Some Directions for Writers

Psalm 45:1
       My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

  JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): A well-known observation of Lord Bacon is much to my present purpose. It is to this effect: “That reading makes a full man, writing an exact man, and speaking a ready man.” The pupil must write as well as read; and he should write frequently. Let him fill one common-place book after another, with extracts from good authors.

 WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Read with pen or pencil in hand. Mark what is in any way striking in any book you read.

 JOHN NEWTON: This method, while it tends to fix the passages, or their import, in his mind, will also lead him to make such observations respecting the order, and construction, and the force of words, as will not so readily occur to his notice by reading only. Then let him try his own hand, and accustom himself to write his thoughts; sometimes in notes and observations on the books he reads; sometimes in the form of essays or sermons. He will do well likewise to cultivate a correspondence with a few select friends.

 AMY CARMICHAEL (1867-1951): You will find that if you [set aside what you have written] for a while, that oddments for its betterment will come, a loose end to be knitted in, or a not very clear sentence elucidated. These are trifles, but all help to make for perfection. I feel like offering a slab of chocolate to anyone who will tell me of superfluous word―a word that has no work to do. Words should be like colours, each one a dot of colour to supply a need, not one over.

 BLAISE PASCAL (1623-1661): Words differently arranged have a different meaning, and meanings differently arranged have different effects…When we see a natural style, we are astonished and charmed; for we expected to see an author, and we find a person.

 JOHN NEWTON: It might be wished that the best divines were always the best writers; but the style of many of them is quaint, involved, and obscure.

 MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): John Owen on the whole is difficult to read; he was a highly intellectual man. But there were Puritan writers who were warmer and more direct, and more experimental.

 C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I regard the style of John Bunyan as being the nearest approach to the style of the Lord Jesus than that of any man who has ever written.

 J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The [Divinely inspired] writers of the Bible have each a different style. Isaiah does not write like Jeremiah, and Paul does not write like John. This is perfectly true—and yet the works of these men are not a whit less equally inspired—the breath of a man may produce different sounds, according to the character of the instrument on which he plays. The flute, the pipe, and the trumpet, have each their peculiar note. And yet the breath that calls forth the notes, is in each case one and the same…The handwriting and style of the writers differ enough to prove that each had a distinct individual being; but the Divine Guide who dictates and directs the whole is always one. All is alike inspired. Every chapter, and verse, and word [of the Bible] is from God.

 C. H. SPURGEON: The Exposition [on the Psalms in The Treasury of David] is my own. I consulted a few authors before penning it, to aid me in interpretation and arouse my thoughts; but, still, I can claim originality for my comments, at least so I honestly think. Whether they are better or worse for that, I know not; at least I know I have sought heavenly guidance while writing them, and therefore I look for a blessing on the printing of them…I suggest to you all the prayer of a Puritan who, during a debate, was observed to be absorbed in writing. His friends thought he was taking notes of his opponent’s speech; but when they got hold of his paper, they found nothing but these words, “More light, Lord! More light, Lord!”

 W. Y. FULLERTON (1857-1932): Between the closing of one book and the opening of another with C. H. Spurgeon there were the shut eyes and the moving lips. “I always feel it well just to put a few words of prayer between everything I do,” he once said to an intimate friend. He seldom wrote a letter without raising his heart to God for guidance.

 FRANCIS RIDLEY HAVERGAL (1836-1879): Writing is praying for me, for I never seem to write even a verse by myself, and feel like a little child writing: you know a child would look up at every sentence and say, “And what shall I say next?” That is just what I do; I ask that at every line He would give me, not merely thoughts and power, but also every word, even the very rhymes. Very often I have a most distinct and happy consciousness of direct answers.

 THOMAS COLLINS (1810-1864): Carry paper with you everywhere; and if God gives you a good thought, nail it immediately.

 GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): Seek to depend entirely on God for everything. Put yourself and your work into His hands. When thinking of any new undertaking, ask, Is this agreeable to the mind of God? Is it for His glory? If it is not for His glory, it is not for your good, and you must have nothing to do with it. Mind that! Having settled that a certain course is for the glory of God, begin it in His name and continue in it to the end. Undertake it in prayer and faith, and never give up!

 C. H. SPURGEON: Men will sit down and write huge folios and tomes, that they may have them put in libraries for ever, and have their names handed down by fame! But how few are looking to win stars forever in heaven!―You are a writer; you have great power in writing; [will] you devote your talents alone to light literature, or to the production of other things which may furnish amusement, but which cannot benefit the soul?
      Thou art one that guideth the pen, and from hour to hour wearily thou writest. Ah! man, know that thy life is a writing. When thy hand is not on the pen, thou art a writer still; thou art always writing upon the pages of eternity; thy sins thou art writing, or else thy holy confidence in Him that loved thee. Happy shall it be for thee, O writer, if thy name is written in the Lamb’s book of life…May your character be not a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock.

 J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): This should give direction to all your reading, writing, and conversation.


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