What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Hi Jill! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

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Hi Olivia,

What a great question. I think the best writing advice I’ve ever received was the rather countercultural advice that the best writing is done in community. This is incredibly hard and terribly frightening as a writer, whether just starting out or confidently seasoned. But I have found it to be so beautifully true. Margaret Manning Shull has over the years become one of my best friends and most trusted colleagues and when it comes to writing; hers is the opinion I absolutely want to hear first when I write something–and not because she agrees with me, but because I know she will speak into what I have written with truth. This is because she knows me and she knows my doubts, my fears, the areas where I might struggle. She is not afraid to speak into my life or into my writing.

In some ways, writing in a community where you are truly known is a way of inviting criticism that many writers will not be able to handle. And yet, doesn’t this make great sense–inviting in a voice that is able to point out where I am misguided, where I might be leaning into something other than Christ, where I might need sharpening? It is a creative, grammatical, theological invitation, but it is also a deeply spiritual one. The church is a confession that faith performed in community is stronger–and I think art is similar! My writing is better because of the community I allow into it and my faith is stronger as a result. It’s not easy, but I find it is the most practical writing advice I have ever received.

Thanks for your question!