Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2)
Who has influenced your life through the written word? Maybe contemporary writers—Dallas Willard, C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Lee Stobel, Max Lucado. Maybe writers from the past—Luther, Augustine, Calvin, Wesley.
Whoever they might be, few of us would be where we are in our walk with the Lord without the written encouragement and teachings of those who have gone before us in writing about our faith. Do you feel that you might be called to join in this "cloud of witnesses" in Christian writing? If so, and if you aren't producing the communications on paper or online that you feel you should, what are you waiting for?
With your computer, you have on your desk the tools to produce everything from pamphlets to newsletters; blogs to books. With the web you have on-demand printing and distribution systems necessary to get it to readers anywhere in the world. You don't need the permission and support of national publishing companies to produce materials to teach and encourage your brothers and sisters in the faith.However, to actually make your writing dreams result in tangible products. . . . .
You may need to get rid of a few misconceptions about writing:
Often, it isn't fun—actually finishing a writing project, that is. It's fun to think about it. It's fun to plan, fun to imagine what it will be like when it's done. Fun to fantasize about being a writer or blogger. The work of drafts, rewriting, and publication itself, is often not fun.
I sometimes hear the phrase, "If it isn't fun, why do it?" Obedience to the call of God is only one of many answers to that inane, foolish question. Whether writing is fun or not has absolutely nothing to do with whether God is calling you do to it. If the fun quotient is the determiner for if you write or not, you will most likely produce little of lasting value.
You'll never have the time to do it. You'll probably never be able to take off for a month to a secluded cabin to finally get done the writing you want to. You will always have to fearlessly carve out the time out of a schedule that already seems too full.
You'll never be rested enough to do it. If you're involved in ministry and have something to share, writing isn't what will be first on your list when you get some rare time off. But, if you are called to write, be warned that the Lord will often not allow you to rest until you create what he has called you to create. You aren't alone--at a writer's conference many years ago, Anne Ortland shared that much of the significant work done for the Lord was done by very tired people and I've remembered her words through many late-night writing times. Most likely as you create the publications you need to create, be aware that obedience to that calling may not energize you, it may exhaust you. Keep writing anyway.
You'll never feel good enough to do it. Study your craft. Do your best; edit, rewrite, revise--but don't wait until you feel "good enough." Most writers experience self-doubt that has little to do with the true condition of their work. Here's one:
If only I could do this book properly. . . But I am assailed with my own ignorance and inability . . . . I didn’t work then or all week. …Hope to lose some of the frantic quality in my mind now. Can’t organize. … I’m jumpy. …Don’t know who will publish my book. Don’t know at all. . . . . .This book has become a misery to me because of my inadequacy.
notes from John Steinbeck's journal as he was finishing The Grapes of Wrath
This advice is not intended to encourage self-delusion. Get the advice of friends, mentors, editors, become objective and if you've done your best get your writing out there and see if the Lord uses it. Remember Satan is the accuser--never listen to him.
If you feel called to write, fix your eyes on Jesus and write. Obedience to him will make all your efforts worth it, fun or not, tired or not, now and forever, in ways your most extravagant dreams of being a writer cannot imagine.
Please share your thoughts, comments, questions!