In Part 1 of this interview series with Christian historical fiction author Lynn Austin, I shared about my surreal experience visiting one of my favorite authors in her home to interview her about her latest book, Waves of Mercy.
What I didn’t share in that first post was the remarkable impact that Lynn’s words and demeanor had on my own writing life.
If you missed the video from Part 1, you can watch it here:
Sitting in her living room, I absorbed her every word and folded her advice and encouragement into the fabric of my mind. Two days after our 90 minutes together, I had the pleasure of listening to Lynn deliver two keynote addresses at a Christian writers’ conference. I gleaned further wisdom during those hours and took copious notes to share with you here, in hopes that you’ll be similarly blessed.
Let me start with the writer mamas out there who are trying to write with little ones underfoot. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from Lynn:
“Don’t wait for perfect conditions; they’ll never come. Just put your computer in the middle of the table and learn to do it. Give your kids enough attention so that your writing life is not a competition and they’ll be much more accepting. Involve them in the process; talk to them about your writing. For a long time, my workspace was right in the middle of everything. Just do it; don’t wait. Be creative with your time — take materials with you in the car, think about your manuscript while you’re at the park. I’ve developed dialogue for my characters and had full conversations in my head while pushing my kids on the swings at the playground. Just take what you have and do what you need to do.”
Q: What encouragement would you give to the writer who has experienced repeated setbacks in the writing life?
Lynn: “I’m answering after learning the hard way. I did quit. After years of rejections before my first book was published, I quit. I took a teaching job and was miserable. But God steered me back. Sometimes you just have to go through it, and maybe you need to learn the hard way. If you have a calling from God, He’s going to bring you back.
“A successful writer isn’t the person who is published—it’s person who keeps writing.” ~@LynnNAustin
It’s easy to say to writers, ‘Don’t quit.’ But each writer needs to have his or her own wrestling match with God regarding the question, ‘Am I called or not?’ Once that answer has been given, the next step is learning to depend and trust God for how He’s going to use our writing, because we have no idea.”
Q: Do you have any writing “must haves”?
Lynn: “I must have my daily quiet time for prayer and Bible reading —or else I don’t get anywhere at all with my writing. If I’m in a bad mood, if my relationships are broken or I’m anxious about something, it affects my writing. In my quiet time, that’s where I get all of this ironed out. Quiet time really settles everything else. It helps me to read Scripture every day. I started a plan to read through the Bible in a year — I’ve been doing it for 40 years. It gives me a foundation to build on.”
I could fill another whole blog post with quotes from the two conference sessions Lynn delivered.
Here are a handful of highlights:
- You have to make up your mind: Is God calling you to write? Calling comes from God. If He believes in you, who are you to doubt? You can’t run from God’s call.
- If you’re going to answer God’s call, it’s going to require sacrifice. What are you willing to give up to nourish your dream? Learn to say “no” to things so you can say yes to your calling. On the flip side, determine where your writing fits into the scheme of things. Don’t let your writing become an idol.
- Write regularly and consistently. Offer to write anything, just for the practice.
- So many writers give up because they get tired of waiting for the plant to grow. Trust God’s timing. He doesn’t measure success by results, but by obedience. It isn’t just about the books; it’s about you and God.
- No other reward will ever compete with the satisfaction of knowing that you’re serving God and bringing Him glory.
What about you? What writing advice has encouraged you? Which quote(s) stood out as you read this interview? What question(s) would you ask one of your favorite authors if given the chance? We’d love to read your responses in the comments below!
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