FIND YOUR VOICE AS A CHRISTIAN WRITER (How to do this)
As a writer, especially one who wants to make a career of your craft, you need to find your voice in terms of the genre to concentrate on and the message to convey. In other words, you should have a niche- a form of writing and message you are noted for. This article explains the benefits of and how to find your voice as a Christian writer.
3 Benefits of Finding Your Voice as a Christian Writer
1. Finding your voice builds your authoritativeness on the matter you constantly harp on.
When conducting research for an academic paper or media article, you seek out the views of those who have written extensively on the topics you’re working on. Their vast study, experience and publications have earned them such respect that their definitions and postulations on that matter are valued above those of others. The same goes for Christian writers. Some are experts on church history, others on the persecuted Church and so on.
2. Finding your voice helps marketers and search engines to categorise your work for easy location and patronage.
There is a sea of writing out there and if people know your area of speciality, it helps to promote your brand.
3. More importantly, finding your voice takes your message farther than your abilities and any human help can as we shall later see.
Finding your voice does not mean that you can’t write beyond one particular genre and theme, but for business purposes and public identification, it will be best if your writing output is predominantly in the area you’ve chosen.
Although the Bible writers were not working for profit, you can see that their works showed their niche and their message. For example, King David wrote songs (which are essentially poetry set to music) and they focused on worship and encouragement. Solomon wrote poetry too but he addressed wisdom and the meaning of life (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) and love (Song of Songs).
Some writers are versatile and can write effectively across genres and topics, but most excel at one or two and they need to build themselves in those areas, rather than stretch themselves thin working on everything. For example, the Apostle Paul delved into so many matters, including deep spiritual mysteries. He debated, he preached and he taught, perhaps because of his training as a lawyer (2 Peter 3:15-16, Acts 9, 28-29, Acts 15:35). Another apostle, like Matthew, merely reported the teachings of Jesus, mostly distinguishing the Christian way of life from the demands of Judaism as exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
How to Find Your Voice as a Christian Writer
Answering the following questions prayerfully will help you identify your voice.
5 Questions to Answer to Find Your Voice as a Christian Writer
1. Have you discovered God’s purpose for your life?
Your voice as a writer will invariably be tied to God’s purpose for your life. Are there prophecies given before you were born or in the course of your life that point to the work God has ordained for you to do? John the Baptist was prophesied about in the book of Isaiah as:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” (Luke 3:4 NIV)
Thus, he went about preaching the gospel of repentance to ready the people for the coming of the Messiah.
So, in God’s assignment for your life, that is where you will find your voice- the message that when you deliver it, the powers of heaven back and reverberate ìt.
2. What interests you most? What do you have passion for?
Are you very concerned about lost souls and the judgment to come? Are you hungry to see people reconciled to God? Do you burn to show people that Jesus is the only way to God and the Christian faith is not in the same league with other religions? Then your message is evangelistic.
Do you worry about the troubles people face? Do you grapple with the problem of suffering in the world and how people, especially those who have put their faith in God, can cope? Then you are called to encourage.
Are you distressed about ungodliness, especially among the followers of Christ? Do you long to see believers reflect Christ and the gospel to the world? Do you want to see them separate from the world in thought, speech and action? Then your message is Christian living.
As I said earlier, that does not mean you will never touch other aspects of the Word of God, but you will find yourself constantly hammering on the area you’re most passionate about.
Answering the last Question 5 below will help you see how best to convey this passion of yours.
3. What has God been dealing with you on? What experiences have been paramount in your walk with God?
Many of the tests and trials we have as believers are meant to equip us to help other believers in similar situations. God expects us to convey the grace and comfort that saw us through our challenges to our brethren. The same goes for the lessons we have learnt from our missteps and the temptations we overcame. According to Paul, God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” – 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NIV).
If you have been buffeted by sickness and God has healed you over and over, do not be surprised if you become a transmitter of His healing grace to others. If you have successfully battled addiction, you have the potential to walk others through that dark tunnel and you may find yourself doing that increasingly.
4. What is God talking to you about?
A veritable way of knowing our message is checking what God has been telling us. I must warn that everything God tells us is not meant to be shared (2 Corinthians 12:3-4). Some are for us or a specific person, not for public consumption. We just need to do as God directs, or we will bring a lot of pain to ourselves and others.
However, a lot of things that God tells us, He will give us the green light to share. God spoke to Jeremiah consistently of judgment. That is why some call him the prophet of doom. But God’s warnings of judgment were always laced with the hope of restoration for He is a merciful God. This is how Jeremiah put it in Lamentations 3:32-33:
“32 Though (God) brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (NIV).
5. What do you find the greatest joy and ease writing?
What God wants you to do, He will give you grace for. If you’re struggling, it’s possible you have chosen the route you’re following by yourself. Perhaps, you admire someone and want to do the same kind of work as they. In an article cited below, Christian author Timothy Willard disclosed how he tried to imitate C. S. Lewis, Ernest Hemingway and other great writers he admired at the start of his full-time writing career but it bogged him down. He also revealed how the great American writer William Zinsser laboured to write and be like the famous E. B. White until he learnt it was holding him back.
Take a breather and consider what you are able to write without stress and what gives you the most joy when you write it. Some people cannot write a verse of poetry while it comes naturally to others. Some can tell a story and you don’t want it to end while others confuse themselves and infuriate readers in the telling. Some can preach to bring conviction, others trivialise the message and entertain because a preacher has a greater latitude in his delivery than a teacher. Some can teach with clarity and depth, others deliver ponderous and mystifying presentations with little didactic effect.
Check the feedback from what you write, but most importantly, ask God to guide you.
Identifying your voice will give you focus as a Christian writer. And God can help you find your voice when you appropriate the special grace He has bestowed on you.
Willard, T. (2019, Jan. 15). Find your voice. The Edges.
Millwood, J. (2018, Oct. 12). Finding your voice. (Based on chapters 2 and 3 of Kathy Khang’s book, Raise your voice: Why we stay silent and how we speak up). Red Letter Christians.