On The Costs of Writing

Writing is work. Good writing takes effort. Great writing is difficult.

And it has a price.

Now obviously the first cost consideration is time. The clock does not stop while one’s fingers rush across the keypad. On the contrary, the minutes seem to pass all too quickly; writing rips time from the author’s grasp. While an author intends to sit for a 60-minute session before doing x,y, or z, he finds himself three hours later wondering just what happened to his afternoon or evening. He lost track of it, of course; and it was the rhythms of his work that made him do so.

Beyond time, however, the writer also has the issues of x,y, and z not being done because of the effort and energy it takes to put the words on the page. For our purposes, let’s consider ‘x’ to be hobbies, ‘y’ to be fitness, and ‘z’ to be sleep. For most writers, the act of giving birth to their ideas costs one if not all of these. Sure, an organized person might fit all the pieces into the puzzle of work-life balance, but I have witnessed that most writers (if not all serious creators) must write at the expense of something else. To be fair, fitness is usually the first casualty, with sleep coming in second. We writers do often find the time for some beloved hobby, but we often forego some amount of pleasure or entertainment because the writing takes priority.

And yet the cost of these other “goods” as well as time are merely two costs incurred by the author. A final one must be recognized: the cost of self. Now, granted, not all writers aim to convey goodness, truth, or beauty, but for those who do, it is not easy. The author must reveal herself in order to be honest, or she must surrender herself to beauty to understand it, or or she must hold herself to goodness if she desires to instill it in others (or else, she is a hypocrite). The mindful writer reaching toward excellence must pour out of her very soul, oftentimes without any promise of reward.

Few writers over the course of human history have actually parlayed their skill into a career. Most of us try and scrap and give only to be either wholly ignored or quickly forgotten. We want to entertain or to engage or to inspire, but few of us get the chance to do so beyond a handful of others with whom we have a connection beyond our written works. We pay the price for the reward of having written. We spend our time alone, miss other “goods”, and find ourselves exhausted from striving. We count the cost and still feel it worthwhile in hopes of reaching another human being with our work, in hopes of improving another life in some small way through what we do. We open ourselves to disappointment, to rejection, perhaps even hatred.

So what does that have to do with worship?

Well, nothing for a great many writers yet everything to a few. To worship is to praise God and to give him something of ourselves–our song, our time, and our attention. We worship when we make him the focus of our actions. We worship when we give the time, forfeit the sleep, and surrender to beauty in order to convey God’s glory. This is writing as praise: to draft or revise that book, blog, or script we feel led to complete for God’s glory, even though doing so costs us something else.

So keep typing, author. Keep writing those pages. Tell God they are his and strive to make them beautiful and true and good.

Count the cost, carry on, and worship well by writing well.

About C.J.:
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