Nicki Copeland is a freelance writer, speaker, copy editor and proofreader – and loves anything to do with words. She is the author of Losing the Fig Leaf and Less than Ordinary? She is also responsible for leading Instant Apostle Publishing House. 

That Book You’ve Always Wanted to Write

‘And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.’ Acts 20:22-24

These words were spoken by the apostle Paul as he was drawing near to the end of his missionary journeys. If you had asked him what his primary ministry was, I would have no doubt that his answer would have been preaching and evangelising. Yet he ended up in prison. How frustrating that must have been for him, particularly as this was before the days on online streaming!

But here we are, two thousand years later, still being blessed by Paul’s writings. Of the thirteen letters that are ascribed to him in the New Testament, he is said to have written seven in prison. What would we be missing out on today if Paul hadn’t been forced to ‘self-isolate’ and write those letters?

During his ministry, Paul remained obedient to God and continued to head towards Jerusalem, even though he knew he would be imprisoned there. And in spite of his probable frustration, when he was in prison and under house arrest, he stayed open to God and listened to him, and was obedient to what God was asking him to do.

So my question for you today is this: now that you very likely have more time on your hands than you did before, how can you use this social distancing and self-isolating time productively? Is there a book that you have always wondered about trying to write but never seemed to get around to?

This is a wonderful opportunity to allow our creative juices to start flowing, or to flow in a new direction. So many people I talk to, when they find out I’m an editor and oversee a publishing company, tell me they have a great idea for a book and would love to have the time to write it. Well, perhaps now is that opportunity.

If you’re one of those people who would love to write, take a look at the attached resource sheet which will give you some ideas. And don’t forget, if you end up producing a manuscript, Instant Apostle is always up for taking a look!

So think about how you will use this time to develop new skills and explore new avenues. Who knows who might be still being blessed by what you produce in tens or even hundreds of years?

Want to write? Here are a few pointers to get you started…

What to write about

  • What are you passionate about? What gets your juices flowing? Is this perhaps a message God has put on your heart to share, and now is the time to explore this?
  • What do you know about that others don’t? Write about those. In some ways, the more niche the better.
  • Have you always had a vivid imagination? Did you write wonderful stories as a child, or do you make up stories to tell your children or grandchildren? Perhaps you could turn your hand to writing fiction. Take an online creative writing course that will give you the basics to start with.

Getting started

  • Read. Read. Read lots in the genre you want to write about, so you can become familiar with how it’s ‘done’. Read a wide selection of writers and expose yourself to lots of different styles. And read other genres too. The wider your reading experience, the better. The more you read, the better your writing will be.
  • Join an online reading group (or set one up). As you discuss books together, you will discover all sorts of things about the style and structure of books that you may not have thought about on your own.
  • Think about the key message you want to put across. Keep it fairly narrow, and don’t try to do too many things at once.
  • Work out who you are writing for, and write for that audience. Again, don’t try to make it too wide.
  • Work out what form your writing will take. Will you blog, or will you work on a longer project, perhaps even a full book manuscript.
  • Work out a structure for your writing. Have a key point for each section or chapter and stick to it. It’s fine to go off on short tangents, but make sure you come back to your main path.

What to do next

  • Join a writing group. The Association of Christian Writers runs a number of groups all over the country (and internationally, I believe). I believe some are working on meeting online.
  • When you’ve written an article or two, or a chapter or two, send it to a couple of people to have a look at. Send it to people who will be honest with you – but ask them to be kind too! It’s hard to read our own writing objectively, and others can give us honest feedback that we can use to improve our writing skills.
  • Be aware that every reader will have a different opinion, so learn to weigh the feedback that is given.
  • Develop a thick skin! It can be hard to receive honest feedback, but it does all make for a much better finished product. Make sure your identity isn’t tied up in what you produce, but be secure in who you are in God.
  • If you’re working on a full manuscript, once it’s finished, send it to your readers again for feedback.
  • If you’re serious about wanting to write a book, be prepared to do lots (and I mean lots and lots) of hard work. Rarely is a manuscript ready for publication on the first, second or even third iteration. You’ll need to edit, edit and then edit some more.
  • Once you’re done, feel free to send your manuscript to me at info@instantapostle.com. You never know – there just might be a publishing contract with your name on it!
  • But if you don’t manage to get published, that’s okay too. Writing is cathartic, and sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination. God can bring about tremendous healing as we write to process our thoughts and feelings.