Inside MAI Blog: Thoughts on global publishing

Writing that Makes a Difference

Writing is long hard work, so we’d like to think our words will make a difference. What does it take for that to happen? I suggest three qualities of writing that makes a difference.

It finds a reader.
We’ve all heard stories of frustrated writers who toiled weeks, months or even years to find a publisher. We’ve also met timid writers who hid their work until someone exhorted them to take courage and try to get published. If the writer’s work stays buried in a desk drawer or computer hard drive, it won’t help anyone.

“No matter how good the writing may be, a book is never complete until it is read,” award-winning novelist Katherine Paterson said.

It connects with the reader.
Effective writing meets the reader where he lives, and takes the reader places where he could never go alone. This kind of writing rarely tells the reader something completely new, but instead taps into unexpressed thoughts and ideas already swirling somewhere in the reader’s head.

“The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance,” Oswald Chambers said in the classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.

It speaks to the reader’s heart, not just the head.
We can be glad that so much information is readily available today through the internet, libraries and other data repositories. But writing that makes a difference speaks to our hearts, not just our heads.

Think of the two men on the road to Emmaus after their conversation with Jesus: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Or, consider the crowd’s reaction to Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”

The late Edward England once prayed, “Do not let me be a publisher, unless our books have something to say to those who go thirsty to the well for water.”

A similar prayer may be in order for the writer wanting to make a difference.

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