Tactics for the Accidental Author

Ministry and church work often requires lots of writing: donor letters, newsletters, press releases, ministry reports, brochures, bulletins, Web sites. The list could go on and on in this information age. Although your staff may not be made up of communications specialists, they are often expected to perform like they are.

For those of you who have found yourself as the accidental author, here are a few tips to improve your writing technique and skill.

Read. The explosion of blogs has given self-publishing a new meaning. Find blogs and Web sites that post things that you enjoy reading, that make you think and make you laugh. Might I suggest this little ‘ole blog as a place to start? For those of us who still love the smell of newsprint early in the morning, subscribe to your local newspaper. Pick up a glossy magazine at the grocery that DOES NOT have a celebrity on the cover. Reading will expand your vocabulary, expose you to varied writing styles, and just get your brain running in the right direction!

Write for fun. Maybe you have a novel or TV show idea that you think could be the next big thing. Maybe you were inspired by your pastor or by a book you read. Maybe your children did the funniest thing this morning. Write it down. It’s never a bad idea to have great ideas or precious memories “on paper.”

Consult the experts. If you are a “rule follower,” as my husband likes to call me, there are a number of books to tell you what those rules are. You could always consult with a specific style guide: Chicago, MLA, AP, etc. depending on your project. However, I think a great place to start is Strunk and White, The Elements of Style. My copy is 85 pages and an easy read.

Hopefully, by doing these things, the wheels will turn a little quicker and the words will come a little faster the next time you are faced with a writing assignment.

If not, banging your head against the wall is always an option :) What do you do to get the ballpoint rolling?

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