by Cherrilynn Bisbano
Some things never change, and so it goes with writing. As a speaker, I sought clarity on a career in writing. Many ladies requested my teachings in book format. My apt reply, I am not a writer. I had no desire to write.
A friend encouraged me to attend a nearby writers’ conference.
“I can’t afford it,” I said.
“Apply for a scholarship, God will get you there if it’s his will,” my friend Lori said.
I prayed daily for God to guide me. I got the scholarship.
I drove two hours to a mountain retreat in New Hampshire. I’m an extrovert so meeting new people didn’t scare me, but the knowledge that God might call me to write—unimaginable. I hoped the answer would be no. Writing is hard, and good writing is almost impossible.
My first workshop confirmed my fears as I listened to New York Times Best Selling author, Cecil Murphy. One word was mentions often so I raised my hand.
“What’s a protagonist?” I heard a few giggles.
“We have writers of all levels at this retreat,” Cecil said. He thanked me for asking the question and thanked me for my boldness.”
As I gleaned from writing royalty at the 2014 New England Christian Writers retreat, Cecil also encouraged me and gave me a challenge to write, no matter how it reads. I also learned a writer’s life is one filled with rejection, hope and a calling. That weekend I knew I must obey God’s leading by adding writer to my resume.
Over the next twelve months I attended four writing conferences. I met many Best-Selling authors and aspiring writers—more confirmation that God wants me to write.
I am compelled to share with you five truths I learned that year and these facts remain unchanged. I am confident that my writing career would have fizzled out if I did not apply these truths.
Writing is a job, not a hobby– The most successful authors consider writing a job. They schedule time to get their story on paper. Many writers skip lunch out with friends and their television is replaced with a laptop.
“If it’s not on my schedule, I don’t do it,” One famous author told me during an interview.
“God called me to write. It’s a serious commitment,” my friend said. She has six published books.
To schedule time, start small. Get up fifteen minutes earlier and write. You’d be surprised at how many words you can get on paper. If you are a night owl, shut the television off and write.
Pick the time of day you are most productive. You can write during lunch or work breaks.
Don’t give up. My friend Lori Roeleveld works full time days and writes nights and weekends. If she was not disciplined over the last three years, her four books would not be published.
Expect rejection – Thick skin is a must in the writer’s life. Jerry B. Jenkins, Cecil Murphy, and Stephen King, along with many others, will testify that rejection is inevitable. There are many reasons a book gets a rejection. Here are just a few.
- The publisher has too many books in the same genre.
- The costs of printing, distributing, overhead, royalties, and other expenses are higher than the projected sales of the book.
- The writing needs work. Get people other than family and friends to read your work.
- The submission guidelines were ignored.
- The author is difficult to work with.
Writing is a business, so when I received my first rejection after I pitched my book, I was not shocked or dismayed. I high fived my friend when she said, “One rejection closer to a book contract.”
Attend conferences- Conferences are the best palace to learn and network. I sharpened my skills and gained new friends. Please don’t let money be an issue. I acquired scholarships for the conferences. Think of it as an investment in your career. You are worth it. Search the internet for Christian Writing Conferences.
Always Learn– Conferences, college courses, along with books are great ways to sharpen writing skills. We have great content on our website and great classes. I take online courses. Some of these courses are free. Writing blogs give daily and weekly insight. The Write Conversation by Edie Melson, Jerry B. Jenkins blog at his website, and Cecil Murphy’s Writer to Writer have helped me immensely.
Read- I don’t have time to read if I write, I thought to myself. Then I learned that everyone from the Portuguese Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago to Stephen King state that reading is mandatory for the writer. Read the top selling books in your genre. Also, read books on writing. Jerry B. Jenkins sums it up nicely; Writers are readers. Good writers are good readers. Great writers are great readers.
I’ve grown as a writer by following these truths. Even best-selling writers still adhere to them. What do you do to improve your writing skills? Are you following these truths? What would you add to the list?
Cherrilynn Bisbano is an author and a book proposal writer, and a vendor for AuthorsCommunity.net.