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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 wanted to congratulate me just for having published the book. Some wanted advice on how they could go about it. 
Some who contacted me wanted to provide the much-needed constructive criticism. 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 still have not started. It seems like I am hesitating. I may actually end up discarding the idea. Do you think I too could be a writer?”

This is an important question. I am going to give you my thoughts on it; the comments might assist you.

Here is a useful saying: “All human activity is prompted by desire” - (Bertrand Russel). Desire is the first step; without it nothing gets done. If you have the desire to write you satisfy one of the two primary prerequisites
Here is the second prerequisite: “If you wish to be a writer, write” - (Epictetus). This is a call to action. The desire to write is necessary but not sufficient; you have to take the required next step - write!

What I have found useful as a start is not to worry much about the quality of your writing. Just write on paper exactly what's on your mind. Quality issues will be addressed after writing. If you have not written anything, why worry about quality? In this sense, quality issues become secondary!

Honestly, I cannot say whether you could write like I do or not (as some have sought to). I actually think that it would be improper for you to even 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, because such people are already quite polished at it - they have been using the style for decades! Adopting a unique writing style might bring in a level of differentiation that might in turn help to reduce competition to some degree.

I was reading something the other day, probably a book or magazine, when I came across a powerful quote. The quote 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 manner, 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 still haven't written them down, then you still are not a writer! You might qualify for some form of storage facility!

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 had 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 Jesus. Jesus is the primary objective 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 not face many difficulties. I always tell people that I never run out of ideas; I only run out of time. There is so much to tell the world about the Lord!

I know what to write about, and I am passionate about it. When you see me walking down the street, be sure that ideas are with me always. “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 me as soon as I got into bed. I don't delay putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard when ideas show up; so I get up and write them down, lest in the morning I fail to remember what it was that had visited me.

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 you as you polish your shoes. You need to keep a small notebook on hand, so that you immediately write down ideas as they come.

You might be wondering why I am so passionate about my writing. 
Writing, as you might appreciate, is not an end in itself; it should be purposeful. Take for example works of fiction and consider this quote: “There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.” (Bertrand Russell). This means that when one writes works of fiction, their aim is that readers might enjoy the piece of writing or get an opportunity to just boast that they have read it.

Therefore, 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. That's my dominant motive.

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 refer 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!
Do it today. Do it now. Don't procrastinate.
I came across an interesting definition of procrastination as I was surfing social media. It goes like this:  "....the arrogant assumption that God owes you another opportunity to do what you had time to do." This got me thinking.

After writing my first book, I was later surprised that I had written something that went on to generate lots of interest among readers. So by just sitting there you could actually 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.