This Novelist Gave Some Wise Advice to My Future Writing Scholarship Winner
Nancy Mehl has authored over 21 books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.
So when I asked Nancy what she would do with a $4,000 writing scholarship (like the one I’m giving away), the detailed, motivating reply she sent back quickly became a blog article.
Her advice is filled with faith and determination.
Once you starting reading, you’ll see how these inspiring words could prove beneficial to any aspiring writer, not only those who want to win this cash award.
For those already applied to the scholarship, enjoy this advice from a real professional writer. May you find it helpful as you pursue your writing dreams. If you have not yet submitted your application and want to pursue the New Writer Scholarship, there is still time.
Now let’s get to Nancy Mehl’s helpful tips…
Question to a Professional Writer:
If you were an aspiring writer just starting out, and you won a $4,000.00 New Writer Scholarship, what would you do with the money? In other words, how do you think a new writer should use this 4K dollar to get off to a strong start or help their career in the long run?
First of all, I’ll answer your question from my perspective as an inspirational author because…that’s what I know.
Over the years, I’ve watched writers succeed – and I’ve watched them fail. The writers who succeed have three things in common.
First of all, they’re sure of their calling. In other words, they’re not writing because it sounds cool or because they want to be Stephen King. They write because they have to. Christian writers should believe they have been given a gift and rather than bury it in the ground, they must plant it and make sure it grows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone casually say, “God told me to write a book.” Yet I can tell (it isn’t hard) that God never said any such thing.
Writing a book takes more than sitting down and blathering on and on about your great revelation. You need to know God’s will for your life.
Once you have His confirmation, it’s time to move on to the second important thing you need to do. Being an author is like being a chef. You can’t just toss a bunch of ingredients together and hope it turns out great. It takes education – and a lot of work. Years of work. Yes, I said years. I could take wonderful raw ingredients and just mix them all up in a bowl. Raw meat and uncooked vegetables. Not very appetizing. Writing a successful book means you need to learn how to handle each and every ingredient. How to cook them, how to put them with other ingredients that compliment them, and how to use all of them to create something delicious – every ingredient working together to give you something people will want to consume.
The third important thing is attitude. You have to be willing to never give up. No. Matter. What. If you’re sure of your calling, you can bet there will be adversity. I’ve seen good writers get frustrated and throw away their careers because they couldn’t take the pressure. But remember, if you’re called, God will fulfill that which concerns you – if you don’t give up. There isn’t time to list all the negative things I’ve had to face in my career – yet God was always there – taking me another way around – opening a different door. You must believe in Him – and in yourself. If you don’t, you’ll never make it.
What a Writing Scholarship Can Do for a Budding Novelist
So, how would I spend $4,000 as an aspiring author? Money won’t make me sure of my calling, nor will it give me a “never give up” spirit, but it can certainly help me to learn the craft of writing. As an inspirational author, I would strongly suggest these things:
1.Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). It’s an organization full of experienced writers who will help you learn the ins and outs of the writing world. There are online lessons as well as groups you can join where you’ll meet other writers during various stages in their journeys. Not only will you meet newbies like you, you’ll have access to best-selling, award winning authors, successful literary agents, and top notch editors. You can also find critique partners through ACFW. This can be incredibly helpful, but it’s not for the faint of heart. You must be willing to listen to constructive criticism. Trust me, if you can’t handle that – you’ll never make it as a writer. There are also other online groups that can help you. I met my first agent through Murder Must Advertise, a group of writers interested in mystery. There are groups for every genre. Some of these groups charge yearly dues. Pay it. They’re worth every penny.
2. Buy writing books. Create a library of helpful books. I won’t list all of them here, but if you’ve joined a writers’ group, you’ll get lots of great recommendations. For inspirational authors, I highly recommend books by James Scott Bell. They’re excellent.
3. CONFERENCES! Find the best conferences available. ACFW hosts a yearly conference. By the time you pay the registration fee, airfare, and hotel, you’ll spend around $1,500.00. (More if your airfare is over $500.00.) It sounds like a lot, but you’ll be amazed at the contacts you can make. There are awesome classes taught by some of the best writers in the country. You’ll be able to listen to top notch agents and publishers talk about what they’re looking for. The ACFW conference leaders will also help you set up meetings with these agents and editors. It’s an awesome chance to pitch your ideas and meet people who can help you. And…you’ll meet other writers. You can make lifetime friendships through conferences – and those contacts will be invaluable down the road. There are many other conferences that might also be beneficial. Get recommendations from writers who’ve attended various meetings across the country. They can steer you toward some great choices.
4. After you’ve spent time learning your craft and you have a polished manuscript, have it professionally edited. This can cost you between $500.00 to $1,000.00 – but it will be the best money you’ll ever spend. Just make sure you’ve chosen a qualified editor – someone with real experience who’s worked for a legitimate publisher. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves an editor. Membership in ACFW will help to steer you to someone legitimate. Get several recommendations before choosing.
If you follow all of my suggestions, I can guarantee you’ll have spent your $4,000.00 wisely and will have put yourself in the best possible situation to find publication.
I’m praying you’ll have an exciting journey, and one day you’ll get the thrill of seeing your book on bookstore shelves across the country!
Nancy Mehl – Author