How I Write: Gloria Furman
Gloria Furman (MACE, 2007) is a cross-cultural worker who serves with her husband, Dave (ThM, 2007), at Redeemer Church in Dubai. She is the author of several books, including a new book, Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything, which was recently released.
After graduating from DTS, Gloria developed her voice by giving away dozens of writing pieces as she worked on honing the craft of writing. Her generosity paid off. The Gospel Coalition picked up some of her posts, and she developed a following.
Since then Gloria has published several books including Missional Motherhood, The Pastor’s Wife, Word-Filled Women’s Ministry, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms, and Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, as well as contributions to other works. You can find more information on Gloria and her writing on her website: www.gloriafurman.com.
How has she managed to help her husband Dave, minister to the people in Dubai, and raise kids while still researching and writing books? We spoke with Gloria to learn a little a bit about her methods, how she manages her home, and how she writes.
Where did you grow up? I’m a Navy brat, so I was born in a military hospital, and every few years I got to live in a different place (mostly in Northern Virginia and San Diego). I was a freshman in university when I was born again in Denton, Texas.
Describe your morning routine. I wake up around 5 am and shuffle to the kitchen for coffee. Then I sit in the dark with my headlamp on to read my Bible. Anywhere from one to four children in various states of consciousness make their way out to the living room and join me over the next hour. We finish getting ready to walk to school by 7:15 am.
I decided to write because I’ve always used writing to help me get organized and process the words that tumble around in my brain all day. I decided to write for others when Dave said I ought to. (I credit my husband with every impetus to publish!)
One word that describes how you write: Left-handed.
Current mobile device: iPhone
Current computer: MacBook
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Energize
How many hours a day do you spend writing? I’m writing in my head all day. Actual typing time varies—some days I can write for up to an hour and other days I don’t open my laptop.
How does community and staying in fellowship help you be a better writer? I’ve been blessed with friends who patiently let me bounce ideas off of them. They tell me honestly when “it’s just me” or if I’m on to something (thanks, guys!).
Describe your routine when conceiving a book and before writing begins. Do you create an outline or do you just let it flow? When I write a book, I always start with the main idea and an outline. Most of the time, however, the main idea sits in the petri dish forever waiting for a sufficient framework to grow out of it. If it doesn't grow, that’s when they end up as articles or tweets.
How does prayer fit into your writing process? If there is an opportunity for a writing project, then I pray about whether or not I ought to spend the time on it. When I am in the writing process, then I often pray that God would give the strength I need to serve in such a way that he gets the glory. As books and articles are published, I pray that readers would love Jesus more as a result of having read what I’ve written.
Last place you spoke at? What did you speak about? I don’t really get out of the UAE very often—a couple of months ago I taught in Abu Dhabi for a local church’s women’s ministry on the book of Ephesians.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what? I don’t usually have music on when I write, but at the moment our upstairs neighbor’s kids are having their piano lesson. They’re getting quite good.
What is your favorite snack to munch on? Do you snack as you write? My keyboard rattles with carbs that missed their mark. I snack on crisps and veggies with hummus.
Tell us about your workspace. Is there anything unusual about it? Beside the computer, what do you keep on your desk? I don’t have a desk—is that unusual? I’m painfully extroverted, so I think it suits me better to have a mobile workspace (i.e., my laptop or a pad/pen), so I can find where the people are and sit with them (dining table, coffee shop, etc.).
How did publishing your first book change how you approach writing? How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? I recall feeling a new burden of responsibility for stewardship. Publishing a book didn’t take the fun out of writing, but it did make the fun serious. Regarding unpublished or half-finished books—I’m not quite sure. If there’s a publisher out there who would like a series of books about my cross-cultural shenanigans, I could write them a book every day.
What is your favorite childhood book? My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
How long (on average) does it take you to write a book? If you count ongoing typing time and not just thought-cooking, then Alive in Him took the most time (two years), and Missional Motherhood took the least time (forty days).
What makes you laugh these days? I’ve always enjoyed a well-timed practical joke done in good taste.
What writing apps, software, tools can’t you write without? Pad, pen, Pages, Things.
E-reader or do you prefer paper books? Paper forever!
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or writing hack? Write it in your head first. And if the words don’t materialize put down your pen and go for a walk. Knock on your neighbor’s door, cook something, read your Bible, etc.
What is your favorite thing about motherhood? Watching my kids have aha-moments about God’s faithfulness.
What games do you like to play with your kids? Legos, gymnastics, and soccer
What hard questions are your kids are asking you these days? A few weeks ago my kindergartener asked me if “Jesus knew the cross was going to work” when he was on his way to Jerusalem. I told him that Jesus knew it would “work” since before time because he planned it. I think both of our minds were blown while we discussed this.
What advice would you give to an aspiring (DTS student) writer? Read! Words beget words beget words. Then go through and cut extra words.
You’ve written for mothers—what’s the best advice you’ve received as a mother? This advice comes from a faith-filled grandma—the deaconess of our women’s ministry is a disciple-making machine from South Africa. She helped me leave a pity party one time when she said, “You have no reason not to trust Jesus.” Amen.
Best advice you’ve ever received as a writer? This conversation wasn’t necessarily about writing, but I will never forget this wisdom that Dorian Coover-Cox shared with me: Ski the snow in front of you.
The best thing about having kids? Walking around all day wide-eyed by the fact that God chose you to shepherd these little image bearers. And baby slobber-kisses and big kid hugs are really great, too.
What advice would you give to new mothers who are struggling to find time to pray? Call a friend and ask if you can pray together on the phone. This does a few things for you—you get to pray, the isolation barrier is broken for at least two people, and you’ve got the potential for further prayer partnering.
How has being embraced by the love of Christ changed everything for you? Jesus has given you a role to play in his cosmic drama, and you don’t have an understudy! So there’s no time like the present to remind yourself of God’s grand plan for redemption. When I lose sight of God’s plan, Ephesians has taught me how to stop whatever it is I am doing and see the big picture: all things united in Christ. Ephesians teaches me how to live in light of the reality of the spiritual blessings I have in Christ. We need to know how embraced by the love of Christ changes everything—literally everything.