5 Tips For Writing A Successful Book
Good afternoon fellow readers!
For the book lovers of us out there, we all understand the joys of reading a well-crafted story, but what if I were to tell you that you are an author also?
“I can’t write,” you might say. “I’ve never written anything outside of what I was forced to write in school. That’s nonsense!”
Although your rebuttal would be well-documented, it would not be altogether true. And one thing that I like to do as a writer is to present the TRUTH of life. With that being said, what do I mean then, about us all being authors, whether or not you’ve ever strung two words together on paper to tell a story or not?
The simple fact of the matter is that God has given us all this precious gift of life, and then He allows us to author our life in any manner we so choose to. We can select our own genre, choose the cast of characters that we surround ourselves with, and even have choice over the dialogue. We’ve been given free-will; the will to choose what kind of story to tell. Nevertheless, what kind of story are you telling? Are you writing your life into a book that you would be proud to read to your children, or your children’s children? Does the book of your life have purpose, or is it a rambling of incoherent thoughts, negativity, and selfishness? For the first 17 years of my life, my story was a mess. All over the place. It was a first draft that needed to be buried in a drawer and never revisited. But then I discovered a very simple solution of how to turn the book of my life from a dust-collector, into a masterpiece. And I want to share that solution with you today.
1. YOUR WRITING WILL NEVER BE PERFECT
It’s not an easy thing for any writer to hear, whether your’re writing fiction novels or the story of your life, but either way it’s true. The more I tried to author my life into what I thought was perfection, the more sloppy the writing became. When recording music with my band, and even editing my debut novel Beyond The Gate, I learned that it is very possible to edit something to death in order to try and obtain perfection. However, perfection is not something we can obtain in an imperfect world….
…not if we remain the sole author.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
You see, I learned very quickly, through much suffering in my life (a suffering that I praise God for everyday) that the best I could author on my own was a life that was…nice. And although there is nothing wrong with a nice book, it was still an imperfect book. As a writer, I desire for the story I tell to be perfect, which means I would need to rely on the only author who could remove the imperfections of my life and make me something perfect.
Many times, we try to just wrap an imperfect book inside of a shiny, clean book cover, but once read, the story is still imperfect, and the readers know it. However, what I found when I put my faith in Jesus as the author of my salvation and the perfecter of my soul, was that he not only could change the cover of my life’s book, but when I received him as my Lord and King, he came inside my soul and authored an imperfect book into a book of perfection. Does that mean I’m perfect? Absolutely not! But through the blood that Jesus shed for me on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, I am seen by God – the creator of all heaven and earth – as perfect, complete and forgiven.
And you can be too!
2. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
Anyone who has sat down to try and write a book, knows that writing about something you don’t know is quite unbelievable to a reader. What’s the big deal about that? Well, if a reader is reading about Italy, and they are from Italy where as you have never been there and know nothing about Italy, how realistic will your story seem to them? Not real at all. And one thing I can say about readers, if they start finding holes in your authenticity, is that they will be immediately pulled out of your story. They will become disinterested, and will eventually put your story down, never to finish it again. But your book – your life – was meant to be read. It’s why you’re here in this life – for such a time as this. So what’s the solution?
Write about what you know. That means you need to seek the truth in everything. Good thing for us, we have a mediator that stands between us sinful people, and the Father in heaven. His name is Jesus and he is ready and waiting to share the truth of life with you.
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ ” John 8:31-32
If you’re not seeking the truth of life, which God has plainly given us through his Word – the Bible – then how are we going to write a story based on truth? And if people cannot see the truth in your story, why would they ever trust it? Would you? In a day and age where information is thrown in our faces like a pie at a carnival, are we going to use God’s Word as our compass of truth, or blindly write our stories based on political correctness and the mass opinion?
3. BEWARE THE ANTAGONIST
Every good story as an antagonist whose sole focus is to disrupt the main character and set chaos into life. There are also outside factors that seek to knock the protagonist on it’s heels – difficulties and external conflicts. Conflicts can pop up anywhere: A car accident, severe weather, or the mean old villain hunting down the main character.
The story of your life is no different.
There is an antagonist in this life, one who is bent on keeping you from telling the kind of story that you were meant to tell. His name is Satan. I know that a lot of people don’t like to talk about him, but let’s face it, he’s real and is bent on making sure that you struggle and fall and do not allow the author of salvation to clean up your book. I don’t say this to give the enemy any credit, but only to expose his schemes in the story of your life. He will use any factors in life to try and confuse you, make you doubt, and keep you from the truth of Jesus Christ. He will even bring people into your life – could even be blood-related family, to try and get you to write away from the story plot that leads to life and peace.
Don’t let him!
“Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
4. OUTLINES ARE WONDERFUL THINGS
When I sat down to write Beyond The Gate, I took a couple of hours and wrote a 10 page outline of how I thought the story should go. The final draft of the book ended up with very little resemblance to the outline. But that’s okay! No need to fret.
So what does this all mean?
Even though my outline fell apart very quickly once I got into the meat of the novel, it allowed me to know 2 very simple pieces of information: How the story was going to start, and how it was going to end. In life, when I received Jesus Christ into my heart as the Lord of my life and the author of my salvation, I knew exactly how the important plot of my life was beginning, because I received a new beginning in him. I was made alive in Christ by dying to my sinful nature. I also know how my story is going to end. I might not know the day I will breathe my last breath, or the circumstances that will surround that day, but I do know that when I close my eyes on this earth, I will see my Jesus face-to-face in heaven. I will feel no more pain. No more sorrow. I will be in full peace of the Holy Spirit, held within the strong arms of my heavenly Father, and worship at the feet of my King. We all can have this end because the author of salvation didn’t just die for me, but for all of us. He didn’t just raise from the dead for one person, but for all who would believe in him.
So what’s the purpose of the outline?
Well, since we are aware that our story has an antagonist and many points of conflict, it is good to be prepared. We should be starting every day praising God for the life we have been given, regardless of the circumstances surrounding that life. We should be preparing our minds for a day full of obstacles, believing in complete faith that God will guide us through the story, to our ultimate end of eternal life and peace.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ ” 1 Peter 1:13-16
5. USE THE PROPER WRITING INSTRUMENTS
In this day and age there are many numerous ways to write a book: Paper and pen, laptop, tablet, iPhone, etc. So what does that mean for writing the story of your life? What are you using as you tell your story? If an author never picked up a pen, would a novel ever get written? If he never typed it out, would there be a story to read?
In life, God has given us some very specific instruments to help us write our story. But do we use them? If not, why?
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:14-16
How can we possibly tell the story we are meant to tell, against an enemy who knows us better than we know ourselves, if we don’t prepare our minds every day and equip ourselves with the full armor of God. It’s there to protect us, as well as to destroy the enemy.
In conclusion, tell your story. And make it a story that readers will fall in love with, see the truth within, and thrive to include into their own story.
How does your story read right now? Is it according to your plot, or the plot of the Most Holy God who gave you the life you’re living? Don’t just be another book. The library of the world is full with enough of those. Be a book that says something, makes impact, and honors the author of salvation.