Writing Must Be a Matter of Life or Death

 

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There’s nothing like a doozy of a hyperbole to kick off a blog post…

It’s true that there are many excellent, useful, well-read blogs, books, and magazines that are decidedly not dealing with “life or death.” Rather, I’m talking about that feeling of life closing in on you, of losing hope, or wondering if you can go on another day. These struggles vary from one season of life to another.

The (few) nights I have to get dinner ready for the kids on my own sure feel like a life or death struggle in the moment. I’m never more open to a blog post with simple meal ideas or a humorous blog post about the zoo-like atmosphere of feeding small children while my own kids are sputtering milk and throwing things during dinner.

Whether or not I pray each day won’t necessarily save my life, but there are weeks when life feels like too much. I’m angry, tired, frustrated, and flat out up to here with one thing after another. My fuse is short. My mind is raging. To be blunt, the last thing I want to do is pray, and that is when I know that I need it the most.

Perhaps I pull up a prayer app on my phone, pick up a prayer book from my shelf, or see something striking from a friend on social media, and it hits me right where I’m at in the turmoil of the moment.

Writing rarely saves lives directly, unless it’s a survival book, medical literature, or addressing a serious mental health issue. More often, good writing speaks to a pain point, an area of struggle, or a weakness that continues to nag at us.

The writing I need and you need is a revelation, a great relief, and a significant step forward.

So many moments throughout the week feel like life or death struggles, and the thing that I’ve found is that I’ll only speak to those struggles if I take risks, if I dig deep into my own flaws and personal battles.

Herein is the risk of really writing. We can play about with attacks on what we are not, and there may be times when these help open our eyes. But the vast majority of the time, we need to learn how to survive and what to become.

I need to know how you handle the frustrations of failure in your work, low points of your day with the kids when you really blow your top, or how you keep your marriage together when there’s always more laundry, more dishes, and more emails from work.

How do you handle the uncertainty of moving?

How do you navigate the loneliness of visiting a new church?

How do you go on when you’ve been working on dinner all day and you burn it all to a hot, flaming crisp?

These are the moments where our faith, our spiritual disciplines, and our relationships meet the challenges of the every day. These are the moments when we’re grasping for lifelines.

We can sink or swim, and it may not be life and death, but it sure feels like our little corner of the world is crashing or falling apart for a moment.

Who will give the perspective, the next steps, and the hope that we need?

This is where our writing can step in with words of encouragement, empathy, and wisdom.

I used to think my writing was a success if lots of people read it, but I was dead wrong.

My writing is only a success if it helps people with these small or big “life or death” struggles that make up each day. Large numbers of readers are only a side benefit of helping people, ministering to them, and lifting them above what they thought would drag them down.

 

One thought on “Writing Must Be a Matter of Life or Death

  1. “The writing I need and you need is a revelation, a great relief, and a significant step forward.”
    I find this to be very true–writing saves me on my worst days, even if its just random thoughts. Yesterday, someone asked me how my day was, and I said, “It was good because I was able to write something this morning.”

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