Do what you know

Writing is a tough job. Learning about new subjects and putting that into a story in a way that makes sense to people who know it a lot better than I do isn’t easy.

So what’s the best way around this? Write about what you know. Put in the things you are the expert about. King David did this in the Bible. He faced the biggest challenges of his life using what he knew (1 Sam 17:39-40,  48-49).

He was given modern weapons and armour but didn’t know how to use it. But he gave them all up because he needed something he knew how to use . He needed what he was best at, not the best tools available. As most of us know, he used the a sling and a stone, tools he knew how to use well.

Other writers tend to do the same thing. Stephen King, the great writer of countless best sellers seem to have one thing in common in most stories. Stories usually include a main character who had some issues with drinking or drugs. A little history about Stephen King. He had struggles with such substances before, and had lived the experience. He therefore knows these things better than others who do not or have not had a history with alcohol or drugs.

So his characters are realistic. Their battles seem real. The fear of turning to these substances, I almost feel that same fear. He’s good, because he uses things he knows.

You can be good too. Just start with something you know and you’re off to a good start.

Add some drama to your life

Most of us like drama. Drama on tv is exciting or interesting. We think we know what’s going on. Then all of a sudden, something unexpected happens and we wonder, what’s going to happen next.

On the same note, most of us don’t like drama. Drama in our lives turn the things we like or are used to upside-down. All of a sudden, something unexpected happens and we wonder, what are we going to do next.

How interesting, we like it when it happens to others but not to us. We like it when other people have to manage the distress, heartaches, stress and whatever comes with managing the unexpected.

Psalms explores the drama that King David had to face. We read about how his enemies surround him, how King Saul was after his life. But we also read how he held on to the One who truly matters.

We like to follow the stories of people who overcame diversity and difficulties. Can you imagine watching a movie where the hero goes through life with any difficulties? Which of these would you prefer to read about: a trip to school without any issues, vs a trip to school where the hero was chased by a dog, fell into a puddle, while dodging bullets from the rebel forces fighting for their freedom.

A life without drama is boring, and we don’t grow. In good movies, the heroes must grow and change. Change in their mindset somehow. In the Matrix, the hero grows from an uncertain messiah into one who embraces his calling. In Die hard, our hero grows from a man who’s there to save his marriage to one who’s marriage is strengthened. And you can see this in almost all good movies.

So  when you write, add in some unexpected events that will turn things upside-down. You’ll find your story so much more interesting.

Get ready to run the race

Welcome back. I hope you’ve had a good break. I had originally intended to get back to blogging when the year began, but felt it wasn’t time. And I’m glad I listened to the still small voice. Having a well rested soul is as important as a well rested body.

Writing isn’t a physically exhausting job, but it can be mentally draining. The brain works extra hard, thinking up new ideas and putting ourselves in people’s shoes and mindsets. Would you hear a typical (if there was such a thing) 80-year-old grandmother use the words “Yeah, that’s rad.”? Didn’t think so.

And to start off the year with a refreshed body, soul and spirit is always good, especially when we’re going to be writing. Some might be wondering, “why?” Because writing a good novel isn’t an overnight task. A novel can take months to be completed, from start to finish. Some may take even longer. Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire series have waited over 10 years for the sixth book to be released, and who knows when George RR Martin will start on the seventh and last book?

Like our faith, being a race to be ran with endurance (Heb 12:1), we need to write with perseverance. The book will get there when it gets there, not before, not after. It cannot be rushed as we’ll not rest easily if it isn’t satisfactory.

So, I’m glad for the break I had, and should be ready to run this race, and finally see my first novel come fruition. Hope you are ready too.

Take a break

Christmas is just around the corner. The tree is up with tinsel, baubles, and other weird looking decorations. Oh, and there’s the star too.

It has been a long year with lockdown and the excitement of having two books published. In addition, I’ve started a new job, working on a website and trying to get my head around the organisation’s functions. It has been a tough month or so, and with everything that has happened, a break is well deserved.

Even God decided he needed a break when he took the seventh day off in the creation week (Gen 2:2-3). If God needs a break, I think I need one too. So this will be the last blog post for the year while I enjoy the break and let the mind wander. And that’s a good thing too as a writer.

When we come back refreshed, we come with fresh eyes to see what’s been missed and what can be improved upon, so take a break, enjoy yourself.

God bless and merry Christmas everyone.

Giving up

Giving up is one of the hardest things we can ever do. I have given up many times, and I’m still here because I knew when it was a losing battle.

Giving up feels like we’ve lost, like we’re not trying hard enough. “Just a little more, and maybe, just maybe, there’ll be breakthrough,” is a familiar thought that many of us have when we just don’t want to give up. But how long are we going to “kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5).

I had a job where I just fought so hard to keep that it was stressing me out. I was kicking against the goads when everything I did to try to keep the job made me feel like a failure. Nothing I did was working. And God wasn’t answering me the way I thought He should.

Finally, I just gave up and resigned instead of trying. And it was the best thing I had ever done. If I hadn’t had that experience, I wouldn’t have gotten to this stage where I know who I am and what I’m good at.

As I look back, I can see the changes that happened to me as I went from contract to contract, learning how things are done in different places. And the experience I have gained through the pain has shaped me and my writing style.

It is the same with writing. Years ago, I had an idea of a novel about a strong-willed woman. I started it but got stuck. I stopped struggling with it and shelved it. A few years ago, I picked it up and reworked the surrounds and circumstances and now it’s nearing completion. But again, I’ve hit a snag and started something else while I let it stew.

And that’s the beauty of shelving things and moving on to another. The flavours develop, we see the issues we faced earlier and have better ideas when we come back to it.

Even Jesus told his disciples to move on when move on in Matt 10. There are so much more that we need to do. Don’t waste your time when God is showing you the time isn’t right.

Stories are always better if you know when to give up and move on to bigger and better things. And when you’re ready, God will let you revisit the old story and I promise you, you will see it with new eyes.