Being a writer is probably one of the single biggest joys a person can have in life. By being a writer you are being a creator. We were created to be in the image of God, and our God is the greatest creative force in the universe. That’s why humanity has this deep need to invent, brainstorm, write, sing, and do any number of creative things. That’s also why I believe writing comes closest to imitating our God than any other creative endeavor, because in writing you get to create entire worlds and races out of nothing but your imagination. And I think the more we strive to create grand and original things, the more God is pleased with us at our human attempts to reflect the very image of God built within us.
What you do as a writer should come from the heart. It should come from the essence of what God created you to be. It should come as an outflow of the image of God inside of you. If writing comes from those places, then you’ll always find your joy and contentment in the way your creative process becomes an act of imitation and worship of God. You don’t have to always write “Christian” things…just write excellent things. Because God created you to be excellent. His creative power runs in your veins. Don’t just be happy about that…be excited about that.
I tell you all of that because even though writing is one of the single most joyful things a person can do, it is also one of the single most frustrating, discouraging, and disappointing things you’ll ever experience.
Sometimes the words don’t go down the way you envisioned. Sometimes you look back and realize just how bad you are at this. It has nothing to do with whether or not you really are bad at writing…all writers look at their stuff and groan, because it’s not always pretty. Sometimes what you write is very, very ugly. It’s okay for it to be ugly, but it’s also very frustrating. It takes a lot of hard work to turn ugly writing into beautiful writing. Doing that may be 90% of what a writer does. So think about that. Ninety percent of being a writer is having to deal with your own ugly and very bad writing, and working hard to force it into something beautiful to read.
You will be frustrated.
Even if you manage to make it something worth reading, there will always be people out there who just don’t like what you’ve done. Humans can be extremely critical, just because they feel like it gives them power. It’s very discouraging to hear someone, who hasn’t spent the hours upon hours toiling like you have, to come in, flex their critical muscles, and just tear you apart.
You will be discouraged.
Assuming the best of circumstances, quick publication, easy editing, favorable critics, you may release your baby into the world and…nothing happens. At least not very much. You may check your book sales or blog stats and find that a measly four people actually read what you slaved over. There’s hardly any money in it…it may never pay your bills. Everyone thinks they can be a writer now. Amazon will publish any drivel someone wants to upload. You have to work almost twice as hard at marketing than you ever did at writing. And people just don’t respect the profession like they used to…if it could even be called a “profession” any more. It’s probably more like a hobby to most people. But no matter how much you try not to get your hopes up about your writing career, you’ll get there and realize it’s not nearly as glamorous as you once thought.
You will be disappointed.
Last week I gave you some quick advice from some writer friends of mine. There was one author I pinged who has had books on the NY Times best seller list, and is one of the most successful writers I communicate with on occasions. He declined to give me advice for you because he has quit writing. In fact, he now works in retail just to pay the bills.
Another rather well-known writer in the Christian market once told me that writing is now the “wild wild west.” He said that he knew a lot of fellow writers who were either quitting or were being dropped by their publishers.
Feeling a little discouraged yet? Good. You need to. Because if you don’t decide right now that you’re going to love writing for the sake of writing and not for some ambition to be a famous writer, then you’ll most likely burn-out and quit. You need to love the craft and the art. You need to love telling stories. You need to love creating something from scratch. You need to love presenting your work to God as a good steward of your talents and your imagination.
If you don’t love those things, then the other stuff will get in the way and ruin it. When you feel frustrated, you can keep going because you love it. When you feel discouraged, you can keep your chin up because you love it. When you feel disappointed, you can push through because you love it.
Ultimately your happiness and joy as a writer comes from your love for writing, not from your success. Don’t hang your identity as a writer on whether or not you become famous, you become rich, or anything like that. If that happens…and there’s always a chance that it could…awesome. I’ll be first in line for your book tour. But if you don’t love writing for the sake of writing, it will stop being fun.
Forget the other stuff. Just learn to have fun as a writer. Love it for all its worth and you’ll be just fine.