On Motivations: Why I've Decided to Keep on Writing
I have fallen off (the writing bandwagon, that is), and I had almost decided not to get back on. To blog or not to blog? That was my question—drama and sentimentality included. Writing has gotten me through some really dark times, but now that my life is getting better, I find that I don’t need it as much. It’s a commodity—something optional to my daily workload. And with the little energy I have left over after work, I wondered is it really worth it?
I’ve always struggled with motivations, and that has made me feel fragile and needy as a human. Why can’t I just do things? Why must I poke and prod them and examine my heart to death? I’ve realized that it’s because a) I’m really introspective, and b) I’m a Christian. Which means that I don’t trust myself and my reasons for doing things. Left to myself I’d only do the things that pleased me, and I know where that road leads. And so being a Christian, I’m committed to living for God, not for myself. And I have to analyze myself and that preposition “for.”
Concurrent to this struggle, oddly enough, a faithful reader of mine emailed me about starting a blog of her own. She had good questions, most of which were about motives. She asked, How do you know you have a voice—and that people even want to hear it (and that it’s even worthy of being heard)? Is it my pride and ambition driving this desire to be heard, or a real sense of honor and duty?
She emailed me that about a month ago, and I just responded a couple days ago. And as I wrote, I realized I was saying to her the very things I was asking myself. In preaching to her I was preaching to myself. This is what I told her:
Great questions! I hope you are still asking them. The answer is, no one really has much of anything to say if you judge them strictly. There’s a million magazines out there all reporting on the same news events. Dozens of books all written to tell you how to read a book. The issue isn’t so much whether the world needs your writing, but do YOU. What I mean is, you have to write for YOU first and foremost, and then see if anyone is out there who thinks like you do. If they are, eventually they’ll find you and, if you are really true to the work of writing itself, YOU will resonate with them.
So don’t hesitate to write even though the market (especially online) is flooded. Between me and you, I think what the world wants right now are real people, telling real stories with no agenda (no money making schemes or drives for popularity and the pursuit of “going viral” [it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, a real smokescreen]). So if 800 people are writing the same exact article, all the better. That gives me 800 chances of connecting with the PERSON behind the writing, and not just reading the words for the information itself, which, as I’m sure we both know, is a barbarism.
In the Christian community, we don’t really understand art and self-expression. I can’t get into all that, but the point is, be true to yourself in the sense of listen to your inner voice and try to capture that on paper. Write the way you think, and be honest. Express the way you see the world, and then compare that with Truth. That way, people connect with YOU as a human (and you’ll find people who connect with YOU more than they ever would ME), and that’s a service you provide them they couldn’t get anywhere else.
You’re asking the right questions! Write this all down. Journal more than you blog and only publish a small portion of your production until you gain speed and skill. Be regular. I’m really bad at being regular because I’m so volatile. I’m coping with chronic illness and a lot of life changes right now, and I know now is not the time to hold myself to that rigid schedule. But, I guarantee within a month I’ll be back on it. If you love the work, you just have to keep pushing.
I don’t know that I can help you determine your calling to write. If you can live without writing, do it. But if you have this urge to write that makes you feel self-loathing when you don’t, for all that’s holy WRITE.
“I guarantee within a month I’ll be back on it.” Well here I am, beloved readers. And I’m back on it, and this time from the bottom-up and the inside-out. And I’m a very different man in a lot of ways for my time off, and I’ve been given the opportunity to refine my calling.
I haven’t blogged since April 28th (over a month ago) but it’s worse than that. Behind the scenes, I haven’t been myself. I’ve lost the motivation to keep learning, to keep pushing. And it’s true, I’ve often lost that motivation along the way, when I’d finally snap and be like Okay, enough already. I know enough to live a successful life. But recently I hit rock bottom (intellectually, but it affected me spiritually and emotionally—more on that in another post). Just stopped pushing—totally. Went weeks without really reading the words in books and articles my eyes were passing over. Let my research database dry up.
Maybe all that doesn’t mean much to you; but what it means for me to be alive is to read a book or two per week, process my notes, link them together, and continue slowly progressing in finding out more about the way the world works. When I lose the motivation to do that, it’s because I’ve essentially lost the motivation to live—I’ve lost the essential wonder that keeps me curious and hungry. And that’s why I know I must write.
I’m not trying to “be” something on this, my tiny piece of the online world, and I’m not writing to somehow trump the opinions of others. I don’t write just to express myself but to show myself as the Truth impacts me. I write, deep down, because I must. And I’m not really completely sure why. But I know that this is the lot I’ve been given in life, and I trust that God will do with it what He wants. And that’s what drives the long hours of research and diligence of study. That’s what motivates me to keep pushing, when everything else tells me to quit.
Thank you so much for reading! I count it such a privilege to write for the King, no matter how that looks.