Ben Franklin said this is the 1700′s. This quote challenges me. When I am dead and looking down from heaven, probably few will remember my name past my family and a few friends. But I long to do something that will leave a lasting influence. Writing can actually live on after the author’s life is over.
My biggest fear in life is living in a way that doesn’t matter much. I want my life to count for Christ. I hope I can encourage people through my writing for many years to come.
Why do you write?
Writing takes time, mental effort, emotional energy, and continual work to improve the craft. Why would anyone bother developing skill in an area that paid so poorly and carried such a high risk of rejection?
Some write to become rich and famous. A select few actually reach that goal. But most would get rich faster by flipping burgers for takeout. Even quite successful writers may publish many books and still find that few people remember their name.
Some write for the sheer joy of expressing themselves. One thing is clear. If you hate to write, you probably won’t last long in the writing business. But if you have that burning desire to write that just won’t go away, keep reading.
Many people want to become published authors. They may read a few writing books and attend a few conferences. But some fizzle when they discover the learning curve to the process and the discipline required to publish regularly. Few will succeed until they have answered this question well: Why do I want to write?
I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you why I write.
First let me start with Amy. When she was six years old her family prepared to go to Taiwan as missionaries. Amy wondered what it would be like to live in Taiwan and prayed that God would help her to make friends in Taiwan. When she got on the plane to fly to Taiwan for the first time, her family presented her with my book Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World. Here was a fictional girl named Amy Kramer who also went to Taiwan with her missionary family. The real Amy read my book over and over. It helped her know what to expect in Taiwan. She read my book about twelve times in her first term in Taiwan. Then she and her mom wrote me to thank me for writing the book. I get the sense that my book helped her respond to her new life in a positive way.
That’s why I write.
OK. That was unusual. Amy “just happened” to be placed in a situation that bore a striking resemblance to my book. But the principal is true on a smaller scale. In 1990 I published a filler with only 125 words in a Sunday School take-home paper. I received $6 for it. The paper was given to adults in about 15,000 churches. Most probably skimmed through my article and threw it away with no further thought. But two people wrote me. The short article on gossip had challenged them. One posted the article on her desk to help her to remember to be careful about her words.
A short article sometimes changes more lives than a long book. Decide why you want to write, what your goals are. Then you can figure out how to get there.
Where do I begin?
You need more than strong desire to reach an audience with your words. When I started writing for publication 35 years ago, you had to convince an editor to publish your work before it ever reached a reader. Today any writer can publish his own blog, even print his own book and offer it for sale. Writers have greater opportunities than ever before, but they also have to work harder to build an audience.
Most writers would rather write than learn how to navigate social media and promote their writing. I hate new technology as much as anyone, but at age 57 I’m scared to death to quit learning. Writers who refuse to learn these new skills will severely limit their opportunities and effectiveness and I’m way too young to rot on the sidelines.
Don’t be tempted by shortcuts. Good writing takes time and energy to develop. Without an audience, the best writing sputters a very short way. Opportunities to learn these skills abound on the internet. Expect it to take work. Count the cost. Then if you still want to write,
Next month I’ll give some resources that tell you where to begin. Can’t wait? Read my articles that give writing tips. If your questions still aren’t answered, leave a comment here and I’ll try to point you toward a resource.