Late last night, I came upon a group discussion about writing processes. Someone asked us to explain our process. The question was, how do you come up with and complete what you write? Mostly, I write Bible Studies so I will focus my answer on my process to write and deliver those messages… although writing this blog isn’t too different.
We are all unique and God gave us different passions and abilities and afforded us different opportunities to learn and develop. I do have a process that I believe is God-given and that I was taught very well years ago.
Some people can retain easily and can preach or teach easily based on the knowledge they have in their heads and hearts and/or as God speaks at that moment. I seem to be created just a little differently. Speaking is very hard for me and the only reason I can speak is that God called me to do so and He sets me on FIRE to speak what He gives. Delivering a message aloud was the one thing I said I would never do again as I left the University. I said NEVER! But God said otherwise, and He alone gives me the courage. I can only do it through Him and because I have learned to put onto paper in a precise and understandable way my thoughts and my studies.
Last night someone called their process total immersion and I would agree with that for myself. I become totally immersed. I take a subject and/or a passage of the Bible, and I get totally involved. I read it. I question it. I study it. I think of it. I read it again and again and again. I study some more and as I study, I learn. Then I write.
It usually starts with a Bible verse or passage I feel God is speaking through at that moment – to ME! I develop an idea based on that passage. Usually, I have a title at this point. I pray about where to go with the idea and write a preliminary outline. I take many notes – about 40-50 pages of notes and my own thoughts. Then I begin putting each note or thought into my outline (or discarding it). Then with the draft before me, I begin rewriting.
Does this sound kind of like the term papers and presentations of high school and college? For me, it is very close to that same process except I don’t have to rely on notecards and typewriters as we did in the “olden days” and these days I love and appreciate not only the subject matter but the process it takes for me to learn and teach it.
Sometimes the process is painstaking, but when I am writing on the Bible, I have God-given energy and drive and I don’t seem to get writer’s block. In speaking, I sometimes lose my thoughts though they may be on the outline in front of me. But, when writing about the Word of God, if I don’t know where to go next…I go to the Scripture and say what happened next and leave it there…until the Lord gives insight if He does.
The finished work is about 15 typewritten pages between 5,000 and 8,000 words.
Because I have other responsibilities, the entire process takes about a week and is never finished until the message is given. Why? Because I continually edit. When I say continually, I mean until I leave my office to give the message. I have been known to reprint an entire document because the spacing was a little off. Isn’t it strange that I would care so much when I am giving the message verbally? But I do care.
I believe anything I put on paper should have a flow and be grammatically correct, just in case someone happens to pick it up someday. I am obsessive about finding the right words to make the right impact and for every word to be spelled correctly. Mostly I want anyone who picks up the written message to come away understanding what is written and knowing that I love God’s Word and I have presented and preserved what He has entrusted to the best of the abilities He gave me.
Once I give a message, I file it away knowing I have an outlined and fairly well-written document that God may decide to use again someday.
Now you know my process. And of course don’t worry about the errors, I will go back and edit this MANY, MANY more times too. LOL!