Flannery O’Connor writes it well: “I write because I don’t know what I think until read what I write”
The writing process is different for many people. What remains across the board in the literary world is this: writing is hard. Sure, you can write a quick story or come up with a quick rhyme, but writing is a process requiring re-writing, second guessing, and a sea of rejection. If you can stay afloat, it is all worth it. In one of my first college English classes my professor said, “writing is a process of discovery.” This made a whole world of sense to me. The piece being written comes together with a mind of its own while the writer keeps the pen in hand.
Still, writers block is real.
I still remember the oval frame holding Mercy Otis Warren’s picture. Her silky blue dress puffed out and her graceful hand held a flower. She was a fighter during the American Revolution. But she did not fight with a sword, she fought with a pen:
“The study of the human character opens at once a beautiful and a deformed picture of the soul.”
In fifth grade when I read her story in a U.S. history text book my purpose for writing was forever changed. It was so much more than words on pages, it was war. It has power. It is a window into the souls of humans and documentation of their humanity. It is not a fight against flesh and blood but one of powers and principalities.
Here I am today typing away. There are certainly areas I have grown in, but writing takes a lifetime. I will always feel an urge to improve. Especially because my words are imperfect, like me.
I remember writing as young as 6 years old. I wrote a story about a bear on a piece of purple construction paper cut into the shape of a mitten. Fast forward 13 years and I was in college taking my first writing workshop. I dropped the course two weeks before the end because it broke me.
Words are made from heart and energy. They are an expression of our thoughts and emotions, the contents of our mind and soul. Sharing those intimate words was a vulnerable process. I couldn’t eat and I began losing hair because of the stress. Fortunately, I have matured a few inches since then. I wouldn’t be sharing this with you if I hadn’t moved passed the pain of my words getting ripped apart.
Before they were sounds, words were symbols. Throughout time language has morphed into new meanings. Just look at the diversity of language around the world:
These are just a few words for bread.
Words create existence. They mold the matter around us. In just one breath a man was made.
Sometimes one blog post takes me five hours. First, I think, then I write, then I trash what I write and write some more. After reworking the original idea, I sometimes go through 8 or more drafts. The bear of people pleasing rises inside, scaring my real, raw, and little voice. Sometimes it’s a fight getting one word down on the page.
But, I know that all this toil is not for not. There is some reason why I am doing this thing we call writing. In the end, it may just be for me and God, but I sure do hope a few other people are moved by the power of what I write.
P.S. God has a lot to say about writing and the power of words:
Psalm 45:1 “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”
Isaiah 55 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Jeremiah 30:2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.”
Deuteronomy 6:9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Jeremiah 31:33 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Hebrew 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”