"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
Novelist Adam Blumer had so much to say, I couldn't limit it to one thing. Here's all of his great advice:
Pray and ask God what He wants to do with your life. If your overriding desire is to write and you show an aptitude in that area, ask God whether He has a future for you as an author. He will confirm His will by granting you publishing credentials, allowing you to win some contests, or opening other publication doors. These are confirmations that you are heading in the right direction.
But before you get starry-eyed, take a minute to evaluate your motives. You may never be on the New York Times or CBA bestseller list. You need to be okay with that. You may never be rich or even make enough money to write full-time. You need to be okay with that. You may never be a famous author or even be well-known or considered “successful” as an author. You need to be okay with that, too. Search your heart for why you want to write. If you knew that your novels, stories, or articles would never be published, would you still write them? Are you writing for your own glory or because God has lit a fire in your soul that you can’t put out?
Keep in mind that being an author is not for the faint of heart. At times, you will walk a lonely path littered by rejection letters, misunderstandings, criticisms, and self-doubts. Countless voices (including your own) will tell you that your writing isn’t good enough. Don’t listen to those voices. Believe in the ability God has given to you, seek to learn and grow (mostly out of failure), and do the best with the ability God has placed in your hands. No one can do more than that. Then pray, work hard, and leave the rest to God.
Be sure writing is what God wants you to do. If He wants you to do something else, then run from writing as fast as you can. But if you are certain that He wants you to write, take steps to dedicate and commit yourself to that pursuit.
Weed your life of distractions and make writing your primary focus (after God and your family, of course). If you are multi-talented, set other abilities aside for writing. Look at your writing as ministry, as something God has uniquely called you to do for His glory. The written word is a powerful tool you can use for the glory of God; and yes, you can even do powerful things through stories.
If possible, find a location and set aside regular, consistent time in your schedule to write. Be dedicated. You’ll never grow unless you write often. (Think of concert pianists and how many hours they practice every day.)
Be prepared to be misunderstood for your commitment. Friends won’t understand when you say you can’t go to the basketball game because you need to write. Lots of people will view your writing as a hobby and won’t take you seriously. Just keep working hard, be dedicated to the craft, trust God, and don’t mind them. Someday, the Lord willing, those same people will ask you to autograph their copy of your book.
Finally, no matter how difficult the journey gets and how defeated you feel at times, never ever give up. God has you on this planet for a reason. He began a good work in you. Be certain that He’ll complete it.
- Read the books that you want to write. Conversely, write the books that you want to read. Also read the best writing you can find (not necessarily what sells or is popular).
- Read and reread your favorite novel. Study how the author portrays his characters, draws his setting, structures the plot, creates conflict, handles language, and builds to a natural and satisfying end.
- Subscribe to and study Writer’s Digest magazine.
- Check out the Writer’s Digest library of books and read as much about writing as you can. Study the craft of writing and always be willing to learn and to change.
- Take a class on writing or a writer’s correspondence course. (Writer’s Digest offers online workshops. By the way, Writer’s Digest is not paying me to promote their products and training.)
- Join a writer’s critique group and develop thick skin. You’ll need it. (The ACFW offers such groups.)
- Network with wannabe authors like you. They may share the same struggles and questions.
- Be willing to sit at the feet of those who have already blazed the path you want to tread. Ask them questions. Read their books. Listen to the voice of experience.
- Attend a writer’s conference (for example, the Write-to-Publish Conference held in Wheaton, Illinois, each summer) and talk to publishers, literary agents, and established authors. Humbly learn as much about Christian publishing as you can.
- Study the books in the CBD catalog. Become familiar with the market you want to write for. By all means, become aware of what types of books publishers are buying, but always write from the heart. In other words, don’t just write what “sells.”
- Start small with a short story or an inspirational article. Submit it to a magazine for publication. Be prepared to wait a while for the answer. The wheels of publishing can turn slowly. If you receive a rejection letter, take another look at your work and see if you could have done something better. Then send the piece off to someone else. Repeat the process.
- Again, never ever give up.
- If you have any questions, please visit my Contact page and send me a message. I’ll do my best to get back to you in a timely manner. I’ve “been there” and am happy to share any advice that I can.