Do the Work

“Consequently, those who are laboring in the creative arts among the young, restless, and Reformed need to pray that God give them some words. They need poets, writers, wordsmiths, screenplay writers. Special note: this is not the same thing as needing people who desperately want to be poets, writers, etc. Still less is it a need for people who want to have written something grand, but are too lazy actually to do it. We need that kind of aspiring screenwriter like we need a sucking chest wound.”

Doug Wilson

The above block-quote is a side comment within a larger diatribe about Christian artists relying on nice equipment to do their storytelling for them (his conclusion: it’s never good).

This is transparently applicable to aspiring photographers and movie-makers — viz., Don’t think that your camera angles and HD video will make up for a mediocre narrative. This is a helpful point.

But I think there’s a takeaway for Christian writers as well, and I also think this is Wilson’s larger beef. The church indeed needs good storytellers, but not people who want to look like good storytellers. For non-writers, this means nice equipment. For writers, this means talking a lot about how they want to be a writer but never actually, you know, writing. You know people like this. I know people like this. They’re annoying.

There’s a thin line here, however. Writing is hard. It takes a great deal of mental effort and commitment, and most people everybody is bad at first. Really bad. I think one of the best ways to grow as a writer is with both encouragement and accountability. You don’t get either without letting everybody know, without equivocation, that I WANT TO BE A WRITER, because then your friends and family and classmates will constantly ask you if you’ve written anything lately. You’ll want to tell them yes.

This is the exact danger Wilson (rightly) warns us about. And I think the way to avoid it is to say what you’re going to do, then do it. This is not a writing problem, by the way. This is a life problem.

When you talk a lot about some rigorous workout regimen you’re doing but your body never changes, that’s lame. When you don’t tell anyone you’re going to get into shape, you’re going to quit after that first morning when you’re feeling all sore and stuff because hey, no one knew I even started.

So: stop trying to look cool. Admit you’re not cool, then work within a community to become so. Embrace the process.

—————-

[Ed. The post title and picture both come from Stephen Pressfield’s excellent book, available here.]

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