Monday Meditations

Write for Yourself, First

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” 
Proverbs 16:24

There are many reasons people start that first story. I know some begin because they read something so trite, or poorly written, that they think, “Surely, I can do better.” This isn’t everyone’s motivation. I also know writers who are so burdened by the greatness published before them they strive for nothing less than epic quality in their first draft.

My initial motivation was dissatisfaction—not in the quality, but in the content. I wanted to read different stories than the free books circulating in my family. I just didn’t understand how many genres/sub genres there were, yet.

Starting with dissatisfaction can be just as debilitating as starting with the fear of never measuring up to the literary giants.

Begin first with what your heart needs to write. (Or even with what you need to read.)

Second, you can focus on writing what others want to read. There is a transition from the words you need to process to the words you need to share.

One of my first critique partners, Lisa Buffaloe, used to say to me, “Don’t write to vent—write to heal.”

But she was talking about the goal, not the starting point. Don’t be afraid to write down the ugly, either in content or craft. God is in the business of bringing beauty from ashes. So write it out. He isn’t afraid of bad spelling or grammar any more than he is of your honesty.

And then, you can write for others. I often see comments from my favorite authors that show a heart-posture of sharing their gift with readers. It isn’t about what they need to say anymore. It is about giving to others.

For the authors I trust and return to, they have found a path of generosity.

But first, write for yourself.

About this post:

Beliefs represented by individual authors are not necessarily shared by all members of ICW.


  • Hilarey Johnson

    Hilarey Johnson grew up hearing that she would be a good student if she could get her head out of the clouds. Her daydreaming still makes it possible to get lost driving anywhere. She loves characters with a hidden or unknown worth who rise up to claim their identity. She writes redemptive stories from Idaho and travels in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Someday Hilarey hopes to time travel. She is the author of Breaking Bonds, and Dance of the Crane fiction series. She has written books and articles for Guideposts, Brio Magazine, Christian Living Magazine, local news papers such as the Times-News, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and others. She blogs weekly about "Intimacy with God for the Over-Churched" at Hilarey Johnson is the current President of ICW.

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