Kathleen Kohler shares wonderful advice given in the “Write Start” session at NCWA’s January meeting.
First I Pray – Ask the Lord where to focus your direction and then trust Him to guide your steps.
Establish a Plan – Determine your goals and list the steps required to achieve them.
In 2009 one of my goals was to see my non-fiction stories in an anthology, another was to break into the general market. I scoured the Internet for publishers seeking submissions. I read their writer’s guidelines, and studied previous stories they had published. Next, I brainstormed story ideas from my personal experiences. As a result of prayer, editing, and rewriting, my articles appeared in three anthologies last year.
With the slow economy a number of publications have disappeared. In response to the changes, in 2010 I set out to find two additional markets for my writing. I scanned the market guides and looked for new Web sites. A time consuming process. I found five places I thought might take my work. I wrote letters requesting sample copies and writer’s guidelines. From the five I submitted to, three accepted articles. The pay off ‑ 25,000 more people will read my writing this year.
Perhaps you’ve written a novel and need to connect with an editor or agent. The best place to start is our own Writers Renewal conference coming in May.
Prepare – Assess how much time and money you have to invest in your writing and attain the tools needed to accomplish your goals.
Soon after I started attending NCWA meetings, I realized there was far more to seeing my stories in print than great writing. I needed to better understand the publishing industry, what editors were looking for, and to improve my punctuation. To build my skills, I enrolled in the Christian Writers Guild’s two-year apprentice course.
As many jobs require a tool box, the same is true for writers. Some of the tools you might consider: subscribe to a writers magazine, attend a conference, take additional writing classes, join a critique group, read books on writing, and practice what you learn.
In preparation for an upcoming conference, you may need to learn how to pitch to an editor to get their attention for the article you’ve written. Or you might read a book on how to write a proposal or synopsis for your novel.
As writers committed to the Lord, I believe in the world of publication God opens every door we walk through, but we still have to do the work. Your goal may be to write an article, a play, find an agent, or see your book on a shelf at Barnes & Noble. Start with prayer, set your goals, and break them down into manageable steps, whether that’s 30 minutes 3 times a week or 2 hours on a late night. Then watch and see what God does with the hard work you invest.
Kathleen Kohler is a writer, speaker, member of NCWA since 2006, and graduate of the Christian Writers Guild. Her articles appear in magazines and books, including The Upper Room, and CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL. To request the complete handout corresponding with this article or to read more of her work visit her website.