Now I want to share with you the one main thing that will keep you from becoming a published author. Actually, this blog post isn’t just for authors. It’s for every single person in all of the world. And it’s something that most people don’t really talk about today, particularly in Christian circles. You ready to know what that one thing is? It is…. (drum role please!….)
Now you’re probably thinking right now, “What? Pride? That’s it? I’m not prideful! No problem for me!” Well… If you thought that – or anything close to that – you just became prideful.
I’m going to open my heart up to you here. Up until the last year, I was a very, very, VERY prideful and judgmental person. I didn’t realize it. Whenever I heard about pride I just assumed that everyone else struggled with it. I didn’t think it was my issue. But then I started a Bible study called “Seeking Him” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss in preparation for a play I was in about the life of Jesus. We got to the pride chapter and I thought I would just whiz through. But each page and Bible verse that I read stripped the blinders from my eyes. I saw that when I compared people to myself and put them down that that was pride. I saw that my defensive spirit and desire for everyone to see me as the “perfect child” was pride. I saw that my desire to do well was not to please God, but was centered around the praises of men. I found myself crying my eyes out in my office, absolutely devastated that I was so entrenched in my sin. I now realized how it had affected my relationship with my family, my friends, and most importantly, it was hindering my growth in my relationship with God. God hates pride. He abhors it. Pride is the root of all evil. Pride is the sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven and started all of the sin in the world.
I’m not saying that I have mastered this area of my life. Pride is still a struggle with me each and every day. A bunch of reviews came in for my book this week and I had to be very careful as I read them that I would not get a big head or start to become prideful in my capabilities. I know now that it’s only because of Christ that I have the ability to write at all!
I’ve noticed that many Christian young people today, just like me, can be kind of closed off from other Christians and even the world because we think, “Oh, we’re Christians. We’re better than them. We have God and our lives are in great shape.” We also think that we as Christians have to show people our good side. But… As soon as we think that, we’re falling into pride. I’m saying this to you to help you. Please, don’t grow up prideful and judgmental. Not only will it affect your writing but it will affect your walk with God and your relationship with all other believers. You will be a dead Christian if you’re filled with pride.
But how does this apply to your writing? Well, unfortunately, many authors are prideful. They think that they are awesome writers, that they have all the answers, that they can do it all without God or without the help of editors and readers. But we can’t! We have to seek help from others. We don’t have all the answers. God put people in our lives to help us as iron sharpening iron. If you don’t let others look at your book, read it, and critique it, your writing will stink. You need help. It’s really hard but with God’s help, you can do it. You can seek help. You can write something wonderful and powerful for God’s glory. But you must empty yourself and let God fill you with Himself and His spirit.
I’ve met many, many budding authors who wouldn’t accept help at all. And, unfortunately, their writing really wasn’t good. Either that or they had a great talent, but when I pointed out errors they wouldn’t listen. People like that aren’t going to become published authors, or at least they won’t have the impact and the reach that they could have if they had humbled themselves and developed their full potential. Publishers also know when someone is not being humble and teachable. They are much less likely to work with you and publish your book if you aren’t willing to make necessary changes. Don’t go for the easy way out! Here’s some hypothetical examples of what a prideful writer could look like. NOTE: These aren’t actual people or circumstances, but are very loosely based off of general problems I’ve seen or heard about in beginning writers.
Helen has always enjoyed writing and had a good idea that brought glory to God’s name and showed evil for what it really was. She began writing and shared her story with some of her friends. Her friends loved her theme, her characters, and her writing style. But as Helen sent out more and more chapters, her friends began to feel lost. It felt like the characters were wandering aimlessly and not making it closer to the goal that had been presented in the first two chapters. Actually… The goal wasn’t being talked about at all any more! A whole new goal had been introduced. But that one also wasn’t being advanced correctly, either. Helen’s friends pointed this out to her. They said, “You’re a great writer! We love your characters and your story. But you’re losing the plot and trying to do too many things at once.” Unfortunately, Helen didn’t listen to them or agree. She continued writing, but her book didn’t get any better. Slowly, very slowly, her friends lost interest in her book. A great writer and a great theme that showed how terrible and cunning darkness is was wasted.
Eric is a very fun-loving guy who has won prizes for his book reports and short creative stories. He started to develop a new book that was several chapters long. He wanted it to be a character-driven, fast-paced fantasy. All his friends in co-op loved his ideas and begged to read each new chapter. Then one girl name Melanie came up to him one day. “Hey Eric, I love your book. I really do. But your two main characters… They argue all the time. And it was funny to start off with. Now it’s just kind of old. I think your humor is great! I just think that you need to pull back the arguing. It isn’t uplifting, and it’s starting to take away from all the other awesome things in your story. Several of the other kids and even Mrs. Beven, the literature teacher, agree.” But Eric didn’t listen. He thought that the comedy was better left in. And it ended up ruining the story.
Meredith wasn’t the best writer ever, but she had an idea for a medieval story that she and her best friend, Connie, really enjoyed. Meredith wrote out the first two chapters and gave them to some of her friends at church who were really good at writing. When her friends gave her back the two chapters, Meredith was discouraged to see that they were covered in red ink. Grammatical and spelling errors abounded. Several things were unrealistic. But at the end of the 15 pages everyone had written something like, “You have a good story! The theme of forgiveness is something that everyone needs to hear. If you just learn these grammatical rules you’ll be off to a great start!” But by this point Meredith was so upset that she discarded her story and never worked on it again. The world missed out on a story that would have been convicting and challenging.
Mark had written stories ever since he was nine years old. He joined a writing group at his local library when he turned fifteen and started a historical fiction based in the Civil War. But soon he got a lot of edits and started to get a bit disheartened. He started another story based on World War II. But he only got a few chapters into that before starting another historical fiction that took place in Rome during the 1st century. His writing group started to pressure him to finish one of the books and not keep adding more. He was a good writer! He just needed to finish what he’d begun. Mark is now twenty-five years old with six or seven story ideas that he’s never finished.
You see, we must listen. We must pray. We must evaluate our attitudes and our actions and accept the advice others give us.
I was a part of a writing group for a period of time. I’m blessed that since I’m writing Biblical historical fiction I never really get writer’s block or get stuck because my plot-line is already written! It’s the Bible! But there were plenty of times that I wrote something very cheesy, especially when I tried to describe the plagues. You should’ve read my first version of the plague of darkness! When I would get stuck or hate a section of my story, my writing group would throw out random ideas. They really, really helped me. Some of the best ideas or parts in my book were suggestions from other people. Bryan Davis, the writer of the “Dragons in our midst” series and the “Oracles of fire” series gave me an idea for a plot-line to go through all four of my books! If you’re not open you could miss some very important ideas and critiques.
In closing, here are some scripture verses from Proverbs (the book of the Bible that I’m studying now) about pride and its dangers. Be sure to check back next week for a blog post about humility, and how extreme humility can also cause issues to yourself as a writer.
Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.”
Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.”
Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”
1. Pray and ask God to cultivate a spirit of humility in you.
2. Look at some of the edits that you’ve gotten back for your story and start fixing it.