Being a courageous writer


Courageous, unsafe writing. That’s what the world needs.Image

That’s what Jeff Goins wrote. Write about something I am afraid to write about.

It’s not about crossing a crocodile-infested river or swimming with sharks.

It’s not about writing from the frontlines of a battle.

Courageous writing is writing about something I’m afraid of writing about, afraid of confessing.

What scares me? Hardly life-threatening.

Will anyone like my writing? Will I be any good at it? What if I stink and no one is courageous enough to tell me?

Writing is not about writing for others. It’s about writing for myself. Well, actually writing for an audience of two…God and me.

I’ve always had a desire to write. My earliest memory was when I joined the creative writing club during the sixth grade at Kahler Middle School in Dyer, Ind. Remember I tried to write a story about the London Blitz during World War II.

Why?

I don’t know. I was in a WWII phase at the time.

I eventually studied journalism at Indiana University, and had a career as a writer in the Air Force. I now have a job as a communications strategist where I’ll be writing. The haunting voice still whispers in my ear, “Will anyone like it? Will anyone read it?”

I need to be courageous enough to say that doesn’t matter. I write because doing is my way of giving thanks to God for this gift.

What do you need to be courageous about?

If a writer writes and there’s no one to read it, is he a writer?


I suppose it’s something all writers wonder about, especially in this age of blogging. Writers now have a greater access to getting their writing out with blogs but the question remains.

Does anyone read what I write?

What do they think about it?

Am I contributing anything to the good of humanity?

Recently, I attended the Conversations and Connections Writing Conferenceat the Washington campus of Johns Hopkins University. The keynote

Steve Almond is the author the story collections "My Life in Heavy Metal" and "The Evil B.B. Chow," the novel "Which Brings Me to You" (with Julianna Baggott), and the non-fiction books "Candyfreak." His new book, "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life," came out in Spring 2010. He is also, crazily, self-publishing a book called "This Wont Take But a Minute, Honey," which is composed of 30 very brief stories, and 30 very brief essays on the psychology and practice of writing.

speaker was Steve Almond. He made a comment about writers and writing that I felt succinctly described a writer’s ordeal. Being a writer is like being a sperm donor. We go away by ourselves to write with the hope that later on it will turn into something beautiful.

Sure, that analogy is not a conventional view people might have of writing and writers, but I think Steve’s right.

I experienced an epiphany two weeks ago that helped me come to grips with my writing and where I wanted to go with it. Here it is — I write because God put it on my heart to be a writer, and I want to write.

Maybe no one reads what I write.

And maybe writing about God turns readers off.

But that’s OK. I’m writing because I want to. I first write for God and then myself.

I read a blog the other day by JoeyStrawntitled “8 Bloggers You Should Be Reading Right Now.” One of the bloggers he mentioned was Jeff Goins of “Goins Writer.”

Goins wrote an awesome blog titled “Writers Don’t Write to Get Published.” His blog captured my entire feelings. Here’s how he summarized why writers should write.

Please do not write to get published.

Write because you’ve been given a voice and something to say.

Write because you simply must do so.

Write because someone else will not.

In his blog, Goins included “The Writer’s Manifesto”:

Please do not write to get published.

Write because you’ve been given a voice and something to say.

Write because you simply must do so.

Write because someone else will not.

Getting this message must be a God-thing because He reinforces it with another blogger’s post the next day. Now, maybe you think all I do is read blogs and find ones to bolster my thoughts. No, not really. I’ve probably read a handful in the past week.

A blogger named Stanford has a site called Pushing Social and recently had a blog titled “The Tale of Two Bloggers.” He describes two bloggers,

Stanford of "Pushing Social"

each one representing the hierarchical and territorial writers described by Steven Pressfield in “The War of Art.” The difference between the two is whom the blogger writes for, and who succeeds and who doesn’t.

Hierarchical artists focus on their audience. They write want their audience wants and takes their creative cues from the market place. These artists, copywriters, poets, and photographers work for cash.

I don’t believe this is evil. Artists need to get paid. However, the hierarchical mindset doesn’t inspire. It just puts the artist at the disposal of fickle public with a ravenous appetite.

The territorial artist possesses a domain. Their territory is where they eat, sleep, love, and breathe. They work solely because it fulfills them. It doesn’t matter if their audience appreciates or desires their work. They perform their task out of love for the game.

The territorial blogger publishes no matter what. They publish work that is controversial, provocative, unpopular, and revolutionary. They appreciate their readers but they don’t work for them. They recognize that their reader wants leadership and they gleefully offer it.

Inspirational leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs won’t let their customers or readers handcuff them. They fight against the hierarchical mindset because their dreams depend on it.

Wow, I really relate to what Stanford wrote. I’m a territorial writer.

Of the two bloggersStanfordwrote about, who succeeded? Well, you’re going to have to read his blog. I was surprised.

Because of my epiphany, and the blogs by Goins and Stanford, I now know the purpose of my writing. I have a God-placed desire to write. I appreciate readers — and hope to inspire them — but they aren’t my audience. My writing is ultimately for God and for me.