A lot of writers feel insecure calling themselves writers. Can’t say I haven’t been there. After all, it’s hard to make a living as a writer–always has been. You can’t say, “I’m a writer,” and command the same respect as saying, “I’m a nurse,” because people have a lot of preconceived notions about writers. (Some of which are quite accurate, some of which are true for certain writers, and some of which aren’t true at all.)
But, when it comes down to it, all of that is beside the point. I’m a writer because I write.
And writing is a gift.
I don’t mean that the way we say, “He’s a gifted painter,” or “She’s a talented musician.” I mean, writing is a gift from God, wrapped in the plain brown paper of education and tied with a gorgeous colorful bow of creativity.
This is a gift partly for my enjoyment. Stringing words together in sentences, putting thoughts into coherent text, painting pictures with black marks on white paper, gives me a great deal of joy. (Why do you think I’m so apt to get long-winded, hmm?)
And if I never wrote for anyone except me and God to see, it would still be a precious, delightful gift that never grows dull.
But I do get to write for others to see. I get to try to amuse people, challenge people, encourage people, and bless people. That is a lovely gift. (Granted, I don’t always succeed, and that’s one difficulty of being a writer–we are never perfect, much as we’d like to be. And because we put our imperfections into the semi-permanence of written words, they can sometimes haunt us more strongly.)
Yet when I succeed in writing something people are glad to read, I’m delighted all over again with this gift.
Best of all, I have the opportunity to glorify God with my words. To unveil Him to this world. To capture a tiny facet of His glory. To point others, and myself, to the God who created language in the first place.
Hard to describe how I feel when I think about that. Kind of overwhelmed and kind of disbelieving.
Writing isn’t always a rose-garden gift.
Some days what I write wrings me out and I feel physically tired. Some days the words refuse to come–they feel clunky, they won’t fit, and I erase almost as much as I write.
But the Lord never said our gifts wouldn’t mean work. Contrary to popular belief, work is a good thing.
Then some days this gift feels like a burden.
“I’m not reaching my word-count goals.”
“I can’t say this the way I want to.”
“I can’t find the passion to write this.”
“I can’t get into this character’s head.”
But for me, and I can’t speak for any other writer, I’ve discovered writing becomes a burden when I’m focusing more on the gift than the Giver.
“God, I want to write for you. Why can’t I find the words? Why can’t I write better? How am I going to write all the stories You’ve given me?”
But it’s not about the words. It’s not about perfection. It’s not about what I can do.
It’s really about Him. He gave me a gift, just as surely as if I found it under the Christmas tree one year.
This gift is to push me to Him. To give me joy as I use it under His direction. To challenge me. To serve others. To glorify Him.
God gives us many gifts.
Family. Friends. Pets. Jobs. Possessions. Food. Land. Beauty. Feelings. Knowledge. Music. Skills.
But these are all to point us to Him, to inspire gratitude toward Him, to bring us joy in Him.
The gifts must never be more important than the Giver.
It doesn’t help me to pressure myself, saying, “You must write such and such for God. You must write more words for God’s glory.” But when my relationship with Jesus is in the right place, when there is nothing coming between Him and me, then I can write freely. And even if it’s hard work, it’s satisfying and good.
You can’t brag about a gift. (Well, you can, but it’s silly because you didn’t acquire it through any merit of your own.) But you can make use of a gift. You can revel in it. And you can talk about the goodness of the Giver whenever you get the chance.