I was thinking today about how I always admire sports figures who are humble. You know, the ones that give God the credit or just act thankful that they get to do what they love. I was also thinking that if I was an athlete or a singer or someone who got to share their interest with the world, I would want to be like that.
And then I realized that I am that person.
I write. People read some of what I write. I’m sharing my interest with (albeit a small portion of) the world. So am I acting like those I admire in other fields? If I’m honest, when I look at how I talk about my writing, I’m not doing so well. In fact, I’d have to say that writers as a group aren’t doing so well.
I often see writers complaining about how hard it is or wondering why they’re doing this or acting snobbishly towards those who don’t write. I’ve done these things myself—and, really, I get it. I think we writers feel misunderstood and overlooked. We feel like people don’t take us seriously, like they think we’re wimps or not really working. We feel like people don’t consider writing a real hobby or job. Those things may be true—people do have false assumptions about writers—but we react in the wrong way. We complain and make a big deal out about how tough writing is (and don’t get me wrong, it is tough). But what would we think if a football player did that?
What if a football player started complaining on Facebook about how he’s so sore or how difficult practice is or how game days are so stressful? We’d all be rather annoyed and think, “Um, dude, you get to do something you really love for a living. Sure, it may be hard, but it’s still a blessing. Stop complaining.” On the other hand, when we see athletes of other celebrities who are constantly talking about how blessed they are to do what they do, we laud them. We point to them as good examples. But are we emulating them?
Here’s what I think we writers should do: We should start being thankful that we get to do what we love (and that it’s way less physically dangerous than sports—well, actually, scratch that). We should start acting grateful for all that God’s given us—computers, pens, paper, fingers that work, minds that imagine, words that inspire. We should start focusing on the fact that we get to write at all, not on, ugh, this is so hard.
Again, I’m not saying it’s easy—and I’m not even saying you can never mention how difficult it is. I love writing communities because other people can understand the frustration and problems and even pain involved with this pursuit. Sometimes, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not just fun and games, that you don’t just sit down and type a best-selling novel in a day (or month or year. Usually.). But we shouldn’t take it so far that we lose sight of the privilege and blessing it is to be able to write at all.
God didn’t have to give us words. God didn’t have to give us stories. God didn’t have to give us the ability to string words into stories. But He did. And even more, He allows us to use this thing that we love for His glory. Our words, they can be a part of His grand story. And we’re complaining?
And yes, the football analogy breaks down eventually because they’re getting paid—a lot—to do that, whereas most writers have day jobs and might even never get published. Yet still, there is so much to be thankful for.
This year, I dare you to do the hard thing and give thanks. Give God the glory. When writer’s block hits or you feel lonely and misunderstood or one more rejection letter arrives in the mail, take a deep breath and remember how blessed you are to be able to write at all. I was physically unable to write last summer, and it was one of the hardest things that ever happened to me. It made me realize that writing was a little too important to me, but also that I hadn’t been grateful enough for it.
Instead of being known as depressed, grumpy maniacs, maybe we could be known as joyful, humble artists full of delight that we get to create beauty, no matter the pain involved—and, sure, who are also a little crazy. I’m not saying we have to be perfect, because we can’t be, and I’m also not saying there’s never a place for venting. Writer’s block is an actual, difficult thing, rejection letters cause real pain, and people do misunderstand us. But let them never misunderstand this: It’s a privilege to write, and we know it.
Let this be a year of joy, writers.