Writing Tips


1. Sometimes you just need to write first. 

If you want to write then you have to realize that writing can be, and often times needs to be, a discipline. Last summer I wrote 10 pages of screenplay everyday for a week in order to finish a script. Jon Foreman (Switchfoot) writes at least one song every single day because that’s what he does. He’s a songwriter, so why let one day go by without doing what you do? What you love? 

These are semi-extreme examples but the point is, anything well written has been rewritten. So with or without inspiration, write something just to have something you can work with and edit. The best books were probably really bad at one point, but the authors needed to start somewhere. This piece of advice is the best defense for writer’s block, low confidence or anything else the enemy can throw at you in attempts to stop you from glorifying the Lord with your art. So build up the muscle that is writing. So when you’re low on inspiration, you can still write to get the process going. 

When in doubt, write first, edit later. 

2. Love the piece, not the specifics. 

This is truly vital in the world of screenwriting but it’s also good for any kind of writing. Fall in love with the general, big idea behind your piece. Care for it, defend it, work towards it. But if you get hung up on defending every tiny detail, that could stop you from obtaining the bigger goal. Be willing to change things, let things go or add things for the sake of the bigger picture. Be willing to do anything to make the piece as a whole work. 

3. Being vulnerable is the best. 

Here’s another Jon Foreman quote. He’s talking about Switchfoot’s album, Hello Hurricane. " If you're not crying, why are you singing it? If you don't believe it with every ounce of you, then there's no point in singing it.” 

I love that quote and try to apply it to everything I write. If you love something, “With every ounce of you,” then you will care for it enough to make it good. When you pour yourself into a piece then you’re pouring into it something God himself created. And he’s the best creator, the best writer. He created in us an image of himself. So when we write something that makes us truly vulnerable we’re getting closer to showing people what God has created. The greatest songs, stories and art are the ones that leave people completely vulnerable and that’s because the greatest piece of art is the human heart and soul that God created. And he’s the best artist. Showcase what he as put in you and give him the glory. 

It’s scary but honesty, I love it now. God created me an artist and when I share myself, I come alive. 

4. Share with others. 

Sometimes when you write you can get a little too close to the piece. That can blind you from the bigger picture. So share with others and get feedback. (Keeping #1&2 in mind) 

Sharing also means you can have someone to keep you accountable, someone to ask about the process and the progress of the piece. Also, if you keep in mind that you’re going to eventually show someone something you’re writing then you’ll work harder.

I also find it really helpful to write something and then take a break from it. This way I can return to it with a “fresh” pair of eyes. 

5. Inspiration

This comes to me in several forms. Often times I get inspired by things that excite me. What is something I would want to see or read? What is something I would get excited to read?

I have a quote in my notes and I’m not really sure where it came from. One day I just wrote down, “I like things that resemble Heaven.” The things that showcase God’s love and character are my favorite things. I see God’s work in Toy Story. I see it in Switchfoot songs. 

Sometimes I think a writer’s job is to show other people God’s work in everyday life. Share stories and point out hope, love and God’s plan. So sometimes I sit around and think, “God how is your hand in this? What are you doing with this?” That’s kind of a prayer actually. God strikes with inspiration and if you allow yourself to be used by him then he will use you to communicate his heart to others by giving you inspiration and often times words to share. 

Here’s one last quote from Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, "That's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again."


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