Saturday, February 7, 2015

For Writers: What's in Your Hand

By Andrea Merrell

“I feel called to write, but don’t know what to write about.” I hear this frequently, especially from first-timers who have a stirring in their heart to put pen to paper … but simply don’t know where to begin.

If you ever feel this way, ask yourself:
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What type of books/ stories/articles/devotions/blog posts do I like to read?
  • What am I most knowledgeable about?
  • What have I been through that might help, inspire, and encourage someone else?

Everyone is passionate about something. It might be motherhood, caring for the elderly, or helping someone through the crisis of divorce or even death. Maybe you’ve struggled with weight loss or chronic illness. Perhaps you’ve found creative ways to decorate or prepare meals on a budget. You might be someone who has a beautiful way to craft a devotion that will touch a hurting soul and bring them closer to the Lord. The opportunities are endless. Find what moves you and channel that passion into your writing.

What do you enjoy reading? What type of stories are you drawn to? This may not seem important, but several years ago my husband asked why I was writing everything except fiction—since my eyes were always glued to a novel. “First,” I explained, “my mind doesn’t work that way. Second, there is the matter of creating characters, scenes, dialogue, and plot. I can’t do it. You just don’t understand.” He raised his eyebrows, shook his head, and silently walked away.

The next day my mind was buzzing with characters, dialogue, and a story line. I sat down at the computer to prove fiction writing was totally outside my bailiwick. Within a short time, I had produced two chapters of my first novel. When I handed them to a friend so she could tell me how bad they were, she got to the end, shook the pages in my face, and said, “Where’s the rest? I want more!”

The lesson I learned was that God does not want me to underestimate myself or put Him in a box. He can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). The Message puts it this way: God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!

Write what you know. Draw from your education, training, and life experience. This could mean anything from nursing, to gardening, to sailing. Everyone has expertise in at least one area. Don’t waste it. Infuse your knowledge into your writing so other people can benefit. Then branch out. Find things that interest you and do your research. Talk to professionals who can help you with detailed information. Let Google become your best friend.

This might be one of the most important tools for inspiration. What terrible thing have you been through that you can share with others? What have you faced and conquered that will help bring victory into the lives of your readers?

Praying for the Prodigal is a result of five long years of dealing with rebellious and ungodly behavior from both of my children. Many have asked if it was difficult to write this story, and my answer is absolutely yes. As I sorted through the details, I re-lived many of the events that brought fear, anger, frustration, tears, sleepless nights, and the hopelessness that tried to swallow me. The best part, however, was the healing that took place as I wrote. My sincere prayer is for this book to give hope and encouragement to those who are traveling the same dark path.

In God’s economy, nothing is wasted … even our pain. What the enemy means for evil and destruction, God can turn around for our good and His glory—and the edification of the body of Christ.

Ecclesiastes 9:10a (NASU) says, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. So, what’s in your hand? Don’t be afraid to offer it to the Lord and step out in faith. Your words may be someone’s lifeline and a direct answer to an urgent prayer.

Andrea Merrell is Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a freelance editor and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues. Andrea is the author of Murder of a Manuscript. The Gift, and Praying for the Prodigal. For more information visit or 

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Andrea. I believe your book will help and inspire many parents.
    Hugs, Elva Cobb Martin, Pres. ACFW-SC