Increasingly writers are bombarded with advertisements for writing courses or programs claiming to help them produce a book in timeframes as short as 24 hours or a few weeks.
Anyone can come up with ideas that can be copied into sentence-generating templates or outlines and compiled as a “book” – but is this really writing?
At W2I our vision includes fostering in Christian writers (and ourselves) excellent writing skills that will glorify the Lord. We believe that writing is intentional, crafted, and produced through a deliberate creative process:
- finding, researching, ordering, and developing subject material
- writing a draft
- obtaining feedback from trustworthy readers (editors, critique partners, coaches)
- diligent revision and editing
- finally, pursuing publishing, if the writing is intended for wider distribution among a group or market.
We asked several W2I presenters for professional opinions on these proliferating speed-writing systems. Here are their replies:
Author of the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year winner, Hungry for God … Starving for Time.
The process of writing a book is so much more than putting words on a page, more than filling up chapters, more than writing a table of contents and an epilogue. It’s honing your craft, finding your voice, connecting with your potential readers and fellow writers, and growing spiritually. These things can’t be rushed or squeezed into a template or 6 weeks. For the Christian writer, it’s about partnering with God to create and publish your book “in the fullness of time.” This fullness is as much about the work He’s doing in you than the work he’s doing through you in your writing. There’s no formula or short cut for this, only hard work and patient persistence. And a whole lot of Holy Spirit leadership.
Freelance Author, Editor
Picture book writer, Blogger
Many Christians dream of having a book in print (or on an e-screen). I’m concerned that we are confusing our dreams with God’s call to write for publication. They are not the same thing. Following God’s call for anything means preparation, study, paying our dues and the blood, sweat and tears of hard work.
Shortcuts bypass those necessary ingredients.
I used to tell new writers that it is not a publisher’s job to make my dreams come true. But lately I see many “dream-makers” creating all sorts of shortcuts for people with the dream of publication. Shortcuts seldom create enduring works that change lives.
Author, Blogger, Writing Instructor
There’s no two ways about it: writing takes time, energy, and work. Formulaic writing does not result in rich, layered stories.
As I’ve worked on HALF-TRUTHS, my young adult novel, for over twelve years, I often thought that I was writing from the inside out. I had the kernel of the story even before I thought it was a YA novel (It actually started out as a picture book and then grew—but that’s another story.) Yes, I read books on writing (like Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas); learned about The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet (of Save the Cat fame), and went to writers conferences where I learned about the Hero’s Journey. But these were tools to help me plan, develop, write, and rewrite. Each time I re-wrote my book, I drew closer to my characters’ motivation and goals; as well as to a deeper understanding of what I was trying to communicate to my readers. Each critique I received offered me insight into my story and the writing process. Over time I added layers of meaning to the characters’ relationship and personal stories.
That couldn’t have happened in a week, a month, or even in a year.
HALF-TRUTHS is richer as a result; and I’m a better (albeit older!) writer.
Write2Ignite Director, Retired English Professor, Freelance Editor
The idea that writers would simply plug content into a basic template instead of crafting creations carefully designed for specific audiences and situations (God’s method from the first day of Creation), doesn’t fit the pattern of God’s interactions and relationships with individuals. Jesus didn’t tell just the same basic format for every parable, even though the genre is fairly straightforward and specific. There’s always symbolism and a kind of punch line/revelation, but also significant variety in tone.
Here’s an assessment of the Al Text Generator at The Verge, a generator that will help you “write stories, poems, news articles and more: “…you’ll soon see that, at a fundamental level, the system doesn’t understand language or the world at large. The text it generates has surface-level coherence but no long-term structure. When it writes stories, for example, characters appear and disappear at random, with no consistency in their needs or actions. When it generates dialogue, conversations drift aimlessly from topic to topic. If it gets more than a few responses, it seems like good luck, not skill.”
A really good writer who takes shortcuts is going to risk loss of quality and reputation. There is no way to equate the quality of workmanship with that of someone who fills in the blanks.