Watch Your Step
by Diana C. Derringer
(Jeremiah 36:2, NIV).
Hiking can quickly change from breathtaking scenery to a breathtaking fall. We have to watch our steps in order to get where we want to go. If God calls us to write, we must also take the right steps to achieve our goals.
Careful walkers focus on our destination and the best path there. Wrong steps can turn ankles, break bones, or end in death. Likewise, careful writers maintain focus. We decide what we want to say, how to say it, and stick to it. If we stray off topic, we stumble. That misstep may turn away editors, break our spirits, and end in our manuscript’s death.
A successful walk requires shoes that fit well. If we ignore the fit, we live with pain. If writers expect success, we meet publication length requirements. Failure to follow guidelines ends in rejection.
Serious walkers never choose dress shoes for hikes. We match our footwear to the demands of our destination. Serious writers study publications. We verify what audiences expect and what editors accept.
A little experience can result in overconfidence for walkers. We try fancy footwork and tackle challenges beyond our abilities. As a result, we might fall flat on our faces. Writers tend to grow fancy with words as well. We use ten words when four will do. We wax poetic when simplicity suffices. Rather than cleverness, we can choose to seek clarity.
If we rush or multi-task as we put on our shoes, problems can arise. Loose laces, slick soles, and other mistakes slip in unnoticed. Readiness takes time. Before we submit a manuscript, we do well to edit it several times. Read it aloud and edit it again. Wait a couple of days, print, read aloud, and edit once more. When we take the time to do it right, we can avoid doing it over.
Many people plan a walking program but never get out the door. How many writers never write? We receive God’s call to write, read about writing, discuss writing, attend writers conferences, and seek guidance from published writers. Eventually, however, we must take that first step.
God, help us ignore our fear and trembling. May we boldly and effectively write for you. Amen.
Diana Derringer, author of Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary, caregiver for her husband, and former social worker and adjunct professor, shares joy through more than 1,200 devotions, articles, dramas, Bible studies, and poems in 70-plus publications. She also writes radio and television programs for Christ to the World Ministries. Enjoy Words, Wit, and Wisdom: Life Lessons from English Expressions at dianaderringer.com.
This article first appeared in the August 2014 edition of The Christian Communicator, with reprint rights offered.