I’ve often heard authors (and annoying English professors) say the First Rule of Writing is to sit down and write. Easy, huh? That’s right. Plop down at your computer, and….Quick! Get inspired and churn out a story!
Every time I tried to do that I ended up staring at a blank screen. Maybe it works for some people, but not me. I mean, come on. It’s hard to get inspired unless there’s something that’s inspiring. So what’s my First Rule of Writing? Listen to God and outline. Some clarification is in order.
Listening to God
For me, writing is really fun. And because it’s fun, I think about stories (or possible stories) all the time, including during times of prayer and devotion. God has made each of us to have distinct passions, interests, and experiences. If we are sensitive to his Spirit, this uniqueness will cause each Christian to reflect God and His story in a vibrant, exciting way. It’s kind of a given: creativity stems from The Creator. Do you want to write? Then ask your Creator to inspire and impassion you about a concept, theme, or issue. But don’t be surprised when he draws your attention and thoughts to topics that already tug at your heart.
Yes, I know. It’s like a cuss word to creative, artsy-fartsy types. I apologize for the offensive suggestion, but there it is. This is only my opinion of course, but it’s based on experience. The first novel I tried to write I began solely on “inspiration.” Which is to say, I had a vague idea about a high fantasy story set in a magical and mystical world whose noble inhabitants were beset by an ancient evil. Tolkien, anyone? The only problem was I’m not Tolkien (last time I checked anyway), and the story was about as inspiring as Gollum’s loincloth.
I began my second book as a series of short stories set in the deep South, but then decided to turn it into a novel. There was no outline, so I wasn’t sure where it was going. The result? It “was going” into the reject pile of every literary agent in the universe.
For new authors, there are so many things to take into consideration when learning to write (dialogue, narrative, pacing, word choice, appropriate length, grammar and syntax, etc.), you’re making it harder on yourself if you don’t outline the plot….the entire plot.
So, interested in starting a story of your own? 1) Pray for God to clarify your interests and passions, and begin making a list of ideas for a story. 2) Then, sit down and begin an outline. Don’t worry about grammar, details, or word choice; just get the ideas out. And there you have it. You’ll have taken your first step toward getting that story on paper. And just in case you’re thinking that I don’t REALLY practice what I preach…