Friday, March 12, 2010

Seven Habits of a Christian Writer

In 2008, the Write to Publish Conference celebrated its 35th anniversary by dedicating to Director Lin Johnson an anthology, Writing So Heaven Will Be Different.

My testimony, "Seven Habits of a Successful Christian Writer," was one of 35 in the book by WTP alums. Four of those habits I'll share today, and three next month. But first, I recommend this inspiring book, compiled and edited by Joyce K. Ellis and Tammie Edington Shaw.

1. Use your gift to worship God. Writing is God's gift to you. When we use our writing gifts, we are worshiping our Creator. Plus when we're at a Christian writers conference, worshiping together with several hundred writers is an awesome, inspiring experience. Until my first writers conference, I didn't know that a writers conference was like a creativity revival.

2. Enjoy the adventure. God often surprises us with writing and speaking topics when we least expect them. Throughout my years as a busy mother and teacher, I dreamed about writing the Great American Novel. What novelist hasn't? I never guessed I would one day, instead, write and speak about women disciples of the Last Supper, and my family's lives in China.

3. Keep learning from the pros. Agents, editors and published authors have great insights to share about the craft of writing. Even though I've been a writer all my life (and taught writing too), I'm still learning. Writers conferences, along with the how-to books I've found there, have been my greatest skill-building sources. I try to attend two conferences each year, and America Christian Fiction Writers and Write to Publish are my favorites.

4. When disappointments happen, press on (Paul knew what he was talking about). No one masters the writing craft overnight (well, maybe some have, but I've never heard of them). Every time I meet with an editor at a conference or send out a proposal (these days my agent does it), my manuscripts improve in some way. I long ago learned that self-editing is ongoing and fun. I also remember the good old days of typewriters, so I never cease to be grateful for the ease of revisions with computers.

I'll share three more habits next month. But of course, there are many more than three more. So why not share one of yours right now that you're working on these days. Your habit-in-progress might be the very habit another writer needs to be successful.

O Holy God, please guide our writing habits so that our words will bring glory to Your Kingdom. Amen.


  1. OOOh, I love it when I'm the first to comment on a post--makes me feel like the first in line at a potluck!

    Millie, you are one wise lady. I appreciate you sharing your hard-earned secrets to success. They are simple, but not easy, right? Thank God for His word and His Spirit to help us!

    One habit that's improved my writing is to read well-crafted books. I receive oodles of great ideas from inspired authors on how to make my writing leap off the page and into a readers heart.

    I'm so glad I met you--you are a blessing!

  2. WOW -- Thanks HEAPS, Jeanette -- you know how to make a friend's day. . . :-) And hey, great tip to read others' well-crafted books! I'm doing that right now -- "Two Women of Galilee" by Mary Rourke. It's marvelous (except she has Jesus' birthplace as Nazareth -- maybe she meant to say hometown). What conference/s are you attending this year?? We're due a live chat. . . :-)

  3. Hi Millie! Thanks for a challenging post! I look forward to your next installment. *smiles*

    I've set up a habit that works on normal days (i.e., no crushing responsibilities to deal with). I used to try to get all the little tasks of my day out of the way so I'd have a huge chunk of time in which to write. HA! That next to never worked. Then my daughter heard an author on a radio program explain how he set up his daily writing schedule. It was very simple and very successful: he alternated writing two hours with doing something else two hours. Two hours on, two hours off. He got in eight hours of writing and eight hours of life outside of writing, every day. WOW!

    I tweaked it for my lifestyle, and went for two hours writing, one hour not (and a shorter workday). Not only do I get more of those little tasks done, but I find I can often use the mindless ones to keep composing in my head. I return to the keyboard raring to go. I also discovered I needed big breaks from writing, so I take Wednesdays and Sundays off to enjoy other activities and *chuckle* keep my friends. Unless big responsibilities steal my schedule, I find I get more writing done, keep my house and bills in order, am more faithful with personal devotions and church life, and can keep people at the top of my priorities.

    Uh-huh, this will all fall apart if/when I ever get published, but until then, this meets my needs.

  4. "I didn't know that a writers conference was like a creativity revival."

    What a great description! So true.

  5. Hey, Steph -- THANKS HEAPS for legitimizing for what I sometimes feel guilty doing! But now, never again. . . and another advantage of your suggested habit -- keeps the hips and back and neck from getting stiff and sore (but not something you probably understand yet). :-)