Monday, November 30, 2009

An Open Letter: Guidelines for Choosing

Hello Lynnda...I read on one of your blog posts that you were taking the Apprentice course through Christian Writers Guild.  I am a new writer and wondered about the course.  Have you found it helpful?  Any other suggestions.  God bless your writing ministry. Connie C.

Good morning, Connie;

Congratulations on your decision to become a writer! You are starting out on a marvelous adventure that makes anything Indiana Jones experienced in the movies seem tame by comparison.

Like anything else that is worth doing, becoming a professional writer is not easy; it's not even simple. Becoming a published professional writer in today's world is difficult and complicated. Becoming a Christian writer adds another dimension to this. What you write will reflect on who God is. For that reason, adding professional skills to the talent God gave you is important.

Which brings us to formal training to improve your skills. I have worked through the first seven lessons of fifty in the apprentice program of The Christian Writer's Guild, and so far, I love it. For me, signing up for a formal training program was important. That may not be true for you. Here are some guidelines for deciding if you want to take that path.

1. How much money can you afford to spend? I can afford the $60 a month the apprentice program costs me. From the prices I've seen for independent mentors, this is a bargain. I have personal attention from a seasoned professional for every sentence I write in the lessons. Since the program lasts two years, my mentor will be a major factor in the polishing of my skills. Make sure your budget can allow for the extra expense. No formal course worth doing is without significant cost. Remember though, this is an investment in your career.

2. How much time can you commit to the lessons? This was another easy one for me, since I am physically handicapped and spend 90% of my time at home. Keeping to the schedule of sending in a lesson once every two weeks can eat up large chunks of your time, if you get everything you can from the lessons. Any formal program will demand that you give up something and spend your time studying the craft of writing. Look at what you can give up doing so that you can replace it with learning to write.

3. What other formal education courses are available for you to consider? I researched several other options before I chose distance learning. If you live in a rural area, distance learning may be the best process for you. If you live in or near a city, check out continuing education courses. If you are fortunate enough to live near a university that has a degree program for writers, look into that.

4. Do you have the energy, stamina, and determination to complete the course? Many times, I have started projects I did not complete (like most of my New Year's resolutions!). Learning how to write is work. If you get discouraged by the feedback on your lessons, if you are depressed by the latest rejection letter, if you have family or friends who cannot understand why you study so much, can you persevere and do the work required? Be sure you have the focus and determination to overcome the obstacles that will come your way.

5. What is your goal in improving your writing skills? For me, the answer is that I want to become a Master Writer. Whatever the goal is, it must be your goal. Put it in writing. If you do not know why you want to take the course, how will you know if you're getting out of it what you need?

6. Is God leading you in this direction? While I researched my options, I prayed. Our minds are as malleable as clay. I wanted to be sure that what I was learning molded my mind to honor God more. As I learned about the programs available, I was sensitive to catch that inner snick of certainty that told me I was on the right path. If you get all the other things right but fail to consider God's will for you, it can lead to a catastrophe.
Taking a formal writing course is not the only way to learn the craft of writing. Books on writing abound (look in a library), as do blogs on writing. Conferences have writing classes and local writing organizations primarily exist to help their members learn how to improve their writing.
For everyone, the best advice is to stay alert to make the most of every opportunity and to glean every advantage from your resources as you go on this adventure. Becoming a professional writer requires courage, a love for words, mental toughness, determination, excellent writing skills, and a burning desire to see others read and appreciate the words you've written. Anyone can do it.

Be blessed,


1 comment:

Wendy Love said...

What a well thought out and informative post. That sounds like a worthwhile course and I am glad it is working for you. What you say about each of us taking a different approach is important. God made each of us unique, and he has plans for us all. There are some things that in theory sound great, such as a course, but for one reason or another are just not realistic. For me living with the challenge of bipolar, an ever-changing mood disorder, committing myself to anything is tricky because I may not be able to follow through due to unexpected changes in my mental state. And yet, despite that, I have found ways to learn, especially on the internet, on days when I can get a lot done. And I agree with you, that writing is even more exciting than anything Indian Jones may have experienced. At least for you and for me it is, maybe not for him. Isn't it neat how God makes us so different?