Valuable Lessons Learned from Writing #IWSG

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and
concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who
 have been through the fire can offer assistance
and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
This is my first month participating in The Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This month's question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?


I started writing when I was five. My mom (or maybe Santa Claus) gave me a diary for Christmas. It's blue with pink bunnies. I still have it as I think I've yet to throw away anything I've ever written.

By fifth grade, I'd won a poetry contest. My teacher, much maligned as the old battle ax that no one really wanted, encouraged creative writing. She was a great teacher for me, proving my mom's decision not to request the nicer teacher was the right call. I participated in Ms. Guzowski's writer's workshop with an ongoing saga about a group of girls at a slumber party that were being attacked by some unknown intruder. Eventually the girls were forced onto the porch roof in the rain. I still don't know what happened to them or why my first real fiction story was quasi-horror. I have an intense dislike for suspense and horror stories. Maybe I was playing to my audience of fifth grade boys.

By my late teens, I'd decided to write the great American novel. My attempts were stymied by a lack of original thought. I wrote a handful of magazine articles, briefly held a job at a PR firm, and kept filling those diaries. Eventually, I had a life experience and wrote my book.

All told, I've been writing creatively for 32 years. I've learned lots of valuable rules, most of which have been broken by the Internet. It was only recently I learned what I've come to appreciate as the most valuable lesson about writing:

There doesn't need to be a reason for it.


Now Ms. Guzowski would surely disagree (if she's still alive) and many of my readers will argue that there's always an objective when communicating via the written word. I spent many years with my book on a shelf as I tried to figure out why I should publish it. Would it make the world a better place? Did it have a message that would help someone? Was it at least entertaining?

In the midst of my decision to go through with a final edit and publishing, I came upon a devotional in my Bible app, C.S. Lewis and the Call to Create. I adore C.S. Lewis, so the brevity of the reading (only four days) was disappointing. On day two, I found a bit of inspiration that gave me the momentary confidence needed to publish my book.

"[T]he gospel frees us to create for the pure joy of creating, not seeking fortune or fame, but the fame of the One who has called us to create."

To simplify: why write a book? Because we can!

The pressure to succeed in some worldly way is removed. I have an answer now for all those questions I could never really articulate a response to. Why do I write? Why do I keep my house clean and plant flowers and wash my car? Why do I teach Sunday School and lead Girl Scouts? Why do I do my best? Because it brings me joy and honors God.

Blam.

It's a valuable life/writing lesson that will surely need to be re-learned each time I check the sales stats on my book. We're lured by fortune and fame as surely as we are called to create, but the creativity is the gift, commercially unsuccessful though it may be.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10



18 comments:

  1. This is a lesson I couldn't agree with more! Our writing beginnings are very similar, I started very young with a diary and a tough teacher. We have to love the creating part and use the talent we were blessed with. That said I don't think God has a problem with us desiring financial or spiritual success as a result of our writing.
    We are so happy to have you join us for #IWSG DAY!

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    1. Those old diaries are adorable to re-read. I recently gave my daughter the one I kept in sixth grade. She was excited about it until she got halfway through the year and found that my life was utterly boring. "All you're writing about is what you ate for dinner!" In my defense there are some riveting passages about what I watched on tv and a boy I liked at school.

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  2. The passion and enjoyment of it is the best reason to pursue it! Keep writing, because you can and it brings you joy. :) Grats on your release, and welcome to the IWSG.

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  3. Congrats on release. I write because I can and I must and everything else is a bonus. Enjoyed the post.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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    1. Thanks! I hope you have many of those bonuses to enjoy!

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  4. It is amazing what a committed teacher can do. Kudos for finding one!

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    1. I think my mom is pretty stoked that it worked out for me. None of my friends were in that class because their parents requested the other teacher. So it was lonely, but productive!

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  5. Write a book because we want to use God's gift! That works for me.
    Welcome to the IWSG.

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    1. Thanks for hosting IWSG. It's comforting to know I'm not alone in my insecurities!

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  6. Very well said. The best reason to write is because you enjoy it. If you approach it as a money plan, you're doomed to fail. Welcome to the IWSG!

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    1. Now to develop a money plan.... Any ideas?

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  7. It's always good to stick with the tough teachers, the ones that challenge you to become your best. Congrats on publishing and finding a reason (i.e. to please God, to bring joy into your life) to publish. :)

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    1. The other teacher was on maternity leave for most of the year. So mom's decision worked in multiple fronts. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I think the goal of all communication is to interact with others...even when we're writing a book, it's a form of connection. It's how one mind connects to another, even if it's just entertainment. But yes, we have to write for ourselves first.

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    1. I've been thinking abou this comment for days because it has challenged my perception of myself. I feel comfortable as a loner. I have my immediate family, but I'd easily tell myself we don't need anyone outside the three of us. But maybe I am writing to connect to people outside my small circle. It's an interesting theory!

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  9. I second Stephanie's comment above. I'm glad you were able to find the courage and conviction to publish your book.

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Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback.