I didn’t really take Jerry Jenkins seriously when I first heard of him. It was a rush to judgment. All I knew about him was that he was the co-author (he would say “author,” no “co-“) of the Left Behind series (It was Tim LaHaye’s idea; but Jenkins’ writing). But then I read Jenkins’ book Hedges. It was good reading and spiritually enriching. But I did not expect that I would end of reading another book by Jenkins. Ever. Primarily, he writes inspirational novels and contemporary biography. I don’t read much of either one of the genres. So while I have enthusiastically recommended Hedges to many people, I didn’t expect to read him again. But that was before I stumbled upon Writing for the Soul.
The other weekend, my son and I spent the afternoon together. We did something he wanted to do (We went to a movie.). And we did something I wanted to do (We went to a bookstore.). As I browsed the new releases, I saw Writing for the Soul. I noticed the title before the author. But when I saw that it was written by Jenkins, I was sure to buy it. I started reading it as soon as we got home. And I took it with me virtually everywhere I went until I finished it. Jenkins is intentionally easy to read. He strives to write for the pedestrian, not the intellectual. So his writing is accurate, brief, and clear. I learned a lot of helpful writing tips from both his example and his advice. Writing is a pretty complete overview of the writing process. Jenkins gives counsel on subjects ranging from choosing projects, to getting started, to overcoming writer’s block, to writing clean prose, to getting published. By the way, Jenkins doesn’t believe in writer’s block. He recommends a “seat-in-chair” strategy that keeps pressing on until you meet your deadline. Jenkins gives counsel that I disagreed with and/or didn’t understand, at times. But even then, I still appreciated the candid insights of a veteran writer.
Toward the middle of the book, Jenkins turned his focus on writing fiction. I plodded through this section, even though I am not interested in either reading or writing fiction. And Jenkins’ writing continued to keep my attention with his clear and insightful recommendations. At times, Jenkins would pull over and gives side notes to those writing nonfiction. But even where the focus was clearly on fiction, Jenkins challenged me to always strive to be creative in writing. And the various challenges to would-be writers were numerous. In fact, Jenkins often encourages by trying to discourage. He is honest and realistic about the work of writing. And he warns that if you should not consider writing if you are not up for the hard work and unique challenges. Jenkins does this to help the reader clarify his/her sense of calling to write.
Writing for the Soul is about exactly what its title promises. Whether it be fiction or nonfiction, Jenkins encourages “inspiration” writing, as he calls it. He believes that writing is a sacred task. God has revealed himself to humankind through his written word, the scriptures. Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is referred to as “the Word” in scripture. Much of the teaching in the New Testament consists of actual letters from apostles to particular individuals and congregation. And church history has clearly proven the spiritual impact that the printed page can make. And in this information age, and with the high-profile success of recent inspirational titles, there is a great opportunity today to reach the soul through writing. May the Lord raise up many faithful men and women in this generation, who will use the printed page responsibly to spread the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.