Writing While Growing: Some Tips for Christian Writers

A friend and I were talking this weekend about Christian writing. Our conversation touched on a common concern of Christian writers, the concern of writing something that will lead someone astray. I have often told writers (and prayer ministers) that as long as you have that healthy concern, I am not worried about you. You are likely to be diligent and discerning, bringing everything before God and asking for feedback from trusted individuals before you publish anything. You will also be more humble in your writing, acknowledging what you don’t know and inviting your readers to explore along with you as you grow together. That is a healthy approach to writing.

The problem is that sometimes this healthy concern expands into paralyzing fear, and nothing ever gets written. The question “When do I know enough to write about it?” never finds its answer. Readers miss out because you were ready and you had something helpful to share, but fear kept you from publishing.

The conversation with my friend went more in-depth about this concern, and I would like to share some of what we touched on, in case it helps another writer with similar questions.

Continue reading “Writing While Growing: Some Tips for Christian Writers”

Don’t Let Commentaries Slow Your Christian Writing

When I teach Christian writing classes, I emphasize the importance of Bible study. Christian writers have an incredible privilege of inspiring and encouraging readers to draw closer to God and to dig deeper into His Word. That means writers need to know the Bible and have a solid foundation for presenting scripture in their writing.

This doesn’t mean a devotional writer needs to be a scholar of biblical texts. But there are some basics that anyone writing about scripture needs to practice. One of these is the use of reliable biblical commentaries.

Continue reading “Don’t Let Commentaries Slow Your Christian Writing”

Re-Dedicate Your Writing Life to God

It’s that time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions. Some folks mark this transition by taking quiet time to reflect and listen for God’s direction for the new year. Whatever way you choose to acknowledge this seasonal change, this is a great opportunity to re-dedicate your writing life and gifts to God.

When God calls you as a writer, it is important to stay in the flow of His Spirit:

  • Worshiping God with your whole heart, mind, body, and spirit.
  • Devoting prayer time on a regular basis to talk with God about how He would have you use your writing gifts.
  • Spending quiet time in God’s presence so He can transform you – this will affect your writing and your message, and more importantly He will transform your life.
  • Studying and meditating on God’s Word, so His Word will remain fresh in your spirit.
  • Submitting your writing gifts to God and surrendering yourself to His plans for you as a writer (and as His kid).
  • Remembering to re-dedicate your writing life and gifts to God on a regular basis.

All of this takes ongoing commitment and intentional practice. It doesn’t matter how surrendered you were when you started out as a writer for God. As time goes on and life takes its toll, it is so easy and tempting to shift gears. Despite that you started by the Spirit, you end up writing and planning by your own strength. You may not even notice it. It just creeps in.

When you write in your own strength, you miss God’s best for you. For example, you don’t want to be stuck in a past mode of writing, if that’s not where God is calling you in this new season. That’s why it’s important to re-dedicate your writing life to God and re-surrender yourself and your writing gifts on a regular basis.

While re-dedicating your writing life and gifts to God is a practice you can and should follow throughout the year, this time of New Year celebration is a wonderful time to practice this re-dedication.

It is always best to let the Holy Spirit lead you in your prayer time. But this prayer might help you get started.

Dear God,

Thank You so much for calling me as a writer. I am humbly grateful for the privilege of writing and sharing words so that people will be encouraged, challenged, inspired, and drawn closer to You. I invite You to keep working in my heart, so the words I write will be shaped by Your love and truth.

Lord, I want to stay present with You in each season. I want to flow with Your Spirit, and I want to follow Your very best plan for me as a writer. Help me to stay present with You as I write. Help me to be fully present in the current season with You. I ask You to mold and shape me as a writer and as your child each day in the ways You know are best.

Lord, I don’t want to write in my own strength. I want You to lead me. Please cleanse me of any ways I have been writing in my own strength. I invite Your Spirit to lead me in all that I do, including the privilege of writing. I lay my writing gifts at Your feet and ask that You cleanse them, renew them, and restore them to me in the ways You intend for me to use them.

Help me always to write from a place of resting in Your Spirit. Thank You for Your amazing love.

In Jesus’ name. Amen

Devotional Writing Basics

I love writing devotionals. They are a wonderful way to stay focused on scripture in your writing. Devotionals are a powerful way to reflect on what God is doing in your life. They offer a testimony to your daily encounters with God.

Devotionals also make it easy to share those experiences with others. Sometimes when I want to share a discovery, I will write a devotional about it and send it to friends who I think would appreciate it. I’ve also written devotionals to capture experiences my friends and I have shared. I publish the devotional on my blog and then send them a link as a remembrance of that moment.

How to Write Devotionals

As a writer, you will find that writing devotionals is a good way to grow in your writing skills. Devotionals can also help you plug in as a writer – at your church, in an online magazine, at a prayer group, or on your blog.

I have taught many workshops on devotional writing – to writers and to church members who have never written a printed piece before. Now I offer a self-paced online course: Let’s Write a Devotional that will help you get started in devotional writing.

6-Day Devotional Studies

Years ago, I began writing devotional material for small group ministries and retreats. I designed a 6-day devotional study format that I taught to the writers in my online workshop. I also wrote several of these studies and really enjoyed the process.

A 6-day devotional study helps the reader focus on a theme for the week. Morning, noon, and evening devotionals, each day for 6 days, take the reader on a journey through that theme. The devotionals build on each other and are followed by reflection and study questions. These can be used individually, as a family, or as a small group.

A similar concept can be used for a retreat, with 3 days of morning, noon, and evening devotionals focused on the retreat theme. If you know a retreat leader, this might be a great way for you to participate as a writer.

If you would like to get a sense of what 6-day devotional studies are like, here are two studies I wrote many years ago. You are welcome to download and read them:

Moments-with-Jesus-Janet-Eriksson

Kingdom-Home-Janet-Eriksson

You’ll notice in the Kingdom Home devotional study that the font changes color in different sections of the study. This was a way to enhance the reader’s experience by representing the kingdom in increasing clarity.

No matter what kind of writing you enjoy, I encourage you to try writing some devotionals.  They are a wonderful way to spend writing time with God.

First Steps on Your Christian Writing Path

So you’re just starting out as a Christian writer? Or wanting to hear God more deeply in your writing?

Maybe you already have a sense of what you want to write. In a writing workshop I taught years ago, a new student said he knew he wanted to write novels like Ted Dekker’s. Another student knew she wanted her devotionals to be published in The Upper Room. I knew I wanted to blog even before blogs were a thing. Several of my book clients knew they wanted to tell the story of how God had healed them and changed their lives.

But not everyone knows, starting out, what he or she wants to write. In fact, most people don’t know. Often, writers start in one direction and end up following another path or two. I began with fiction writing and business writing. Before long, I discovered a love for blogging. Farther down the road, I found that I enjoy curriculum writing. I never would have imagined that starting out. I had to live a little as a writer – and as a person – and allow God to shape me.

So, if you don’t know where you are headed, don’t worry! You are in great company. Most of the writers I’ve interacted with, who have answered God’s call to writing, did not know what they wanted to write. That is a wonderful place to be. You are beginning an amazing journey of experiencing God in your writing. He will lead you to your heart’s desire, even if you don’t know what that is yet. And you will get to know God – and yourself – even better along the way.

So, where do you start?

(1) Pray and ask God. He will reveal whatever you need to know to take your first (or next) steps as a Christian writer. He doesn’t often share a long-term plan. But He will give you enough to begin.

(2) Start noticing what you enjoy reading. Do you love novels? Short stories? Or maybe you enjoy watching movies. Learning to write Christian movie scripts can be a wonderful outlet if that’s what you love most.

Do you enjoy reading blog posts? Magazine articles? Maybe you are even attracted to those short filler articles in magazines. Writers are hired to create those.

Do you like listening to testimonies? Reading church newsletters?

You get the idea. Your heart already has a sense of what you enjoy reading.

Not all Christian writers are called to write specifically Christian material. God might call you to bring His heart to business writing, or sports writing. He might call you to contribute heartfelt family articles to your small-town newspaper. Pay attention to the kind of writing that attracts you, and where you feel God’s heart beating in you as a writer.

Granted, the kind of reading you enjoy might not be your favorite kind of writing. I love reading novels, and I’ve been well trained in writing them. But it’s not my favorite way to put pen to paper in this season of my life.

However, what you enjoy reading most is a good place to start exploring what you might enjoy as a writer. And it’s a great way to learn. The most effective writers are avid readers.

(3) Learn about the kind of writing that interests you. For example, if you enjoy fiction, do some research online. There are wonderful websites with helpful articles that will help you learn more about the craft of fiction writing. Even if you discover down the road that fiction isn’t what you want to write, your time will not be wasted. You will still grow as a writer as you explore different kinds of writing.

(4) Look for a first step you can take to get started:

  • Start a blog – the various popular blog platforms have really made this easy, and you can find a lot of help online through articles and video tutorials.
  • Write a letter to a loved one, sharing God’s love, encouragement, or a prayer.
  • Ask your pastor if you can write a short article in the church newsletter; if that sounds like too much starting out, write a paragraph about something happening in the life of your church.
  • Learn how to write a devotional.
  • Take a writing class.
  • Attend a Christian writing conference.

Prayerfully take one step, and then another. Before long, you will start to find more opportunities that you can enjoy as a Christian writer. The key is to take those first steps: Pray, read, and write.

When you are ready to move beyond these initial steps, you will discover many possible paths to explore. To help you along your journey, I have created a PDF of 156 ways you can get started in Christian writing. You are welcome to download that PDF here:

156-Ways-to-Reach-Out-with-Writing-Janet-Eriksson

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. God will lead you into the areas where He will bless and grow you as a Christian writer.