Sermon #78: The Writer in You

As soon as my first book hit the market, I started to receive e-mail messages, phone calls and short messages on my mobile phone from people from various places and backgrounds. Some just wanted to congratulate me. Some wanted advice.

It would have helped me a lot if I had also received messages from critics, but it seems critics decided to keep their opinions to themselves. It is true that critics, especially those who are strangers, can give very useful comments on anything, because they have nothing to lose by calling a spade a spade.

This article is directed to a special group of people. You might have something in common with this group.

Each member of this group asked me a question that goes something like this: “I have always wanted to write but have not started yet. Do you think I too could write the way you do?”

This is an important question. I am going to give my thoughts on it, to assist you.

Here is a useful saying: “All human activity is prompted by desire” - (Bertrand Russel). This is true. You've got to believe it. ​Here is another: “If you wish to be a writer, write” - (Epictetus).

Honestly, I cannot say whether you could write like I do or not. I actually think that it would be improper for you to try to write like me or like any other person. I do not write like anybody; I write like me. That’s important.

Your writing style should be unique; it should be yours. You will not succeed by copying other people’s styles.

I was reading something the other day, probably a book or magazine, when I came across a powerful statement. The statement went something like this, “If there is something that you are dying to tell, advise or teach the world, and you can arrange ideas in a logical sequence, then you can write.”

I found this statement truly encouraging!

The only difference between writers and non-writers is that writers write and non-writers don’t.

If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a teacher, teach. One does not become a teacher by obtaining a teaching degree. A teacher teaches. If he does not teach, then he is not a teacher even if he holds a teaching degree. So even if you have some brilliant writing ideas, but you still haven't written them down, then you still are not a writer!

I am a writer because I write. I developed an interest in writing around 1984, but only started writing in 2004, a whole twenty years later! I could have started before 1990 if I been serious then.

Come to think of it, almost everybody has written something in their lifetime. Even pupils in primary school write stories. They have been taught how to arrange paragraphs, to ensure that they do not mix up issues. They have been taught that first things should come first, and that the end should come at the end. It is common knowledge that when one writes about a journey that they undertook, they don’t start by saying, “When I arrived…”

The question is: do you have something that you are dying to tell, teach or advise people? If you have, then you've got a good foundation; you've the motivation to write. If you are not sure, then how would you even start?

I am always dying to tell the whole world about somebody. I just cannot remain silent about Him. That somebody, whom I am dying to tell people about, is God. God is the primary subject of my writing.

I do not mean that every writer should write on the same subject. You could have a different subject, but the bottom-line is the same; it should be a subject that excites you!

If you write about a subject that you are passionate about you will have no difficulties. I always tell people that I never run out of ideas; I only run out of time. I can start writing a new book any time, without the slightest of difficulty.

I know what to write about, and I am passionate about it. When you see me walking down the street, be sure that Christian book and article titles are spinning in my head. “What should I write about next? What title would be most appropriate? What about the content?” These questions are always with me wherever I go.

Sometimes I wake up in the dead of the night to write. One day I got up three times to write things down. Inspiration just flooded my spirit as soon as I got into bed. I don't want to delay putting finger to keyboard when ideas show up; so I get up and write them down.

If you focus on a specific subject, ideas will come to you, as if by some law. An appropriate title for an article or book can come to your mind as you polish your shoes. You need to keep a small notebook on hand, so that you immediately write down ideas as they come, in case you forget them.

You might wonder why I am so passionate about my writing. Writing, as you might appreciate, is not an end in itself; it should be purposeful.

When I say I am passionate about my writing, I actually mean that I am passionate about what my writing is intended to achieve. I am passionate about souls, to win them over to Christ, and to encourage them to be steadfast.

One statement, given by the Master, jolted me into action. Immediately after reading it, I began to urge my fellow countrymen and those beyond to focus on what should be the number one priority in their lives. The statement that I am referring to goes like this: "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36–37). I hope that you now appreciate my motivation.

So if you want to be a writer, start writing today. First write a small plan on your chosen subject. You could end up hilariously surprised at how much you used to underrate yourself!

After writing my first book, I was later surprised that I had written something that went on to generate lots of interest among readers. I would read the book and ask myself, “Is it really me who produced this?” Similarly, you could be holding back value from the world!

I hope that I have helped you, or generated controversy. Whatever the case, I think it was worth it.