Today’s guest post is brought to you by Ben Emerson, one of the extraordinary (I’ve been using that word a lot lately, thanks to Ramona Quimby) folks I met over at BlogRocket. He’s at the beginning of a monumental undertaking – blogging about each and every chapter in the Bible, starting with Genesis and working his way through.
Today he’s taking a break from his normal exegetical style and providing us with something a little different: Five Writing Secrets I Learned From Genesis (the book of the Bible, not the musical band that brought us “I Can’t Dance” and “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”). Enjoy!
A couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to blog through the entire Bible. I work in ministry and (confession!) have never actually read through it. So it was about time to buck up and go for it. I am nearing the completion of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, and was surprised to find so many helpful little nuggets about writing.
What follows is my humble contribution to Shawn’s “Five Writing Secrets I Learned From . . .” series.
1) Words matter.
I know, I know. Obvious right? But we often forget the strength of our words.
God uses words to create the world.
Noah uses words to curse his grandson. (who’s descendants will become Israel’s enemies. Coincidence? I think not.)
Just be careful how you use those things okay? They are powerful.
2) Learn From Those Who Came Before
Isaac was an apple that didn’t fall too far from the tree. He and his old man had a “wonderful” habit of lying that their wives were their sisters. And this never caused any problems for anyone!
You can do this with writers you admire. Learn form what they do. Try and emulate them. But try to do it with things that are actually, you know, helpful.
3) Get to the Point.
I would like to quote, verbatim, Jacob’s request to marry Rachel to her father.
“Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.”
Did you notice how quickly he got to the point? That guy wasn’t messing around with superfluous verbosity. Neither should you!*
4) Never Let Your Guard Down
Just ask Jacob.
He was just minding his own business when BAM! Out of the bushes came God like a fearsome jungle cat. Jacob was ready and they fought until dawn.
Are you ready for the inspiration that might attack you out of nowhere? I recommend always having a notepad, a pencil, and chain-mail.
5) Stay Focused
God spends a lot of time blessing people: Humanity, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Sarah, Jacob and others.
He remembers the plot to his own story and doesn’t stray from it. He focuses on his mission to bless the whole world.
A writing project is always better when it has a focus and sticks to it.
*Disclaimer: I mean this in the writing sense. I DO NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES recommend saying what Jacob said to ANYONE.
There you have it. Now head on over to Ben’s blog and track his progress through the Bible. If you’re coming over here from over there and thought this sounded like a fun exercise, you could also check out:
Five Writing Secrets I Learned From the Princess Bride
Five Writing Secrets I Learned From Dumb and Dumber
Five Writing Secrets I Learned From the Movie “Inception”
7 Replies to “Five Writing Secrets I Learned From Genesis”
What a great idea! Love the writing principles and the subtle tongue in cheekiness. Great.
Although, It wouldn’t be difficult to write “5 writing secrets I learned from Genesis . . . the band.”
#1) Focus on your strengths. If you can’t dance but know that there is something special about the way you walk, become the best walker you can.
I’ve been trying to practice #2 specifically in my writing. Although I tend to “steal” more than “emulate.”
FTR – a guy could quote Jacob to my Mom and if he had a paycheck and a place to stay, she would be all in.
@Ben, I LOVE your current writing project – it is must reading for any believer! I agree that the best content has focus and direction (lessons I’m learning through the BlogRocket community)!
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