What Are you Writing?

I often struggle with what to write and why. I sometimes wonder if others have difficulty with this to the same degree I do. Do they ask themselves why they tweet, comment on Facebook, or post a picture? Do they stop and question what value their action will have?

I inquire as to these things because I feel like I am not nearly as “active” on social media or “productive” on the blog as I should be, and these questions are often the reason. Frankly, my decision to often refrain or at least pause comes not from a desire to withdrawal or a fear of rejection but rather a very simple litmus: is this useful; will this benefit or hinder those who see it? More often than not, I find that my pithy remarks, knee-jerk responses, or banal comments would have no real value to those who encounter them. I’d just be making noise for its own sake (or vainglory, for that matter).

This change in behavior from being constant to dormant came not from any grand event or epiphany; rather it came from engaging the internet on a daily basis. I saw the so-called trolling that occurred and wondered how those guilty of doing so would explain themselves when asked to give an account of their lives. I saw the endless string of humblebrags, self-promotion, and harmful jests, and I considered that I may be part of the problem. I may be another “content producer” that adds nothing real to others’ lives beyond a quick respite from boredom. Ultimately, I decided that in the clamour, I would better serve the kingdom by remaining silent unless my words or thoughts would enhance the ongoing narrative of the world…

But online engagement is just the half of it. In my writing pursuits I’ve been wondering the same.

  • What novel is next?
  • Why?
  • What’s the reason, the purpose, the “good” of my writing it?
  • I am going to expand and  enhance the conversation between man and maker or ignore it?
  • I am going to reflect the goodness, truth,and beauty I know to be in the world?
  • I am writing for the sake or art or commerce, entertainment or validation?

These questions haunt me when I sit and dedicate myself to creative endeavors; however, I think they are worth asking, for these are inquiries for the sake of worship. These thoughts keep the needless chatter and the nonsense at bay, ensuring that I am not “another empty voice” in the ether. Inasmuch as this severely reduces my produced content, I believe these evaluations keep the work honest and, hopefully, humble, for they force me to consider my goal far above my own expression. These questions remind of whose time I am really using and for whose purpose I am doing what I do.

I do not write this to appear more holy; to be sure, I post/share/and waste my words far more than a sage person would, but I waste far fewer than I used to because I create far fewer than I would have previously. And I refrain for the simple purpose that I do not want to make Christ look less because of people seeing me. My goal is clearly the opposite: to write in a way that reveals his goodness and to consider his goodness when writing.

And I find myself yet again at the conclusion: If this is not worship, I question what qualifies.