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At forty-six it is challenging to launch a new career, but two years ago I left my job as a bookstore manager to become a writer. Since then, I've been doing all I can to learn the lingo of the industry, improve my writing, and get connected with other writers. I, along with most beginners, want to know how to succeed in our endeavor.
I discovered the answer to this in the Book of Joshua. Chapter one begins with the death of Moses, and God calls Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. The Lord gives Joshua the steps necessary to succeed in taking possession of the land. These same steps, found in Joshua 1:7-11, apply to our goals as writers.
Step 1: Don't be Afraid
When I began painting a few years ago I was afraid. I'd stare at the blank sheet of watercolor paper, which cost $6.50 a piece, and with brush in hand was too afraid to apply the paint for fear of spoiling the paper. It didn't take me long to realize I would never improve if I didn't risk the paper.
The same is true with writing. We stare at the blank page afraid to write those first few words. We tell ourselves we can't, and then silently ask ourselves, "What if I'm no good; what if I really can't do this?"
Just as I had to risk the paper, we must risk writing down our words. The only way we will overcome our fear is to proceed forward in spite of it.
Step 2: Be Strong & Have Courage
Our strength and courage come from knowing the Lord is with us. Proverbs 16:9 says it is the Lord who directs our course and orders our days. He'll bring writing ideas to mind and open doors of opportunity we never knew existed.
I began attending Northwest Christian Writers' Association two years ago with a friend. When she moved away it forced me to face my fears and attend the meetings alone. I'm glad I did because, in my friend's absence, I was compelled to talk to people I didn't know. As a result, I've met some wonderful new friends that have encouraged me in the writing process.
Step 3: Stay in God's Word, and Pray
First and foremost is our relationship with the Lord. He is our tour guide on life's journey, the one who goes before us and clears our path. And remember, he does all of this according to his timing.
If you haven't been published yet, don't despair, don't give up. Only God knows where that next query, proposal, or conference contact is going to lead. We need only to be faithful, take the next step forward and follow where he leads us.
Step 4: Stay Focused
The Lord told Joshua not to turn to the right hand or the left. It's easy to get distracted in our busy world, but as writers we must stay focused on the projects God has called us to. And we must remain faithful to write the stories he wants us to tell.
Step 5: Prepare
• Join a writer's group
• Familiarize yourself with the publishing industry by reading publisher's Web sites and the current Writer's Market guides
• Find out what editors are looking for by obtaining their writer's guidelines
• Practice writing and let others critique your work
• Improve by taking classes, attending workshops, and conferences
We need to learn and grow in our writing craft. I struggle with punctuation, particularly the comma. I found, On-line Writing Lab (OWL), a Web site maintained by the English department at Purdue University. It's free and I can go on any time and practice my punctuation, grammar, voice or any number of English quandaries.
Step 6: Submit! Submit! Submit!
As God leads go and posses the land. Send out queries, submit proposals and manuscripts. We must allow the gift of words God has given us to minister to the people they were intended for. Only then can we experience the joy of ministering to others through the publication of our writing.
Now that we've done our part, we can rejoice in what God will do in our writing life.
And remember, God is with us wherever we go and he will never leave us (Heb 13:5).
© 2008 Kathleen Kohler