Thursday, March 19, 2015

Christian, You Are Not A Writer ... Not Like You Might Think

I used to think that I was a writer. That I would write until my dying day, and if I didn't I would lose myself. I think maybe other writers, especially young ones, have the same feeling.

But if you're a believer, that's not the truth. Not by a long shot.

College has forced me to re-think writing. I still love it and plan to pursue publication in the future. But right now it's not a part of my life. Not like it used to be. I'm taking 19 credit hours, I'm on a drama team, and I sneak some fun in here and there. So even though I have story ideas, they sit mostly untouched.

This would have bothered me a while ago. It doesn't now.

I have come to realize that my identity can never be tied to whether I can write a novel or can't string two words together. My identity is in Christ. I am God's child.

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:1-3).

I want to seek Christ, not a writing career.

So here's my encouragement to my fellow Christians who write: embrace your writing, whether it be now, later, always, or for only one season of life. But remember that you are not a writer, not when it comes down to it.

You are God's child.

Follow Him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Light ... and Darkness -- Part II

Sometimes I feel smothered by the evil and pain in this world.

The darkness is all around. Violence. Horrible accidents. Corruption of all kinds. We hear it on the news. We see it in our own lives and in the stories we hear from many others. It's enough to discourage even believers. If we let it.

But Christians have hope that no one else possesses ... because we know the darkness has already lost.

Jesus said this shortly before His death: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

In His life, His death, and His resurrection, Jesus conquered the powers of evil.

The darkness is still in this world. It is still around us and will trouble us, and yes, we will likely be discouraged by it at times.

But Christians don't have to live that way. We can have peace, because our Lord said so. We can be of good cheer, because He told us to be.

Light has won. Darkness is defeated.

Peace is ours.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Switching POV

I've heard that it's easier for most new writers to write in third person.

Is that even possible?

Maybe you're one of those blessed people who can naturally write a novel in a third person point-of-view (POV). But I am not one of you. First person is my style. Remember that genre shift I talked about last week?

For my new genre, my new work in progress, I need to be able to write in third person.

Have you ever tried use your non-dominant hand to write a note, or even your name? That's kind of what it felt like as I tried to write in third person. My sentences, which usually pour into my mind in first person, were choppy, boring, and hard to come by.

Because of this, I've had to think a little about how to switch POVs, and I have at least one solid tip to pass on to you: Think in your dominant POV, then translate the sentence before you type it. If that doesn't work so well for you, try typing a paragraph in your dominant POV, then change the pronouns and verbs and such.

I tried this for my work in progress, and between that and thinking about the style I was going for, I was able to transition. I wouldn't say third person is easy for me yet, but that little trick helped me take my first steps into writing third person.

Any other POV suggestions? Let me know!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Needy People

"Don't be too needy."

This seems to be a constant whisper, a hidden or even blatant message I keep hearing in the world around me. "Don't be too needy, or no one will want to be around you." "Don't be too needy; that's selfish." "Don't enable a needy person." "Needy people need serious counseling."

But here's a little dose of truth: Every. Single. Human. Being. Is. Completely. Needy.

Yes. I just lumped you in with the needy people. Sorry, not sorry.

The facts are simple:

We can't be righteous in our own strength; we're sinners (Romans 3:10, 23).

We can't solve our sin problem on our own (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:1-18).

We can't seek God without His enabling (John 6:44).

We need God for the saving of our souls. We need God for our joy, peace, goodness, self-control, and everything else (Galatians 5:22-23)! Without God there would be no earth (Genesis 1-3). Christ sustains the world that He made (Hebrews 1:3). We have nothing without God.

See, that's where the problem is with "needy people." The problem is not that people are needy. The problem is that sometimes people seek the fulfillment of their needs in people, things, or accomplishments, and they fail to realize that God is the only one Who can supply their needs.

That being said, God does want Christians to love and serve each other--we are supposed to care for our brothers and sisters in need! "Bear ye one another's burdens" is still in the Bible (Galatians 6:2).

Yet when we find ourselves or others becoming a little too "needy," it is time to learn to depend upon God. This won't be a quick-fix. Though it sounds a little funny, you may need to help the "needy" person learn to depend on God if they've lost their way and don't know where to start.

But, ultimately, each of our needy, needy hearts can only be satisfied by Almighty God.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Trying Something New ...

Ever feel like switching writing genres?

If you're a published author, this may not be as much of an option for you. There is a lot to say for the benefits of developing a distinctive brand and a following.  Because of this, your experiments with genres will likely be mostly limited to hobby-writing. The stuff you don't plan on publishing.

If you're not published though ... the world of genres is wide open. You can go try something crazy, or you could make a smaller shift in your genre.

Most of my writing has been in Young Adult. I often call it Contemporary Young Adult, to differentiate it from other styles like YA Dystopian or whatever.

Okay, quick moment of transparency: YA is a genre. I don't know if Contemporary or Dystopian or Whatever are really sub-genres of YA. I sort of made that up, and at the moment I don't feel like checking to find out what Google thinks. Not very professional, I know. But just bear with me--I'm trying to communicate my ideas as clearly as possible, and these labels seem necessary at the moment.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way ...

My particular style of YA is set in present day, and I usually deal with big life-issues; in the past I've written about the death of a parent, juvenile delinquency, and foster care. One of my current works-in-progress deals with the disappearance of  an autistic teenager.

Within these issues, I focus a lot on my main character's spiritual development. I'm not usually the writer to throw in explosions, earthquakes, or fight scenes.

But I'm trying something new. An idea came to me recently that would push me out of my normal genre boundaries. If YA Action/Suspense is a thing, it's where I'm headed with my current story. And I've already found out that I know nothing about writing this genre.

That said, here are my top two suggestions for those of you thinking of experimenting with a new genre:

1. Pinterest. I feel a little silly suggesting it, but I've found useful links on there that will probably help me learn to write more action-oriented scenes. So try it out.

2. Read the genre you want to write. Find a book that typifies the style you want to write, and read it. See how the author does what he does. If you're desperately worried you'll copy the author's style, then just make a point to read several different authors within this genre.

So there you go. My current top two ideas for learning a new genre.

You have any other ideas? Comment below and teach me something new!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beginning to Understand

This year, my college has been emphasizing the idea of thankfulness.

I thought I understood thankfulness. It's biblical, so we're supposed to do it. Simple enough, right? I mean, truthfully, I didn't like feeling pushed to be thankful.

Then while preparing for a small-group devo, I read Colossians 3.

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." ~ Colossians 3:15-17

That's just a bit of the thankfulness in this chapter. And it finally started to make sense to me. Thankfulness shouldn't be something I do so I can say I did it. Thankfulness can change my life.

Thankfulness is part of being content in whatever situation I'm in (Philippians 4:11).

Thankfulness affects how I forgive--I'm to forgive as God forgave me (Ephesians 4:32)! 

Thankfulness helps me keep my focus off of myself. My life isn't about me, but it's about the God Who is so good to me!

Thankfulness is no longer just my college's theme. It's a goal of my own heart now. I'm tired of my old attitude--the one that said that life was about me, my comfort, my success. 

I want to live my life thanking the God Who granted me life eternal!

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
John 17:3