The folly of rushing your writing

Jan. 13, 2016 | by Ken Walker

If you’re a football fan like me, you can hardly believe that Alabama has already been crowned this season’s national college champion, and that in a few more weeks the Super Bowl winner will be decided.

Aside from the X’s and O’s national commentators will review during this month’s playoffs, there’s another interesting story involving football. I once heard about an author who wanted to get his manuscript relating spiritual lessons and the sport edited—in a big hurry. It was mid-September and he wanted the book out during football season.  

Timing is everything

No matter how good one’s intentions, or how finely-tuned your message, a key aspect of any book is timing. Just as that author started too late, you want to plan any article or book related to a particular sport a year ahead of time. The same is true for any teaching related to a spiritual event, whether that is a particular holiday or a significant anniversary.

Books about the King James Version were of prime interest in 2011, which marked the 400th anniversary of this translation. Not so much today. Next year will see a resurgence of attention on Martin Luther, when October 31 marks 500 years since he nailed his 95 thesis on the church door in Wittenberg and sparked the Reformation. But 2017 will be a bit late to start an article or book about this historic event.

Wise planning

Planning is a key for more than holidays or significant anniversaries. Whether you aim to write a blog, an article or a book, you need to give yourself sufficient time to carry out the task.

I recently completed a sample edit of a chapter for an author who works in a specialized field. She intends to self-publish because she doesn’t think there will be that large a market for her book. Her organization is having an important meeting in late June and she wanted to know if it would be possible to have advance copies ready by then.

If the manuscript were completed and only needed editing, that might have been possible. But she’s still writing it, with an eye on having the full manuscript ready for a formal edit by late February or March.

My advice to her: forget trying to meet a summer publication date. Even if I could edit it in a month—and that is really too tight a schedule for an 80,000-word tome—it would still need proofing, a final review, typesetting and layout, more proofing, cover design and coordination with a printer.

To attempt all that in two or three months would not only lead to mistakes, it would result in frayed nerves for the author and everyone else involved in the production.

Reasonable schedule

Now, books in particular can be completed in six months, from writing to publication. I’ve worked on a couple. However, they were half length of the 80,000-word manuscript, and the authors had the project at the top of their priority list. But whatever the written form, there is often no reason to jam something into a tight time frame. With advance planning, the project can proceed at a more relaxed pace.

It is a myth that because technology enables the rapid release of the written word, authors, bloggers and article writers should break their neck to publish their story, teaching or other message God has placed on their heart. Haste literally makes waste. Ecclesiastes 7:8 says the patient in spirit is better than the proud, while Galatians 5:22 lists patience as one of the fruit of the Spirit.

For anyone planning to write, those are good scriptures to remember.


Topics: Discipleship, Ministry, Teaching Resources, Vision



Ken Walker

An experienced freelance writer, co-author and book editor, Ken Walker edits blogs for several contributors to Church Central and has coached various bloggers for the site. A member of the Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network), he has co-authored, edited or contributed to more than 50 books. You can see samples of his work or ask about his services as a writing coach by going to http://www.KenWalkerWriter.com or by e-mailing kenwalker33@gmail.com.

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