Every writer is different in how they approach writing. I can only share what has worked for me. If what I describe does not work for you, for goodness sake don’t quit – experiment with other approaches.
Your premise for writing is vital – Perhaps it is a ‘no brainer,” but you must have a story to tell or a point to communicate. Develop your premise from these sorts of questions:
What issue will I address?
What question(s) will I answer?
Whose story will I tell?
What argument will I make?
What practical instruction will be given?
What insight needs to be shared?
Is there a collection of humor that I have to share?
In essence, what are you going to write about? It may need to go further, from both the writer and a potential reader’s perspective, “Why does this need to be written?” It has been said of preaching, “On some occasions, you have something to say, while on other occasions you need to say something!” Every preacher worth his salt knows the difference. An author must have something to say. She must see a void that what he or she writes can fill. Let me give you some examples of the voids I envision being filled:
Apologetics – You cannot effectively present Bible truth to someone who does not believe the Bible is God’s word. Eighteen years back my sons had a high school class called, “The Bible as Literature.” If the Bible is deemed as simply literature, it loses all authority. Shortly after they had they class I began working on a series of lessons, The Bible as MORE THAN Literature. I’ve never taught the material and it is unpublished – perhaps 60 percent complete toward publication. My lessons and writing are my response to what I see as a current and future need.
Life of Christ – Sixteen years ago, it dawned on me that I knew quite a bit about the church as seen in Acts and the Epistles, but my comprehension of the public ministry of Christ was rather weak. If mine was weak, imagine where those I led might have been. At the moment, I’d taught 26 lessons on year one of Christ’s public ministry and over 30 lessons on the Sermon on the Mount. I’m not the least read or studied person about – if my “life of Christ” was weak. I imagine some others may be as well. I’ll finish mine – someday . . . maybe. In the meantime, someone go ahead and fill this void. Again, my lessons and eventual publication of the material will be my response to a perceived need.
Pastoral Care – Church life rises and falls on a shepherd leading, feeding, seeking and healing the flock of God. Too little has been written about the behaviors of an effective pastor. I’ve a book in the works on this but help is needed from several vantage points. My personality and ministerial journey is different than some. I will write in response to what I envision as a current void.
I hope this makes sense, through the years, everything I’ve written has been the result of a need or void that someone should fill. I don’t know that my words or work were the best to fill the void – but my effort was better than no effort.
Feel the same about your writing for a purpose. Don’t be insecure. Your grammar won’t be perfect. Occasionally my fingers type the word, “their” when a “there” is called for. My ten fingers have been making that mistake since my remedial writing class at Louisiana College in Pineville. Your first draft will be reworked so many times that most (but seemingly never all) of your errors will be gone.
Collect ideas – every sermon, blog post, book chapter require an idea. Those who write, preach and do any form of public speaking tend to be “collectors of ideas.” I now use Scannable which scans documents into a pdf format and saves them in the essential app and software Evernote. Evernote helps you remember “everything.” At an entry level, evernote is free. Until I started migrating to software, my “collection” of ideas had grown to 12 file drawers of somewhat organized content. Even now many of my resources remain in those files.
Within Evernote, I maintain a constantly growing list of potential sermons, blog post ideas, book titles and chapter titles. These files are the well that an author eventually draws water from.Writers benefit from having access to many wells! There are times when I don’t feel like writing, studying or developing new material – there are times I won’t just not feel like it . . . I won’t do any of it but it won’t be that I’m lacking in ideas.
Most authors write with the hope of someone else buying and reading their material. I’ve been fortunate in having many people purchase my books. Tens of thousands of my books are in print and in the hands of readers, students and even a few researchers.