I write. A lot. And when I'm not writing, I'm usually thinking about writing. I'm processing ideas, making connections, forming criticism, or affirming the finer qualities of something that I've seen, read, or heard about.
This inspired me to get in touch with Jeff Goins, who also likes to write. He is very passionate about encouraging others to write as well. You can find Jeff's blog here, or you can follow him on Twitter. I contacted Jeff to ask him a few questions about writing. What follows is our exchange.
Hopefully you'll pick up a few tips. I know I did.
You write a great deal about writing. What inspired you to encourage and instruct other people about the craft of writing?
I started writing on writing, because it was a subject that I felt particularly passionate about. I also wanted to grow as a writer. At first, I thought that this disqualified me from blogging on the craft, but then I found out that many "expert" bloggers on certain subjects (including Problogger) started out as amateurs, wanting to become professionals. I'm finding that I'm in good company; not to mention, the best teachers are learners.
For many writers, the hardest part is getting started. Where do you look for inspiration and ideas?
I look at what's available to me. I consider the following: books I'm reading, movies I've seen, stories that friends have told me, and what's happening in the world. But mostly I look inside myself. What's happening in my life? How is it affecting me? How am I growing as a result of it? What lesson am I supposed to learn?
What about discipline? I know that many writers struggle with procrastination. What are some of the best ways to make sure you sit down to actually do the work?
I'm terrible at discipline, but here's where I land on that: Just make a covenant to do SOMETHING every day. I wrote over 1000 words the other day, responding to a 15-minute daily writing challenge. I was amazed! I just try to write a little every day. From Pressfield to Grisham to King, I hear this idea resonated amongst some of the most successful and motivated writers of today. It's not about quality or quantity; it's just about doing it. Every single day.
Whose writing do you really enjoy? What bloggers or authors do you find stylistically compelling? Do you model yourself after anyone in particular?
For books, I like Hemingway, Donald Miller, and C.S. Lewis. For blogs, I enjoy Seth Godin (of course), Michael Hyatt, and Keith Jennings. In terms of who I'm trying to model myself after, I tend to write more memoir style in long form (offline) and more like Copyblogger in short form (i.e. blogging).
Lastly, how would you describe the intersection between your creative work as a writer and your convictions as a Christian? What does your faith have to do with your work?
I like what Madeleine L'Engle says about faith and art: All true art is Christian art (my paraphrase). That is, if we believe we are created in the image of a creative God, then we have no excuse not to steward our creativity and use it to change the world. My faith is my work. And my work is my faith.