Monday, 12 May 2014

When the writing 'Bug' doesn't bite

By Ray Hawkins

Ray Hawkins with latest book

My Writing Proceedure: Do I write as the ‘Bug’ bites?

No! - Well maybe ‘yes! – if the ‘Big’ bites.

Trouble is most of the ‘biting Bugs’ for this writer, at least, are toothless, fickle or squashed.

So, how do I write?

Being a minister for over forty years I’ve preached nearly every Sunday and sometimes twice on that day. Add to that Bible studies, youth, women and men’s talks I needed more than ‘Bugs’ to bite. It ultimately came to discipline and appreciating my people. Having a great resource book, the Bible, plus knowing a little about life and the joys and sorrows of my people gave me a framework. Sometimes issues arose from the community or world scene which stirred me to support, defend or oppose. However it all came back to the discipline of forming the material to be presented.

When the time came to be serious about writing Devotional material I had to approach it in a similar manner. There were word length requirements when I submitted to Upper Room Magazine. They really gave me my first real opportunity outside my denominational paper. When multi-published Debra White-Smith accepted some of my prose and poetry for two of her books on marital relationships I had to learn other arts of discipline. It is called pruning the excess and selecting the most striking way to say what I wanted said.

Out of all this grew a desire to let others into my convictions about the Lord Jesus, His Word and its transforming grace and power. Being a procrastinator I needed more that a desire. I needed the motivational incentive of my wife. Because she is a multi-published novelist and I went with her to various conferences, I met certain publishers. Enter Rochelle Manners of Wombat/Even Before Publishing books (now Rhiza). This lovely enterprising young woman was willing to give me a chance to publish some themed 31 Day Devotionals I’d put together.

What did I first present to her? ‘Children, God’s special interest’ and ‘From Eden with Love’ The latter is about what I discerned in the Scriptures about God’s heart for married couples. The debates about so called ‘marriage equality’, seeing marital breakdowns and the ignorance about God’s purpose re marriage fired me up to write. (Was this a ‘bug’ or a ‘whip’?) The one on Children stems from the joy I’ve had as a parent and grandparent combined with stories of child abuse.

The discipline I needed to write these and other devotionals was to plough through the concordance on all the relevant information it offered. Then it was ‘sifting, sorting, selecting and shaping it, plus seeding it’ with my own insights and experiences. It goes without too much saying that all this had associations with editing, cutting, pasting, tears and sometimes whoops of joy. Then comes the hopes, the fears and the waiting after it is sent to the publisher.

I’ve had the privilege of having four other devotional books printed. Each one encompasses some aspect of my conviction about God’s Word and life and faith. You can check them out on my blogsite.

Would I write my heart even if no one wanted to publish what was written? Yes! For the following reasons:
i) It is good discipline for my soul as I research, especially the Scriptures.
ii) When I’m long gone to glory someone might read them and be helped.
iii) Then again there is the world of ‘the web’ which I believe Christians should make better use of in sharing their faith and convictions.

I will share some challenges Devotional writers face when next I have the opportunity to put words onto your computer through the grace of ACW. Ray (wanting the ‘bugs’ to bite) Hawkins.


  1. Hi Ray, you certainly have had to master the art of discipline. I have struggled with this of late so I'll have to take from your example and get my materials together, get pen to paper!

  2. Like your reasons for writing Ray regardless of the outcome.

  3. That's a bloomin' scorpion there, Ray! Some sting.

    Yes, discipline has to be the key. Just making yourself work often begins the whole process. It erodes the blank page syndrome.

    Thanks for your challenge , too. What opportunities we have today to witness with our words.

    1. Thanks, Rita! I'm glad you told Ray it was because I was wondering if he'd made a mistake or if it was a subtle message about writing devotionals with a 'sting in the tail'.

    2. Hi Anne: I believe all writers need the sting in the tale but a picture tells so many words and the picture of the scorpion is telling how big a 'bite/sting' I need if not in the tail then in the heart and mind..

  4. Well Rita, I do need a big 'bug' to bite for inspiration as I'm a bit thick and a great big procrastinator. Hence the need for discipline.I guess there are three areas to the discipline I need: The importance of the writing ministry; the honour of the Lord; the joy of overcoming procrastinator's tempting delays.
    Thanks Catherine. Hope you have worn out your pen and found plenty of paper. Appreciate your encouragement Dale.
    God bless you all.

  5. Ray, great post! I find contractual deadlines are a great motivator. I've heard writing described as a muscle that works best with regular exercise. When I was pre-published, I'd struggle with procrastination when I was trying to get back into the swing of writing after taking a break.

    1. Hello Narelle. Always glad to hear from another procrastinator. Gives comfort is tallying up my delays. Still it is better when the Procrastinator is overrun by Motivator, heavy on the accellerator.(sic or sick).It is also pushed down by such encouragements from you and others. Thanks.