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Three Hints to Enrich Your Writing

Writing is hard work that looks easy to non-writers. They read a story, an article, or a book that grtabs their attention and holds it right to the very end, and they assume that the words just flowed effortlessly from the inspired author and onto the page.

Just like that!

Those of us who are writers, however, know that that simply isn't the case. Writing is hard work that requires relentless effort. There are certain things one can do, however, to make the task of writing a little easier. Here are three.

1. Begin for the right reason.

This requires a lot of thought and soul-searching. Jordan Raynor wrote, "[O]ur work is only a calling if we do it for the sake of the One who has called us. Thus, we should begin the process of discerning what to create with questions about our Caller" (Called to Create, 84).

You'd be surprised how much easier our writing would be if we started by seeking what God would have us write and if we asked for the Holy Spirit's direction as we proceeded. Too often, we ask for Divine help only when we're at our wits' end or have a deadline hanging precariously over our heads.

2. Develop awareness and observational skills.

I remember reading an entry in my late mother's diary, written when I was a little boy. She had been doing the laundry that day and, as she was wont to do, going through my jeans pockets before tossing them into the washing machine. (She had learned the hard way the necessity of that step!) On that particular day, she rushed to her diary and penned her thoughts in her characteristically beautiful Zaner-Bloser handwriting. (Mother never scribbled; she wrote everything, including her grocery list, neatly.)

"Lest I forget what it's like having a little boy in the family, I found the following objects in Dennis's pockets when I went through them today." She then listed a number of random objects. I can't recall precisely what those objects were, but they might have included these:

  • a broken button,

  • a bent skeleton key,

  • a used wooden matchstick,

  • a half-eaten sucker,

  • an RC Cola bottle cap,

  • a toy soldier, and

  • two rocks with black and white flecks.

Seen through an adult's eyes, these objects were junk, but through a child's eyes, they were invaluable treasures. What are they through a writer's eyes?

Hone your observational skills. See in commonplace things the treasures that stories and articles are made of. As Beth Kephart advised, "Empty your pockets" (Handling the Truth, 104). (By the way, that's my brother, Dale, in the photo, circa 1954, not me.)

3. Polish your work to a shine.

Anyone can come up with ideas. Some can write about those ideas. But few can write them and then go back and put the "spit and polish" on the draft until it is publishable. This is at once the most difficult and the most necessary task for every writer, whether amateur or professional. But it is often what makes the difference between rejection and publication.

Paula Munier wrote, "Acquisitions editors . . . are looking for stories that are so well-crafted they need only minimal revision [by the publisher's editors]" (Writing with Quiet Hands, 21).

(You can read more specifics for doing this in my article "Wielding Your Blue Pencil")

So there you have it: Start with God. Use your eyes. And spit-shine your work.

Writing is so easy! (NOT!)

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