Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Looking into the Glass

Recently I've been listening to a Mount Hermon conference recording by Mary DeMuth on "The Importance of Writing the Truth."  Mary talks about the fact that we create plastic characters because we are so afraid to be real to who we are that our characters end up resembling no human alive. So true! (I highly recommend Mary's audios, BTW).

It takes courage to be weak and to be out there on the page.

It also takes courage to face our weaknesses in our writing. We've all heard the "buzz" after contest results are published or someone gets a harsh critique.  And if we're honest I think maybe most of us have been there.  Believing that the critic is wrong, harsh, must have been having a bad day.

But what does God want to show us through this?

Maybe he wants to teach us humility. To demonstrate that HE is our strength. 

Even though we always say we can't do it on our own, sometimes we step out in our flesh. 

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." -2 Corinthians 12:9

When it comes to our writing (and our life for that matter) do we avoid looking in the mirror?  Or are we like the man beholding his face in the glass who walks away forgetting our faults? (James 1:24-25)

I believe God wants us to be introspective to notice the faults in our writing and then be proactive.

Sometimes I struggle with staying in that place, only thinking about my weaknesses.  It can paralyze my writing life.

There are no quick fixes for our writing faults, I believe God transforms our writing bit by bit. 

We shouldn't overlook the practical things, I've been blessed by taking a writing class in an area of weakness (descriptive writing).  ACFW and Mount Hermon Recordings have wonderful conference CDs available. 

Ask questions of others.  Maybe ask a critique partner to read a piece of yours with a particular weakness in mind and find all the areas where you struggle with this. 

Just like life change, writing change can be humbling.  In class I have weekly been asked to share my writing aloud.  I am an introverted person writing in one of my weakest areas.  So this has been stretching.

Sometimes I think we find it easier to be involved in the writing world online and there is so much on the web, but I think there is great value in meeting with local writers and building writing relationships where we can tell the truth.

How has God transformed your writing life?


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I've had some critiquers who were able to tell me all the wrong things in my writing, while encouraging me in the good. It is those brave souls who are able to tell the truth that have made me a better writer.

Keiki Hendrix said...

I totally agree. Being plugged into a writers group is essential for critiques, for accountability, and emotiional support.

Christine Long said...

I just started a new story. As I am exploring the main character, I've discovered she has several of my flaws and insecurities. This is difficult for me to write since it is so personal, but I believe the Lord is leading me to tell her story. I posted the first chapter on my blog. I would love any comments or critiques.

Joanne Sher said...

It's amazing what my friends, and God, have taught me about my writing and my characters - often through critiquing others' works! I'm getting better - both from reading others' critiques of my work, and me doing the same for theirs.

Beth K. Vogt said...

I've been wrestling with one chapter that won't say "Uncle!" I woke up the other morning with a prayer in my heart. "Why is writing this chapter so difficult, God?"
"So you'll stay dependent on me."
That's the answer I heard as I lay in my bed, still half-asleep.
Okay, then. Writing wasn't going to be easy. But I knew I needed to rely less on me and my efforts and a whole lot more on praying through this chapter.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Having a relationship with a critique group is very special. You get to know their hearts and the purpose of their wisdom. Unfortunately we don't have this same relationship establish with judges. I try to look at the judges words in that way, they are trying to help me--they had a ton to do so they couldn't write much--their phone rang, the washer spilled over, and they may have said their wisdom with fewer soft words than intended. I need to put myself in their shoes.

Sarah Forgrave said...

"I believe God wants us to be introspective to notice the faults in our writing and then be proactive."

Favorite quote of the day. Thanks, Julia! :)

Angie Dicken said...

I just realized this weekend, that I get most upset with a judge's critique when part of me knows it is true, or has some truth to it. This is one place in my life when God really shows me humility!! But if I acknowledge that humility, then I am able to see more clearly how to apply the critique to my writing...and for the most part, I end up thanking the judge for their crit (in my head...not really friends with any of the judges of course!) :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

I'm pretty new in this writing adventure. I appreciate your post and the encouragement to let our characters "be real." I'm finding this can be a struggle because it means pouring part of myself out there, on the page. :)

One thing that is transforming my life as a writer is having a critique partner who helps me to see aspects about my characters that I haven't yet seen. This has been very helpful, and challenging. :) Thanks for your post today!

Pepper said...

Beautiful reminder, Julia.
And I've learned so much over the past few years. How to improve my writing, yes. But mostly, how my life resembles my ms. A page, waiting to be enhanced, edited, and rewritten by the Master Author.
It's a humbling and encouraging experience :-)
I'm so glad I'm not alone in the journey.

Julia M. Reffner said...


I agree. I've been so blessed by critiquers that have spent the extra time to ask questions. I've learned so much from them.


We are so blessed for a small city with the resources we have for writers. Unfortunately for some it is difficult to find a writer's group but I think its great to find even ONE local writer.


I'll bet your work will minister to others in a new way that it wouldn't have otherwise.


Yes, so true. Critiquing others work helps us see our own faults in a kinder way, at times.

Julia M. Reffner said...


I like your example. May we all be mindful of that each day as we write.


You make a great point here, it is much easier to take criticism from critique groups, good point we need to give extra "credit" because we don't know where someone is coming from.


Thank you. I like your new blogger tag.


Isn't that so true? The truth hits the hardest.

Julia M. Reffner said...


It is hard and I'm so glad you have found a good critique partner that can help you with this.


Yes!! I love what you said here about how life resembles our manuscript. Walking away from computer to ponder this more.

Pepper said...

I think I might need to write a blog post entitled:
My Life As a Manuscript :-)

Julia M. Reffner said...

Sounds like a great post :).