Writing Advice I Took to Heart

Today’s guest post is by Lori Hatcher. She is an editor, writing instructor, award-winning Toastmasters International speaker, blogger, and author of three (soon to be five) devotionals, including Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible, and Hungry for God … Starving for Time: Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. Her articles and devotions have been published by Our Daily Bread, Guideposts, Revive Our Hearts, and Crosswalk.com. When she’s not writing, she spends her time with her pastor-husband and four hilarious grandchildren. Connect with Lori at LoriHatcher.com or on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God). She is represented by Bob Hostetler.

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I officially stepped into the Christian writing world in 2011 by attending my first conference. For the last decade, wise voices in the Christian publishing world have shared instruction, advice, and encouragement. I’d like to spotlight a few of those voices and the words they shared.

Eddie Jones

“Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Write what you know.”

Surrounded by Christy award-winning novelists and romance-writing machines, I felt intimidated at my first conference. Who was I fooling? I wasn’t Christy–award material, and I’d never wanted to write a novel. I didn’t belong in this crowd of wonder kids.

Then Eddie Jones took the lectern and said two sentences that changed my perspective: “Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Write what you know.” His no-frills advice told me I didn’t have to be a Christy award-winner to have a place in God’s writing stable. And I didn’t have to write novels to be a success. I could be a homeschool mom who wrote five-minute devotions for busy women. By giving me permission to be who I was, Eddie gave me room to become who God intended me to be.

Steve Laube

“Stay true to your project.”

I’d just been buried under an avalanche of rejections when I approached Steve at a conference. Reminding him of my (now thoroughly rejected) proposal, I said, “I’m not ready to give up on this. I still believe in it.”

“Tell me about it,” he said.

As I talked through my idea, he saw right through the shallow marketing concept I’d wrapped it in. Thinking I had to have a gimmick to attract a publisher, I’d disguised the true nature of my work.

“You have a unique concept here,” he said, “but it’s buried under all this other stuff. Rework your proposal to spotlight the main idea, and I think your book will have a chance.” By reminding me to stay true to my concept, Steve gave me the confidence to present it as it was. I reworked the proposal, and five months later I had a contract.

Bob Hostetler

“Always be thinking of the next great idea.”

During a career-planning meeting with Bob at the Blue Ridge conference in 2019, I announced that I’d recently submitted the manuscript for my book Refresh Your Faith: Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible. I expected him to give me a high five, chocolate, and roses (or at least buy me a milkshake) to celebrate my accomplishment.

Instead, he peppered me with a series of questions: “What’s the next book? What else needs refreshing? What would be a natural sequel to this one?” We brainstormed a few ideas, including Refresh Your Prayers: Uncommon Devotions to Unlock Power and Praise. This became my next-contracted book with Our Daily Bread Publishing.  By encouraging me always to be thinking of the next great idea, Bob taught me to be proactive in my writing career.

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (NASB). As members of the Christian writing community, we have the power of death or life in our tongues. Let’s choose our words carefully as we help other writers along on their journey.

31 Responses to Writing Advice I Took to Heart

  1. Jeannie Waters March 4, 2021 at 5:50 am #

    Lori, you are a voice of encouragement in my writing life. Thank you for sharing the advice wise mentors gave you. What a joy to share this exciting God-given path!

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 6:56 pm #

      I agree, Jeannie. We’ve been given the privilege of writing — what a joy indeed. And you’re easy to encourage–you’re gifted, dedicated, and surrendered. Win/win/win.

  2. J.D. Wininger March 4, 2021 at 5:53 am #

    Amen… Might I humbly add one other name to this auspicious list for consideration? And that name would be Mrs. Lori Slice Hatcher. Your godly heart, passion for writing, zeal for learning, and the patience of a teacher shines through with every interaction. Great advice and blessed wisdom ma’am.

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 6:58 pm #

      Thank you, J.D. I owe a great debt to the myriad of kind writing friends who have poured into my life. Anything I can do to pay it forward is a JOY! Oh, where would we be without our brothers and sisters to hold up our hands along the way? God’s blessings to you, friend.

  3. DAMON J GRAY March 4, 2021 at 6:10 am #

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, and the lessons learned.

    I was unable to get the author website link above to work, but did find this link: https://lori-benotweary.blogspot.com/

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 6:59 pm #

      You are most welcome, Damon. So nice to make your acquaintance. And thank you for going to extra mile to track down my blog. Not sure why http://www.LoriHatcher.com didn’t work. Blessings to you!

  4. Kristen Joy Wilks March 4, 2021 at 6:48 am #

    These are great, Lori! I feel your pain as I too discovered that my writing was, let’s say, alarmingly unique. I’d write along happily having my heroine be dragged off of pirate ships and through fountains by large dogs, attempt to get a dead cat stuffed by a handsome taxidermist to save her inheritance, or simply chase a flock of 15 chickens around the forest like a mad woman. Then someone would jolt me out of my delighted fog with questions like: Where is the kissing? Kissing? Oh, yeah. I do go back and add kissing … but my natural voice is one of mayhem. Finding the heart of the project and keeping your fingers typing ahead to the next thing, these are so good as well. Thank you for the encouragement and God Bless as you continue to write for Him in your own unique way! I know the busy mothers of the world are glad that you do.

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm #

      Oh, Kristen, thank you so much for the smile today. I suspect humor plays a strong part in your plots. And I suspect your mother named you well. So nice to make your acquaintance here. Write on!

  5. Nancy L March 4, 2021 at 7:30 am #

    What a lovely, affirming, wise post. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:01 pm #

      You are most welcome, Nancy. Write on for God’s glory!

  6. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser March 4, 2021 at 7:44 am #

    This is great, Lori; thanks so much for being here today.

    May I add a piece of advice I received, long ago? Though my writing career has gone exactly nowhere, I’m not disappointed in it.

    The best advice I ever got
    (and do not take for granted)
    are words never to be forgot:
    “Just be where you are planted.”
    Do not try to be Beth Moore,
    nor channel T.D. Jakes,
    for such attempts can’t fail ensure
    the saddest of mistakes
    when you fit another’s mold,
    instead of God-made you,
    and you will find when you are old
    that this is all too true,
    that though with you world may be smitten,
    you’ll find no joy in what you’ve written.

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:06 pm #

      Andrew, you have blessed us all today with your wit and wisdom. Your words are true and right. Except for the part where you said your writing has gone nowhere. I’ve been a fan for a very long time. You have a loyal and blessed following on the SLA blog, for sure, and I suspect it extends far beyond here. And now, who would have dreamed that one of my posts would inspire one of your lovely poems? I feel so special. Write on, friend. More people are reading and learning from you than you’ll ever realize this side of heaven.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser March 7, 2021 at 8:01 am #

        Lori, I’m so very, very honoured by your words. This weekend has been dark and scary, and you’ve brought a warm and blazing beam of light and love.

  7. Jeanne Takenaka March 4, 2021 at 8:32 am #

    I so appreciate your sharing the wisdom others offered you and you ran with. I thank God for wise people who speak into my writing life!

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:07 pm #

      Me, too, Jeanne, me too. What a blessing to have wise and kind friends who share their wisdom with us. It’s more than a writing tribe. It’s a FAMILY. So glad to meet another sister here 🙂

  8. Bob Hostetler March 4, 2021 at 9:25 am #

    That Bob guy sounds smart.

  9. Elizabeth March 4, 2021 at 9:59 am #

    What perfect refreshment for my writer’s soul! Thank you so much for sharing this today—just the encouragement my heart needed to read. A lesson in “perfect timing”—all in His timing and name–and staying true to our hearts and words. I’ve saved this email. Blessings! ☺️

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:08 pm #

      Isn’t God so tender and sweet to send us just what we need, just when we need it. Write on, friend, for His glory!

  10. Ash Knepper March 4, 2021 at 10:11 am #

    What an encouraging post. I love the part about having a place in God’s writing stable. Thanks for the encouragement Lori

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:09 pm #

      Ash,

      And unlike any other stables, God’s stables always have room for one more 🙂 I pray your writing brings Him glory and draws many to Himself.

  11. Gayle Veitenheimer March 4, 2021 at 11:01 am #

    Great article, Lori! I remember meeting you at the Write2Ignite Conference! You were such a delight and I have enjoyed your magazine. Thanks for sharing today!

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:10 pm #

      Hi Gayle,

      So wonderful to “see” you here. I trust your studies have gone well and your writing is bringing you (and the Lord) much joy. Blessings to you!

  12. Barbara Harvey Carter March 4, 2021 at 12:25 pm #

    Thanks, Lori Hatcher. I’ve been working on my novel since 2011, but as you stated, “I’m not ready to give up.” I meditate on Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:11 pm #

      Oh, Barbara, you’ve quoted one of my life verses! What a great comfort in knowing that God sees every word, keystroke, page we write for His glory and will reward our perseverance, either in this life or in the next. Press on, dear friend!

  13. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. March 4, 2021 at 3:37 pm #

    Thank you so much, Lori. I’m reminded of what my favorite English teacher used to say, “Always heed the ancient law and never write what you ain’t saw.”

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:13 pm #

      Oh my goodness, what a character you had for an English teacher. Now wonder they were your favorite. My favorite teacher’s most common saying was, “You’d better get your wazoo in gear . . . ” Perhaps I got my work ethic from him???

  14. Barb March 4, 2021 at 6:29 pm #

    What a wonderful post written because of three profound insights from people in the know….and who were willing to speak truth to you when you were feeling vulnerable. May we all do this in our relationships both personal and professional. Young parents, confused teens, tired workers all benefit when we give refreshing words of wisdom in our areas of experience. I pray for the boldness to do this. Thanks so much Lori!

    • Lori Hatcher March 4, 2021 at 7:14 pm #

      You are so right, Barb. Our words have incredible power. I suspect none of these men knew they were speaking words that would chart the course of my writing life, but God did. He’s so good to send us just what we need, just when we need it.

  15. Maggie Wallem Rowe March 5, 2021 at 9:43 am #

    Lori, I seldom have time to do more than scroll through my overflowing inbox, but when I saw that you wrote this piece I stopped to read every word. Thank you for encouraging me today! With my first traditionally published book out and one on the way, I actually attended the ACWC last weekend at the Cove thinking that perhaps now that I have two books I am “off the hook” as a Christian writer. I met with Bob H, though, and he gave me the same wise counsel he offered you, encouraging me to steward my gifts well and to remember the faith my publishers have placed in me by giving me contracts in the first place. Thank you for your words today!

  16. Charis @ Charis Rae March 6, 2021 at 9:37 am #

    These are wonderful! I have found the first advice to really ring true in my life… my stories are very grounded in/inspired by where I live and my family’s stories and the culture of my area. 🙂

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