On Writing a Book
“What would some advice be on writing books?” – Olivia
There are two things every Christian writer must consider before publishing. First: Will my book bring glory to God? Second: Will my book bring its readers closer to God?
Your book, then, must be faithful to the Word of God. It must be something He would approve of. It must be something He inspires you to write.
When I first thought about writing DWSD, I struggled with the fact that I was unworthy. I had no authority of my own. I had no wisdom of my own. My experience was limited to my sinfulness, bested solely by the love of Christ, whose righteousness was imputed unto me not by my works, but by His. The only victories I enjoyed were His. Jesus said, “Without me, ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). So that’s where I began – with the premise that I was nothing, and He was everything.
What an encouragement that was. I was freed from the snare of self-reliance. Jesus was my authority, my wisdom, and my righteousness. All I had to do was rely on Him. And He led the way. I marvelled over the fact that the questions each of my chapters raised were answered just when and how I needed them to be answered. I “waited on the Lord” and He answered me through the godly teaching of His Word, my husband, and others.
That doesn’t mean that I am perfect or that my book is perfect! I am an earthen vessel, fitted unto honour because of the power of Christ. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7). If anything I have written is good, it’s because of God. If what I have written is in error, it’s because of me. Perhaps this is an oversimplification, but it rings true.
So, Olivia, the very first thing you need to do is pray. Ask the Lord to reveal His will to you. Read the Bible. Mark the themes in scripture that speak to you, that you imagine yourself writing about. Pray for your readers. Consider how your readers will be blessed and edified by your book. Will your book be written to Christians, to bring them closer to God, or to the unsaved, to show them the way of salvation? How old is your audience and what are their needs and interests? What Biblical light can you shine for them? Remember – you don’t need to be perfect. God’s Word already is. Rely on that.
What form will your book take? Think of some model books that you enjoy and imagine putting your book into their format. Will it be a picture book written for children, or a story book written for young readers? Will it be an autobiography about your life and your family written in a friendly, casual manner, or will it be an expository glimpse of Scripture, written with the formality of a scholar? Maybe it will fall somewhere in between. Determine what your strengths are and use them; they are given to you by God for His glory.
Draw up an outline and write your book when you feel you’re ready – piece by piece. There is no need to rush. Write it when you have time and inspiration. Write it when you feel blessed. Leave it for a day or more, then read it over. Something that you write on Monday, thinking it’s the best thing you’ve ever written, might look foolish to you by Friday (this happened to me many times!).
Be prepared to take criticism. Let trusted family members read it with the knowledge that they may advise you to delete or edit large parts of it. Your book will feel personal because you’re pouring your heart into it. Remind yourself daily that your book is not about you. It’s about God and it’s for God. Any criticism you receive from godly helpers is the criticism of the Lord, and you are to receive it graciously, with thankfulness.
Be prepared to take praise. When people congratulate your efforts, how will you respond? Will you say, “thank you”, or will you say, “Praise the Lord”? Will you pass the glory to God, or will you take it for yourself? Will you say, “Ya, I worked really hard”, or will you say, “The Lord blessed my work”? Every day, and especially when you are tempted to imagine the praise you will receive in the future, remind yourself in prayer that “The Lord, HE is God”. You are a vessel – a vessel unto honour – but an earthen vessel, just the same. Be humble and meek with sincerity, acknowledging that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas. 1:17a).
One last bit of advice: don’t tell too many people that you’re writing a book – trusted family members only. This is a simple matter of not counting your chickens before they hatch. It is unwise to broadcast your intentions publicly when you have nothing to show for it yet. Telling people will put undue pressure on you to perform, and will make your book a worldly pursuit instead of a godly one. It will tempt you and others to criticism and envy before you even begin.
All the best to you, Olivia! Write in the Lord and be blessed.
Thanks for reading.