Now that we’ve talked about the different types of Christian fiction and their unique benefits and I’ve hopefully encouraged and challenged you Christian writers in your own writing, I want to recommend some ways that we Christian authors can build up others in the community, because I think it can be something we neglect either because we don’t think about it, we don’t know how to do it effectively, or we don’t see the importance of it. (Or we’re just socially anxious and terrified they’ll be annoyed with us, but… that’s its own issue. ;P)
First, why is encouraging fellow Christian writers important?
Maybe this is obvious to you and I don’t even need to discuss it, but I want to lay it out first anyway. Encouraging Christian writers is important because Christian fiction is important. How will we have meaningful Christian fiction if we’re not encouraging Christian authors?
It’s also important simply because Christian authors are… Christians. We’re called to encourage our spiritual brothers and sisters, and if a fellow Christian happens to be a writer then that’s an area in which you can encourage them.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Now… how are some practical ways to encourage a Christian writer?
Understand why they write what they write
Maybe you’re a “clean” author who doesn’t understand how anyone could write “raw” fiction in good conscience, or maybe you’re a non-writer who has a friend who writes fantasy and you don’t understand how that’s edifying. Before jumping straight to conclusions, strike up a conversation. Ask them why they write what they write. Ask them about some of the conceptions you have about it and see if they can clear things up. In some cases, they’ll have clear answers and you’ll gain a better understanding of the purpose of writing; in other cases, you might help them solidify their reasoning. And keep in mind that “Because I enjoy writing it” isn’t inherently a wrong answer. “Fun” and “meaningful” aren’t mutually exclusive; it depends on the context.
Asking questions like this is also likely to strengthen your relationship with the writer as you discuss something that they’re likely passionate about and that can help you not only understand their writing, but also their beliefs and thoughts in general.
Encourage them to write what they’re passionate about
If an author is really passionate about an issue, see if they’ve considered working it into their writing in some way. Sometimes it’s not something we want to write about, and that’s also okay, but sometimes we don’t think to tie certain issues in with our writing. Sort of on the flip side of this, if an author is already writing about something they’re passionate about, don’t discourage them! If an author you know is passionate about fighting human trafficking and is handling that tactfully in their writing, encourage them in that. Just as we need diversity of writing styles and genres, we also need diversity of themes. God has given each of us passion for different issues and different areas of service, and I believe Christian stories should reflect that as well.
There are a couple of ways to do this. First, there’s simply encouraging them to write consistently. If you know an author friend is trying to write a certain amount of words each week, or they’re working toward finishing a certain draft by the end of the month, or whatever, consider checking in periodically to see how writing is going. (You might want to ask beforehand if the author would find this helpful or if it would bug them, and maybe establish how frequently they would welcome check-ins.) These check-ins don’t have to be anything fancy. Just “Hey, how’s writing going?” Although you might then hear them ramble about what plot hole they’ve been struggling with, depending on the writer. Such ramblings don’t usually require anything other than a sympathetic response; the recipient often serves as a sounding-board for the author to talk through the problem or let off steam.
If you and an author want to get a little deeper into accountability, you could consider discussing the author’s reasons for writing (in general, or their particular category of stories, or their current project) and checking in on that larger goal periodically. I know that I personally can lose sight of my reason for writing a particular story, or I can forget (far too easily) to pray over the story and the writing process and keep my focus where it ought to be. It can be helpful, sometimes, to offer to remind an author to pray over their work, or to remind them of their purpose in writing a certain book, or whatever you mutually decide on.
And these things can be consistent, on a set schedule, or you can just reach out randomly and ask how writing is going. I know it means a lot to me for people to express interest in my work, and I expect the same is true of many authors. Writing can often be a solitary job, so having the opportunity to discuss it with someone can often be a nice change of pace.
Offer general author support
I wanted to use this post to primarily highlight encouragement semi-unique to Christian authors (though most of this can be applied to any author), but Christian authors are also just… authors. We need the same kind of support as any other writers do. For some tips on encouraging authors in general, check out these articles.
Let’s chat. How do you feel most encouraged, as a Christian author? What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to encouraging Christian authors? I challenge you to reach out and encourage at least one Christian author this week.
Next week I’m doing something a little different. I’ll be interviewing a handful of Christian authors to hear their views on writing as a Christian, why they write what they write, how people react to what they write, and more. This will be totally new for me, but I’m really excited and I can’t wait to hear what these awesome authors have to say! The included authors will be Mattie May (author of Everlasting Gold), Miranda Marie (author of the Fire Rain Chronicles and the Whispers of White duology), Angela Watts (author of Seek and The Infidel Books), and Brian McBride (author of Love and the Sea and Everything In Between, Every Bright and Broken Thing, and Sons of Slaughter).