Twenty years in Africa. Sixteen years of waiting on God for healing. Other life challenges. I needed an outlet to praise my Creator. To my great surprise, about eight years ago, He called me to write.
I was always able to write good, grammatically correct sentences, using correct punctuation. That was a start, but I soon discovered that excellent writing would demand much more.
It all began when I read subtitles in a prayer letter written by a witty colleague: “Bald man meets bald eagle” and “Eighty-one-year-old woman delivers seven.” What fun! With that, plus realizing how many boring letters I regularly received, I determined to find or produce writing that readers could not throw thoughtlessly into the trash.
In the following years, my writing passed through editing by four women writers. They “corrected” it, teaching me principles sentence by sentence. Because I knew they wrote well themselves, I trusted them. I knew all that “critical” red ink came from hearts that loved me.
You can learn much from books, magazines, and the Web about writing, that’s for sure. But finding a talented friend to nitpick your work can greatly speed your progress. Not just any friend will really do. Even a college English professor might not be the best editor for you. Find someone who knows the business. Who has been trained well. Who will tell you the truth, pointing out specifics.
Some aspiring writers, who obviously have talent, are loath to let anyone touch their precious creations. They think an editor might ruin their “style.” They are greatly mistaken! Two such writers said to me, “Thanks, but no thanks” after I edited only one article apiece.
In contrast, some beginner writers I am mentoring showed great improvement within a few, short months. They gladly accept and understand that—for now—they’re in learning mode. I edited an article for an old friend, applying as much kindness as I could. She cried. Bummer. But the next time, when I hesitated, she promised she would “act like an adult.” And learn from the experience. And be glad for it.
For gifted writers, the potential for pride can be great. One wise woman writer advised me: “All we write belongs to God, and He will use it as He wishes.” I printed out the Latin phrase she mentioned, OMNIA PRO DEO (All for God), and beautifully framed it. It sits in my office so I won’t ever forget.
If you want to become a good, even excellent, writer, you will need personal attention, be willing to listen, to learn, and maintain a humble attitude while moving toward your goal. Yeah, it was tough for me in the beginning. But I decided to set a goal of producing a piece in which no editor could find even one, tiny word to critique. And eventually, wow, it happened. God is good.
And, oh, those subtitles? Annie’s aged British father had spied an American bald eagle for the first time, and her mother helped deliver seven kittens.
Writers-in-training: Receive the "gift of red ink"!
Are you ready to launch your brilliant writing career? Here's your chance to receive the professional encouragement (and scrutiny) you have been hoping for. Carol is offering blog followers a FREE EDIT on any written piece you have been working on. (Let's keep it to article length, please no book manuscripts!)
With this gift, perhaps you will even get inspired to write an article on the WOTH Editor’s requested theme for 2010: friendships that have made a difference on the field.
Please submit your article, with a brief bio of yourself, in a WORD document (Times New Roman font, 12-point, black, double-spaced, if at all possible) to firstname.lastname@example.org with a mention, “free edit.”