In the late 1990’s I sensed an urge to write regularly. As a pastor and teacher, I’ve always written sermons, reports, and articles for magazines and academic journals. But this was different. I felt that I needed to express myself and to make a contribution to the church and society.
Blogging provided the means to make that contribution on a regular basis. Although I made an attempt to write a blog in the early 2000’s it was only in 2012 that it became regular. After being healed of a 17 year chronic back pain, and several years of intense inner healing, I began writing weekly.
Here are some things I’ve learned about writing.
- Understand that you have a message
It may be true that someone has already written on every subject on the planet. But you are unique and your voice is unique. You have a message that is unique and different from everyone else. Your experiences give you a message of your own. That message deserves to be expressed, and there are people who need to hear it.
- Determine your audience
Be clear who you are writing for. Your message is determined by who you are and what is in your heart. But how you express your message is determined by your audience.
If your audience is primarily a group of believers, you can assume a set of perspectives they have about God, the Bible, and the world. If they are not believers, your approach to writing must be entirely different.
- Write daily
Make it a practice to express your thoughts in writing on a daily basis. Even if you only set aside fifteen to thirty minutes, make it daily. You can begin with brief thoughts from your Scripture readings, devotions, and prayer time. Just write a few sentences each day. Another practice is to reflect on your day. What were some of the good experiences, and challenging experiences? What have you learned?
Take some of those thoughts and begin to expand it into a longer article of about 500 words. You may want to do some extra reading on that topic to refine your thoughts. It is good to hear what others are saying. It will add to your understanding and will refine your ideas as well.
- Share your writing
There are people who will benefit from your perspective and your words. It is your time to step up to this challenge and share what you have written. Take the shorter thoughts you write and share on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Allow that to be a daily encouragement to your friends and family.
Take the longer writing and share it on a blog. I would suggest you post about once per week on your blog. Starting a blog can be done easily on wordpress.com or other sites in just a few minutes. This will provide you with a free option to get you started with your blogging. In this way, you will gradually build an online resource that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world.
If you are serious about your writing and blogging, I would suggested you begin a self-hosted wordpress blog. In this way, you have your own space on the internet without any of the limitations of a free service. You can use your own identity and have more flexibility with a self-hosted blog.
- Be yourself – find your voice
As we all have our own ideas about writers, we may be tempted to copy the styles of others. Now I acknowledge that one aspect of learning involves imitating others, but you must move on from that, and move to your own way of writing and expressing yourself. This is your voice.
But finding your own unique voice takes time. For some, it may take several years of regular writing, sharing, and receiving comments. Some say it takes the writing of several books before your true voice emerges. Now, don’t let that discourage you from writing. Just get this clear in your mind: Be yourself, and keep writing. Your unique voice will eventually surface.
- Receive comments gracefully
Criticism can be one of the greatest irritations for you and at the same time, it can be an asset. Learn to receive criticism from others with grace. Some may not have a proper way of giving advice, but you certainly can pick out some good things to learn and improve.
- Read more than you write
Every writer must be an avid reader. Develop a constant habit of reading widely. Take topics that are in your field as well as others. Read the writings of those whom you disagree with. You may disagree with their approach, premise, and conclusions, but read them anyway. It may irritate you to your core, but that is a good practice. You will not be swayed by those ideas, but it may help to sharpen who you are.
Maybe you have not thought of yourself as a writer. But this is the time to begin expressing yourself. People are waiting to hear from you. Your thoughts and perspectives are unique. God has placed you here for this purpose of impacting others. Let’s begin using your words.
Here is what you can do now. During your next time of prayer and devotion, write down your reflection regarding what you are facing and what God’s word has to say about it. Just write three or four sentences and form one paragraph. Take that paragraph and post it in the comments below on the blog. Make sure to comment on what another person has written as well. Just click the link below to place your writing in the comments.
*Since 2010, I’ve learned much about writing and communicating from three bloggers: Jeff Goins, Seth Godin, and Michael Hyatt.