Line Upon Line

Kathleen Kohler shares  wonderful advice given in the “Write Start” session at NCWA’s January meeting.

I love to encourage fellow writers and celebrate their successes. Success often starts with setting goals and having a plan. To grow as a writer, I set new goals every year.

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.


4 thoughts on “Line Upon Line

  1. Kathleen, thanks for the encouragement. I am really trying to decide what exactly to pursue? I write snippets, visuals God gives me, devotionals not full length novels or stories. My article or blog post is at about 300 words typically. What to do with that? I appreciate so the NWCA meetings and hearing the testimonies of others in the journey, gives a lot of hope as we all ponder what God would have us do. I did check out the writers guild you mentioned that too is something to weigh, the cost that is and how serious I am about that?


    • Jean, thanks for your comment.

      I weighed the cost and time commitment of going through an MFA program or the Guild. The Guild requires far less money, and you have one-on-one mentoring with someone currently working in the industry as a writer or editor. Without my mentor’s encouragement, I would not have achieved what I have.
      The Lord bless you and guide in your writing!


  2. I’m so glad you blogged this! I was going through my notes and the handouts and wanted to combine it for reference in OneNote, now I can just copy this article. Your presentation was very helpful. Thanks!


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