Monday, January 19, 2015

What Writers Can Learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Alycia W. Morales

Carlis, you have won C.S. Lakin's book! :) Please contact Andrea with your mailing address so that she can get that out to you.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said a lot of inspiring things. Let's take a look at some of them today and apply his words to our own writing...

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

Sometimes we feel like we need to know an entire story before it can be written.Or we want to know every detail about a conference before we dare attend. Or we want to know what our career path will look like before we take the first step down it. The key to Martin Luther King's quote is TRUST. We must put our trust in God, believing that He is directing our steps. And then we must take that first step of faith. I can guarantee you that if it's the path He wants you on, doors will fly open for you. I have plenty of testimony I could share...

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

In other words, don't do sloppy work. Take the time to research, to do your best writing, to edit and rewrite until the crappy first draft shines like a diamond. If you're truly called to write, then God has a divine purpose for your words. Which leads me to this...

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."

One of my favorite Scriptures when I think of work is Colossians 3:23-24. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. When we write, we should write for an audience of One. Only then will we stop heaven and earth long enough to consider our words and take them to heart. We can get in our own way too easily...

"The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea."

Writers are told all the time that we need to develop a thick skin. Anyone who has participated in a critique group, entered their writing for a critique, or asked an editor to have at it knows the experience of having their work slashed with red ink. Or sometimes, harsh words. Even constructive criticism can tear our hearts in two. But, really, if we want our work to shine like a diamond, if we want to convey God's message to the world, we must get over ourselves and truly consider what others are saying about it. We have to get past the pain of someone else's new ideas for our work and consider applying them.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

How do you react to what other people say about your writing? My second thought on this is: do you have the guts to tell the hard truths in your stories? Because every writer will come across a moment of challenge or controversy. Consider what has recently happened in France at the Paris newspaper office and with The Interview and North Korea. It's a dangerous time to tell hard truths, even under the guise of fiction.

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."

Rejection letters can crush our spirits, or they can give us hope. We can stop writing or we can keep trying until we succeed. J.K. Rowlings didn't quit when Harry Potter didn't sell at first. Neither did Jerry B. Jenkins with Left Behind. We've all heard the reports of the 80+ rejections that happened before one house took a chance on these stories and they became best-sellers. So will you accept disappointment as your lot in life, or will you choose to keep hope?

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

In other words, keep writing. No matter what. 

Inspiration for Writers from Martin Luther King, Jr. {Click to Tweet}

A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Martin Luther King, Jr. {Click to Tweet}

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