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Called to Write: 7 Principles to Become a Writer on Mission Paperback – March 3, 2014
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About the Author
Award-winning author of 26 books and more than 400 magazine articles, Edna Ellison is a well-known keynote speaker who loves leading prayer retreats and writers conferences across the United States and overseas. Edna is an honors graduate of Presbyterian College with an MA from Converse College, an EdSp from the University of South Carolina, and a PhD from the University of Alabama. Having taught at three Baptist seminaries and two American universities, she now writes Bible study books from her Spartanburg, South Carolina, home. A leader in AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and a certified CLASS speaker, her life has been featured by Focus on the Family, where she has also been published.
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Top Customer Reviews
Uh, no. I finished it feeling as though I’d just read a 200-page lecture.
First, if you are a fiction writer you can ignore Called to Write. The only significant mention fiction gets is that it can be good to use stories (fictional or real life) as a way of getting your point across. There is some discussion on the use of point of view in fiction, but I’ve read better advice.
Second, if you write books, this title will be of limited use, as the focus seems to be mostly on writing shorter works (e.g. devotionals, magazine articles, or materials for church or not-for-profit newsletters):
If you want to influence more people for Christ, magazine articles are forerunners right now.
This statement implies God only calls us to write in order to influence people for Christ. While this might be true, it felt to me like it was putting words in God’s mouth, as I see many writers with an obvious calling who are writing on more mundane topics, such as non-fiction books supporting Christians to live out their God-given calling, or novels to encourage and enlighten.
Sadly, this was the tone of most of the book. I felt somewhat depressed by the time I put it down, because I don’t believe God is calling me to the kind of writing the authors describe, and I know many other authors who don’t fit their narrow parameters either. Does this mean none of us are listening to God? I could believe that if it was just me, but over the last three years I have met dozens of Christian novelists in person, and even more online. If Called to Write is the touchstone of how to write in line with the heart of God, none of the writers I have met are achieving this aim. I don’t believe it. I’ve talked with these writers, heard their hearts, and they honestly believe they are obeying God through writing fiction.
Called to Write does make some good points about how we, as Christian writers, can only write out of our overflow, and if we don’t have a solid and deep relationship with God, our writing won’t have the depth it could have. It also reinforces the importance not only of praying, but of having others pray for us, and for writing under God’s anointing, all of which I agree with.
I also liked this quote:
Once you have established your calling and feel God’s direction to write, you know what your goal is: to be the best writer you can be and to write for Him with excellence.
I agree with this as it’s written. I’ve read too many Christian books where the author hasn’t taken the time to master the craft of writing. However, in the light of the rest of the book, I suspect the authors don’t really believe that God calls some people to write Christian fiction. I believe He does.
The structure of the book follows seven stages: spirituality, scripture study, worldview, relationships, communication, ministry, and leadership. However, their overall theme got lost in the detail. For example, in the “Communication” section, they stopped to tell us the difference between “their” and “they’re”. That’s basic grammar, not deep Christian wisdom.
And they provided detailed instructions on how to write a Bible study. It will start by presenting the verse/s under discussion, explain them as they are written, provide some elaboration or background information about the verse, then provide a practical application. Really? One of my core beliefs is that writers should be well-read in the area they are seeking to write and publish. If someone who wants to write Bible studies doesn’t know this, they haven’t read (studied) enough Bible studies.
I have one final bugbear. At the very end, in the interview with the authors, one says there are “wonderful” Christian self-publishing companies who “work similarly to a traditional publisher, except you provide the finances for your book, so there is quite an upfront investment.”
These publishers are wolves in sheep’s clothing, out to fleece unsuspecting authors. I have nothing against self-publishing, but if you want to self-publish, educate yourself and do it properly. Any “wonderful” publishing company that asks you for money is a vanity press. Their services are overpriced, and their editing sub-standard or non-existent. If you want to self-publish, research some of the excellent cost-effective options out there (hint: start with CreateSpace for paperbacks, and Smashwords and Amazon for ebooks).
Overall, while there were some nuggets of wisdom in Called to Write, overall I don’t recommend it to anyone writing fiction or full-length non-fiction.