As soon as my first book hit the market, I started to receive e-mail messages, phone calls and short messages on my mobile phone from people from various places and backgrounds. Some just wanted to congratulate me. Some wanted advice.
It would have helped me a lot if I had also received messages from critics as well, but it seems critics decided to keep their opinions to themselves. It is true that critics, especially those who are strangers, can give very useful comments on anything, because they have nothing to lose by calling a spade a spade.
This message is directed to a special group of people; you might also identify with this group. Every member of this group asked me a question that goes something like, “I have always wanted to write but have not written anything yet. Do you think I too could write the way you do?” It’s an important question. I am going to give my thoughts on this, to assist you.
Here is a useful quotation: “All human activity is prompted by desire” (Bertrand Russel). This is true. You’ve got to believe it. Here is another: “If you wish to be a writer, write” (Epictetus).
Honestly, I cannot say whether you could write like I do or not. I actually think that it is not right for you to try to write like me or like any other person. I personally do not write like anybody, but me. I write like me. That’s important.
Your writing style should be unique; it should be yours. You will not succeed by copying other people’s styles.
I was reading something the other day, probably a book or magazine, when I came across a powerful statement. The statement went something like this, “If there is something that you are dying to tell, advise or teach the world, and you can arrange ideas in a logical sequence, then you can write.” I found this statement encouraging.
The difference between writers and non-writers is that writers write and non-writers don’t. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a teacher, teach. One does not become a teacher by obtaining a teaching degree. A teacher teaches. If he does not teach then he is not a teacher, even if he holds a teaching degree. So even if you have some writing ideas, but still haven't written them down, then you are not a writer.
I am a writer because I write. I developed an interest in writing around 1984, but only started writing in 2004, a whole twenty years later! I could have started before 1990 if I was serious about taking action in that direction then.
Come to think of it, almost everybody has written something in their lifetime. Even pupils in primary school write stories. They have been taught how to arrange paragraphs, to ensure that they do not mix up issues. They have been taught that first things should come first, and that the end should come at the end. It is common knowledge that when one writes about a journey that they undertook, they don’t start by saying, “When I arrived…”
The major question is: do you have something that you are dying to tell, teach or advise people? If you have, then you’ve a good foundation; you’ve good motivation to write. If you are not sure, then how would you even start?
I am always dying inside to tell the whole world about somebody; I am dying every second of my life to do so. I just cannot remain silent. That somebody, who I am dying to tell people about, is God.
I do not mean that every writer should write on the same subject. You could have a different subject, but the bottomline is the same; it should be a subject that excites you!
If you write about a subject that you are passionate about, you will have no difficulties. I always tell people that I never run out of ideas; I only run out of time. I can start writing a new book anytime, without even the slightest of difficulty.
I know what to write about, and I am passionate about it. When you see me walking down the street, be sure that book and article titles are spinning in my head. “What should I write about next? What title would be most appropriate? What about the topics?” These questions follow me wherever I go.
Sometimes I wake up in the dead of the night to write. One day I got up three times to write things down. Ideas just flooded my mind as soon as I got into bed. I don't want to delay putting finger to keyboard when ideas show up; so I have to get up and write them down.
If you focus on a specific subject, ideas will come to you as if by some law. An appropriate title for an article or book can come to your mind as you watch tennis. You need to keep a small notebook on hand, so that you immediately write down ideas as they come, otherwise you would lose very bright ideas through forgetting.
You might wonder why I am so passionate about writing. Writing, as you obviously would appreciate, should never be an end in itself; it should be purposeful. When I say I am passionate about my writing, I actually mean that I am passionate about what my writing is intended to achieve. I am passionate about souls, to win them over to Christ, and to keep them there.
One statement, given by the Supreme Master, jolted me into action. Immediately after reading it, I began to assist my fellow countrymen, and those beyond, to focus on what should be the number one priority in their lives. The statement that I am referring to goes like this: "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36–37, NIV). I hope that you now appreciate my motivation.
So if you want to be a writer, start writing. First write a small plan on your chosen subject. You could most likely end up surprised at how much you used to underrate yourself. After writing my first book, I was surprised that I had written something that went on to generate a lot of interest among readers. I would read the book and ask myself, “Is it really me who produced this?” Similarly, you could be holding back value from the world!
I hope that I have helped you, or generated controversy. Whatever the case, I think it was worth it.
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