WRITE MESSAGE with Author Denise Loock

John 1613-14 NASB

I’m  welcoming back Denise to continue sharing her heart with other writers. She is an editor, writer and speaker. And a great encourager.

If the “write” motivation is to glorify God, how does that relate to the message we communicate?

Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative; but whatever He hears, He will speak. . . . He will glorify Me” (John 16:13-14 NASB).

“Whatever He hears, He will speak.” To whom does the Holy Spirit listen? God the Father and God the Son. To communicate the “write” message, we first have to receive the right information. So many voices vie for our attention—family, media, mentors, friends. Daily, we need to ask ourselves, “To whom am I listening?”

What indicates that we’re listening to God and communicating His message? Consider how people respond to it.

Do they exalt the writer?

  • “What an amazing story she has!”
  • “What a great communicator he is!”
  • “Wow! She’s so strong, brave, wise, funny . . .”

Or has their attention been directed toward God?

  • “What an amazing God we have! He proved Himself faithful in your life.”
  • “God really spoke to me through your words.”
  • “God is so wise, loving, patient . . .”

I enjoy receiving a compliment as much as anyone. But the words I write only have power—eternal value—if they’re God’s words. As we soak ourselves in Bible study and prayer, the Holy Spirit impresses God’s message on our hearts. Then, when the opportunity arises, we allow God to speak His truth through us to others

If we immerse ourselves in His Word, His message will flow into our writing. Most of my published writing has come from the journal entries I make each morning during my personal Bible study time. Our job is to accurately communicate His message as recorded in the Bible and to avoid presenting our interpretations as His truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Consider questions like these:

  • Does my writing paint an accurate portrait of God?
  • Does it focus on issues that are important to God?
  • Have I allowed human ideologies or current trends to obscure or undermine biblical truth?
  • Is my presentation of good and evil, the human condition, the purpose of life, and the nature of the afterlife consistent with what the Bible teaches?

When I interviewed novelist Ann Tatlock in July 2014, she noted that “truth is never fabricated; it is only revealed.” Therefore, her goal in everything she writes is “to tell the truth as the Bible reveals it.”

Her words reminded me of something I’d read in a collection of C. S. Lewis’s essays: “An author should never conceive himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody in terms of his own art some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom.”[1]

Reflecting revealed truth as clearly and accurately as we can—isn’t that what each of us aspires to do? If so, then what guidelines have you established for crafting a God-glorifying, truth-reflecting message?

Looking for more encouragement from Denise. Check out her books: Dig Deeper Devotion, Open Your Hymnal, Open Your Hymnal, Again.Denise Loock smaller

Denise Loock is an editor, writer, and speaker. Through speaking engagements, books, and her website, Digdeeperdevotions.com, she shares with others the joy of studying God’s Word. As a nonfiction book editor, she uses her twenty-nine years of experience as an English teacher to help Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas produce high quality, engaging inspirational books. As the editor for The Journey Christian Newspaper, she coordinates, edits, and proofreads articles for four print editions and the online edition. She also accepts freelance editing projects. Visit lightningeditingservices.com for details. Contact her at denise@lightningeditingservices.com or denise@journeychristiannews.com.

Any questions or comments? I love to hear from my readers.

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[1] “Christianity and Literature.” Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) p.7.

Write Motivation with Author Denise Loock

Denise Loock smallerToday, I welcome Denise Loock to Writer’s Patchwork. She’s the author of Open Your Hymnal, Open your Hymnal Again and Dig Deeper Devotions. Denise shares an encouraging challenge to all Christian writers.

 

Do you remember singing about the wise man and the foolish man in Sunday school? You know, “The wise man built his house upon a rock …” (If you need a refresher, here’s a link: The song is based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24–27. The wise man’s house withstands the heavy rains because his house is built on the rock. The foolish man’s house, however, collapses when the heavy rains come because he built it on sand.

The rock in the parable, of course, is Jesus. That’s a powerful message for writers. On what foundation are you building your writing? As the children’s song reminds us, we need to build our writing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

One way to test the foundation of your writing career is to examine your motivation.

I don’t know about you, but almost every day in numerous situations—choosing a restaurant, activities, even a seat at a meeting—a shrill voice inside my head whines, “What’s in it for me?”

That’s the wrong question.

Consider David’s words in Psalm 34:1-2. “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (NASB).

Who’s the focus? The Lord.

Connect David’s attitude to Jesus’ comments about the Holy Spirit in John 16:13-14. “When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative; but whatever He hears, He will speak. . . . He will glorify Me” (NASB).

“He will glorify Me.” If that’s the Holy Spirit’s job on earth, what do you suppose our job is? The question is never “what’s in it for me?” It is always “what’s in it for God?” His reputation. His glory. His exaltation.

Too often, we writers say, “I want my writing to help people.” But you know what? They don’t need our help. They need God’s help. Our motivation should always be “point people to Jesus.” You and I are dispensable. And as remarkable as our stories or experiences may be, they won’t solve anyone else’s problems. God is the problem solver.

Set aside time this week to examine your motivation. Be honest with yourself and with God. Maybe a writing colleague or a group of writers could explore one or two of these questions with you:

  • When I talk about my writing, how many sentences start with “I” and how many start with “God”?
  • When I list the goals of my writing, what spiritual aspirations are included?
  • When I think about the readers I want to reach, do I have their spiritual growth in mind? What in my writing will move them closer to God?
  • Are my goals focused on making money and becoming famous? Would I consider my writing a success if only one reader was spiritually enriched?

 

Denise Loock is an editor, writer, and speaker. Through speaking engagements, books, and her website, Digdeeperdevotions.com, she shares with others the joy of studying God’s Word. As a nonfiction book editor, she uses her twenty-nine years of experience as an English teacher to help Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas produce high quality, engaging inspirational books. As the editor for The Journey Christian Newspaper, she coordinates, edits, and proofreads articles for four print editions and the online edition. She also accepts freelance editing projects.Visit lightningeditingservices.com for details. Contact her at denise@lightningeditingservices.com or denise@journeychristiannews.com.

I love comments from readers. Please share yours with Denise and me.

Thursday Denise will share her heart again. Watch for her blog post Write Message.

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Arguing with Myself About the E Word

Tuesday I talked about how I use coloring to destress and reboot.

Today I want to talk about the dreaded E word.

You know (whispered tone) exercise. I’ll say it a little louder. Exercise!

Runner

microsoft clipart

I am one of those who sighs and pray “God give me the diligence to exercise because I can think of many things I’d rather do.”

So, this post is me arguing with myself as I encourage us all to do the right thing.

The Fitbit rage has gotten people at least for a season of time to pay more attention to how much they move.

No, I don’t have one. Not yet, Maybe never.

The simple goal of 10,000 steps a day gets people out of their chairs for extended time each day. Writers like me who have day jobs at a computer move even less than the average person.

10,000 steps take too much thought even with a Fitbit. My mind is engaged elsewhere.

Exercise classes are available through the local park district.

I don’t want to take an exercise class where I feel like the waddling duck in a group of elegant swans. (Coordinated I am not.)

My sister is a cyclist and that keeps her very fit.

cyclist

microsoft clip art

If you like to peddle 60 miles a day.

My neighbor runs 10 k a day.

My poor knees wouldn’t survive 1K.

My co-worker took up weight lifting in her 50s and is faithful to go to the gym five or six days a week.

weightlifter

microsoft clipart

I hurt myself once when I had a gym membership. Actually, it was several times.

I just need to find the one exercise I can enjoy.

Jerry Jenkins has a home gym he uses every day. He’d gained a huge amount of weight while developing his writing career. Now he is faithful to mix exercise in his daily schedule. He maintains a healthy weight.

Confession: I have a home gym. It’s in my basement squeezed behind the laundry area.

I look at myself in the mirror and I know I need to do something—again.

Maybe I’ll cover the mirror with a sheet or get dressed in the dark.

There is another secret exercise that no one really thinks about. Housework (I don’t hear any cheering.)

Vacuuming, scrubbing counters. (You know wax on wax off.) Housework exercises muscles that lay dormant while you sit at your desk. Perhaps you get your house in perfect order before you sit down to type. (Not me!) Probably more writers than will admit it don’t have housework as a high priority.

housecleaning

microsoft clipart

I pulled a muscle this past Friday cleaning the kitchen. Don’t ask. I am still recovering from it a week later.

Whatever exercise you do stretch first. Loosen muscles like free writing loosens creativity. Stretching prepares us to move.

Probably should have stretched before I started cleaning.

When I am in the exercise zone I prefer to walk, use my treadmill or lumbar bike.

When spring comes I’ll start walking again. But until then I guess I’ll have to remove my daughter’s laundry from my treadmill and after stretching begin exercising.

Or maybe ….

How about you? What exercise do you enjoy when your away from the keyboard? I’d love to hear what you do. You might be the inspiration I need.J

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Colors in My Mind: Releasing Creativity through Hobbies

coloring  pages

Adult Coloring books release stress and stimulate creativity.

I rediscovered a wonderful way to relax and destress. A way to get the juices flowing again in the creative side of my brain. I’d seen adult coloring books while Christmas shopping. Adult is probably not the best word to connect with coloring books—but I digress. I now have one thanks to my son blessing me. The intricate patterns force me to slow down and take my time.

Writers tend to have their brains full of words and concepts. When I color, my mind shifts to color hues. My hand, which spends many hours at the keyboard, now uses its muscles differently as I grasp the pencils and fill in the patterns.

colored boat small

Coloring the intricate details helps me slow down.

My brain and small motor skills focusing on this activity help release stress and rev up my creativity. It’s like defragging a computer. Hidden empty space is rearranging so your computer’s brain has more space to store data. I’ve found coloring releases the words bogged down somewhere in my mind. Silent prayers flow out removing burdens. And my mantra—I can do all things through Christ—reemerges. For lack of a better word—It’s Awesome.

 

Other author friends engage their brains in jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, photography, quilting, sewing, crafts and playing instruments. And those writers with real artistic ability actually do oil painting and pottery. Each of these people find these activities the perfect defragger for the creative side of their brain.

colored fish-small

A large colleciion of colored pencils helps me create my imperfect masterpieces.

Every writer needs some other creative outlet beyond the written word to maintain mental alertness.

Aside from reading what is your favorite non-writing activity that destresses and restarts your creativity?

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Good Storytelling Trumps Technique

WCuGupGm

We all know it is a top priority to learn to write well. Honing your craft and knowing the nuts and bolts of crafting words is key. But and this is a biggie—if you are not a good storyteller, no one will buy your book. (This includes non-fiction. Dry as toast academia sells to a small niche.)

We worry about how well we’ve learned the craft because other writers are going to be reading it. We rely on their input. (As we should.) The bottom line, however, is the reader. They are not going to judge you for your POV, backstory, whether you have prologue or how often you use -ly words. Many readers will forgive those errors if the story is compelling.

They are going to judge you on how well you tell a story.

Did you keep them reading?

Did they laugh out loud or use a box of tissue.

Were they entertained, challenged or inspired.

Did your prose resonate with them?

Was it the perfect weekend read?

Could they feel their heart racing?

Did they experience a new world unlike their own?

Were the characters’ problems so familiar they read to seek a solution for themselves.

Few readers want to read to cotton candy and sunshine stories where nothing happens and all the characters are sweet and their toughest decision is what to have for dinner. You know it’s true. Be honest. Listening to your seatmate on a four-hour flight extoll the virtues of their perfect family for the length of the flight gets tedious if not boring. Imagine if her tale involved running away from an abusive relationship or going into witness protection. Wouldn’t that be more interesting? Ok, total strangers sharing their personal information would set your Weird meter off in real life. But in the pages of a book you can feel free to hang on to every word.

A good storyteller takes real life struggles and brings them home to their readers. A she-really-gets-what-I’m-going- through moment keeps them turning pages. A gifted humorist can take the mundane, the ordinary, and craft it into something unforgettable.

How are your story telling skills?

 

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Be Encouraged : Your Words Are Not Wasted

Waste basket

Photo from morguefile.com

Today I thought I’d post a quote to inspire you this week. If you wonder if you’re wasting your time writing. If you feel why bother. This quote should inspire you to press in this week in crafting words.

Joss Whedon strength quote

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” Joss Whedon

Strengthening words

So let your words strengthen you. Journal. Capture your emotions on paper. Write your hopes, dreams aspirations. Write the promises God has spoken to your heart.

Characters within

Create on paper the characters talking in your head. The ones so unlike yourself. Have them walk the streets of places your long to visit or make you homesick. Let them speak the words you haven’t the courage to say yourself.

What are you afraid of

Darkness? Water? Death? Taxes? Parenting? Love? Strangers? Growing old?

Wow! So much to write about. Go Get Started!!!!

 

What quote inspires you to write?

I love hearing from my readers. Leave a comment.

 

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Lapping the Couch Potatoes to Publication

couch

Are you a sitter or a lapper? Photo by Morguefile.com

“No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone sitting on the couch.”

Diane Flegal, Hartline Literary Agent

I found this quote in a recent blog post by Diane Flegal. It resonates with me. I am often comparing myself to those who publish gobs of stuff throughout the year and those who are making the big bucks for their novels. I set that as my finish line and whine and complain when I’m miles from that goal with each passing year. But if I would only turn around I’d see I’ve come miles from where I was ten years ago. Even with bumps and potholes that have derailed me for seasons of time, I am still on the path to the finish line of being a multi-published author. Each year I grow my blog, publish a few more articles and short stories. Last year I wrote my second novel. This year I hope to see my debut novel in print. This year I plan to write another novel and find homes for some of my short stories and article ideas.

Turtle

Slow and steady to my goal. Photo from Morguefile.com

Over the years I’ve met people who want to write a book. They moan about the if-onlys and the some-days. There are lots of wanna-be writers out there. And you know what? I am miles ahead of them. I’ve written two novels, hundreds of articles and a plethora of short stories and plays over the years. I am on course even if the wind dies down and I am dead in the water due to unavoidable life dramas. Because I’m in the water heading toward the island of multi-published authors. Who knows, if I keep pressing forward I might become a best-selling author or even an author who is being read hundreds of years after my death.

But if I sit down with the moaners and naysayers who quit when stuff gets hard, I’ll never get one fraction of an inch closer to the finish line than I am today. I refuse to be a couch potato when it comes to achieving my writing goals. I will not watch others pass me and wallow in jealousy. No, I’m lapping the couch and it feels pretty good.

Are you a lapper?

 

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This week’s winner of Bring Home a Cowboy are Tere Belcher and Laura Sower. Gloria will be contacting you. Congratulations! I’m sure you will love her book.