The Apostle Paul challenged young Timothy to “entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” the truths he had learned from his mentor. (2 Tim. 2:2). The same challenge rings true today. Do you have something valuable to share? What legacy will you leave for those who follow? Is there a book in you?
Since the beginning of time, men and women have realized the importance of passing on a heritage to their children. Men sat around campfires and taught their sons to hunt. Women showed their daughters how to cook and make a home. They left a legacy, understanding instinctively there was little point in their children being forced to learn things from scratch. They built a platform from which their children could attain to even greater knowledge.
History tells us that those who wrote their knowledge down inspired others who followed to further development. Communities without a written record have, conversely, progressed little. “Books are the main source of our knowledge, our reservoir of first faith, memory, wisdom, morality, poetry, philosophy, history and science.” -Daniel J. Boorstin.
The same holds true for the Christian community. Great books from great authors have inspired, taught and motivated us. How great would have been our loss if these men and women had not written down the powerful truths God revealed to them in His Word.
Now it is our turn to write down the important truths we have learned in a language form understood by those who follow us. Our challenge is to leave a legacy for future generations.
Most pastors, teachers, missionaries and Christian leaders have a wealth of spiritual truth contained in sermons, Bible Studies and motivational talks they have shared during years of ministry. ‘These powerful truths that could shake future generations if written down, are too often buried deep in filing cabinets or the hard drives of computers.
Could this be true of you? Has God given you the ability and gifting to lead others to greater maturity in the faith? Has He deposited within you techniques and strategies for reaching people more effectively? Has the Lord given you knowledge and experience that will be useful in many places? Is there a book in you?
People are often intimidated by authors, believing that writing a book is the prerogative of a select few. Many people desire to write books, but few believe they have the ability. The truth is, if we can talk, we can write! It just takes drive, determination, planning and discipline to reproduce our life’s work into written form.
So, how do you go about writing a book?
Creativity is a gift of God (Exodus 31:2-4) and much prayer is required for wisdom and the anointing that will cause your book to touch nations. Pray earnestly for vision, revelation, strength, perseverance, a sense of direction, and release from frustrating circumstances and distractions. Pray much for wisdom, anointing and the ability to complete the project. We need to lean on the Lord every step of the way.
Before beginning the book, there is some practical preparation to take care of. Much like a building project, we need to know what we are trying to achieve and what the finished product will look like.
The first place to start is with the title. Before the book reaches completion, the title may change many times, but choosing a title helps to focus our thinking. What is the general purpose of the book? What is its specific purpose? What do we want people to feel, think, or do as a result of reading our book? It is a good idea to write down your specific purpose in seventy words or less and use it as copy for the back cover.
You can’t tell a book by its cover, but you certainly sell a book by its cover! Once your title is definite, hire a good artist. The front cover is your best advertisement. Research has shown that most people are drawn to a book by the cover. They spend eight or less seconds looking at it before turning to the back cover, where they tend to spend about fourteen seconds. The front cover must say, “Pick me up.” The back cover says, “Read me.”
While refining the title and back cover, the next step is to collect the information you will require for the book. Keep notes, quotations, items of information and research material together in a file. This simple step will save you much time and frustration.
Copyright law is very strict. This is a right granted to creators under law. Copyright in all artistic works is established from the moment of creation. The only qualification required is that the work must be original. No one has the right to change an author’s work in any way and claim it as their own. This is called plagiarism and is illegal. Remember, therefore, to always give due credit for quotations by other authors.
Visit a local bookshop and choose a book that appeals to you. Follow the format and take note of the extra pages required to complete your book. Start working on a short biographical sketch and consider who may be suitable for the foreword.
Plan the book carefully. How many pages will it have? How many chapters? Having a rough idea of where you are going will help immensely once you start writing. If you plan 200 pages with 20 chapters, you will know a chapter is nearing completion when you reach ten pages. One A4 page is roughly equivalent to two pages of an average size book. Save the chapters in separate files on your computer. This will enable you to work on them at random.
Another excellent tip is to make rough notes of the planned contents of each chapter before you start the serious business of writing the book. You will find this an invaluable aid. These notes ensure that all points are covered without duplication. Keep your notebook with you at all times and write your thoughts on the appropriate pages. Eventually you will organize these notes into a rough skeleton from which to write the various chapters of your book. Writing from notes is so much easier than composing from thin air.
Then “just do it” – start writing and sharing those wonderful gems that have impacted your life. Remember, you can always change what you have written. The important thing is to begin.
A useful tip is to target someone you know and write for them. Catch attention with the opening sentence and link it to the closing sentence. Write simply and enjoy sharing what God has taught you, knowing you are obeying the principle of sharing with future generations and leaving a legacy that will impact people for years to come.
Once your book is complete, select a few good friends and people who love reading to proofread the manuscript. If they tell you it was hard going .. rewrite! Don’t rest until you have a vibrant easy-to-understand book that is readable. Find a good editor to polish and prepare it for publication and decide whether to self-publish or submit to a regular publisher. Purchase the latest copy of the Artists’ and Writers’ Yearbook for more information about publishing.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” — Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)
Do you have a book in you?