Christian Writers Downunder - Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we offer?
CWD has been going since 2009 as a Yahoo Group, then as a writers' blog and Facebook group since 2010. I joined in 2012. I still have a clear memory of being invited into the group by the lovely Paula Vince (who I'd recently met at the World Word Conference - the progenitor of the Omega Writers Conference).
Both the conference and joining CWD transformed my writing journey - in terms of networking, mentoring, encouragement and friendships.
Over the last couple of years, CWD has highlighted and interviewed some of our members (e.g. Meet Our Member posts on Thursday). So far we have interviewed 52 great writers, editors & illustrators out of our more than 1100 members. We're a diverse bunch, from different backgrounds, different life experiences, different genres and different writing goals, but all with a love for Jesus and for writing, and are connected in someway to Australasia.
Since 2009 (and the very first blog post in 1 September 2010), we've published an anthology - Glimpses of Light. We've become an affiliate group of Omega Writers (along with our sister group Australasian Christian Writers). Our members have published or are on the journey to publish or just staring out, writing their first pieces. They have won prizes, taken workshops, organised retreats, book fairs and conferences. We still have a writers' blog (i.e. this one) and, though the Yahoo group is long gone, our Facebook group remains a supportive place for Christian writers from Downunder.
In 2014, our previous fabulous coordinator, Nola Passmore, wrote about the aims and mission statement of CWD:
"Through the CWD Facebook page and the bi-weekly blog, we seek to encourage each other, provide tips, share prayer points and circulate news relevant to Christian writers."
She then goes on to propose our mission statement.
CWD's mission statement:
To glorify God with our writing
As Nola says:
"This doesn’t necessarily mean that every piece we write has a specific Christian message."
While many CWD writers write Christian fiction, many of us write for the secular market. Whether explicit or implicit, our fiction and non-fiction is influenced and undergirded by our Christian worldview, by Christian values, themes and choices. How this plays out will read differently for each of us as God has gifted us and led us on our own faith journeys.
As Nola reminds us, it's not just what we write but how we live that glorifies God.
"Honouring God in our writing also means that we endeavour to live a life that is consistent with His Word (e.g. demonstrating a servant attitude, ethical behaviour, love, forgiveness, patience, perseverance, generosity, gratitude)."
Christian Writers Downunder wishes to glorify God through affirming Christ and faith in him, and by providing a community of grace and generosity. This means holding to what is true while respecting each other in humility and grace even when we disagree, recognising that we are all fallible and, on occasion, mistaken, and in constant need of God's grace and provision.
To develop our God-given creative gifts.
"God has given each of us gifts to be used in building His Kingdom, including creative gifts such as writing. However, we still need to hone our gifts to be the best we can be at our craft."
Christian Writers Downunder aims to help Christian writers, editors and illustrators to develop their creative writing gifts through practical tips and encouragement on the bi-weekly CWD blog. And through celebrating achievements and providing opportunities to blog and contribute in different ways. Posts on Writing Craft on Genre or Marketing help our members to hone their skills, while inspirational blogs inspire and encourage members to 'fan the flame of God's gift within you.' (2 Tim 1:6)
To encourage other Christian writers
1 Thess 5:11 exhorts Christians to encourage each other and build each other up. In fact there are 59 'one another' verses in the New Testament, showing how important Christian community is.
We don't need to see other writers as competitors, rather we are stronger together when we support each other.
We can encourage other fellow writers, editors and illustrators by:
- sharing our own journeys (including the hard parts),
- cheering each other on, celebrating each others' victories, commiserating & praying when things get tough.
- answering questions & sharing our acquired experience
- providing constructive, balanced and honest critique as beta readers and critique partners,
- buying (or borrowing), reading and reviewing others' books (on Goodreads, Amazon, our blogs) - especially those in our genres or target audience,
- recommending (or buying) other authors & books to our fans, friends and family,
- praying for other writers and writing groups,
- mentoring less experienced writers or sharing great resources we've discovered,
- being supportive and interactive on social media - through commenting on blogs, liking pages and posts, replying to tweets etc
Christian Writers Downunder aims to encourage its members through the bi-weekly blogs - inspirational and practical posts from our dedicated blog team, Meet Our Members posts & the Highlights posts that celebrate the achievements and diverse journeys of our writers.
The CWD Facebook group is also a place of encouragement - a forum to ask questions, to share your journey or your tips or resources. Share Wednesday provides an opportunity to interact with other CWD members and to support them through social media and in other specific ways.
The blog and FB page act in tandem, like two hulls of a catamaran - to provide knowledge, support and encouragement to our members.
Working together with other Christian writing groups
"The goal of encouragement doesn't just apply to individuals, but to our support of other Christian writing groups. We all have a part to play, just as Paul and Apollos each had different roles in partnering with God (see 1 Corin. 3:5-9). Let's work together as a community of Christian writers, editors, publishers and illustrators; knowing that we can achieve more together than alone.)"
Christian Writers Downunder has been delighted to work with and support other writing groups. In particular Omega Writers and Australasian Christian Writers. CWD has done this through cordial relations with the different admin and the cross-posts with ACW and Omega Writers. Each group has a slightly different focus and provides different things - together we work for God's Kingdom (not our own) and pray that Christian writers will be encouraged and strengthened and published.
How did you hear about CWD? What has been your experience? What do you like best? Are there things you would like to see more - or perhaps - less of?' Let us know what you think.
Jeanette O'Hagan is currently the coordinator of Christian Writers Downunder. She works along with a great team - Mazzy Adams, Sue Jeffrey, Kirsten Hart and Paula Vince.