Whilst direct personal discipleship is effective in helping people mature in Christ, distant voices through writing can also play a key role. Last time we looked at the first quality of being genuine in our writing. This time we look at the second and third quality in our three part series on Five Qualities of an Influential Writer.
- Be Inspired
I believe that a good writer is a good reader. So, as well as scripture read a variety of books, blogs, and articles on a variety of topics from many different authors. This will help you learn different language conventions like phrasing, spelling, and punctuation. If you plan on tackling debated topics or writing apologetics, you will discover different techniques or argument, persuasion, and explanation. But, remember, this isn’t about copying these people; it’s about taking their techniques and making them your own. It will also expose you to perspectives and debates that you, and quite possibly your audience, didn’t even know existed that you can discuss in your writing which will make for a more interesting read. Along with this, always keep nearby a notebook and pen, or a note app on your phone, to record those moments of inspiration. I personally use Evernote because of its cloud feature so that, for example, if I’m listening to a sermon podcast on the train and I hear an interesting point, I can write it down on my phone and bring it up on my laptop and copy it into my blog. But find a system that works for you.
- Be Open
Like with preaching, sharing experiences in your writing makes for a more interesting read. Anecdotal introductions especially will capture your audience and make them want to read on. Most people will give up reading if the intro doesn’t capture them. So for example, if you’re writing on mission tell your audience about an evangelism experience. If you’re writing about scripture, share how a particular verse has personally impacted you. Or if it’s leadership, you might want to include projects that you have led. This, as well as making your work more interesting, also gives you credibility to your audience. This also calls for humility as you honour Christ in your successes. And don’t just tell us about your successes. Tell us about the time you blew it trying to share the Gospel to someone. This makes you not only more relatable to your audience, it also provides an outlet to redeem your ‘failures’ as you show us what not to do. As an example, a little while ago I wrote a blog post on a topic inspired by a conversation I had with someone who was unhappy with how I preached that morning. And I included a summary of that conversation in my introduction and what I had learned from it and how it inspired the content of my blog. So it’s important to be open and put yourself in your writing.
What about you? Do you resonate with writers that are inspiring and open? Next time we will finish this series with the final two qualities.
– Ryan Watson has been a pastor and writes a theological blog titled Berean Baptists.