A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an email, told me about a writer who’d lost his way.
I didn’t know his friend. A stranger. Still, I understood. Felt a kinship. Pulled up my chair in his circle. Those of us who write know how discouragement lurks on our edges, just a stone’s throw away.
In response, I sent him a letter, my heartfelt attempt to encourage him to keep at it. After sending it, I read it again, and realized how many times (a year, a week, a day) I need to hear the same. Maybe you, too.
So here’s my letter to Jake (name changed), a writer who isn’t sure why he’s writing anymore. But it’s also my letter to me. And you.
Let’s keep at it.
Hi there, Jake.
My name is Michele. You don’t know me. However, our mutual friend, Mark, tells me you’re a writer.
Knowing my personal experience with writing, my initial inclination is to grab you by the shoulders, look you in the eye, and ask (while shaking you like a pair of maracas):
Why, good man, WHY?
Of course, I jest. Mostly.
I first started writing almost seven years ago. While in the middle of raising my three boys, I kept feeling the tug to write, to capture some of the ideas and revelations bouncing within. From the beginning, I hoped to write a book—dozens of them actually. But I didn’t know the first thing about writing. Nada. Zip.
So I joined a writers group. Asked questions, soaked up conversations, read a stack of books, attended writing conferences. I even started my own blog. Eventually, I learned a thing or two, got my first article published, and then became the Director of said writer’s group. Everything was going splendidly.
Except for that blasted book thing. It kept eluding me, for a variety of reasons. I’m like the Susan Lucci of the book-writing world, for crying out loud.
And, yes. I’ve done that too. Cry out loud.
Last year my second son graduated from high school. With only one child still at home, I planned to start writing my book—er, bookS—in earnest. I wanted to finish my novel, send out a proposal or two, FINALLY do all I’d planned to do.
But then two major interruptions foiled my plans. First, our family went through two massive life changes that significantly changed my at-home responsibilities (READ: almost no writing time). And second, the first publisher I showed my proposal to didn’t like it. In fact, it gets worse. They didn’t like my writing.
I tell you all this for one reason: All these painful lessons finally—FINALLY—brought me to the place I needed to be all along.
In all the struggle of being a writer and doing the actually writing, I stopped writing for ME. I wrote for my ministry, my blog readers, my one-day book readers and the editors and publishers who had the power to decide whether or not the book would ever birth.
No more. Now I write for me. Because somehow, in the writing of words (even when I don’t do it well), I learn something about the Word of Life himself. I see my life from the perspective of the page, and it makes more sense than it did before I wrestled it into print.
If you, as Mark says, are a writer, I can almost guarantee two certainties:
ONE: You will want to quit a hundred times a week. Writing can be one of the most infuriating, frustrating, unrewarding pursuits known to mankind.
And TWO: You can no more NOT write than you can not breathe. When you first started, you were drawn into it almost beyond your will. Quitting, no matter how discouraging it is at this moment, will not sober your need to write. You were made for this.
Write, Jake. Write. It will not be easy. It won’t always be fun. But lean into the adventure. Do it for Him. And do it for you. Even if no one else notices.
I’m in this struggle with you. And that means we’re no longer strangers—we’re friends.
Cheering for you,
What is the reason you write?