This is a slightly different post topic for me, but I felt inspired and compelled to do so, thanks to the talented Rachel Giesel.
It’s a semi-awkward, slightly-humorous, almost unwritten requirement that every ‘writer’ at some point publish their, “Why I Write” essay. Just ask George Orwell. Or Stephen King. Or Ernest Hemingway. Or any English major for that matter.
I am an outlandishly far cry away from their level and have no intention of inferring otherwise, but in any case, something about writing conjures up thoughts about the act of writing itself.
The way words manage to produce a collision between our fears and desires, our sources of hope and anger, our light, and our darkness; all of which feels much too vulnerable to continue uncovering at times.
The way sentence structure and the perfect medley of diction can unearth deep-seated dreams that tug on our heart strings and physically create tension in our bodies when gone unexpressed.
At best, writing creates all the right kinds of emotions within us, igniting that internal fire and remembering why we do so many of the things we do in the first place. At worst, it incites paralysis, causing us to feel caged to the complexities and intricacies of our own minds, fearful of them, yet also unable to turn away.
The act of writing, the practice of communication, the existence of language – it’s so deeply embedded into everything we do. So much so, that we’re incapable of functioning without it.
We all so desperately want to be understood. To be heard. To be known.
These days we cannot go a day without screens, let alone a day without words. Words connect, they relate, they rebuke, they transform, they speak life. They’re a sharp sword to play with because once articulated, they’re hard to take back.
We can speak new ones, but it’s like splattering second and third coats of paint. You can no longer see the primer, but it’s still there. It thickens. It hardens. It produces layers and layers of memories. Some wonderful, blissful even. Others hurtful, even haunting. They’re hard to forget.
Words are contractual, binding and even covenant forming. Only in modern society has there been a need to create agreements beyond the spoken word. Flash forward to today where we flippantly plaster the world wide web with every little thought and activity, opinion and memory – all in written form.
Sometimes when I think about this semi-permanent nature of blogging, social media, & the digital world I get overwhelmed, naked-feeling & scatter-brained. It’s those mornings where I try to consume the entire Internet before breakfast or the nights that I stay up far too late web-browsing that I start second-guessing; asking myself questions like:
Why do I even bother writing? What if somebody doesn’t like what I have to say? What if somebody doesn’t approve of how I do it? What if I’m misunderstood? What if it’s not any good? Who am I doing it for? What if it goes unnoticed? What if I’m just plain wrong?
Over-thinking. Self-doubt. Comparison.
Quite often this analytical sickness of perfectionism pulls up a seat next to me at my keyboard and just hovers. It taunts with every keystroke and laughs the loudest before I resolve to hit “publish” anyway. The self-doubt anyone who attempts to create something from nothing experiences is exhausting, anxiety-producing and enough to make even the most talented of these want to quit.
And yet, on any given day I’ll still feel myself in such a state of flurry and urgency until the click of a keyboard can be found under my fingertips, pouring out like a broken dam. Time and time again I’ve been sucker punched with a command that’s as subtle as it is strong that says,
It’s simple. It’s clear. It’s profound.
I then think of how anytime Jesus was given a word from his Heavenly Father, he didn’t ask questions, he didn’t ask for all the details. He checked his heart and he did what he was told. So no matter how many times I think, “God, why do I feel this constant pull to put words to paper [err…screen]? What is the point?”
He then reminds me that He planted the desire and doesn’t need me to fully comprehend it. Plain and simple,
I write because I hear more of His voice and less of mine when I do.
For it is obedience – not necessarily understanding that is an open door to His heart. We don’t always have to have a master plan. We just have to get started. We just have to do what burns within our hearts as we feel led to do it.
And if today it’s writing, then I will write.
I could never say it better than the great Flannery O’Connor who stated,
“ I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
So whether you’d ever consider yourself a ‘writer’ or not (it’s taken me years to do so and I still feel unqualified for the title) – you are a writer in your own right. Words are weaponry and writing is a gift in the most divine sense whether it’s your profession, your hobby or that thing you hated doing in college (and still do).
Make no mistake, for it’s not by chance that the ultimate truth of our world on Earth is recorded, documented, preserved, and revered in the 807,000+ words of the Holy Bible.
We might think it is, and we are even guilty of it at times, but maybe true writing isn’t vanity – or egoism (no offense to Orwell) after all. Call me näive, tell me I’m in denial, but I find it to be vulnerable, cathartic, compelling, uniting, and even an essential act of worship – for His glory.
For nothing is new under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 1:9]
So, honestly, you could even say these words aren’t really “mine”. I wrote them, yes, but they’re always the same heart cry from a soul who knows where it belongs but isn’t quite there yet. Words from a creative, in communion with its Creator.
In this life, writing is simply like stumbling and journeying along, holding a light for one another through the dark places. At the end of the day – (or at the ‘end of the page’ for our purposes here),
“We’re all just walking each other home.” [Ram Dass]
If it takes the act of writing for me to experience that epiphany, then yes, that is precisely why I write.