To a Young Writer: Why You Should Write Even When You Are Afraid

Recently a young writer friend of mine shared on social media how the pressure to write was building inside of her. Building and brewing... she knew something was going to pop out…not yet, but soon.

Words, waiting and pressing.

I understand. Some days it feels as if my chest will explode if I don't sit down and make words happen with my hands. Talking doesn’t release the pressure. Only writing. And half the time I don't even know what words will come. But come they will.

Many writers I know battle fear daily. Perhaps it is because so many writers are deeply sensitive souls. Often shy and quiet in person, these wanderers and wonderers have internal rivers that run deep.

The vulnerability of putting thoughts and feelings on the page can be overwhelming. The thought of being truly known can paralyze.

So when another friend responded that everything this young woman writes on her blog now will be “lame" in 10 years, my writer’s heart stage-whispered, “Tread softly!”

Our mutual friend is an artist too. A musician. So what he probably did not realize is that this is a deep-seated fear for most writers. That what we write is stupid, that what we think doesn't make sense and isn't important.

Fear is a death knell to a well of beauty and inspiration.

And I wonder. What if Tolkien had succumbed to this fear? What if Shakespeare decided people wouldn't understand his jokes? What if Dickens worried that his stories were too dark and that exposing the true underbelly of the industrial age would get him in trouble? What if Paul had said, “Enough is enough. I'm being persecuted, people are trying to kill me on every side! Writing letters just incriminates me more!"

What if writers didn't write?

And what if musicians didn’t make music?

If Beethoven gave up because he couldn't hear? If John Newton gave into thinking people would criticize him for being vulnerable about his faith journey in Amazing Grace? If all those Christian worship songwriters whose work we enjoy every Sunday threw their hands up in the air and said, “This is just too hard. And maybe I’ve got it wrong somewhere. Forget it.”

We all have incredible worth in the eyes of our God. We have each been created to do something beautiful in the world in His name. Yet none of us is perfect. And none will be this side of heaven.

So our work must be imperfect. Do I look back ten years to my very first blog entry (yes, coming up on a decade in one week) and cringe? Maybe a little. But I also see a snapshot. I see a snapshot of a woman on whom God was working. I remember the things He was doing in my life because I recorded them. And I am reminded of the person I was and how He has grown me.

Will I cringe reading this very post in ten years? Possibly. I have written far more important things (and pray I will continue to) that will probably make me cringe more.

And in the end?

The why.

Why write? Why make music?

For me it is because I was made to do it. The Creator chose this thing for me, I didn’t choose it. In fact I have downright rejected it at times. It is scary and uncomfortable and frankly a whole lot of work. Little recognition, a lot less pay. And did I mention uncomfortable?

If we are His, then we must be who He made us to be. We must write, we must make music, we must saw wood, or bake bread or teach. If we don’t then we are missing the glorious joy of being right in the middle of His will. Who knows what He has in mind to do with the gifts He has given us? We have to just walk in it.

And along the way we absolutely will stumble. We'll say wrong things. We may even hurt those we love.

Yet how do muscles strengthen without hard work and pain? How does the seamstress make perfect stitches without starting with sloppy ones? How does a drummer learn a new beat without missing it a jillion times and trying again and again?

If we keep our eyes fixed, fixed on the Lover of our souls, if we humble ourselves and give Him everything we have today, He will be glorified. The sacrifice of vulnerable words is not missed by the one Who Himself is the Word.

My sweet young friend, yes, maybe (but not certainly) what you write today will seem “lame" to you in ten years. Write it anyway. Twenty years ago you yourself were essentially lame. Today you walk expertly. Then you were mute. Today you are a fluent English speaker. We all begin as infants in all that we do. And we grow.

Grow gloriously in what He made you to do.

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