When asked about his approach to writing, author Ernest Hemingway’s response was brief yet powerful: “Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Like Hemingway, writing is often as easy and natural for me as breathing… Except when it’s not. Anyone who has ever met me will tell you I am undoubtedly an external processor. Situations and thoughts hardly make sense to me if I am not able to put them into words. As much as I love talking through things, I thrive when I write about them. There is something equally exhilarating and therapeutic about scouring the depths of the English language to find the best words to communicate what’s going on in your head and your heart. You can imagine my frustration, then, when the vice grip of fear and insecurity began to take hold of my writing process.
For several months, my notebooks collected dust on bookshelves, and my list titled “Blog Post Ideas” was blank. I wondered whether my goal of becoming a full-time speaker and writer was simply a pipe dream. Suddenly, all my feelings seemed trivial, and I became convinced that the thoughts and convictions I yearned to put into words couldn’t be nearly as impactful as what I was already reading and hearing from others. I found myself asking, “How do you wrestle with the reality that you were wired by God to have words running through your veins – wild words, lofty words, bold words – all the while knowing you must tame them, master them, and make them palatable yet piercing, relatable yet riveting? How do you grapple with the relentless, insatiable need to pour out your soul on paper while knowing full well that your inmost thoughts will likely be scrutinized, criticized, and even flat-out rejected?”
Once the fog of self-doubt lifted, a simple answer from Jesus became clear: Write anyway. Don’t just write despite the fear, insecurity, uncertainty, and brokenness that is threatening to silence you; write because of it. Let it drive you, carry you, inspire you, and, at times, completely wreck you, but do not, under any circumstances, let it stop you.
If you’re reading this and saying to yourself, “I’m definitely not a writer, and I’m not even sure I could call myself ‘creative’”, I have news for you. You are creative because the One who formed you is the Creator of every good thing, and you were made in His image. You are most truly you when you are creating. Who knows what person or thing or experience is out there waiting to inspire you to form something that only you can?
Realizing the creative potential in each one of us led me to another question, “How do you rise above the label of being a “creative” – a writer, a singer, a sculptor, or a whole host of other crafts – and fight off the temptation to let your work define you?” The answer, again, is simple, but the process of allowing this truth to root itself in every fiber of your being is easier said than done: You must choose to believe that Jesus defined your worth when He went to the cross for you 2,000 years ago, and He stamped you with His seal of approval before anyone else got a chance to disapprove.
It’s less about what you do and more about who He is; in Him is complete freedom – freedom to feel, to think, to doubt, to wonder, to fail, to hurt, to live, and to try again. Create out of that. Let your work be messy, gritty, and your own definition of beautiful. More than anything, let it be fully and unashamedly you, a way for those who encounter it to dip their toes into the raging sea of things that make you tick. Know that the One who made you sees all those things – the pure and the ugly, the joy and the pain – and calls them worthy of being shared, fully redeemable, and good – very good.