Best Writing (and preaching) Advice for Young Writers

Power of WordsThis blog was originally posted on Justin Taylor’s blog, “Between Two Words.” 

C.S. Lewis’s last interview was on May 7, 1963—six months before he died. Sherwood Wirt (1911-2001) asked for his writing advice: “How would you suggest a young Christian writer go about developing a style?”

Lewis responded:

The way for a person to develop a style is

(a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and

(b) to be sure he is saying exactly that.

The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him.

I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right the reader will most certainly go into it.

This is one of the reasons Lewis is still read today. Agree or disagree with what he’s saying, you don’t have to wonder what he thinks. This blessed clarity and precision is a gift we can emulate.

I’d point out that this advice applies to preaching as well. Pastor Willie George of Church On The Move always says that if our preaching does not make sense to a teen or child, it probably wont make sense to adults.