to share them with my creative writers in the new school year. Thank you for all you do to spur writers on to their mission.

  6. Edie, Thanks for these excellent reminders and for giving me the kick in the butt I needed. Blessings!