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Advice for Writers
By Deborah Herman | November 18, 2018
Excerpted from the book Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents Copyright ©2018 by Jeff Herman. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.
If you have decided to pursue writing as a career instead of as a longing or a dream, you might find yourself focusing on the goal instead of the process. When you have a great book idea, you may envision yourself on a book-signing tour or as a guest on a talk show before you've written a single word.
It's human nature to look into your own future, but too much projection can get in the way of what the writing experience is all about. The process of writing is like a wondrous journey that can help you cross a bridge to the treasures hidden within your own soul. It is a way for you to link with God and the collective storehouse of all wisdom and truth, as it has existed since the beginning of time.
Many methods of writing bring their own rewards. Some people can produce exceptional prose by using their intellect and their mastery of the writing craft. They use research and analytical skills to help them produce works of great importance and merit.
Then there are those who have learned to tap into the wellspring from which all genius flows. They are the inspired ones who write with the intensity of an impassioned lover. I refer to them as "spiritual writers," and they write because they have to. They may not want to, they may not know how to, but something inside them is begging to be let out. It gnaws away at them until they find a way to set it free. Although they may not realize it, spiritual writers are engaged in a larger spiritual journey toward ultimate self-mastery and unification with God.
Spiritual writers often feel as if they're taking dictation. Spiritual writing — in any genre: nonfiction, sci-fi, women's fiction, whatever — has an otherworldly feeling and can teach writers things they would otherwise not have known. It is not uncommon for a spiritual writer to read something after a session in "the zone" and question if indeed she wrote it.
Writing opens you up to new perspectives, much like self-induced psychotherapy. Although journals are the most direct route for self-evaluation, fiction and nonfiction also serve as vehicles for a writer's growth. Writing helps the mind expand to the limits of the imagination.
Anyone can become a spiritual writer, and there are many benefits to doing so, not the least of which is the development of the soul. On a more practical level, it is much less difficult to write with flow and fervor than it is to be bound by the limitations of logic and analysis. If you tap into the universal source, there is no end to your potential creativity.
The greatest barrier to becoming a spiritual writer is the human ego. We treat our words as if they were our children — only we tend to be neurotic parents. Children are not owned by parents, but rather must be loved, guided, and nurtured until they can carry on, on their own.
The same is true for our words. If we try to own and control them like property, they will be limited by our vision for them. We will overprotect them and will not be able to see when we may be taking them in the wrong direction for their ultimate well-being. Another ego problem that creates a barrier to creativity is our need for constant approval and our tendency toward perfectionism. We may feel the tug toward free expression but will erect blockades to ensure appropriate style and structure. We write with a "schoolmarm" hanging over our shoulders, waiting to tell us what we are doing wrong.
Style and structure are important to ultimate presentation, but that is what editing is for. Ideas and concepts need to flow like water in a running stream. The best way to become a spiritual writer is to relax and have fun. If you are relaxed and pray for guidance, you'll be open to intuition and higher truth. However, writers tend to take themselves too seriously, which causes anxiety, which exacerbates fear, which causes insecurity, which diminishes their self-confidence and leads ultimately to mounds of crumpled papers and lost inspiration. You are worthy. Do not let insecurity prevent you from getting started and following through.
If you have faith in a Supreme Being, the best way to begin a spiritual writing session is with the following writer's prayer: Almighty God [Jesus, Allah, Great Spirit, etc.], Creator of the Universe, help me to become a vehicle for your wisdom so that what I write is of the highest purpose and will serve the greatest good. I humbly place my [pen/keyboard/recording device] in your hands so that you may guide me.
Prayer helps to connect you to the universal source. It empties the mind of trash, noise, and potential writer's blocks. If you are not comfortable with formal prayer, a few minutes of meditation will serve the same purpose.
Spiritual writing as a process does not necessarily lead to a sale. The fact is that some people and concepts have more commercial potential than others. Knowledge of the business of writing will help you make a career of it. If you combine this with the spiritual process, it can also bring you gratification and inner peace. If you trust the process of writing and make room for the journey, you will grow and achieve far beyond your expectations.
Keep in mind that you are not merely a conduit. You are to be commended and should take pride in the fact that you allow yourself to be used as a vessel for the Divine. You are the one who is taking the difficult steps in a world full of obstacles and challenges. You are the one who is sometimes so pushed to the edge that you have no idea how you go on. But you do. You maintain your faith and you know that there is a reason for everything. You may not have a clue what it is, but you have an innate sense that all your experiences are part of some bigger plan. At minimum they create good material for your book.
In order to be a messenger of the Divine you have to be a vessel willing to get out of the way. You need to be courageous and steadfast in your beliefs because God's truth is your truth. When you find that your inner truth does not match that of other people, you need to be strong enough to stay true to yourself. Your soul, that inner spark that connects you to all creation, is your only reliable guide. You will receive pressure from everywhere. But your relationship with your creator is as personal as your DNA. You will be a house divided if you try to please other people by accepting things they tell you that do not resonate with your spirit.
When you do find your inner truth, your next challenge is to make sure that you do not become the person who tries to tell everyone else what to believe. When a spiritual writer touches that moment of epiphany, it is easy to become god-intoxicated. There is no greater bliss than to be transformed by a connection to the source of all creation. It is not something that can be described. It is individual. This is why it is important for a spiritual writer to protect this experience for another seeker. The role of a spiritual messenger who manifests his or her mission through the written word is to guide the readers to the threshold of awakening. Bring them to the gate, but allow God to take them the rest of the way. Your job is to make the introduction. From there the relationship is no longer your responsibility. Your task is to shine the light brightly for some other seeker to find it.
It is difficult to believe so strongly in something while feeling unable to find anyone to listen to you. If you try too hard, you might find that there are others who will drain your energy and life force while giving nothing in return. They may ridicule you and cause you to step away from your path. You do not have to change the world by yourself. You need to do your part. Whether it is visible or as simple as letting someone know you care, you are participating in elevating the world for the better. Some people like it exactly as it is. There are those who thrive on chaos and the diseases of the soul. Your job as a spiritual writer is to protect your spirit as you would your own child. Do not give away your energy; make it available for those who truly want it and will appreciate it. When you write, expect nothing in return. While following the protocols of the business world, do not set your goal too high, such as transforming people's souls. If you do, you will elevate your responsibility beyond the capability of simple humans. If you do the groundwork, God will do the rest.
The world of the spiritual writer can be a very lonely place. It is easier to love God, creation, and humanity than it is to feel worthy of receiving love in return. Those of us who devote our energy to trying to make a difference through our writing forget that God has given us this gift as a reward for our goodness, faith, and love. It is a two-way street. What we give we can also receive. It maintains the balance. It replenishes our energy so we can continue to grow and fulfill our individual destiny. We are all loved unconditionally. God knows everything we have ever thought, done, or even thought about doing. We judge ourselves far more harshly than God ever would. We come into this world to learn and to fix our "miss"-takes. We only learn through object lessons. We have free will. Sometimes we have to burn our hands on the stove several times before we learn that it is too hot to touch. I personally have lived my life with the two-by-four-to-the-head method. While not recommended, it is the only way I have been able to learn some of my more difficult lessons. I have often considered wearing a helmet.
When we connect with our inner truth, we can become intoxicated with our own greatness. Writing is a very heady thing, especially if we are able to see our name in print. If we have people listening to what we have to say, we can believe that we are the message and forget that we are merely the messenger. Spiritual writers need to start every day by praying for humility. If we don't, and there is danger that we are going to put ourselves before the purity of Divine truth, we will not be able to be the pure vessel that we had hoped to become. The universe has methods of protecting itself. We will experience humiliation to knock us down a few pegs, to give us the opportunity to get over ourselves. I have experienced many instances of humorous humiliation, such as feeling amazed with myself only to literally fall splat on my face by tripping over air. No injury except to my inflated pride. God has a sense of humor.
On a more serious note, spiritual messengers who are taken in by their own egos are vulnerable to negativity. The information they convey becomes deceiving and can help take people off their paths. This is why spiritual writers should always begin each session with a prayer to be a vessel for the highest of the high and for the greater good. While readers have the choice to discern the wheat from the chaff, in this time of rapid spiritual growth, it is important to help seekers stay as close to their paths as possible. There is no time for major detours. We all have a lot of work to do.
We are all here to improve the lives of one another. We are blessed to live in an information age, in which we can communicate quickly and clearly with one another. However, technology also serves to make us separate. We all cling to our ideas without respecting the paths of others. We are all headed to the same place, the center of the maze, where there is nothing and everything all at once. We are all headed for the place of pure love that binds all of us to one another. We don't want to get caught up with trivial arguments about who is right and who is wrong. Our goal right now needs to be to foster everyone's path to his or her own higher truth. We share what we have so others can find it, without wasting time arguing the point to win them to our side. Too many battles have been fought over who is the most right. We all come from the same source.
When it comes down to it, spiritual writers are the prophets of today. You are here to express the voice of God in our world in ways that we as human beings can understand. We need to listen to the essence of the message rather than focusing on who is the greater prophet. In the business of writing, there is no sin in profit. But in the mission of writing, we must not forget that we all answer to the same boss and serve the same master.
You are also a messenger. When you agree to be a spiritual writer, you are also agreeing to bring light into the world. This is no small commitment. Remember to keep your ego out of it. While it is important to learn to promote and support your work, you must not forget that you are the messenger and not the message. If you keep this at the center of your heart and remember that you serve the greater good, you are a true spiritual writer who is honoring the call. May God bless you and guide you always.
Deborah Herman, wife and business partner of Jeff Herman, the author of Jeff Herman's Guide, considers herself a mystic literary agent. She is the author of Spiritual Writing from Inspiration to Publication, as well as a micro-publisher, editor, and marketing consultant. She has recently launched a niche and kitsch online indie bookstore called Bookstock Bookshop, which can be found at MicroPublishingMedia.com. Find her on Twitter at @spiritualagent and @digitaldeborah.
Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents is a highly respected resource that has been used by publishing insiders everywhere for over 20 years, and has been read by millions all over the world.
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