Writing Full: You Can't Give What You Don't Possess

As a literary agent, my job is to pitch projects to publishers. As a writer, sometimes those projects are my own.

About this time last year I pitched a book proposal to three publishers. All three responded with offers for a bookI was writing for a client. Three for three. That doesn't happen every day.

In the end the publisher we signed with chose to fast-track the book so that it could come out in the same year. That's not uncommon if the publisher is trying to tie the book into another event or marketing opportunity which was the case with this project. What it meant for me as the writer, was I now had just sixty days to finish the manuscript. At that point I was only about 25% done with about 150 pages to go.

Sweat beaded on my forehead as we signed the contract. It would be an unbelievable sprint complicated by the fact that I was juggling several other projects in my agency that required my oversight and attention. I wasn't at a place I could just hole up and write undistracted. Plus I'm a mom and have to take the writing hat off to pick up kids from school, cook dinner and take care of the household as well. Know the feeling? The sixty day deadline looked impossible if I was going to do this well.

I won't list all the miracles that transpired-of which there were many-during that season. I did get some writing assistance from a good friend who came along side to do research and some of the teaching segments which was a huge help. But still the bulk of the writing was up to me and I felt the weight on my shoulders.

Amazingly, sixty days later, I hit "submit" sending the manuscript to the publisher. We hit the deadline without even needing the two week grace period offered. As I looked back I recognized two important things which I want to share with you now. For when the deadlines come, as they surely will, that is not the time to begin to prepare. We hit those kinds of deadlines because we are already prepared.

Insight #1 - God's grace.

If you are writing from the standpoint that you recognize your gift is from God and that your source is His well, then you understand the importance of this tip. Especially when we have our backs up against a deadline we can either force it, or allow His grace to let it be stirred within us. There is a huge difference.

Insight #2 - Stay full.

I was full. You know what I mean. I was not only full of the message I was to write, but full of insight to share. I was full in my spirit. All I had to do was sit down, tap into it and let it flow out of me.

And that's the huge difference to writing well. As writers, opportunities will sometimes arise with crazy, unbelievable deadlines. If you are truly a writer, you can pound out a good, technical piece, but here's the deal, you can't give what you don't have. If you aren't full on the inside, then the message or insight needed in that moment is not available to tap into. You have to keep allowing your well/source to be filled and replenished. This is more than just knowing your material. It's no different for a parent trying to give wisdom they don't possess. A preacher or teacher trying to pull from insights not within. You can't pull from what you don't possess.

Times of research are always necessary. I'm talking about being full from communion with the Source of creativity, insight and wisdom. It requires relationship to get it past just good technical writing to the next level. And you can tell when you are there.

When your deadline hits, that isn't the time to suddenly buckle down to fill back up. Again the key is to stay filled up so that the words flow out. FLOW out. Not force out. As a literary agent it doesn't take long, as I read a proposal or manuscript, to recognize whether the writer is flowing or forcing.

As you sit down to write today, remember to create your space and make time in your schedule for those moments. Allow yourself the time to fill up, so that it can flow out. Because you can't give what you don't possess.


Karen Hardin - Literary Agent and Marketing Guru
PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency