October 16, 2015

The Heart of the Matter: How to Keep Your Heart in Your Writing

By MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA

Heart. How would you describe it? Emotion? Feeling? That special something that touches the deepest part of you?

One Internet dictionary defines heart as "the central or innermost part of something." The heart is the core that gives something life, around which everything else grows, and from which everything else flows. Without the heart, there would be no life.

When it comes to writing, heart is what gives your writing life.  Heart is that special something in your words that stirs your readers, moves them to tears—or to action. Heart is what makes your readers keep turning pages and keep buying your books.
Heart is the point where you intimately connect with your readers on a deep level.            

So, how do you give your stories heart?
It all starts with your own heart.
What is the condition of your own heart?  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Is my heart full of passion for writing? If not, why not?

Is my heart strong when faced with the temptation to quit writing?

Will my heart persevere when faced with criticism, whether constructive or destructive?

Is my heart teachable? Will it consider and apply the wisdom of those writers and editors who have gone before me?

Does my heart desire the growth and well-being of my reader more than my own fame and fortune?

Your answers to these questions will reveal to you whether or not you have the heart necessary to bring heart to your writing.

One of my favorite quotes is found in Proverbs 4:23: "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Your writing is a part of your life. Your heart, therefore, will also determine the course of your writing.

So, what should you do if, in answering the questions above, you found that you came up short? That you really lack heart in the depths of your own being? 

The answer is at once simple yet profound. It lies in the greatest heart that exists: the heart of God. He alone can give you heart. When you turn to Him in humility, He will share His heart with you. And when your heart is connected to His heart, your writing will have all the heart it needs to touch the hearts of your readers.
Dr. MaryAnn Diorio earned her PhD in French from the University of Kansas and her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.  She is a diplomate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and has won numerous writing awards.  A widely published author, MaryAnn writes compelling fiction for both children and adults.  She has taught writing at Rowan University and Regent University.  MaryAnn and her husband are blessed with two amazing daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, and five rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn enjoys painting, reading, painting, and spending time with her family. Her latest work, SURRENDER TO LOVE and THE MADONNA OF PISANO. You may reach her at or at 

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