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The Three-legged Writing Stool

Passion, Purpose, and Perseverance

I love a good alliteration, don’t you? As I examine my life as a writer over the past thirty-some years, I see three P’s that form a writing stool upon which I must sit to do my craft.



I think most writers love to write, or they wouldn’t be doing it. There has to be something that motivates us beyond fame and fortune, cause let’s face it–those two are unreliable! Ever since I was a child I’ve needed an outlet for the stories in my head. Until my young adulthood, that outlet was art, but once I started writing as a young mom, I never looked back. I LOVE to write. There is no other way to say it. So, even if I feel ill-equipped, get stuck or just tired of a story, or suffer from “imposter syndrome” (as many authors do) I will never stop writing. 


In my experience, this leg of the stool develops over time. At first, my purpose was simply for my own gratification. My passion was my purpose. But when I started submitting my work for publication, I soon realized I needed to examine my motivation. Who was I writing for? Was I simply trying to entertain or was there a deeper message in my fiction? Even after answering these questions, one size doesn’t fit all, especially when one writes in multiple genres as I do. 

I learned a technique from Nancy Rue at an InScribe conference which I still implement today. I try to distill each individual piece of writing into one word–one main theme. What is the essence of this novel/play/devotional book? I’ve come up with GRACE, REDEMPTION, MERCY, FRIENDSHIP, and others, depending on the piece. Sometimes it is just to entertain, and that’s okay. But knowing my purpose has helped me stay focused on what’s important, in both the writing stages and the marketing stages.


I think this last leg is one that needs special attention once one steps into the ‘publishing’ arena. I Could have given up a long time ago. I wasn’t prepared at first for the fact that my first novel–my baby–wasn’t as good as I thought it was! I wasn’t prepared for rejection after rejection even after I had revised and edited. Then, once I’d “made it” with my first book deal, I wasn’t prepared for the hard work and effort that goes into marketing. And after that, I wasn’t prepared for negative reviews or criticism from other Christians because my book wasn’t as squeaky clean as they wanted it to be. 

Trust me, I’ve had ample opportunities to just give up, already! 

But then I realize that I need this leg of my writing stool. My passion for writing isn’t going away and I believe in the purposes I’ve identified for each piece, so perseverance is the only logical choice since I can’t teeter on two legs for long. 

These three go together. Without one, you will eventually fall (or fail) as a writer, but when you’re sitting squarely on your three-legged writing stool, there is a measure of security.

This post was first published on Inscribe Writers Online Blog, June 15, 2021.

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