Monday, June 08, 2009

The First Step

My Sunday school teacher approached me yesterday after class. I could tell he was uncomfortable by the way he spoke. As I listened, I understood exactly why.

I've sat under his teaching for years. And I've admired the analogies he's shared with the class every week. "How did he come up with that?" I'd wonder. I struggle with writing my own examples and can never get devotions how I want them. I knew this man had a gift.

Yesterday, he asked me how he can share some of what God puts on his heart with others. Not for money--but because he has a desire to reach others.

I've had this same experience happen to me several times since I've become a writer. I know what I always want to do---give the person a lengthy to-do list of how to get your work out there for others to read. Buy this book, go to a conference, start a blog--write.

But I usually end of scaring the person with the overwhelming process.

As fellow writers, what's the first step you suggest to the person who wants to write and share with others without dampening their spirits?


Sassy Granny ... said...

Seek the Lord.

There's nothing that compares to God's wisdom and leading. If and when a new course is set before us, it is He Who establishes our steps.

We then put one foot ahead of the other, and move forward. Like Moses' parting of the seas, nothing happens until that first step is taken. And that first step is often different for each of us.

Be blessed,

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

Offer to help them through the process.

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Terri,

I just had this happen to me. Someone at church found out I write and approached me, asking for the names of any agents I might know so they could send their novel out.

I told them I'd send them some info. Then I went home and wrote them an e-mail with lots of info, including links to several good writing and agent websites.

I've saved the e-mail so I can help out anyone else who asks.

Have a blessed week!

Wendy said...

I think the best advice is to get them writing. Spend a lot of time writing...I might even suggest a year and then look into the next steps. They may even decide that writing isn't the venue that's for them in the process.
~ Wendy

Jill Kemerer said...

What a nice post--how thoughtful! I'd recommend for the person to start writing every day. I'd also urge him to try his hand at writing short devotionals and personal essays. This will help him get a feel for where his talents lie and for what appeals to him. Then, you could mention that you have many resources to help him get published if he's so inclined.

You just warmed my heart this morning with your attitude--thanks.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Write with patience in mind, and seek venues to find an audience, but first and consistently pray LOTS for God's intervention and guidance.

Sorry, but I have to go with the truth, always.

Deborah said...

It sounds like he was asking not so much about the writing process as how to reach people with what he has already written. he probably has years of 'stuff' from the lessons he teaches.
In his case I think a blog would be a great place to start if he wants to reach a new audience.
Another simple way to start would be to just make small booklets for people he already knows, within the church. That would give him some feedback. Although in my experience, people you know aren't always the most supportive group!

Greg C said...

Help them with something that they are comfortable with first and then the writing. Make them feel comfortable first.

Melissa Marsh said...

I would probably have to say, "Can I get back to you on that? I'd like to go home, formulate my thoughts, and come up with some great ideas for you."

Pat said...

Terri, the best thing (I think) to introduce someone to submitting their work, and to get over those first submitting terrors, is to direct them to FaithWriters. Not that I'm trying to promote them exclusively but I think FW helps tremendously in getting over those first jitters and giving the new writer time to develop before they just jump into submitting elsewhere. It's a great place to grow.

And who's this 'teacher for years' you're talking about? Jim?

Pat :)

Jody Hedlund said...

What a great question, Terri. I'm sure I would totally overload someone! But I think I would probably just encourage them to actually sit down at the computer and start typing up their thoughts. Then I'd suggest a writing craft book. If they do those things and want to pursue it more, then I'd point them to a couple of blogs like Rachelle Gardners.

Trudy said...

Hi Terri,

I am commenting not from the advice to give standpoint, but just to thank you for this post! As one of those seeking some advice for beginning writers, this is wonderful! I know I need to start writing more, and every day, but these are some great tips, so thanks to all!

ginny said...

Ohhh, well to begin with, pray and listen to the quiet whisper of God, and then go for it. Take baby steps first, and then see where it goes from there.

Andrea said...

I ask them to pray for GOD's direction and let me know how GOD leads them, before I make suggestions. Based upon their response from GOD...determines my response.

I was in Carlisle, Pa. for a few days. It was beautiful. Thank you for your continued prayers. I really need them right now. I have some unexpected situations rearing their ugly heads right now.
Blessings and prayers, andrea

Jessica said...

Hmmm, it depends. It sounds like he just wants to uplift others, so I'd suggest that he start a blog. :-)
I don't know. That's interesting. I've had a few people tell me they want to write, and I always just tell them to go for it. LOL

Warren Baldwin said...

I tell them to write devotionals, articles, or news items for their church bulletin. The preacher (who usually is the main writer/editor) will appreciate a break and the congregation will enjoy a change, too. You will immediately have a readership of dozens or even hundreds that will be supportive and complimentary. wb

Cindy said...

That's a great questions. There is really so much it COULD be overwhelming. I would tell them to start writing, write what interests them. And do some research by reading books in the same genre. Study the style, pacing, dialogue, everything and see what they come up with. THEN you can overload them :D

Lin said...

blogging daily has really helped me...just take one step at a time as inspiration and opportunities open up.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I try and encourage them to just write...forget all the details just write. If it's a book they're wanting to write, then I try and encourage them to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write down the main idea behind the book (what they want the reader to glean) and then some possible chapters.

Through experience, I've learned this a better way to approach a book rather than just running away with the pen in hand.

So, what did you tell this person?


Kristen Painter said...

I tell them to write. A lot of people talk about writing a book, but talking will never get you a first draft.

giddymomof6 said...

I'm with most of your other comments. Tell him to write it out. Once he does that then it'll be much easier to proceed through all of the other steps that you need to reach people.

Or, if he'd just rather start an inspirational blog, a just do a Sunday devotional or something, that would be free, could reach a lot of people and not overwhelm him.
Just a thought, so glad to be back!

Amy De Trempe said...

A young woman asked me the same thing recently. She had always wanted to write, but didn't know where to begin. I told her to sit down and start typing and soon it will begin to flow. I know it isn't that easy, but once you get in the habit of writing, I think it does get easier.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I've probably overwhelmed a few people in my time. Lord, forgive me for being overly enthusiastic.

Maybe the best tack is to teach them the way we teach kids...a little at a time. Give them time to chew, swallow, and digest a nugget. Leave them hungry and excited for more.

Susan :)

Carmen said...

You're so sweet! Give him little bits at a time. Since he's a friend, you'll be there when he's ready to take another step towards getting published--and encourage him (something tells me you'd be good at that!) Offer to read his writing every now and then, and give him some valid tips to help him along. You'll do great! Your heart is certainly in it.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I'd tell them to forget all the rules, etc. and just write. Then seek out other writers to help you through the editing process one step at a time.

Sort of like making a puzzle. One piece fits the next, etc. until it is complete for enjoying and relishing the accomplishment.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I agree with Sassy
Granny: ask God to lead you. For me that meant calling a friend who was a published writer, and she suggested I attend a writers' conference. That started the ball rolling for me.
I think the secret is to just give them enough to whet their appetite, and still encourage them.
Thanks for this post; very good!