Do You Want to Write?

Reflections and advice from an editor.

A.C.F. is an associate editor of THE MINISTRY.

WRITING is one of the most exacting of professions. When we ask an indi­vidual to put his good ideas into a manu­script he often says, "Oh, I can't write. I can preach and I can commune with you but I am no writer." Why not? Have you seriously tried? It may be true that writing springs from genius, from an inborn talent, but even talent and genius are of no value unless one is willing to put himself on the line and work laboriously at transferring thought and ideas to paper and do it in an attractive way, correct grammatically, properly paragraphed, capitalized, punc­tuated, presented in the form to which editors today are accustomed.

Very few find it easy to write. It may be observed that our most prolific authors be­came that way through long hours of de­manding effort. We know some of them rewrite their material ten, twelve, sixteen times, finding here and there a more de­scriptive word, a smoother phrase, a more graphic presentation. Some of the best teachers of journalism say that good writ­ing is not written but rewritten. It is tedi­ous and difficult work, yet what joy there is in sharing our thoughts with others.

Perhaps we are among those who feel that God intended us to find self-expres­sion in some form of authorship. Then we must have unfaltering courage and un­failing persistence. We must be consumed with an unrest that will not be stilled, which will drive us on and on until we ful­fill our desired goal.

If our impulse to write is sufficiently deep and strong, if it is a burning passion, then we must keep everlastingly at it. The only way to learn to write is to write. By and by facility comes. But it needs a fund of patience. We should not be discouraged if our first venture fails. In fact, we will be singularly fortunate if the first manuscript is not returned.

Let me repeat, real work, laborious prac­tice, is the only way to fulfill your highest ambitions to a satisfying degree. If your first venture fails, tear it up and use the pieces for a foundation to begin all over again.

There are many avenues for literary skills in our numerous church papers. They use a variety of material, some slanted toward the tiny tots, then graduat­ing through the whole spectrum of hu­man needs, even to the deepest of theo­logical concepts. We may save ourselves considerable disappointment in the way of rejection slips if we will study carefully the nature of the publications to which we send our material. To whom are the articles written? What are the editors of these magazines accepting? If we were the editor, what would we want our readers to have and what style of composition would present our thoughts attractively?

After all, the final decision rests with the editor. No one can tell us whether or not our work will be accepted. It must stand or fall on its own merits. Friendship will not help. "Pull" does not count. Posi­tion is no guarantee. Our manuscript lies upon the editor's desk on its own merits. What it does to the editor's mind, how it appeals to him, what inspiration he feels, and in his judgment what it will mean to the vast majority of his readers are what count.

Yes, writing is one of the most exacting of professions, yet it is one of the most en­joyable of all creative instincts. Let us share with others all those noble and grand ideas that are burning in our hearts. It will do us good and will be a blessing to many.   

A. C. F

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A.C.F. is an associate editor of THE MINISTRY.

April 1967

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