Over the past few weeks writing has been tough. I don’t think this is anything more than the natural ebb and flow of the writer’s life—there are moments where the words come easily and moments where they seem locked inside. Recently, they have seemed locked within my mind, so even though I’ve got ideas, it has been tough to express them with clarity and insight. This has prompted me to consider why it is that I love to write and why it is that you may benefit from trying your hand at writing as well.
It puts your gifts and talents to use. God distributes different gifts and talents to different people and does so with the expectation that both will be used for the good of others and the glory of God. (Let’s distinguish talents as those skills that seem to be innate and are then fostered through practice and gifts as the spiritual gifts God distributes to his people.) The best writing seems to come from those who have developed their talent in writing and then fostered the gift of teaching. Put together, they are a valuable means of serving other believers. But how can you know if you’ve got such talent and gifting if you won’t try? So consider giving writing a try. Try to write something every day for a week or a month and just see what happens.
Writing helps you think. In all of life we bring order from chaos. This was true of humanity when God gave us our orders—we were to expand the order that was within the Garden of Eden so it extended across the world. This is true of the Great Commission—we are to reach into the chaotic mass of humanity with the gospel. This is true of sanctification—we bring godly order from the Satanic chaos of our lives. This is true even now of our minds which in their natural state are disordered and chaotic. Writing will help you order your thoughts. It will help you bring them to a logical, true, and orderly form. I speak for many writers when I say that I don’t know what I think until I write about it. William Zinsser expresses this well: “Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other. It’s impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English.” Write to clarify your thinking.
Writing gives you influence. Writing allows you to have influence, at least when you share what you have written. This can be dangerous, of course, because not everyone is worthy of having an influence and not everyone can serve as a good influence. Evil people use words to influence, but so do people who mean to honor God. You can use your words to influence others toward godliness, whether that is the people in your home, the people in your church, or people around the world.
Writing promotes humility. At least, it should. When you set out to write, you’ll soon find that a realistic assessment of your efforts leads you to conclude that you’re not nearly as good at it as you thought. This is especially true when you send your writing to an editor to gain his or her feedback. You’ll have to realize how little insight you have into yourself and your own words, that what you were convinced was nearly perfect was actually illogical or riddled with errors. Like all of us, you need to grow in humility, and writing has a way of promoting that precious trait.
Writing helps you grow in godliness. None of us is as godly as we ought to be or as godly as we’d like to be. Each of us longs to be godlier than we are. And in its own way, writing promotes godliness. It does this, of course, by engaging your gifts and talents, by helping you think, and by fostering humility. But it also does this by prompting you to go deeper and deeper into truth. When you begin to write you may deal with issues in only a cursory way, but as you write more, and return to your favorite topics, you’ll find that you need to go beyond the surface. Your first article about the atonement may be simple or even simplistic, but by your fifteenth or twentieth, you’ll have to ponder and express truth in a more substantial way. Speaking personally, I can attest that few disciplines have been as important to me in my spiritual growth as the discipline of writing.
Writing is (or can be) pleasurable. Writing can be a great source of pleasure. In the movie Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell famously says that when he runs he feels God’s pleasure. But most runners would attest that they had to run for a long time and practice hard before running became pleasurable. Many writers can attest that when they write they feel God’s pleasure. Usually for them, too, it took some practice. But as they grew in their skill and confidence, as they grew in godliness and humility, writing transformed from a slog to a joy. It became a source of great pleasure before the Lord.
So with all that in mind, I’ll get back to writing. And maybe you can consider giving it a shot as well.