Jane Walters is the chair of the Association of Christian Writers (ACW). Here she talks about her own journey of becoming a writer and why she feels Christian literature is so important

Reading was my escape tunnel, growing up, alongside playing the piano. Becoming a Christian at age 14 brought my creativity to the fore, originally through songwriting. In October 2013, I attended a writing retreat at Letton Hall, a Christian conference centre in Norfolk. It literally changed my life. From the first session, I was hooked: my heart racing and my mind whirring with ideas. It was there I first heard about Association of Christian Writers (ACW) and I signed up straightaway. After all, I now considered myself a Christian writer – where else should I be?! I began attending monthly group meetings, which proved absolutely vital for those early stages of the writing journey. When I was invited in 2015 to join the ACW committee as groups’ coordinator and later vice chair, I leapt at the chance. 

I can honestly say that becoming chair of ACW was God’s idea, not mine, and it’s a privilege to partner with him in this way. First, I lead my team of eleven fellow volunteers on the committee. I am constantly grateful for their diligence and expertise and for the support we all give each other. I also oversee the small group of trustees who keep ACW on track. Finally, I steer an expanding portfolio of activities which will serve our membership well (though we are only human and can’t live up to our own standards sometimes). As an extrovert, I love the parts of my role that involve meeting other people. 

I believe Christian books are important because of the impact their words can have on our lives as well as those around us. While nothing compares to the Bible, we need inspiring true stories that stir our own faith; wisdom from teachers who have studied more widely and deeply than us; different opinions that provoke and challenge us; the sheer joy of something funny that lifts us from the mundane. I’m always reading (and writing!) more than one book at a time, depending on my mood, so I have many favourite Christian writers, such as Frances Ridley Havergal, whose hymns I have used as prayers, full of heart-longing for God and eagerness to serve him. Jennifer Rees Larcombe’s life story involved childhood loneliness, a full family life, severe illness and divorce and her books are lifebelts to the hurting. Timothy Keller was such an accessible apologist. When I read Encounters with Jesus in the summer of 2022, I felt I was falling in love with Jesus all over again. 

Some question the need for ‘Christian fiction’ as a separate genre. First, I would want to affirm how helpful it is. The great joy of reading fiction is its ability to take you into settings and situations that you could never experience in a lifetime. You become traveller, explorer, a thorough thinker of all kinds of ethical issues…You can be married or not married, childless or Mother Hubbard. Your world is expanded through the black-and-white symbols on a page. It’s a kind of magic. But, oh, the delight when the story is rooted in godliness, when it fills your soul as well as your mind! We definitely need Christian fiction —an even ‘secular’ fiction written by Christians has a wholesomeness sadly lacking elsewhere.

Second, it has to be helpful that fiction can take the reader deeply into a topic or situation by osmosis. Want to learn about forgiveness, reconciliation or courage in the face of illness and loss, or the outworking of faith? Find a story that plays out those themes through the relative safety of made-up characters. The lessons will still be learned, but in a more palatable, relatable way. 

The delight when the story is rooted in godliness; when it fills your soul as well as your mind!

I have a particular heart for emerging writers. It is the chief motivation behind me leading what I call Ready Writers Retreats in order to spend time with writers who want to develop their writing skills within an encouraging, prayerful environment. In my ACW-affiliated groups, I love to champion the members, cheering them on, sometimes practically by editing their work or recommending them to a publisher. More broadly, supporting Christian writers is what ACW exists to do. 

To someone who dreams of writing a book, I would say following your dream is good, but at some point it involves waking up and making it a reality! The hours of hard slog will be easier if you’re not alone. I recommend connecting with ACW and other writers – having such connections has always helped me. And, once you’ve started, do keep going.

Anyone will tell you: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. (I know full well as a musician that you can’t beat practise.) So, I write a lot but also read a lot – it demonstrates how not to write as well as how best to do so. For me, writing has become a natural extension of my thinking process and I’m never happier than when I’m typing away. And I always keep what I’ve written. It’s encouraging to see that, amazingly, I’ve improved.

Books on writing


Here are my three recommendations for aspiring writers:

1. The Artist’s Way

by Julia Cameron (Profile Books, 2020).

Great for working through the blockages that stop you enjoying being creative. This book is a game-changer.

2. Write Well: A handbook for Christian Writers 

by ACW (Instant Apostle, 2021). 

For anyone wanting to learn writing skills in a Christian context, you won’t get a better set of practical and inspiring articles to help you.

3. Bird by Bird

by Anne Lamott (Canongate, 2020).

Tips and instructions that are oh-so relatable. This is one of the rare books I actually re-read.

The history of the Association of Christian Writers

ACW started life in 1971 as the Fellowship of Christian Writers, an informal support network for like-minded and -hearted writers. By the late 1990s it had become the Association of Christian Writers, with its underpinning strapline: ‘encourage, equip, inspire’. The last 50+ years have held the same values at its core. 

We are approaching 700 members and always welcome more. We meet together for support and encouragement through affiliated local groups or online genre groups. Writers’ Days have long been a feature: our next one, the autumn gathering entitled ‘Zoomed Out’, is in Rugby, 11–12 October. We run regular competitions and publish a quarterly magazine, Christian Writer. Our website christianwriters.co.uk is a goldmine of information and our Facebook group offers lively interaction on all things writerly (Association of Christian Writers (Group)).

Our aim is to be the one-stop-shop for all Christian writers in the UK and beyond.