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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Having created a regularly-occurring “Writing Wednesday,” I have now required myself to write about writing every Wednesday. What was I thinking?

Actually, I was thinking it was a good idea.

Many of my family and friends are writers or wannabe writers and most of the rest of y’all love to read. Books are precious to us. They contain, adventure, mystery, suspense, humor, guidance, encouragement, examples of how to live and sometimes, how not to live.

There’s something magical about books and how they come to be. How they start inside the mind of a person, become words on the screen, words on the page, and pages bound in a book. And, let me assure you that having been blessed with the opportunity to write and publish four books myself, the process continues to be magical.

So for all of us—writers, wannabe’s, and lovers of books, welcome to Writing Wednesday.

In preparation for today’s post, I dug through my notes about writing. I found nearly 20 sets of notes from writing conferences I’ve attended over the years. With an average of six speakers at each conference, that’s a whole lot of fabulous speakers I’ve been privileged to hear over the years. I’d like to share some of them with you. Starting with Nancy Werlin.

Nancy Werlin is an award-winning young adult novelist. She spoke at the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference I attended in Modesto ‘way back in 2001.

Her tips on revision are still relevant. Here they are, followed by my WWJS thoughts. WWJS? That stands for “what would Jesus say?”

Once you have finished your first draft:

1.      Celebrate. You’ve created something out of nothing. Acknowledge that you’ve done something wonderful.

·         WWJS: In Genesis we read how God created the universe out of nothing. Then He acknowledged that it was “good.”

2.      Give your first draft to one or two people you respect. Have them look at it from a structural point of view. When you hear the same comment from two readers, listen. Their comments may not agree with your vision of the book, but give their thoughts due regard.

·         WWJS: Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

3.      Recognize that there will be things that are wrong. But they can be changed.

·         WWJS: God planned for Adam and Eve to stay in the Garden of Eden with Him forever. Yes, being omnipotent, He knew they would sin, but it was only after things had gone wrong that He had to make changes. Things can be changed.

4.      Revision can be terrifying. Ask for help.

·         WWJS: Life can be terrifying. Ask God for help.

5.      Trust the process. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, begin the revision process.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us that the revision process in writing is similar to the way God purifies us. Leviticus 14:31 says: Through this process, the priest will purify the person before the LORD.

6.      Acknowledge your vulnerability. The first draft is precious to you. It came from your soul. It is your “baby” and it feels destructive to revise it. Acknowledge your vulnerability and then take a leap of faith to commit to the revision process. The work will be better.

·         WWJS: Jesus would understand what it feels like to create. John 16:21says: A woman giving birth to a child has pain…but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy.

7.      Every revision process is different. Don’t stress over having the “right process.” Just begin and learn what works for you.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of Proverbs 19:2: Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes

8.      Throw yourself into the revision. Try wild ideas. Take the story into a new direction. If something doesn’t work out, you can revise it back to the way it was.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of Ephesians 6:7: Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord.

9.      Trust your instinct; don’t trust your fear.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of the first part of Zephaniah 3:16: Do not fear, O Zion.

10.  Sometimes you have to keep rewriting and rewriting again and again until you get it right.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of the second part of Zephaniah 3:16: do not let your hands hang limp.

11.  The secret of good creating: 1% inspiration; 99% perspiration.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us that God created everything in 6 days. That’s the 1% inspiration. God hasn’t stopped taking care of the universe ever since the first day of creation. That’s 99% perspiration.

Whether you write or not, I hope you enjoy these thoughts—Nancy Werlin’s certainly—but even more what Jesus might say about the spiritual revision going on in you.  

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the revision you are doing in us. Please keep revising and revising us until you get us right. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do any of these revision tips give you special encouragement in your writing or in your life?

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