Is it time to launch your writing career? According to one survey, the vast majority of Americans say they have a book within them. We talk with Dr. Dennis Hensley about the craft and career of writing.
Our guest for this episode is Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, director of the professional writing department at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. He has published 60 books—including six novels and eight textbooks—as well as more than 150 short stories and 3,500 newspaper and magazine articles. Dr. Hensley is an annual judge for the Evangelical Press Association Awards and the Christy Fiction Awards.
As an internationally recognized authority on the life and works of twentieth-century author Jack London, Dr. Hensley offered week’s Inspire Me quote from that esteemed American author:
“I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not just exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. “
Dr. Hensley identifies three attributes of successful writers:
- They enjoy reading and read widely.
- They are disciplined and demonstrate an interest in mastering their craft.
- They are eager and engage in self-study beyond what’s expected of them.
One study suggests that 81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them. That’s 200 million people who aspire to write, yet many never do. Dr. Hensley points out that most people really underestimate the amount of work it takes to create a the kind of polished work that they envision.
Yet, there are also those who surprise themselves by the discovery that they have life experiences that they can share. That discovery motivates them to develop the skills they need to write a book.
There are more opportunities now than ever before to develop the skills needed to become a great writer, from online learning programs, to chat rooms, e-books, writing conferences and community writer groups.
You are never too old to begin to write. You have memories, jobs, experiences and depth of knowledge to draw upon. Dr. Hensley advises, “Don’t pressure yourself. So what if it took you three months to finish a short story? Great! Enjoy it. You’re not on any time table. Just work as you want.”
Dr. Hensley’s advice to aspiring authors is to be cautious about jumping in too quickly. “Don’t quit your day job.” It can take a year or more to produce a published work. Instead, take exploratory steps. Find the genres you enjoy and develop connections with writing friends.
This week’s Challenge Me:
Don’t be afraid to try writing. If you enjoy it, go for it. Who know’s what impact you might have on another?
Resources mentioned or related to this podcast that may be helpful to you:
- DocHensley.com, Dr. Dennis E. Hensley’s website
- Jesus in All Four Seasons: Having Christ as Your Life Coach, Dr. Hensley’s latest work (link to Amazon.com)
- Recommended reading: “Jesus in the 9 to 5″ by Dennis E. Hensley, Leary blog review of Dr. Hensley’s previous work