I started receiving words about writing almost immediately after I re-committed my life to Christ, and yet I’ve wrestled with timing ever since. Those prophetic words have been consistent and unrelenting, but I just knew they weren’t “right now” words. Recently though, I feel like I finally hit the right time, and since being in that season, I’ve learned quite a few things about this whole book writing process.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me clarify—I am in no way an expert on this topic. I’ve pulled out pieces of wisdom from professional writers I’ve talked to, and—more importantly—seasons Jesus has walked me through. Let’s call this the “in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king” kind of advice.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK?
First off—and this is so incredibly important—evaluate why you want to write a book. These days literally ANYONE can publish a book, which has pros and cons to it. Because everyone CAN write a book, everyone IS writing a book, but just because anyone CAN write a book doesn’t mean everyone SHOULD write a book. Personally, I think if you’re called to be a writer, write. If God specifically told you to work on a book, do it! But if you’re not a writer and the Holy Spirit didn’t say anything about it, don’t start working on your autobiography just because every celebrity pastor in skinny jeans is doing that.
TALK TO THE HOLY SPIRIT ABOUT IT
Assuming that the Holy Spirit specifically said, “I want you to write a book,” the next step is talking to Him about that. What kind of book? What’s the purpose of it? What’s the timeline on it? He may want you to land a big publishing deal and have this incredible book that touches millions, or He may want you to heal from some things and a book is the best way to do that. He may just want you to be obedient.
This is not specific to book writing.
I’ve found that with ANYTHING God calls us to do we need to keep up a dialogue with Him about it. A lot of times, we hear a word and run with it in our sweet little obedient hearts. That’s all well and good, but when we do that without first digging into the specifics with the Holy Spirit, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. In reality, God has things to say about the ENTIRE process. So, He’s called you to write a book, great! Now invite Him in to that process because really, it’s HIS book and not yours.
WRITE THE WORDS
There is no other way to start writing a book then just to write it. Yes, you can have a great outline and a great concept, but at some point, you just have to sit down and start putting words on pages.
Don’t stress about it. You can always edit as needed. I went through three re-writes of the first stages of my book (and honestly that’s small in comparison to most people), but I would have never gotten to the writing that I liked if I hadn’t submitted to writing the crappy pieces first. Sit down, get it out, and fix it later.
LET PEOPLE READ IT
Once it’s written (at least a good chunk of it), let people read it! Other people are going to see things you won’t because you’re too close to the project. Now, this comes with a huge stipulation: It has to be people you trust. Writing is pouring your heart and soul out on to pages and it is an incredibly vulnerable process. Do not entrust something like that with someone who won’t take you seriously or doesn’t have your best intentions at heart.
One other thing I’ll say on this—if you know someone who’s a professional writer well enough that you can ask them to read it, do it! I have learned SO MUCH from the friends I have who are professionals in this area. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
LISTEN TO THEIR ADVICE, (BUT REMEMBER IT’S YOUR STORY)
When people give you feedback, listen to it! If you feel like God is asking more from you than for this to just be a therapy project, then at some point, more people are going to need to read it and you need it to translate with your audience.
When I was very early on in this process, I sent a first draft to a friend who passed it on to her friend (with permission) that happened to be an editor. She gave me some very kind and gracious feedback that was going to require me to re-work the entire book. I had a choice at that point—I could get offended and butt-hurt, or I could recognize that this woman had no skin in the game and was sharing gold even though she didn’t have to. I chose to appreciate the compliments she had given me, and re-work the entire book.
It was the best decision I made. Draft numbers’s two and three were infinitely better than draft one, and it was all based around her feedback.
Now, I will say this, the edits I had to make didn’t require me to compromise anything the Lord had spoken to me. I knew exactly what He told me to write but how I wrote those words could have gone a million different ways. My point here is that if someone gives you feedback that would require you to shift something the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, don’t do it. As with anything, talk to the Holy Spirit about it.
If God has given you a vision for a book, He has a reason behind it. Honor His timeline, honor His ways, and invite Him in to the process. Because when we submit everything to the Holy Spirit, the process gets pretty simple!