I haven’t posted a writing quote in a while, but read one a couple of days ago that’s absolutely perfect for many of us who keep plugging away on our articles, books, blog posts, and more. It’s courtesy of a man named Lewis Greer who’s also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. He included it as part of his response to a lesson in our online class this month – and I loved it so much I had to ask if I could steal it. He was nice enough to say yes. 🙂
Lewis wrote, “I have only a limited idea as to how God will use what I write, but I know He will not be able to use it if it is not written.”
This is good for me any day, but especially on those days when I have the ideas in my head but don’t sit down and write because I have “real work” to do … or I need to buy groceries … or the kids have piano lessons … or I’m just too tired … or … or … or. You get the idea.
The thing I need to remember is that these ideas and stories and characters that clutter my mind didn’t come from me. The desire to write fiction didn’t come from me. And the reason I’m doing it – isn’t for me.
For whatever reason only He knows, God has called me to write. Sure, I spend my days writing things for work that help pay the bills. But He’s also called me to write other things that might help someone’s heart.
A little girl who feels overlooked and ignored.
A middle school girl who’s trying to figure out how Sunday school faith works in the real world.
I don’t know who I’m ultimately writing for, but God does – and that’s what counts. I think I’m going to add Lewis’s quote to the collection over my computer to help keep me going on those tired/crazy/overloaded days when it’s easy to shove my writing aside. Maybe it’ll help me remember Who I’m doing this for in the first place.
But how about you? Even if you’re not a writer, I think just changing a word or two in what Lewis said makes it apply to everyone. How about, “I only have a limited idea of how God will use what I [do/say/teach], but I know He will not be able to use it if it is not done.” What do you think?
“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.” — Catherine D. Bowen, American author, 1897-1973
Finding the right word. Isn’t that what every writer strives for? It’s why we write and rewrite and rewrite again — because we want to say it perfectly. A paragraph can always be tweaked, a sentence can always be strengthened, a word can always be more vivid.
I’ll admit, finding those right words is sometimes my biggest struggle as a writer. I admire those who whiz through getting what they call “the bones” of a story down just to have all the ideas on paper, and then go back to flesh it all out. I’m in awe of those who can knock out the first draft of a novel in 30 days or less.
It’s hard for me. Maybe that’s because I still have so much to learn. Maybe that’s because I have a semi-perfectionist streak lurking just beneath the surface. Maybe that’s because I’m an editor in my “real world” job and just can make that side of my brain hush for more than a few minutes at a time.
But when I can … it’s a beautiful thing. 🙂 Words can hurt or heal, bind up or free, take readers to heights or depths they’ve never imagined. A perfectly placed word can make all the difference in how someone understands or responds to our work and its message. A perfectly placed word clarifies the picture our reader already has in his mind. A perfectly placed word fits in so seamlessly that the reader can’t imagine another word in its place. Neither can the writer.
Can I say it again? Having the right word — and knowing it’s the right word in exactly the right spot — is a beautiful thing. For the writer, the reader, and even for God when we’re writing to honor Him.
“The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.”
Novelist John Irving (1942-)
One of my biggest challenges as an aspiring novelist is finding the time to write enough to seem like I’ve actually made progress. I’ll admit that the jealousy bug sometimes bites when I hear of (or read about) people whose job it is to write — and on their novel or short stories or self-help book, not something their boss tells them to do. Yes, I write every day — because that’s my job. It’s a good job and allows me to work from home and helps me sharpen some skills. Those are good things, but it’s still a long way from Novel Land.
I would love to have even one solid hour a day to work on my novel (see, I don’t ask for much!). Some days that happens, but I can’t always count on it.
So what’s a girl to do? Write in the tiny pockets of time I do have, and be grateful for them. I’ve gone through phases with this, and one of my goals for 2010 is to get back in that mindset — remembering that even a few sentences, even a couple of paragraphs begin to make a difference when I string enough of them together.
I think it comes back to the quote from John Irving. Writers write. Yes, we also plot or invent backstory or lose ourselves in research, but none of it means anything if we don’t actually write. True writers have such a burning desire to write that they do it wherever they are, however they can, in whatever length of time might be available. No matter how much they might try to ignore it or how long they might try to set it aside, the story just won’t go away. That’s the joy I want to capture and keep as I keep on keepin’ on.
I’d love to learn from you. How do you do that in your own writing?
Do you love to write? Maybe feel tempted to give it up sometimes because of frustration but find that you can’t quite leave it alone (or maybe that it won’t leave you alone)? Or maybe know that you’ll just keep writing whether you’re good or not because you can’t imagine not writing? If so, then today’s quote is for you:
It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. (Robert Benchley, 1889-1945)
If you’re an incredibly good writer, then write! If you’re a so-so writer, then write! If you’re a terrible writer but it makes you happy, then write! Just get those stories or poems or songs on the page and enjoy every minute of it.
Have a great week of writing! 🙂