How would you recommend an aspiring writer better hone her craft?
Reading great literature is one of the more important things an aspiring writer can do. There are also many books on how to become a writer. It can be intimidating.
My recommendation? Start with Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird.
Look for creative writing courses or attend writer’s conferences, and don’t be afraid to write as you are. Don’t wait. There are many magazines that need writers—you won’t necessarily get paid, but you’ll gain experience.
Could you walk me through a typical writing day?
I am not a morning person. Let’s start there.
When I am in the writing process of the novel (as opposed to the editing or marketing process), I try to be done with my quiet time, business stuff ,and be in my office by 9:30.
I don’t take many breaks and usually write straight through lunch and finish around 3 pm. But this depends on if I have ministry things in the afternoon. I definitely only write part time. I usually only write for 4-5 hours 4 days a week. Sometimes five. My goal is to write one chapter a week.
What is most satisfying about being an author?
Many things! When that unbidden image just makes its way onto the page, it is delightful. As characters develop, it is so fun to watch them ‘take over’ and do things I hadn’t planned. I am always so thankful when I have an eternal idea that I can communicate without cliche or preaching—it just flows from the story line and the characters’ hearts and experiences.
(Getting wonderful reader mail is also very encouraging.)
Are there some of the hiccups you have hit while writing?
I tend to have complicated story lines—plots and multiple themes.
Sometimes I get stuck in a situation and am not at all sure how to get out of it! Since I try to stay true to history, I often ask the question of others: could this have happened? If it really isn’t feasible, then I have to change my story line.
I’ve had to almost completely rewrite a large portion of one novel.
That was hard, but I trust my editors and publisher—which is a great blessing—and I am not afraid to give up something and start over. I think that writers who hold too tightly to their words and cannot accept criticism are doing themselves a disservice. We can always learn and improve our craft.
How does the balance of mission work and writing function for you?
Balance is an interesting thing. I love what Jill Briscoe says: “If Jesus is first, you’ll know what is next.” That’s about how it goes. Some days, I dedicate solely to writing. Other days or weeks or months, I am solely involved in ministry and my family. It is never a neatly organized schedule. I do need routine, but I have to remain flexible.
Is there a question you have for me? Send a message via my contact page.