Rating: 4 out of 5
I chose to read Writing for Life and Ministry: A Practical Guide to the Writing Process for Teachers and Preachers by Brandon J. O’Brien because I enjoy writing. However, I don’t consider myself a good writer (and looking at the statistics of my blog, neither do other people), so I would like to improve. I’ve also always imagined writing a book, but I’ve never taken the time to actually try to do it. Even if this book wasn’t targeted primarily to leaders in ministry (and I am not one of those people), I do like to write about Christianity and topics related to it. Even if this book wasn’t targeted to leaders in ministry, I probably would have grabbed the book anyway to improve my skills.
I think I created unrealistic (and probably impossible) expectations from this book. I wanted to know the secret, the one key that unlocked an undiscovered ability to be able to capture the audience, make them laugh, make them cry, and increase my website traffic to the point where I could call myself an author and start to write for a living.
Instead, I got practical advice that requires practice and effort. Even though there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever become a professional writer, if I follow the advice and put in the effort then my writing should improve and come naturally.
This book does a great job helping those who don’t necessarily enjoy writing or aren’t skilled writers become better writers. From the beginning stages of writing to the revising and editing stages of writing, O’Brien helps the reader refine their topic, define their audience, and find their voice. As someone continues to practice, they’re abilities, skills, and voice will be able to sharpen and come more into focus.
Since this book is intended for people in ministry, it doesn’t spend a lot of time on the publishing process. Most people in ministry intend to write specifically for their own congregation, so being published isn’t always necessary. O’Brien’s goal is to help someone in ministry to get their thoughts, sermons, lessons, etc. on paper (or maybe a blog) and distributed to a limited audience. But for those who do want to be published, O’Brien adds a chapter on how to start the process.
As much as I enjoyed this book and intend to put its suggestions into practice, I thought a lot of it was a bit of a refresher of what I learned back in high school. It was a good refresher (and for me, a necessary one), but I kept finding myself thinking, “I already knew that, but I forgot that I knew it, so I’m glad I was reminded” But it wasn’t all redundant. There were some new and helpful suggestions that I think will be beneficial if I turn them into habits.
Even though this book is targeted to those in ministry, it offers practical advice for everyone who wants to improve their writing. Some of the terminology may not be relevant, but the general content is applicable to all writers.
This book was lent to me courtesy of Netgalley.com for review purposes.