Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries and is the Senior Editor of the P31 Woman magazine. She is the author of work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home, and co-author of a Bible studies series entitled Kingdom Living. Glynnis speaks to women around the country and her talks include humor, biblical teaching and good dose of practical application. Glynnis and her husband Tod run a home-based business (www.roselanecottage.com), and have five children. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1)Glynnis, tell us about the ministry of Proverbs 31. When and how did it get started? At what point did you get involved?
Proverbs 31 Ministries began in 1992 when a young mom decided to write and send out a small photocopied newsletter to her friends and family, encouraging those women who were concerned about godly homemaking. By the time I joined the ministry in 1998, the original founder had passed the leadership on to others, who had taken her vision and expanded it to include a 2-minute radio spot in addition to the newsletter – which was still black and white, but by then had grown in circulation so that a printer actually printed it. My first volunteer job at the ministry was to compile the best articles of the first six years of the newsletter into a compilation book called “The Best of the Proverbs 31 Ministry.” In 1999, I assumed the position of editor of the newsletter and in the past eight years have overseen its transition to the full-color magazine it is today.
2)There seem to be so many components to the ministry: speaking, magazine, conferences, website. Did it start out with such a broad vision or has that evolved?
The ministry has definitely evolved as God has called more women to serve Him through Proverbs 31. One of our most exciting components is our annual writers and speakers conference called She Speaks. This started in 2001 and it has grown steadily. We are actually one of the largest Christian writing conferences in terms of attendance, and the only one we know of that offers workshops for speakers too. This year we are expanding once more to include women’s ministry leaders and teenage girls. I’m the director of the writers track for the conference. Our devotions started in 2003 and have surpassed any of our expectations. We now have over 150,000 daily readers. Crosswalk.com says we are their fastest growing devotion! This year, Harvest House will be releasing our first devotion book entitled: God’s Purpose for Every Woman. We also have a team of speakers who represent the ministry. This isn’t a speakers bureau and we get lots of questions about how can a woman become a speaker for P31. If God has put that on your heart, we encourage you to start by going to She Speaks. If God confirms the call, let one of us know.
3) You’re trained as a journalist and have authored/contributed to a couple of books. Had you always wanted to write a book? How did that experience compare to writing for magazines or websites?
Even though my professional background is writing, I never seriously thought about writing a book until God brought me to Proverbs 31 Ministries. With a degree in journalism and public relations, I always wanted to write about other people or businesses. That was easy! But I knew I didn’t have it in me to be a true journalist, because I only wanted to write happy, positive things. While my fellow students wanted to uncover dirt, I wanted to plant a flower in it. Public relations was the perfect career for me and I only worked for companies and people I could promote with honesty. It was actually a difficult transition to take my skills and talents in writing and submit them to God for His use. I knew I was called to do it, but it took me years of working at it to change my style of writing so that I felt more confident. I wanted to tell the reader what I wanted them to know, instead of show them through a story or through creative writing techniques.
Writing for magazines or websites is actually more challenging than a book because it forces you to be concise. This is a discipline for writers. It’s easy to write on a broader topic, but it’s hard to narrow it. Writers want to write, and the more the better. I’m always telling aspiring magazine writers to go narrower and deeper on their topic. If you stay too broad, your reader actually has less takeaway value. Give them a small bite of something rich instead of a smorgasbord of fluff.
4) Any advice you can give to aspiring writers? Something you wish someone had told you, years ago?
Writing is hard work, and it never gets easier. Oh, some things get easier, but good writing will always take maximum effort. Because I was a trained writer, and often a better writer than those around me, I got complacent. I’ll never forget my first rejection from an agent. She said, “You are good, but not outstanding.” She was right. Yes, I could form a sentence. Yes, I could communicate a thought. But in an outstanding way? No. I had gotten lazy. So I started taking steps to improve my writing. One was starting a writing group at church. I lead that for a few years, then passed on the leadership but stayed involved for another year. I read books on writing and had others critique my stuff. So the best advice I could give any aspiring writer is to keep learning. Go to writer’s conferences, join a writing group, read good books on writing, and get people who don’t love everything you write to give you feedback. If you submit something to an editor, ask for specific feedback. It’s risky, but it’s the only way to improve. As Christian writers, we are entrusted with life-changing truth. That inspires me to give it my all.
Check out the Proverbs 31 link listed in the right hand column.