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Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 NIV

I’ve learned a lot about writing over the last several months. But at the moment, it isn’t doing me a bit of good.

I have personally dedicated 2012 to learning more about the craft of writing. To that end, I’ve already taken probably a dozen online courses (some free, some for a small fee), and read a couple writing books. I’ve also read writing craft blogs, two monthly writing magazines, a quarterly writing magazine, and likely other things I’m not recalling.

I know more about character arc,  descriptions, historical research, ways to make a character’s emotional expressions more powerful, and rhetorical devices than I did at the end of 2011. A LOT more. And all this knowledge could help me greatly in making my current (or future) fictional work in process a better, more compelling read.

But just because I have the knowledge doesn’t mean I’ll actually use it.

I remember vividly learning at least some of these things before. But did I apply them to my writing? Not necessarily. Having the knowledge is not enough – I must actually apply it to what I am working on.

This isn’t only true in writing. James speaks of people who do the very same thing with God’s Word.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:23-35 NIV

Do you not only read your Bible, but do what it says? Do you listen to, AND put into practice, the message your pastor preaches? Do you listen for God, then act on what you hear? If not, you may not be any better off than if you hadn’t heard at all.

The end of the year is coming up, and I will soon get out of craft mode and into writing mode. Once I start working on my manuscript again, I need to be deliberate about applying the skills I’ve developed. I will purposefully use what I have learned to improve my story.

I’ll do the same with what I read in my Bible, learn in Sunday School, and hear in our pastor’s messages. For acting on those truths will do more than bring me closer to a publishing contract: it will draw me closer to my Savior.

Heavenly Father, help me to apply all I am learning – about writing AND about You, to my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen

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