I have the privilege of sharing something special with you today! You may have read my post last month, where I reviewed A Wilted Willow: Revised & Updated Edition and also interviewed the author, Julia Witmer. If so, you’ll recognize the author of today’s post!
In addition to being a talented Christian author, and a good friend, Julia is also a blogger – and today we’ve guest-posted on each other’s sites! You can find my post (Changing Lives) today on her website: here.
And now, handing it over to Julia…
I think it’s self-evident that if you have access to a pro at something who can give you tips and help you in whatever process you’re working on, the best choice of action is to take them up on their offer, right?
If you’re wanting to learn how to paint, and Vincent Van Gogh were to offer to help, you’d say yes. The same is true for writing. If you’re wanting to get better at writing, you really ought to do it alongside a pro.
For instance, the Author of Creation.
I know, I know. It seems a little bit weird. But this is the method that I’ve adopted as I’ve written more and more throughout my life.
I believe the first time I was introduced to the idea was at the One Year Adventure Novel writing conference, by Allen Arnold (author of The Story of With 1) who was a speaker at the time. Up until that point, I had been writing for God—I made my stories in a way that I hoped would please Him as best as I could. At that conference, however, Allen Arnold introduced the idea of “writing with God.” Of including God in every step of the process of writing.
At first glance, the idea of this might seem a little intimidating. After all, He’s…God. How are you supposed to write with Him?
Over time, it’s become easier to do. When I first started out, I felt a little like I was staring at a blank page and waiting for some direct revelation from God, and that’s…well, maybe a little bit silly. Now, I realize that it’s primarily just…talking to Him as I write, instead of after the fact. It’s asking him to write alongside me. Asking Him to bless each word I write and dedicating every page to him.
In practice, it looks a little like this…
I start each book and each chapter (ideally) with a session of prayer. Asking God to guide my words, help me write towards the goal He has, and help me do so in an efficient manner. Dedicating the book as a whole and each chapter entirely to Him. Going into it with the assumption that each word I write is His.
Anytime I hit a bout of “writer’s block” I also pray about it. That doesn’t automatically make it easier to move forward — sometimes I’m praying about one instance of writer’s block for multiple days before I’m able to move on and keep writing — but it does help me figure out where I’m supposed to go with what I’m working on. A lot of the time, when I’m having writer’s block, it’s because I don’t know where I’m supposed to go next, not because I don’t know where I want to go next.
Honestly, I do my best (though I can’t say I’m perfect at it) to make each bout of writer’s block a time of relationship with Christ. A time to grow closer to Him. Not a time to be frustrated or overwhelmed—just a time to be closer to Him.
Often times, before I start writing, even if I know exactly what I want to write next, I’ll take a second to just…sit. Sit in the presence of God. Before I pray, or say anything other than “hello,” I try to just…listen. Because sometimes He has something He wants to say about the story, but I’ll never know that if I don’t slow my brain down and sit with him in silence.
I don’t know what I expected when getting into the habit of “writing with God,” but I don’t think it was that I would want to write more and so that I could be with him or want to be with him so I can write (because everything I write is always much better when I’m writing it with Him than when I’m not). I don’t think I expected I’d end up growing closer to him than I’d ever been before.
As an author, I spend most of my time writing. It only makes sense, then, that as I write more with Him, and learn more as an author, I would also grow closer to Him. Learn to recognize His voice. Enjoy His presence more and more.
I oftentimes find myself talking to God like I do other writer friends about my books. “I just can’t get this character to do what I want,” or, “I have no idea how to word this sentence and I’ve been staring at it for fifteen minutes. A little help, please?” or, “You know, I think I might want to change this thing about the plot. What do you think?”
There are times for talking to the God of Creation formally. And there are times for talking to the God of Creation like a writing buddy. Writing sessions are the time to talk to Him like He’s a writing buddy!
…if you include Him in your writing process from the beginning.
If you’re an author with other writing friends, you might know what it’s like to share the process of writing a novel with someone else. Not necessarily that you co-authored it with someone else, but that, anytime you ran into any sort of issue in your writing process, you would ask them for help. Or you would share your favorite scenes with them, or talk with them about your characters regularly, or ask them to help you out with the title of the book.
It’s like sharing a bit of your heart with them.
Being in the process of writing is something precious. Your characters, your story, they’re precious. And it’s only right that you share about them with the One who cares about it – and you — the most.
Julia Witmer is an eighteen-year-old Christian writer with a passion for all things imaginative and creative. Her creativity usually expresses itself in the form of YA fantasy. When she isn’t typing away at her computer, Julia enjoys devouring the advice of other authors on blogs, listening to music, and nursing her unhealthy obsession with Doctor Who, Sherlock and The Mentalist. Making her home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, she enjoys the advantages of homeschooling and the extra time spent with her parents, siblings, favorite cat, Layla, and her sweet Shih Tzu puppy, Mercy.
You can find more about her at https://juliawitmerblog.wordpress.com/.
Recently, I’ve also started the journey of writing with God, rather than for Him, and I agree with Julia. It’s definitely worth it! The changes in my stories, and in my heart, are such a blessing.
Have you ever tried writing with God, instead of merely for Him? Share your experience and/or thoughts in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!
1. Allen Arnold’s book, The Story of With, can be found here.