Over the years, I’ve heard many writers say they write because they can’t help it. It is like they are under some kind of spell, a curse that makes them write even if they do not want to. It sounds like a harmless explanation with a poetic ring to it.
However, I have discovered it may not be so harmless after all and on top of that, there is a much better way for a writer to think about his or her own writing.
I don’t know many people who are crazy about their jobs. Not only that, I don’t know many writers who enjoy the process of writing. I mean, that’s hard work!
“That’s why I’ve often said that it isn’t writing I enjoy; its “having written.” “
-Jerry B. Jenkins, NYTimes Bestselling author
Many times I have come across other Christians who have this notion that work is part of the curse. Have you ever read what God told Adam after they ate of the forbidden fruit?
“…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life… By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground” (Genesis 3:17, 19).
Yup, sounds like a curse to me. However, if you’re also one of those who think work is awful and ideally shouldn’t be part of one’s lifestyle, check this out.
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15).
I’ve read this SO MANY TIMES until it occurred to me, Wait a minute. Adam was told to work before he was cursed. In the ideal world that God created, man was made with work in mind.
So if I had to put the two together, I would say that fruitless, pointless, vain, torturous work and labor are part of the curse. Work in itself is an important part of the human experience.
That brings me back to writing, the hardest work I get to do these days. When I think of writing as a curse, I’m implying certain things.
- it is the “necessary evil” to telling the story, getting published
- this is not the enjoyable part of being a writer
- I have limited control over my writing process
- improving at it is not a high priority (it’s a curse, after all)
These not only suck the pleasure out of writing itself, but also make it more difficult to convince myself I need to improve. I know I must grow and write better stories, but it is not my primary concern. When I browse Writer’s Digest or other literary websites, I’m looking for things like ‘how can I promote myself,‘ ‘how to get an agent,‘ ‘how to get published,’ and ‘how to make it as a writer.’
I have it all backwards! I’m focusing on all the wrong things.
What good would it be to sell a million copies of poorly written books that do not inspire readers to anything meaningful?
I’m coming to realize that my understanding of the nature of writing must change. I will not be writing for long if I don’t get past the notion that this is the worst part and that all good things will come after my manuscript is complete. No. No, no, no. That’s like begging for a speedy burnout.
When I think of writing as a calling, I’m also implying certain things.
- it is a gift
- it is a good thing (writing is a good thing! It’s not all about being a famous author!)
- it is my responsibility to cultivate it and make the most of it
- it has a purpose and I am meant to succeed
Armed with that kind of thinking, it will be hard to go wrong!