Monday, October 13, 2014

Amateur or Apprentice?

By Vie Herlocker (aka Book Mama)

I aligned the stamps perfectly, whispered a prayer, and then slipped the thick envelope into the mailbox. My first assignment in an eighteen-month writing course was on its way to my instructor. Several weeks later, my short manuscript came back to me—covered in blood. Okay, it was ink. Red ink. Bright red ink. As I read the instructor’s notes and flipped through a stack of handouts she’d included on craft that I didn’t know existed, I had a choice. I could request a tuition refund and continue to do things my way or accept the challenge with a teachable heart.

Yes, I cried, but I also chose the teachable heart and a tough hide. And that choice was a first step from self-confident amateur to God-confident apprentice writer.

If you choose to be an apprentice, start with a teachable heart. Then consider these three additional characteristics of a God-confident writer:

Apprentices Plan to Succeed
Jeremiah 29:11 begins, “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. As Pastor RickWarren notes, “God has a plan, shouldn’t you?” Set aside a day for prayer and goal-setting for your writing. Where do you want to be in five years? Write that goal down. What measurable objectives can you tackle over the next twelve months to move closer to your goal? What can you do right now?

Apprentices Invest in the Tools of the Trade
Writing for publication requires both the art of writing (that God-given ability and vision) and mastery of the craft. Invest time and/or money in books, blogs, magazines, classes, conferences, membership in writing organizations, and professional critiques and editing. These are valuable tools of your trade.

Apprentices Are Alert to Industry News
Writing for publication means you are part of the industry ecosystem. Subscribe to the free Publisher’sWeekly Online. Even skimming the headlines will alert you to what’s going on in the industry. For news specific to the Christian Market, check the CBA website regularly.

Every not-yet-published writer has a choice to be an amateur or an apprentice, and that choice may be the difference between failure and an open door. An apprentice understands that, like any career, writing is a “becoming” process—a process of continual learning, no matter what level he or she achieves.

The choice is up to you. Amateur or Apprentice?

We would love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Please leave a comment and add to the conversation.

(Photos courtesy of and


Vie Herlocker has published in Guideposts, Angels, Penned from the Heart, Miracles of Forgiveness, Chicken Soup for the Empty Nester’s Soul, Mature Living, Church Libraries, and The Christian Communicator. She co-authored a book for school support staff and ghosted a memoir. Vie, known as Book Mama to her clients, provides freelance editing services through Cornerstone-Ink. Her mission is to encourage and mentor other writers as they develop the skills needed to answer their call to write. 


  1. Self-confidence vs. God-confidence. Preach it, sister! :D

  2. Thank you, Linda. That is the dividing line, I believe.

  3. Very well said, Vie. Succinct, too. Yes, we do have choices. Thanks for pointing that out.

  4. Thank you, BJ. I appreciate your stopping by.

  5. Replies
    1. Hi, akr! Thanks for your comment. (Please forgive my delay in replying--I'm traveling and due to awful storms I've been without internet.) Yes, this was a simple message--bare bones--but hopefully it will help newer writers expand their vision and explore the writing world outside of their paper and pen.

  6. Well said, Vie! It's all about attitude and choice.

    1. Thank you, Pamela! Yes, attitude and choice are what move aptitude and desire to writing success. I appreciate your visiting the blog.

  7. Great post! I hadn't heard of Publisher's Weekly Online, but I'm going to look into it. One question--is a writer/author ever NOT an apprentice? I think that even though I'm published I still have to have a "continuous teaching heart" because there's always so much to learn. I'll never know it all. I'll forever be a student.

    1. You are right, Michelle. I believe we are life-long learners, and as long as I have mentors (which I think will be forever!), I am an apprentice to them. At the same time, I can be a journeyman sharing what I've learned with others. I believe that apprentice and journeyman can coexist. You happen to be one of my mentors--when I read your books, witness your entrepreneur spirit, and see how you give a hand up to other writers, I learn so much!


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