Steph Beth Nickel, Have you always enjoyed writing?
I remember how thrilled I was when a flipbook I’d created was displayed in the library of my elementary school. I also remember writing poetry by candlelight as a teen. And like so many others, I’ve poured out my heart in journals for my eyes only. I think writing has always been part of who I am.
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What did you enjoy about coauthoring Paralympian Deb Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances?
It was incredible getting to know this amazing woman and her family. I deeply cherish the friendship that developed between us. Plus it blows me away when Deb says, “Sometimes I forget you weren’t there with me.” All glory to God that I was able to help her express her memories in such a way that it was as if she was reliving them. And when I hear that someone has been blessed by the book, I am humbled and honoured to have been part of this project.
Were there any challenges?
I was working as a personal trainer when Deb and I began on her book. It took quite a while to get into the rhythm of things, but Deb was incredibly patient and amazing to work with.
At first it was odd writing in first person, relaying events I hadn’t experienced. But when Deb read a scene and got teary because it “took her back,” I knew we’d gotten into the groove.
Is this the kind of book you thought you would write?
It really isn’t. I’d never imagined myself helping someone else tell their story. A mutual friend and fellow author, Ruth Waring, introduced us. Deb and I proceeded with the project step by step and I am so very glad the Lord allowed me this privilege.
What are your writing plans for the future?
This year Deb and I hope to make significant headway on Still Living Beyond My Circumstances, a follow-up to her first book. We are in the process of working on the proposal.
Beyond that, these are my long-term writing goals:
Devotionals and book reviews for the podcast HopeStreamRadio. Posts for my blog and website. Guest posts for others. Quarterly newsletters and bonus materials for those who sign up. eBooks. A novel (or a series of novels). Dozens of picture books.
What is the ultimate purpose of your writing?
This year the Lord has challenged me to make it the Year of Outward Focus. I want to listen more than I speak—which will be a sure evidence that God is at work in me. I want to be more aware of my readers and listeners, consciously thinking about them as I write and speak.
In the ESV, Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” I want to keep this verse in the forefront this year—and beyond.
And at the end of the day, everything a Christian does is to be done for God’s glory as it says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (ESV).
What advice would you give to a novice writer who’s just starting to write their first novel?
Read novels. Make note of what you love—and what you don’t. Learn from published authors, but always remember you have your own unique voice and that’s a very good thing.
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Read skills development books and blogs. As soon as possible, apply what you’re learning to your own work.
But—and this is crucial—don’t wait until you feel ready to get down to the business of writing. There is always more to learn, and if we wait until we think we’ve got a handle on things, we’ll never write. Set aside time for research, sure, but also set aside time to write—ideally, every day.
If you can, attend one-day writing workshops and writers’ conferences. There’s nothing like being surrounded by writerly folk to inspire your creativity.
I am a member of COMPEL Training, a branch of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I absolutely love it. It is worth far more than the monthly fee. It is primarily for those writing nonfiction, but there is lots of wonderful information for Christian writers and speakers no matter what they’re writing.
Join FB groups for writers. Follow your favourite authors on Twitter. Check out writing-related topics on Instagram or Pinterest. Etc. Etc. Etc. This can inspire your own writing—or it can distract you. It’s important to know yourself well and limit your time on the Internet, especially on social media.
What has inspired your writing the most?
What a great question!
I’d have to say my writing is the result of my self-named condition, the Butterfly Syndrome. I flit from one thing to the next to the next. Because I am an extrovert (on steroids—no, not really), I love to hang out with people, other writers in particular. I do so in person and online. Being around other writers inspires me to write for sure.
Plus, I’m eclectically interested and eclectically involved. So that gives me lots of fodder for my writing.
I know conventional wisdom says to focus on one or two forms of writing, but I can’t see that happening. The title of Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose sums up my writing endeavours.
While I allow the inspiration to come at me from all sides, it’s important that I don’t have too many partially completed projects on the go at once.
If want to know more about Steph Beth Nickel’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:
Photo Credit: Stephen G. Woo
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