If you’ve ever had to write something but felt you couldn’t because of writer’s block, don’t complain to writing instructor Mark Wainwright (Commercial Writing, ’99). He simply doesn’t believe in that excuse!
In fact, when teaching Creative Writing, he sometimes brings a 4-inch cube of wood with him to class, the words “Writer’s Block” inscribed in the grain. “If you’ve got writer’s block,” Wainwright exclaims, “take it and chuck it out of your life!” He then demonstrates this concept by opening the classroom door and flinging the “writer’s block” down the hallway. Students chuckle, but the lesson remains vivid in their memories.
For the past two years, Wainwright has been enthusiastically helping college students improve their writing abilities as well as their understanding of the publishing field. However, being a teacher wasn’t always Wainwright’s career focus. For eighteen years, he worked in the publishing industry, helping authors around the globe communicate. Now he has a new focus—to train young writers to step up in the publishing community, just as others taught him.
Wainwright grew up around books. With a dad who worked for Christian Booksellers Association, Wainwright regularly met authors, editors, and industry leaders. However, it wasn’t until living overseas that he discovered a love for writing as he chronicled his adventures as a missionary kid. Coming to PCC to learn about writing seemed only natural, and Wainwright made the most of his time here.
“When I was a freshman, my PCC English teacher Mrs. Thompson said that she appreciated my writing style and wondered if I’d be interested in using my editorial skills within the Abeka Publishing Office,” Wainwright explained. “That simple word of encouragement taught me the value of believing in people and helping them to honor Christ with their gifts.” Through that conversation, Wainwright did get a job working in Abeka publishing. It was there that he gained valuable experience working as a writer and textbook editor for three-and-a-half years.
After graduating with his undergraduate degree, Wainwright continued his education by earning a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in writing. In 2002, shortly after finishing his master’s, he took a position as publications manager for Christian Books Melanesia, the largest Christian publisher in Papua New Guinea. In this position, he helped develop more than one hundred publications focused on God’s Word and Christian growth.
When Wainwright returned to the States in 2004, he began working as publications coordinator at Emmaus International, a Christian publisher that specializes in books and Bible study courses. After showing himself to be an excellent editor, he was promoted to publications and communications director. In this role, he managed all editorial content and marketing activities. While at Emmaus, Wainwright helped develop and publish over five hundred books and resources. These materials have been translated into nearly ninety languages and have been used in over one hundred countries.
But after working with authors for thirteen years, Wainwright recognized that only a few of his published authors were under forty years old. Although he tried to find younger authors who could meaningfully connect with today’s younger generation, those writers were noticeably absent. “Some younger writers had interesting book ideas,” says Wainwright, “but they lacked the ability to develop their thoughts in a cohesive structure. They lacked the grammatical foundation and literary training to follow through with their ideas.”
When a faculty position at PCC opened in 2017, Wainwright recognized that the timing wasn’t coincidental. The Lord was directing him to invest in a younger generation who could continue positively influencing lives through print and digital resources.
“Leaving the publishing field was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I absolutely loved editing books and Bible studies. Over 1.4 million of these Christian-living resources are still distributed each year. But I knew that this was the next chapter of my life.”
Wainwright now teaches a variety of courses at the College, including Creative Writing, Grammar and Composition, and Copywriting. He also teaches upper-level courses for the Professional Writing (formerly Commercial Writing) program such as Writing for Publication and Advanced Copy Editing (formerly Copy Editing II), the class which edits the stories for Fountains.
With his knowledge about the publication process, Wainwright has taken Advanced Copy Editing and Writing for Publication to new levels, adding in lectures about freelance editing, web writing, and working with authors. His instruction is sprinkled with real-life experiences that his students can learn from. During class, his students laugh and take notes, thoroughly engaged in the stories and principles he shares.
I enjoy telling my students stories about my publishing career and key lessons I’ve learned through the editorial process. These stories illustrate not only how to grow as writers and editors, but also how to develop a team mentality that will help them as they search for employment as copywriters, editors, journalists, or in any field that the Lord leads.
In addition to teaching writing classes, Wainwright is also a faculty advisor for professional writing students. In this role, Wainwright works one on one with these students to help them stay on track in their major, explore career options, and brainstorm ways of gaining writing credentials even before they finish their degree.
Throughout all his teaching responsibilities, Wainwright remains passionate about training young people to write for the glory of God. He encourages his professional writing students to courageously engage and positively influence their communities—and even people across the world—through the power of writing.