By Martin Wiles
With the exception of weekends, every morning I head to my computer to write devotions. I’ve been repeating this action for four years, but periodically I ask why.
I've written sporadically since college, but I wasn't serious about it until my father died in 2009. Why this became a demarcation line I’m not sure. He wasn't a writer...except for his sermons and Bible studies. As far as I know, he didn't publish anything. His writings were shared only with the college students he taught and congregations he preached to. But for me, it had to be more. Dad taught me to use God’s gifts.
Though I’d love to be a famous writer whose books sell millions of copies, I’m realistic enough to know that probably won’t happen (none of my four books have made the best sellers list yet). What I have learned, however, is that I need to do the best I can.
When beginning your writing journey, expect rejection. If you assume some of your short pieces—or even a manuscript, will be turned down, the hurt won’t cut so deeply when it actually is (and it most likely will be). My rejection letters far outnumber the acceptance letters, but the “We appreciate your interest, but…” letters make the “We’d like to purchase your work” correspondence even sweeter. Aim for the sky, but don’t expect to be a “name-brand” author immediately—or perhaps ever.
Once you've decided to pursue having your work published, search for venues that accept beginning writers as well as your theme of writing. Most periodicals will state in the first few pages whether or not they accept unsolicited manuscripts. And many don’t. The Internet is a good place to start when making your search. I’m largely a devotional writer, so I typed “Where can I send my devotions?” in the search bar. Several options appeared, and I started there.
Don’t expect pay for all your writing. You will find many more opportunities to do freebie writing than you will contract assignments, but the writing for free assignments make good references on your biography page and give a prospective publisher something to look over when considering you for a paid assignment. Even when you begin receiving paid contracts, continue to write some for free. This keeps your focus on why you’re writing.
When possible—even if the assignment is a freebie, find a publication where an editor will look over the work before it’s published. And perhaps even let you correct the edits. Editors may seem harsh—especially when their name is signed at the end of a rejection letter, but a conscientious editor will help you hone your skills.
Be determined when you begin your writing journey. The publication world is a dog-eat-dog world, but there’s always room for one more clear voice. With determination, education, and the right kind of help, your voice can be heard on the printed page.
Martin Wiles is a “preacher’s kid,” author, speaker, and freelance writer and editor currently living in Greenwood, South Carolina. He and his wife Michelle are founders and editors of Love Lines From God, a devotional ministry to help those who want to enhance their spiritual journey with Christ. Dr. Wiles holds degrees from Baptist College of Florida and Southern Baptist School. Wiles has authored Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin, Authentic Christianity, and Grits, Grace, and God. He has also served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday School lesson writer for the Baptist Courier. He has also been published in Proclaim, The Secret Place, Light From The Word, Word Magic, Fires of Genius and Catapult Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, Christian Writers, PCC Web Daily, Faith Writers, Yahoo Voices and Mustard Seed Ministries. He is a regular columnist for the Dorchester County Eagle Record and Common Ground Herald newspapers, and is a lead writer for WOW blog and Christian.org. His website is www.lovelinesfromgod.com