Get to work! (article from the archives worth sharing again)
I teach college-level courses for both undergraduate and master level classes. I have often written for and continue to write for several ministries and organizations that I serve. I tell you this because I am always reading others’ work. What I find as someone consistently reading others’ work, is sometimes the lack of care in the writer’s work. Today, I want to talk to you about some of my experiences with writers; some things I believe we all need to be mindful of if we're going to see our visions fulfilled. Today I will address four mistakes by writers.
Mistake #1 – “I don’t need an editor.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have asked individuals to get someone to read their work. I had people get angry at me for this suggestion because they believed their work was perfect. Even the best writers still need someone else editing their work. The human mind is a funny thing. When you write something and miss explaining the point, you may not catch it because you know what you meant to write, so your mind fills in the missing pieces. That’s horrible for the person reading your work. If there are missing pieces in your work, your reader will struggle to understand what you are writing. Eventually, the reader will give up.
Get an editor. If you can’t afford an editor, ask someone you know, such as an English teacher, to read your work for you. You can also purchase Grammarly or other editing programs (see ProWirtingAid on my blog to get a free trial). Even with these programs, they do not catch everything, so you will still need to have someone else read your work. Don’t put your work in print without proper editing.
Mistake #2 – “My book will organically come about.”
I am the kind of writer where, at times, God will give me an idea or a thought, and it won’t release me until I write it down. I have written complete plays and other works in one sitting. Even though this happens to me sometimes, I would never tell anyone to just wait until your book creates itself. I love a quote by A. Lee Martinez. Martinez stated, “Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.” In other words, you can’t wait for your work to produce itself. You must dedicate yourself to writing. Set a weekly writing schedule and then write. And if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to writing, you may want to reevaluate why you want to write a book in the first place. It will not write itself, so get to work.
Mistake #3 – “I don’t need to do any research.”
I was so excited with a coaching client I started helping in June. She is an expert in her field. She’s been doing it for more than thirty years. What she is writing about, she has proven it works. Yet, she said in our first meeting before I even suggested it was she was going to do some research. That was music to my ears. See, I am a researcher. I haven’t always been a researcher, but I have developed into one over the years. I remember when working on my master's degree, one instructor said to us, “we don’t care what you think, what can you prove?” That may sound like a harsh statement, but it is a true one. People don’t want to buy your book to read your opinions, they can get that for free on social media. They want to know what can you add to their lives to help them in the areas you are presenting. Yes, share your experiences (not opinions), but also add to your work by doing your research. You should ask yourself some questions. Who else has presented what I am offering? Is what I want to write about important enough others will buy it? What need am I trying to fill with my work? These are some of the questions you must begin to ask yourself so you can make sure you are presenting your best work.
Mistake #4 – “I do not have to organize my work, I can be creative with how I present my work.”
Most people don’t stop and look at the format of books, why is that you think? Well, it is evident, you buy a book to read it not to detect its’ outline or formatting. However, if you ever purchased a book without a standard format, you would know it immediately. Formatting a book is for the ease of the reader. You want your reader to understand what you are presenting to them. You do that by writing an outline of the chapters first. Then you take time to format each chapter to have a standard presentation. For example, if you start your chapter with a story, then a Scripture, and end with your point, that must be consistent in every section. How confusing it would be to your reader if they read your first chapter, and it begins with a story, but in the next chapter you go right to your point. Then in another section, you deleted the story altogether. Your reader wouldn’t know what to expect. The next time you look at a book, look at how it is formatted and how each chapter has a consistent arrangement.
If you work on these four mistakes, you will see your work improving. Remember, if your work is important to you, you want to give it the proper care to make sure it is adequately developed.
Prayer: God, help us to seek a spirit of excellence in all we do as it relates to our work. Help us partner with others that will challenge us and help us to grow. Give us the wisdom we need to complete what is before us. Help us not to get weary in doing the work required to produce the best book we can. We give you thanks in advance for what you are bringing out of our lives. Amen.
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I can imagine what it feels like to continue to give your best but feel like it isn't making any difference. The temptation is to quit! However, today, I want to encourage you not to give up, but look up! I know that may sound like a happy clique, but today, I want you to see the sound truth in this statement.
When I say look up, I mean refocus! Your focus right now is on what’s around you that keeps going wrong. When we become “obstacle observers,” we keep our focus on what’s going wrong, and we miss seeing new possibilities. When I say look up, I am encouraging us to change our focus.
One of the problems you may be encountering regarding your writing is getting into a groove with setting time to write. Maybe your issue is trying to figure out how to format your work in a way that is easily understood. Whatever the problem, the best way to attack it is to refocus. Look up!
Look up in your thinking, in your mood, in your hope. Lift it up from the current condition and place it is at this moment. How do we do that? Sometimes the best way to refocus is to step away from what you are currently doing and think about what things have worked and what things need changing. Then be willing to get help in those areas that aren’t working. Or try getting someone to hold you accountable to your time or commitment to write. How about getting a writing buddy? What’s that? A writing buddy is someone willing to listen to your ideas, and you do the same for them. You become accountability partners for each other. Because something isn’t working right now doesn’t mean it can’t work if you refocus your efforts. You may simply need to shift what you are doing. Let’s look up! Now go, Write it!
If you need help publishing or a coach to hold you accountable to your writing goals, I would love to partner with you. Reach me @ DrJewelWilliams@PublishTheVision.com
Hi! I'm Dr. Jewel D. Williams. I am a wife, mother of 3 beautiful girls, lead pastor of Vision & Education at Abundant Life Worship Center. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses at a Christian college. Additionally, I am an author and CEO of Tri-Production Publishing, Inc. What is important about it all is I love to serve. I was "Saved to Serve."