I get asked frequently about writing, my processes, how I got started publishing, how I got my book contract, etc. I figured it’d be helpful to do some Q&A style posts on writing! I’m planning on doing a few installments, so please comment with any questions you’d like answered!
How Did I Start Writing?
I’ve been writing for almost as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I filled the pages of journal after journal. In high school, I started a wordpress blog, and used it like a public journal, sharing way too many posts that no one cared about except my mom! Needless to say, I’ve learned about what’s appropriate to share online, how to write pieces that other people actually want to read, and how to engage an audience!
Over the years, I began to take my writing more seriously and started publishing on outside outlets. The Evangelical channel on Patheos reached out and asked if I would be interested in having a column on their site. Gladly I accepted, and wrote for them for about three years. Recently, I decided to move back to my own, self-hosted website. Read about that decision here.
How Did I Begin Publishing?
Let me make a note here. The goal of your writing should not be to be published. You shouldn’t write to be published, you should write because you have something worthwhile to say. Spend more time developing your skills as a writer, than you do trying to get published. Become so good that you can’t be ignored! I do have experience publishing on sites such as The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, and others, and thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts.
One year, I decided I was finally going to try it get a piece published on a website. I probably submitted over 30 article pitches before anyone accepted one. Many tears were shed because I felt so rejected. Since writing is such a personal thing, each time I received a rejection e-mail, I felt like I was personally being rejected. Please hear me on this – don’t take it personally. Editors make snap judgments all day long based on what will serve their sites well. What is rejected for one site might be the perfect fit for another!
The best way I know how to begin publishing on websites is by being an expert on something. The first 6-8 pieces I published were on adoption. I have personal experience with this topic, and was able to personally and credibly write on the subject. After I built a portfolio, and my writing abilities were known to several different editors, I was able to begin branching out and writing on other topics. The transition to other topics was seamless, because I’d already been building credibility as a Christian writer. Editors are looking for fresh and unique takes on topics, so you’ll want to set yourself apart by explaining why you’re the perfect person to write certain pieces.
Typically, you don’t write a full length piece and submit it to a website. You pitch an article idea to an editor. When pitching an article, you’ll want tell editors why you should be the one to write a specific piece. If it’s your first time pitching an article, introduce yourself, briefly share where you’ve written before (if applicable) and pitch your piece. Each website is different, so be sure to check out the “submissions” page to find out how they prefer submissions.
Building relationships with editors takes time, but it pays off. If I have an article idea, I’ll shoot an editor a quick e-mail and typically hear back within an hour or whether or not they’ll take my piece. Below is a sample email of how to pitch to editors!
I was wondering if **Name of Website** would be interested in running a piece on “How Pastors Can Encourage More Foster Parents”. I’m envisioning the piece having three points (list out the points), being approximately 500 words, and I could have it to you by this Thursday.
Thanks for considering.”
It might be encouraging for you to know that I’m still turned down when pitching articles. Sometimes the docket is full, and my pitch is time sensitive. Sometimes the pitch doesn’t quite fit the website I’m pitching to. Sometimes editors will like my idea, but ask for me to write it from a slightly different angle. Don’t be offended when your pieces are edited! I promise it’s for your good. The role of an editor is to sharpen your voice, and cut out all the clutter.
How Do I Find Time To Write?
This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard. – Neil Gailman
It’s hard – writing is a discipline! In all honesty – writing a book, while wedding planning, while working a full time job is feels impossible! But I’m committed to writing, even if that means writing in bed on a Saturday night.
Everyone is different, so figure out what works best for you! Personally, I work best early in the morning. If I’m working against a hard deadline, I’ll try to be up between 5:15-5:45 am to get a few hours of writing in before I head to work. Showering at night also cuts back on my “getting ready” time in the morning, so I have even more time to write in the morning. My brain also works best in the morning. After I get off work, my brain is friend and I struggle to write well.What I do might not work best for you.
Some people try to write for an hour every day, others try to hit a certain word count. I don’t do either. Sometimes, I need a break from words. I need to step back and have space from my work. But don’t wait for the inspiration to strike – sit down, work hard, and the words will come.
You make time for what’s important to you. If writing is truly important, you’ll find the time.