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Nuggets of Wisdom from a Poet

Highlights from DS Martin's Keynotes

I was so impressed with poet DS Martin at InScribe’s recent Fall Conference. He spoke to every writer who attended even though he is primarily a poet. In fact, I think I can safely say that everyone there felt like they had been ministered to. His keynotes were so deeply poignant there is no way I can do them justice in this brief post. However, I will attempt to give some highlights. (The numbering system and way this post is organized is my own and does not necessarily reflect the information DS shared in the order he shared it.) 

An anchoring motif was the phrase, “Like the sea, like the rivers, like the mountains which bring Him glory simply by being what He’s made them to be, those who are called to write are called to write to the glory of God.” DS Martin.

Many Christian writers feel a dichotomy between the “sacred” and the “secular”. This is a belief system we must overcome.

  1. First, there is a fear of being proud. If we view writing as a calling, we need not fear this. Like any vocation, God should be the centre of all you do, not just in “spiritual” things. This is also true of writing. This leads to the next point…
  2. The content—what we write–doesn’t have to be “Christian” or overtly spiritual in order for it to glorify God. There can be a misunderstanding of how we give God glory. God can, and should, be glorified by the art itself, not because it contains ‘spiritual” content. A beautiful painting or magnificent piece of architecture glorifies God because of the creative genius behind it, not because it contains Christian imagery. This leads to the next point…
  3. The challenge for Christian writers is to demonstrate spiritual and artistic integrity. It is about excellence. It is about approaching the art (or writing) from a Christian worldview even if the content isn’t overtly Christian.

DS Martin’s second keynote was just as good. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom:

  • Good writers pay attention!
  • Writers write from empathy, not just experience.
  • Writers don’t bring glory to God by writing mediocre books.
  • Good writers read! They read a lot. They read well.
  • Write for a future audience, not for a past audience. You can write in that ‘style’, but take the genre and move beyond it.
  • We need inspiration. (From the root to ‘breath life into”.) Inspiration can come from:
  1. The Bible
  2. The natural world
  3. Our own lives and the lives of others
  4. Reading – Read literary fiction and classics that have earned respect. We become stronger in our own use of language by example.
  5. Art
  6. Anywhere you choose! Some people have been inspired by single words or even news titles! History, the every day, the mundane… find inspiration anywhere and everywhere!

INSPIRATION and DISCIPLINE are like ART and CRAFT. Craft takes discipline. Once we are inspired it takes work and practice to write well.

  • Disciplined writers remain persistent. “Your written works are the children of your imagination and they need your help to find their way into the world.” – DS Martin
  • WE need INSPIRATION, DISCIPLINE, and PATIENCE… Patience is the faith component for Christian writers.
  • Margaret Renkl said, “Writing is something like muscle memory and it’s something like prayer. The more you do it, the easier it is to do. Writing begets writing.”
  • The success God desires for us might be small in the world’s eyes.

The final keynote brought it all together and was very timely. “Our personal political opinions are not necessarily God’s view.” DS Martin. Wow! If that doesn’t sum up the times we are living in I don’t know what does!

We often have more faith in our own intellect than in God. God does things in His timing and they might not be the way we think things should go. Remember, He doesn’t change. Sometimes discomfort and lack of control are part of what faith requires. This takes humility. We aren’t indispensable to His plan even if He often chooses to involve us.

“I must simply have faith that God is just—even to the pharaohs of this world—especially when I don’t have the answers.” DSM

As writers, we must wrestle with the dichotomy of presenting our words to the world and remaining humble. (See Philippians 2: 6 – 8 and Mark 18: 45 as reference points.) “Every one of us, as people of faith who are called to write, must wrestle with the apparent contradiction of being writers. The very act of writing says, ‘Pay attention to me! Or at least pay attention to what I’ve done.’” DSM

Don’t try to skip over the struggle. Use your God-given reason and your imagination. There have been some monumental shifts in society over the past millennia. The Roman roads created a network that made travel easier and people became more connected. It was possible to go to faraway places. In effect, the world became smaller and influences on one another greater. Then in the Renaissance, Gutenberg’s printing press was the next major shift. Suddenly information was accessible to a wider audience, not just the elite. Ideas could be shared more widely across the globe. The last great shift came with the internet. It has literally changed society and the way people communicate and think. Unfortunately, information is not always vetted or accurate. In the midst of this, God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

“Like the sea, like the rivers, like the mountains which bring Him glory by simply being what he’s made them to be, those who are called to write are called to write to the glory of God.” DS Martin.


  1. Sheri Hathaway says:

    I agree, Tracy. I thought DS Martin was very professional in his presentation, speaking to all writers, and gave us some good take-aways to strengthen our writing, regardless of genre.

    1. tracykrauss says:

      Thanks for commenting Sheri. He really was inspiring, wasn’t he?

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