Things to consider when setting out to write a Christian book: how to find your support team, how your genre impacts your approach, and how to get started.
by Adam G. Fleming
We at Victory Vision believe that every person has a unique story to tell. We also believe there is value in getting affirmation from your local community of believers that this is the right time for you to share that story. Regardless of whether your community is your local congregation, a small group, or simply trusted fellow believers from various social spheres, there are a few things to consider.
What’s your community like? Be honest with yourself. Writing a book can be a lonely process, but it doesn’t have to be. With the prayerful support of your own handful of prayer warriors, or of a Christian writing coach, you can make it through.
Ask yourself, is my book primarily instructional in nature? If the answer is yes, then is there confirmation from your community that you have a message to share as a teacher? If the purpose of the book is to instruct, and you have affirmation, that’s great. Ask yourself, am I willing to be judged more strictly (as James 3:1 admonishes)?
If the purpose of the book is not instructional, but more for entertainment or encouragement, like a novel or a memoir, then while I am sure that people will draw conclusions and learn from your work, at the same time, there’s a difference between saying “here’s my story, learn what you will,” and saying “Here is instruction on how to live. Do these things . . .” Your Christian book could be entertaining or inspirational without being intentionally instructive. These are different purposes suited for different contexts. Having a clear purpose from the start helps you determine your audience, and therefore, your focus and desired impact.
The next thing to think through is the phrase “Christian book.” In one sense, whenever a Christian writes a book, it is a Christian book. In another sense, one might say that it is not a Christian book unless it contains overt or barely-covert Christian themes. When I say barely-covert, I’m talking about stories like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. Everybody knows that Aslan is basically Jesus. C.S. Lewis also wrote theological treatises—and both types of his work had very different audiences and different ways to convey his ideas.
At Victory Vision we do believe that Christians can be working in and through the arts, sometimes with direct Christian messages and other times simply with a Christian worldview informing the work. If you read some of my own novels you’d be hard pressed to say, “This guy is obviously a Christian,” because I’m not even attempting to offer a covert message. I’m just trying to tell a great story. We feel there’s room for all of these. So, give yourself permission to be a Christian and write a fictional book without having to intentionally tie those things together. If you are going to write a book that’s Christian because you are, but isn’t overtly covering traditionally Christian themes (such as a salvation analogy, like C.S. Lewis did), then make sure your support team is willing to back you up on that.
Permission is just one sub-topic of safety, which involves having a safe mindset. Having a safe mindset, as well as a safe place and time to write, are three keys which deserve a blog of their own to adequately address. Suffice to say that you need to make a commitment to a certain amount of time—words per week or month, or pages per day—then give yourself a safe time to do it; a safe place to go (away from noise, in a coffee shop or whatever works best for you); cultivate a safe mind, and get to it.
Now that you have support and have permission to fully be the person you are created and called to be, the final question is: will you plot an outline, or simply start writing? Will you plan it out, or write by the seat of your pants (what some call being a “pants-er”)? I cannot answer this question for you, as some people work better with an outline and others need to just dive in and get words on the page. If you don’t know this about yourself yet, then just try one or the other and see how it goes. You can always circle back to your support team (people praying, Christian book coach, etc.) if you’re stuck or struggling, for prayer or guidance.
Not sure where to get the writing support you need? Get in touch for a complementary chat and we’ll help you think it through. Ask about joining our monthly coaching group for goal-setting, accountability, peer-reviews, and networking. What are you waiting for?
Adam G. Fleming, PCC, is an ICF certified coach and trainer. He has trained people in coaching skills around the world and has also led other seminars as speaker and facilitator. Using both traditional and DIY methods, Adam has published 13 books in a variety of genres, and serves as the CEO and lead ghostwriter for Victory Vision Publishing, Inc. He lives in Goshen, Indiana, with his wife Megan and their four children. Contact: email@example.com.