Growing in the faith, growing as a writer. By Andrew J Chamberlain

Here’s a question for you: can you remember all of the lessons you’ve learnt as a Christian?

Unless you made a commitment to Jesus five minutes ago, the answer is almost certainly ‘No’.

So let me ask you a different question: are you aware of how you have matured as a Christian over time?

Perhaps you can answer ‘Yes’ to this one. The difference between these questions is that one focuses on the  individual experiences we’ve had as Christians; the other looks at the overall impact of all of those experiences over time, and it's that overall impact that makes us who we are as Christians.

You may have heard thousands of sermons and bible readings, and received countless snippets of advice during your Christian life. No single experience will have presented the totality of the Christian faith is to you. Some of the things we hear, especially scripture, might sum up large parts of what we aim for as Christians; and occasionally we might receive wise counsel that will help us keep a steady course in our lives. Timely bits of wisdom that are important for the moment like, “just check back with God about this career move before you commit to it,” or one of my favourites: “of course Fred is wrong and you are right, but being right isn’t the most important thing in church life.”
Each of these lessons is valuable; but what is more valuable is the fact that they don’t just help us in themselves, when we take them together they point to something more. Each experience teaches us one thing, but the sum of them teaches us something else again.

Now this process - call it discipleship, spiritual development, or whatever - is mirrored in our development as writers. Last month, my fellow blogger Fiona Lloyd talked about the barrage of advice she got from people when her son was born. It’s the same for us as writers, we will get advice from all directions. Some of it will seem contradictory (some of it will be contradictory!) but when all of this advice is taken together, it should have a particular value as a whole.

So, if you feel overwhelmed by all the advice you get as a writer, it might be useful to liken it to the advice you receive as a Christian. It’s hard work bringing all of the disparate bits of wisdom together, but over time - and it does take time - a pattern will emerge. As we apply ourselves to the teachings of the Christian faith, we gradually mature as Christians. So also, as we apply the lessons we learn about the craft of creative writing, in all its dimensions, so that whole process gradually makes us better writers.

As with discipleship, it can be a slow process, and it occurs in seasons; but we are right to be encouraged because just as this process will grow us as Christians, so the same process of thinking and learning and applying the lessons will grow us as writers.

Andrew J Chamberlain is a writer, speaker, and creative writing tutor. He is the presenter of The Creative Writer's Toolbelt a podcast that offers practical, accessible advice on the craft. Andrew has worked on a number of ghost-writing collaborations for Authentic Media, including the bestselling 'Once an Addict' with Barry Woodward. He has also self-published a number of science fiction short stories. Andrew will be speaking at the Lakes Writing Course this November.


  1. This is so true Andrew :) I really like the part about the sum of all your experiences with life/writing pointing to something more.It's so fundamental but so easy to crazily forget. Great post. Thank you.


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