Why I write…

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Why I write: Stories are like breathing. Life without a story in my head is one-dimensional, stagnant, vapid. I love the life God has given me, but I think I love it better because I’m able to live out so many other lives on the page. I’m more content to be who I am because I’m not trapped in that identity. When I sit down at my computer and put my fingers on the keys, I can be anyone or anything, at any time in history. I write because it’s freedom.

Writing routine: I set aside two hours, five days a week, to write, usually between four and six p.m. I’m a firm believer in Peter de Vries claim: “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” I spend the first half hour scribbling ideas in a writing journal, reviewing character sketches and research notes, reading an article on the craft, and proofreading what I wrote the day before. Then I pick a soundtrack, say a prayer for guidance, and dive in.

Process: It takes years sometimes for my ideas to find their way onto the page. After the first kernel of inspiration takes root, I play with it and play with it, discovering characters and scenes and plot twists. Finally, when I think it’s ready, I dig out a notebook and start sketching ideas and outlines. Depending on the subject matter, I spend a few months researching, then take a deep breath and pray that all the work will pay off in a way that will glorify God.

Inspiration: Most of my story ideas begin with a character and a place. An outlaw in the Wyoming Territory. A mercenary knight in the Crusades. A vigilante plantation owner in Kenya. A female spy in the Napoleonic Wars. A barnstormer in early 20th-century Kansas. After that, who knows? Inspiration is a gift from God: bits and pieces, tiny ideas that bloom into unexpected treasures.

Advice: Writing is both a gift and an art. As a gift, it must be approached with humility: the writer is only the vessel through which inspiration flows. As an art, it must be approached with passion and discipline: a gift that’s never developed wasn’t worth the giving.

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