Writing is hard

This by Jen Oshman explains so much of how I’ve felt about writing the last few years and annoyingly said better than I ever could.

There are so many good reasons not to write. I mean, do people even read anymore? Everyone has something to say and the internet is a virtual cacophony. Why add to the noise? Especially when writing is hard. And lonely. Is it even worth it?

The Christian writer wrestles with these questions, as all writers do. Indeed, all writers ask themselves these questions at least once in a career, or more likely, at least once a day.

But she’s not done yet, the internal battle is real.

An inner and spiritual war wages in every Christian writer. We swing wildly from self-aggrandizing to self-loathing. One day we think our writing is solid gold. And the next we think it’s garbage and we’re ashamed that anyone ever saw it. We fear the opinions of others. What will they think? we ask over and over inside our heads. Did I offend? Did I come off as too strong? Too weak? Was my theology right? Was my illustration silly? Do I even know what I’m talking about?

The inner war can wage so violently that we are tempted to give up. If the work is hard and lonely and the internet is noisy and the bookshelves at the bookstores are already overflowing, why persist?

Over the past few years there have been countless times I’ve put fingers to keyboard and laboured over an article. Then I read someone else post on the same subject with the same ideas and written with a verve and wit that my own so obviously lacks and I mostly think ‘oh sod it’. I’m also aware that my audience is not especially large and the feedback is often nothing so the easiest thing to do is to ask yourself ‘what’s the point and why bother?’ And I’ve really struggled to find a good answer. As I’ve helped other people write and produce their books, I’ve succumbed to the thought that perhaps the skill or the ability simply isn’t there to write my own. And even if I did, who’d read the thing? I know enough to know that writing a book is hard work and for it to be read by a few kind souls who have taken pity on me, doesn’t seem like a good return on the enormous investment of time and energy. So, I really needed an answer to these questions.

The Christian’s response to “Why write?” is not the same as the non-believer’s. It is not to make a name for oneself, or to become a bestseller, or even necessarily (although perhaps secondarily) to inform or opine or create. The Christian’s response to “Why write?” is stewardship.

Writing is like everything else in life: an opportunity to practice stewardship. The faithful Christian reflects on all areas—birthplace, socioeconomic level, education, home, family, skills and abilities, passions, pain, everything—and asks the Lord, “How would you have me use this?” Specifically, the Christian writer asks, “Lord, how would you have me use my desire to write, my ability to write, the resources you’ve given me to write (time, know-how, a laptop, a platform) in the name of Jesus?

That really helped. It turned everything on its head and reminded me to ‘not do anything out of selfish ambition’ (Philippians 2:3-4) but instead dig into the graft of regular writing as a way of stewarding a desire and willingness to write. I have after all made my living off writing (mine or others) for nearly 20 years now, so it felt like a heavenly word to just ‘get over myself already’.*

New look for the blog

Many of you will be reading this through email, RSS or social media but just in case you feel like actually visiting the site you’ll notice it has a new look. I wrote this after hitting the ten-year mark with this blog and that was nearly three years ago. It’s all still true and this has now become an extensive record of all the things that have caught me eye, found interesting, made me think and nudged me to write.

I’ve got lots more to add so I wanted a them that would allow a visitor to easily discover some of the variety of subjects I touch upon as well as some posts which have now been read thousands of times. If you do take a look, let me know what you think.

*Jen also wrote on a similar theme here.

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