Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow. Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005). Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching the Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006). Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.
10 Ways To Get Started In Writing
Note: This is what I send new writers who contact me asking for publishing advice.
Thanks for contacting me about wanting to take the amazing plunge into the writer’s life. I love that you’re interested in exploring what it takes to be a published author. What I can tell you is best summed up in the following article. If you’re willing to count the cost and work hard at your craft, you’ll be well on your way as you pursue publication.
And don’t forget the most important piece of information: TENACITY. I started writing in 1992. My first published article appeared in 2002, and my first book released in 2005. I attribute my “success” to a lot of BOC time (bottom on chair). I logged plenty of hours in my writing chair. I wish I could say there are shortcuts to publication, but mostly it’s a whole lot of hard work.
Still interested? Read on:
10 Ways to Get Started in Writing
Here are some specific ways you can hone your writing skills this year. This list is by no means exhaustive, but if you incorporate some of these ten tasks into your writing life, improvement awaits you (how’s that for passive voice?):
1. Find a writing mentor and establish a prayer team. I fledged my way through eight years of writing before I met my mentor (who is also one of my closest friends). Although I definitely see those eight years as greatly important in terms of learning to labor in obscurity, I see the last four years as more fruitful because of my friend Sandi. She helped me craft my first sellable query letter. She rejoiced with me when I actually sold an article. She attended Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference with me. And she cheered when I sold my first book. She’s been an amazing guide.
In fact, it’s her influence that has inspired me to mentor writers through the publication journey. As a book mentor, I critique proposals, sample chapters, and synopses. I’m available for one-to-one coaching as well. All this is available at The Writing Spa (http://www.thewritingspa.com).
Even more important than finding a mentor, consider pulling together a team of praying folks who will lift you up as you write. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without my Writing Prayer Circle. You’ll see them thanked in every acknowledgment section of my books. Stop right now and pray about whom God might want to bring into your circle of prayer. Send out an invitational e-mail, then faithfully e-mail your team on a regular basis. Prepare to be blessed.
2. Start blogging. If you would like to make yourself write (and volume of writing is very helpful in developing your voice), start a blog. Go to www.blogger.com. Follow their instructions and begin posting. I am not techno savvy, but I was able to do this with little pain. Here are some of my favorite writing industry blogs:
3. Join a writer’s group. If you haven’t been critiqued yet, it is important that you accustom yourself to this. If you happen to live in Dallas, you can look up The Dallas Christian Writers Guild or the Rockwall Christian Writer's Group. From the Rockwall group, three of us split off to form Life Sentence, a more intensive critique group. I would not be the writer I am today without Leslie and D’Ann.
Some amazing online groups provide information, community, and sometimes critiques. Here are a few:
• The Writers View 1, for
professional writers. Format: Every week we pose two industry- or
writing-related questions. Both professional panelists and members give
valuable information. Go HERE
groups often spur off this larger group.
4. Go to a writer’s conference. I personally recommend Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. Mount Hermon is where I got my start. An amazing Christian fiction conference is the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. Go here for more information: www.acfw.com.
A Terrific Site that helps ready you for your conference experience:
5. Set a weekly word count goal. For the novel I just handed in, I set a 10,000 a week word count goal. For my nonfiction (since it involves more research) my goal is 6000 per week. I used to think that many words were impossible, but once I set the goal, I met it. If you are serious about writing and improving your craft, set goals.
And set deadlines, too. Tell yourself you must finish an article or book by a certain day and then EXCEED that deadline.
Give yourself baby-step goals. Want to break into publication? Set a query letter writing goal per week, or an article-producing goal per week. Write a short story a month, or three poems.
6. Pay it forward. Do some writing for free, whether it be a long thought-out letter to a struggling friend, or a non-profit publication needing your words. When you’re starting out your journey, you will have opportunities to do this. My teenage daughter got her first writing publication (not paid) through our church’s magazine. Not bad, considering the circulation is 10,000. Not only did she minister to many, but now she has a publishing clip to show magazines when she starts pursuing publication.
7. Do something you’ve never done before. Terrified of poetry? Pick up a book of sonnets and try to construct one. Nonfiction proposals freak you out? Write one. I’ve written a fifty-page tutorial that you can purchase for $10 on My Web Site. Terrified of query letters? Don’t even know what they are? Check out this Free Query Tutorial on my Web site: . Never written a short story? Just do it! Stretch your wings; flex your writing muscles. Doing a variety of writing will also help you hone your voice.
8. Read great books and
• Sally Stuart’s Christian
Writers Market Guide
9. If you’ve had a novel in your head for days (months, years, decades), why not make this year the year you write it? November is National Novel Writer’s Month. My friend D’Ann wrote a novel in a month that way, later honing it. It garnered the attention of a really great agent! If you aren’t sure how to start, check out Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method
10. Get your head (and heart!) on straight. Writing for publication is a difficult journey, particularly if you’re a Christian and don’t want to fall into prideful temptations. My notes about the inner journey of the writer addresses this issue of pride and many others. You can download it free HERE
There you go! I hope this has given you a good foundation for exploring writing. I look forward to hearing about your writing journey.
Mary E. DeMuth