Looking back over my writing career these past 25+ years, I think I did a few things right. Not big things like majoring in journalism or doing an internship at a publishing house. Both of those things would have been wonderful, but unfortunately I didn’t have those opportunities.
I attribute my modest success as a writer to simple things my parents modeled for me.
- I didn’t let the odds get me down. I knew I wanted to write, and I was going to give it my best effort, no matter what. No matter what people told me about how few people got their books in print, I made up my mind to do the best best I could and see where it took me.
- I studied the craft. I learned the rules and when to break them. I studied and recognize that I’ll always need to study. If I want to be a writer, I will need to learn more about the many things I still don’t know.
- I listened to my heart. I wrote from the places in life where God was teaching me. I watched where He was moving in my life and tried to join Him there. This meant writing about pain and disappointment and failure and not following the typical path most writers take. My writing covers a wide range of topics, from fiction to nonfiction to academic books to Christian living books to devotionals. And I’ve loved writing all of them and been blessed to partner with amazing publishers for all of them.
- I committed to learn. Intelligent people understand that they can learn from anyone. I’m always impressed with seasoned authors who go to writer’s conferences and attend seminars that are presented by writers with far less experience than themselves. Why would they do this? Because they’re listening for something fresh and new. They have the heart of an avid, willing learner. Be open to critique, to editorial feedback, to the wisdom of those in the industry.
- I refused to quit. I’m still learning and experimenting with new genres. I was always working to absorb new knowledge about my craft. Successful writers must be self-motivated learners. ALL writers experience rejection, which is simply an opportunity to reevaluate, rewrite, and resubmit (unless the writing stinks). But don’t stop writing!
- i gave back out of gratitude. Many people poured into my life as a writer. But beyond that, God gave me the opportunity to become a full time, stay-at-home writer. The reality of that truth will always overwhelm me. No bit of knowledge or ability or skill that I possess is my own–it all belongs to God. It’s been my privilege to sow into the lives of other authors through conferences and one-on-one mentoring. I hope to continue to do this and encourage other authors to do the same and “pay it forward” by investing in the lives of future writers.
We can trust God to direct us to success through the simple steps of life.
We don’t have to strive to achieve “greatness.” We don’t have to worry that we’ll somehow “miss” His will.
We only have to be faithful today, to listen for His voice today.
Then to walk in day-by-day obedience.
This is what true success looks like.
It’s that simple.