by Allen Arnold
Does your writing reflect a journey of discovery?
Before you can take readers to new places, you must first travel roads you’ve never been on. Doing so will force you out of your comfort zone to wrestle with the unknown, face your fears, and discover God in fresh ways. You become the traveler rather than the master guide. The process is risky and messy, but it’s the only way to see, hear, and experience the new.
Yet too often, novelists cover the same ground. When something works, it’s tempting to hope lightning will strike again if we only duplicate the process. But at that point,we’re repeating a recipe rather than creating a dish the world has never tasted.
Some authors are convinced their readers only want more of the same. So they reluctantly quit blazing new trails for the sake of brand consistency. Yet it was the freshness of their first stories that caused readers to follow them in the first place – not some formula or demand for familiarity. Over time, those very readers will grow bored and shift to other stories.
At a recent writer’s conference, Ted Dekker gave the audience this transformative challenge: Don’t write to teach. Write to discover.
That’s it! Your readers don’t want you to be comfortable in the creative process. Stop trying to master the process and start exploring. Forget the cozy chair and seek disruption. Readers want to be invited somewhere new by storytellers going new places. They prefer trailblazers to teachers. Stretch yourself. Then stretch your readers.
God’s calls his sons and daughters to step out of the boat when all the eye can see is water. It feels counter intuitive. Fear will try to get in. But walking on water depends far more on your faith than your feet. You have to risk that first step with no guarantees other than God.
Ultimately, what you create is an outer expression of your inner journey. When the internal journey of discovery stops, the creative process withers. So dive wholeheartedly into the unknown. Being in over your head is God’s way of taking you, your writing, and your readers to deeper places.
Allen Arnold is the author of The Story of With, an allegory that reveals a better way to live and create through the doorway of identity, imagination, and intimacy. His mission is to help people actively pursue and transform their talent by discovering how to pursue it with God. As the founding Fiction Publisher for one of the world’s largest Christian publishing houses, Allen oversaw the development of more than five hundred novels. He knows first-hand how common it is for creators to become disheartened, overwhelmed or burnt-out–as well as what it takes to help the dreams of writers become reality. In his current role at Ransomed Heart, he oversees content from the mountains of Colorado for the ministry. Before becoming a Board Member for ACFW, he was awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 for his substantial contributions to the world of Christian Fiction.