By way of introduction: Lord willing, I am looking into the possibility of developing a creative writing course for the Community Education program at Gordon College in Barnesville, GA, about 20 miles from my home. This may be 6-12 months down the road before it actually comes to fruition--if it does so at all--but it is something I would love to try. The biggest step in that, of course, is designing a curriculum/agenda for the class. To that end, I've decided to use some of my upcoming blog entries to get my ideas together. This won't be the only thing on the blog, and the course may not necessarily follow the same pattern I set here, but I hope that it will be of use to you.
So, with all that said, what do I think is the Number One Rule for Writers? Your heart has to be in it.
It's very easy for us to look at writing as a purely intellectual exercise, and your mind does play a big role in it. You have to be able to think through a potential story (or poem, article, etc.) and develop it from beginning to end. You have to be able to analyze what makes sense versus what doesn't. Word choice and grammar are also things to consider. All of that happens in the gray matter between your ears.
Here's the kicker: It's not always easy. Sometimes it's quite frustrating. That's where the heart comes in. If your heart isn't in it, then it doesn't matter what you're writing. A novel or short story will be no different than that research paper your high school history teacher made you write in 11th grade. Unless you heart is in it, the writing process will be tedious to the point of torture. A lot of smart people don't like writing because that's not where their heart is; they're "wired" for different things. Nothing wrong with that; God makes us all different, and He does so for a reason.
So what's the difference? If your heart is in it, then the desire to write comes in. You find yourself watching movies and TV shows, only to think about how you would have done the story differently. You dream of holding a book in your hand that lists you as the author, regardless of whether that book sells a million copies or none at all. The ideas keep coming to you--sometimes in a flood, sometimes in a slow trickle, but always coming--and you can't imagine not writing them down. In short, if your heart is in it, writing becomes more than just something you do--it becomes part of who you are.
Rather than make this one monstrously long post, I'm going to break this up into parts. In Part Two, we'll look at knowing exactly where your heart is as a writer. Philippians 4:13.--SMS