Tuesday, February 18, 2020

So You Want to Write a Book

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

I love to write. I love to speak. I love people who come up and chat with me at events.

And yes, I even love people who say to me, “I want to write a book too!”

But I’m often stymied by how to answer their inevitable questions about how I can help them get published. I have some standard answers, including urging them to attend a writers’ conference and meet industry professionals, other writers, and go to practical workshops. 

Mostly I tell them they need to go home and write. 

Yes, even if just in journals (or a letter to their mama) for starters. You would be amazed at how many would-be-published-authors have a hard time just sitting down and doing the hard work of writing. And rewriting. And rewriting. And rewriting… 

For me, writing is a joy – an extension of who I am and how I view the world. But honey, writing is also hard work. It is, as someone once said, “Writing is easy, you just open a vein and bleed…”  When our books are launched into the world, our thoughts and feelings and experiences and stories are no longer just our own – we have shared them with a public who can all too often be harsh and critical with very long memories. Especially these days.

But we have also shared the deepest parts of our souls with people who are hurting, seeking, and longing to know they are not alone. To discover there is something (someone) bigger out there. People who need hope. 

Those who might just lap up our words as water for a thirsty soul. That’s why it’s so important that we take the time to make sure our words are firmly founded on His words. That’s why it sometimes takes a lifetime just to live the story before we write it for others.

For those who write non-fiction and memoir sometimes there is a temptation to write down everything we know. Now that we finally have an “audience,” we want to hold onto them and subject them to every tiny incident that was important to us. What we must remember is that too much information is like drinking from a fire hydrant, and we don’t want to drown our readers – we want to offer them a lifejacket. 

So, share your story, but perhaps only part of it. Pick a theme from your life – something that keeps showing up in all the seasons. Write the stories about that, bring in the biblical teaching, and make it all winsome and welcoming. 

What works best is offering transferable concepts. You may have a heroic story of overcoming great tragedy and suffering. Let’s say it’s a cancer journey. Write in such a way that others – even if they are never diagnosed with cancer – can appropriate your wisdom into their own suffering situation. 

I just wrote a book and it launched it out into the world yesterday! It doesn’t matter that it was my 15th published book – releasing those words was both scary and satisfying. Soul Strong is a reflection of God’s many fingerprints on my life thus far. But it’s not a very long book. Because I didn’t share everything. I did share specifically all about seven keys to a vibrant life. 

I lived it. I researched. I pondered. I prayed. I reread my journals and scribblings and letters and musings. I wrote a poem and some prayers. I rewrote a lot of stuff. I took out some things and threw a bit in. I rewrote. I prayed a lot. I asked others to pre-read. I waited on pins and needles until I got their feedback. I changed some things. I rewrote. Then I submitted. 

Here is my heart on a platter. It’s everything I learned after I knew it all. And yes, Soul Strong is not a thick book. But there is meat inside those covers. And lots of space for the reader to work through what I’ve presented in order to know themselves (and God) better. I love collaboration! 

I hope you write a book too. Whether or not it ever gets published. Oh yeah, that’s the deal. We write in obedience to a call, with no guarantees of the outcome. That’s where trust and faith come in. Offer your life and your work up to God. Collaborate with Him on both the living and the writing of the story.

Then wait and see what happens. This is where I am today and it’s a good place to be.


Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 15 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her award-winning books include LIFE-GIVING CHOICESSOUL STRONG (2020), DWELLING PLACES (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional)ORDINARY GRACES  (2018 Selah Finalist), LIVE THESE WORDS, and Refresh! Lucinda, a member of the REDBUD WRITERS GUILD, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs for The Write Conversation, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog and (in)courage. Whether co-directing  “RENEW ~ RETREAT FOR NEW ENGLAND WRITING,”  pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at https://lucindasecrestmcdowell.com/ Follow Lucinda on Twitter: @LUCINDASMCDOWEL


  1. Congratulations, Lucinda! You are a mentor and an inspiration to me and many others. I pray God’s blessings on your newest book baby.

  2. This is excellent, Lucinda. You are such a role model to us--in your love and encouragement for others. I'm looking forward to reading this! We Connecticut girls have to stick together!

  3. Lucinda, as I read through your book I am appreciating the simplicity of how to be close to our Jesus - thus soul strong; coupled with the rich examples you provide for encouragement.

    My group of 16 years olds & I had fun at your mini-retreat; loving the basket raffle I won -but reading your book first! :)

  4. Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration. :-)

  5. Your new book is calling me to read it. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your 15th book!