This month's post requires little to no introduction: simply put, to be effective as inspirational writers, there are a few
things we need to know:
Our audience – for whom are we writing? Adults? Teens?
Children? Christians? Non-Christians? Even within these groups, there are variations.
Are the adults young, senior, or somewhere in between? Are the teens younger or
older? Are the children 0-4, 4-8, or 8-12? Are the Christians mature or new?
Are they pastors or lay people? Men or women? Are the non-Christians open,
questioning, or hostile? Your target audience determines your writing style, the
language you use, your tone, and your content.
Our subject matter – what are we writing about? For that
matter, what are we writing? Fiction or non-fiction. Depending on the genre and
content of our writing, more or less research is required. When we pick up a
book, we want to know that the author knows his or her stuff. When you’re
pregnant and you want to know what to expect, you don’t usually choose a book
written by someone who only knows cars. The reverse is also true: you don’t typically
select a book on auto mechanics that’s been written by a gynecologist. If you’re
going to write something, know your subject. The best readers will be able to tell.
Our message – what are we trying to say? Everything we write should be an attempt to communicate something, even if it’s just for laughs. Fiction contains themes and ideas; non-fiction has a purpose revealed in the thesis statement (remember those from high school?). Knowing the overarching message of your work provides its guiding light.
Ourselves – who are we? Are we the best person to communicate this message, to write about this subject, or to communicate to this particular audience? Do we bring something new to the table, some unique angle or way of thinking about things? Why do we want to write on this topic or this theme? Has God laid it on our hearts, have we noticed a gap in the literature that needs someone to fill it, has an opportunity for publication presented itself? Knowing ourselves helps us to take on those projects that are personally meaningful or suited to us and to let go of those that might sound good but are better left to others.
God (last, but certainly not least) – who is He to us? Are we seeking and allowing Him to direct our steps or are we managing our lives and writing in our own strength and wisdom? It’s always best to seek Him first and to follow Him in obedience, since He has good plans and a purpose for our specific lives (ref Jeremiah 29:11), including for our writing. Knowing God requires us to be silent and still, listening for His voice so that He can function as Lord, be our good Father, and our life.
As much as we may want to write, “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Proverbs 19:2). Let’s step beyond desire this month and think about knowing, growing in our ability to inspire well.
For more about Susan Barclay and her writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com.