Why I Write

I am an author. This is usually not a curable condition. Like preaching, writing is a call I can’t shake. In my eighth grade school newspaper, I listed “journalist” as my future profession. Close enough. There’s a fire in my belly, a burden from the Lord, and I can’t get away from it. I can’t do anything else and see myself happy.

Why write?

I write because ideas come packed in words, and ideas change the world. With words, God spoke the starry cosmos into existence. With words, he created the magic that is life. And with words, his story is kept alive in this crazy, morally broken cosmos diabolicus. Words in harmony with divine truth are packages for the power of God.

I write because one day I’ll be gone and my kids will still be here. My written words will remain as letters to them and their children’s children — a time-travelling message into the future from my heart to theirs.

I write because truth has set (and is setting) me free, and I want everyone to know the joy I have found in Christ. My books are my message  and my message is my story. In a sense, everything I write and teach is autobiographical. It is God’s Word filtered through this needy man’s experience.

I write because the whole world needs Jesus Christ. Writing lets me join the everlasting choir singing throughout the world the song of God’s Good News.

I write because a good sentence is a thing of beauty. With the MGM lion, my banner could read, “Ars gratia artis” (Art for the sake of art). The art of words offers on earth a dim reflection of heaven’s beauties. Like cars on a freight train, sentences come together to carry the freight of big ideas of divine love to a lost and needy world.

I admit there’s another side to writing, perhaps not so exalted. But it must be said:

I write for money. Someone has calculated the typical payback about about $1 per hour, and that seems right. Unless God flips some heavenly switches my way, I’ll never get rich by it. I’ll soon receive a contract for my fourth book (hooray!), and together, between the four books, I can maybe buy a decent used car. But there it is: I get some money for writing, and I’m grateful.

I write for respect. Just the title, author, carries a weight of honor that I’ll admit is pretty motivational for me. With my first book, I obsessively tracked my Amazon ranking almost hourly, until I realized how little it means. Now, I’m much more relaxed about that stuff. A best seller status would be nice. Even so, to call myself a a published author is pretty cool — an undeserved blessing from God.

One more:

I write because I can. I look back on years of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew studies, and the torture of diagramming sentences… and now I am grateful for it all. I realize God was preparing me for a life of words — of grammar and syntax and vocabulary — and I have a stewardship of that gift. When I write, I get into a zone, like a runner’s second wind. It’s magical. Whatever investments God has poured into me, I pour back to him in humility and thanks and on the printed or digital page.

That’s why I write.

Why do you write?

My third book, Secrets to a Happy Life (Bethany House Publishers), comes out June 15. I’m so excited… and I hope and pray it’s a huge blessing to lots of readers. You can find out more here: http://www.secretstoahappylife.org


15 thoughts on “Why I Write

  1. I write because my brain gets really cramped with ideas otherwise. Pen to paper is a sure-fire way of working them out. Despite the fact that libraries have been written about God’s character and nature, there is still much to explore. Most ideas go nowhere, however, the exercise is great discipline.

  2. So, how do you write if you love to write, want to write, are a good writer, but don’t know what to write?

    • To clarify, I did start a blog with my daughter and loved writing for it, but when she dropped out, quickly found that it wasn’t the best topic for me. When I did write for it, though, the words flowed! I have to admit that my ego enjoyed seeing my words in print. That’s a heady experience.

    • That is a great question… I’d love to hear what others say on this. I think it’s worth writing whatever’s on your heart, or whatever is big or funny or scary for you right now.

  3. I write because it’s my language. Not simply in the linguistic sense, but in the sense which needs no further explanation to any artistic soul who has found their medium.

    It’s how I process the world when speaking won’t do.

    In the moments of stark and vulnerable honesty, when I’m at my most genuine, it’s how I would fill my days were money off the table.

  4. This link was passed on to me by a book reader friend. I think I write for many of the same reasons. The challenge is that I fall into the pit of finding/searching self gratification in my 0wn writing rather than an opportunity of service. Writing IS a service. It’s a service to the reader, and if done faithfully, it’s a service to God.

    I’m currently in the Amazon-stats-obsessing stage, but I feel the inkling of it shaking off right now because I need to get back to writing and back to the next book.

    I’m glad I discovered this post, and I’ll be tweeting about it shortly…


    • I really like the idea of writing being a service to both the reader and to God. And yes, the danger of self-gratification is ever-present. It reminds me of the singing shows, like American Idol and the Voice. Why do you sing? “Because I’ve always dreamed of being famous.” Ugh. Or, “Because I really want to show America what I can do.” And that helps me how? Great comment. Thank you, Michel.

      • My pleasure, and thanks for responding. I just wrote a blog post on my website and scheduled it for a later time. I linked back to this article in my own post. I’ll check in again with you again soon!

  5. Pingback: what he said… | Waving a White Flag

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