Why Do You Write?

by Sarah Tun

Is it for wealth? Game? Compulsion or curiosity?

I believe for many of us, writing is a calling. It may be a ministry to GOD Himself, or a means of prayer and relating to Him. It may be a ministry to others, a bit of evangelism or theology. It may be to encourage spiritual healing or growth, for ourselves – a kind of cathartic experience – or for others.

But whatever the incentive, as followers of Jesus, I believe it is a mission and a calling to write.

I first began to write formally when the LORD urged me; He simply spoke into my spirit and said, “Write”.  I had always kept a journal of some sort, from the age of 9. And so, I began my first serious foray into writing in 2000, when I wrote a novel (which, by the way, will probably never see the light of day). The process taught me a lot — not least of which was, “I can do this!”

Sometimes I’ve felt it was His way of occupying me, other times His way of giving me the opportunity to express myself… my spiritual journey, my creativity, my ambition to love; sometimes  I’ve felt it was a vehicle for warning people of the signs of our times.

Now, I believe it’s entirely a ministry, and everything leading up to this point has been a preparation for me. A platform has been built and now it’s time to use this platform as a springboard into people’s lives, to prepare them for His next phase.

It’d be great to hear from others:

When did you start writing for yourself? For an audience? Is there a difference to you?

What do you feel most naturally inclined to write: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry or…..?

What do goals have you created for yourself: short term, medium term, long term?
What goals have to already satisfied?

Do you think you’ll ever stop writing? What would provoke you?
Have you written that book that GOD has placed on your heart? If not, what holds you back?

What is your GOD-given purpose for your writing?

How about creating your own Mission Statement…

Sarah Tun is an author, developmental editor as well as a professional voice for voice overs and narrations.

© Sarah Tun

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36 thoughts on “Why Do You Write?”

  1. I write because I feel compelled. If I don’t put in words the stories, ideas, feelings, and thoughts I am plagued with them. They go around and around in my brain. They pop up at odd times. I start to think about them especially during my devotions and conversations with the Lord. Maybe He is telling me to write the words or maybe they come to mind to distract me from my conversation with Him. I have found that once I have written the scene, or the characters talking to each other, etc. , my brain is clear to focus on my talk with the Lord.
    I also find my spirits are lifted once the words are expressed. It seems to be a burden to carry them around inside and not let them out. I am blessed that I am living in this time of technology where it is easier than our ancestors who used quill and pen to express their thoughts.

    1. I can so relate, PattyLou. I write because I love it; I write because the LORD asked me to 15 years ago. I can site a lot of reasons why I write, BUT one I totally relate to is this sense of compulsion. It is my way of sorting my thoughts, my prayers, my ideas… Some things become poems or books, some are for private expression. But always, I’m in need for clarity and that compels me to write down what’s inside me. Thanks so much for sharing:)

  2. Sarah, you have obviously been reading my mind! I began writing as a child, received my first rejection slip (from Argosy magazine, home of the Darling Buds of May) as a 14yr old, and was first published in the early 1980s under several pen names. One of the commissions I had from Hodder – The Last Mountain: Living with AIDS – went to No. 4 but I have never written for self-aggrandisement (I cringed when evangelist Edward England introduced me as a Bestselling Author) or for money.
    Despite my books having brought people to faith and changed the lives of others – according to the many letters I used to receive – it is only in recent years that I’ve realised that writing is my ministry. My latest book, Picked for a Purpose, shows how the Lord is there beside us to bring us through hardship. This, as one reviewer said, is not a misery memoir, but a thread of hope. And as for revenue – most of what I make on sales has gone, and continues to go, to charity.
    Having said all that, I’m in a bad place at present, awaiting surgery, unable to write, and wondering if the Lord is telling me this is the end. Or as Jeff Lucas says: walking a tightrope and falling off.

    1. Dear Mel,
      It is funny that we can lead others and change the direction of their lives through our faith, yet have doubts when it comes to ourselves when we are facing trials. Such is human nature. Please remember that God is right there with you and you are right where He wants you to be at this moment in time. Cling to His side as He guides you through this perilous journey and know that He will also be there with you on the other side. Try to rest in knowing that regardless of the physical outcome and whether you will write again, He is in control of all things, and wants the very best for you! God bless you as you pass through this phase of illness. I will be praying for you! X O

    2. Mel, I pray you will recover, by GOD’s grace. As to the writing, we fall off and then we get back up again.
      Be blessed and thank you for sharing your fascinating writing journey.

  3. I write because I’m full of stories clamoring to be heard. Since just about everything I write has a toe in Mark 1:9, there is a Christian message in most of my books somewhere. Over my seven decades, I’ve written more than 300 poems, mostly comic verse, some 20+ book-length manuscripts, and a smaller number of short stories. I have goals for most of my writing: (1) to entertain readers with a sense of wonder and the emotional feast book magic can provide. (2) To provide a reliable role model for readers. When facing dilemmas, they can ask, “What would Rell/Nightwatch/Martin/Morgan/etc. do?” WWJD doesn’t help me; Jesus is too smart to get into the kind of coils I land myself in all the time. I want people to believe because they have read, and praise God. I’m not important; God is and the message of peace is. I’d like the story to be important to people it can help and inspire, too. Wilmer Shiras’ obscure book “Children of the Atom” got me safely through my turbulent teen years. Read my blog at awakenahero.com.
    “My songs come from my soul, and I guess God gave me a funny soul.” –Roger Miller

    1. Here, here! I so relate to:
      “I want people to believe because they have read, and praise God. I’m not important.”
      That is my heart too… to encourage, inspire imagination, build up the reader, but be invisible myself.
      Bless you for sharing!

  4. I’ve been writing my entire life. Full-time since 2003. I’m three times traditionally published. Nominated for the Selah Award. God has been central in my life and career from the beginning. And yet, it has been the Christians and Evangelicals who have persecuted me the most. Thrown me under the bus more than once, not for grammar or spelling or plotting mistakes, but for my beliefs. I no longer participate in social media. None of it. I write for myself, and for anyone who happens to find my work on Amazon. It’s not about $. Never was. And at this point in my life, I take issue with the industry. It needs an overhaul. Writers must continue to strive for perfection, keeping in mind their many publishing options. But no matter the path you take, make it your own path. Own it. Don’t blame anyone for your mistakes. There is a peace in knowing I write for myself, a grateful heart for readers who enjoy my work. But I don’t owe an explanation for why I write. Not to anyone.

    1. Hi Pam 🙂
      No one is asking you to defend your writing. There are so many different motivations for writing and the question is about motivations for writing.

      When earning my Masters, I studied why Christian bloggers blog for my thesis. It was incredibly interesting to find out that Christian bloggers (just like Christian marriages) differ greatly from the secular norm. Only about 20% of the blogs started are still around and going strong one month after starting. That number drops even further on the 90th day. However, many more Christian bloggers stick with it for years rather than months because their motivation is basically God-given rather than man-given. I think that is because God gives us our motivations to do His work. You can find the published paper at https://www.academia.edu/14852274/Understanding_Christian_Blogger_Motivations_Woe_unto_Me_if_I_Blog_Not_the_Gospel — extremely unusual for a Master’s thesis to be published in an academic journal.

    2. We hurt one another — family members of the Faith — and it’s hard to bounce back. And in the bouncing back, we become stronger and bolder and more resolute in our own journeys with the Father.
      I praise GOD you have the assurance that as you write, you have found your means to create, and trust that you know the Father is celebrated in your work.
      I pray too that, like so many writers and authors, your work finds the readers who will most benefit from your wisdom and inspiration.
      Bless you.

  5. I started making up stories in 4th grade. I was blessed with teachers all through my education who urged students to develop good writing skills, and who nurtured appreciation for English and American literature.

    I started writing science fiction because it was hard to find really good science fiction stories until StarTrek franchise allowed many different authors to write StarTrek stories. By then I was deep into home duties, small children, and working outside the home that left little time to write. But my dear friend and I discovered the same basic story was floating around in our heads so we sat down and wrote a compelling story of the Old South during the civil war. Have no idea what happened to that 400 page original document. WE sent it out to 30 publishers, and received back exactly 5 rejections and nothing from the others. That was in 1985. Undaunted, I continued to write. This time a science fiction/space opera along the same lines as StarTrek. I wrote it out in long hand in three notebooks. It was finally published in 2014.

    All that time I was writing for the secular market. I had no clue that God was keeping my stuff from being published because there was no faith factor in my writing. Nothing pointed to God, my creator and my writing creator. Once I understood my motivation to write came from God, and I started writing for Him and to bring Him glory, my writing got published. I’ve been writing a column since 2006. I wrote on my blog every day. When it proved difficult to find something fresh and interesting to write every day, God pushed me and let me know that I would need all those posts I was writing for later writing and inspiration. He was correct. When I became a newspaper editor I pulled my newspaper columns from those blog posts.

    So every hill I’ve climbed, every hurdle I’ve jumped has made me a better writer and better fit for the job God places me in. He’s not finished with me yet 🙂

    1. Amazing that you had a direction from age 9, Gina. And what perseverance and maturity you’ve shown over all this time.
      Your sharing makes me think of one of my fave scriptures: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I (we) press on….” Phil 3
      Hallelujah!

  6. When did you start writing for yourself? Never that I know of. Only for teachers at first.
    For an audience? For the college newspaper.
    What do you feel most naturally inclined to write: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry or…..? Fiction
    What do goals have you created for yourself: short term, medium term, long term? To get all the stories down before time runs out.

    Do you think you’ll ever stop writing? Yes.
    What would provoke you? Age

    What is your GOD-given purpose for your writing? To try and bring glory to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)

    1. Steve,
      You are marvellously concise.
      You remind me of Earnest Hemingway who wrote something like this as a short story:
      “For Sale: baby shoes, never been worn.”
      Blessings…

      1. And you are very perceptive.
        We came of age during the 1960s when taught by sisters at Catholic High School. They fed us a steady diet of Hemingway, Shakespeare, Poe, and Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë; and many others. Later on, some of us attended DOD schools overseas because our fathers were in the military or were civilians working for the military. These schools were staffed by equally excellent teachers who had us read Hemingway, Melville, Shakespeare (the bard had not yet been emasculated, slandered, and reviled as he has been by the academia of today), Poe, and many others (our 11th Grade textbook had over 500 pages of short stories and other works). Our 12th grade teacher taught us the art of writing essays.
        It is only because of those teachers’ dedication and love of literature and understanding of how to put thoughts to paper that I’ve been able to write.

  7. I have loved reading and writing always. I’ve met with numerous hurdles regarding the kind of writing I’ve wanted to do – to share the true stories of the nomadic life I lived, first as a missionary kid (China, Sri Lanka), later as a missionary (Thailand), with all the choices and struggles involved due to my reluctance to ever be uprooted again.
    The writing I “had to do” often involved reports, newsletters, translation of orphans’ letters to their sponsors, etc.
    Language has been a hurdle too. I wrote my first five books in Swedish for a small readership – (minority language in Finland). My education was all done in British English in Sri Lanka 1950-1961 (then still Ceylon), and nurses’ training in England.
    Since 2011 I’ve done numerous writing courses over the Internet in English, and managed to produce one book so far.
    Rheumatoid Arthritis and a few other health issues have been my hurdles at times as well.

    Now I think I’ve found themes for the different stages of my life, as well as a way to schedule my writing better through blogging. I’ve made numerous lists in the past, but one of the courses/books I studied showed me a way to mind map a schedule. I was surprised to see how the mind map helped. (My website will be moving within a few days.)
    The overall theme of my blog is to share the truth in Psalm 107. Our family went to quite many similar situations as the Psalmist describes, but the final verse gives the purpose of sharing those experiences:
    Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord. Psalm 107:43

    1. Bless you, Lisa.

      You seem to have great discipline.

      I wonder if the sharing of your thoughts, might also lead you to consider creating a memoir, as you seem to have had a varied and fascinating journey.

      Thanks for sharing:)

  8. I write because it’s the essence of who I am. Writing is in my blood. Like Gina, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in the 4th grade. Unlike Gina, I didn’t have any teachers who supported my dreams. I went to Catholic school, and the nuns wanted all the girls to become nuns. That was the last thing on my mind! I had a male lay teacher for 7th grade, but even he wasn’t enthused to read my writing.

    In high school, I was in AP classes, and even though I still didn’t get any support regarding freelance writing, i got good grades. In senior year, I had the toughest teacher ever. I worked harder in that class than I ever did in college or grad school class. I was up until 2 AM every night doing homework, and despite that, I credit him with the fact that gave me the fortitude to see a long project through.

    Because I had gotten turned off by a freelance writer who visited our grade school, I didn’t take any writing classes other than the required ones in college A few years after college, and before grad school, I took a Writing for Publication class, and the teacher of that really mentored me. That was the first teacher who encouraged my ambitions. She invited me to apply for membership in the professional writers’ critique group of which she was a member. Somehow, I got in, and I was the first unpublished person to do so. I am published today (29 books and around 200 articles in national magazines) is because of all the feedback I got in that group and my other critique groups over the years.

    These days, writing is still my passion. The money is great, but I do it because it’s my love.

  9. Great topic! My five published nonfiction Christian books were written when inspired by God and so is my forthcoming book whose title has already challenged members of the Christian community. Does anyone have thoughts or experiences to share with me as I move forward?

    1. My thoughts in response to your comment? :

      Sow everything in love and you’ll reap in kind:)

      Yes, it is important that we challenge our brothers and sisters, but always in love.
      I pray this sixth book will inspire, encourage, teach and … as you say, challenge the readers.

      Every blessing.

  10. On September 14, 2008, there was a wind storm in my city of Louisville. When the electricity went out, I decided to take my grandson outside to help me pick up the tree branches and small sticks that had fell from the trees in the back yard. As I watched my three year old grandson chasing the family dog, in the back yard, branches were falling down everywhere. As I started picking up the small branches, my grandson decided to help me. He was so cute, bending over to pick up a small branch and watching him tumble over by the force of the wind. As I picked up sticks, I noticed my grandpuppy (the family dog) was picking up sticks also. My grandson didn’t want her to help us. So here we all were, my grandson chasing his dog, and me chasing my grandson for most of the afternoon.

    That very afternoon had inspired me to write a book about my grandson and his adventures. I wrestled around the idea of becoming an author for weeks. I woke up one morning thinking about creating a story, about creating a character. So that very morning,GOD told me to go for it!

    What a mistake that was. I had realized that, God didn’t tell me anything. The night before I called the publishing company, there was no dream, no little voice, no sign from GOD, but I did it anyway and failed!

    1. Kerroll, I’m so sorry. I feel your frustration and pain. I feel compelled to tell you a story I heard (no idea who wrote it) about 30 years ago that has stuck with me ever since.

      A man lived on a mountain side in a little cabin. There was only one way to the cabin, and he woke up one morning to find a huge boulder in the middle of the path, the one way to the cabin. God told him to push that bolder. The man did, but nothing happened. He went in to drink a cup of tea and make sure he’d heard God correctly. Somehow, he knew he had. It was the right thing to do. It felt right in all his being. So everyday he pushed on the boulder figuring one day it would roll down hill. Nothing happened.

      One day the devil came and sat on the rock while the man was pushing. He said, “Why don’t you just stop? Don’t you see nothing is happening? How could you possibly think that you could move that boulder? It’s a worthless endeavor. Just stop, please. You are wasting your time.”

      The man did stop. He went inside and made a cup of tea. He opened his Bible and prayed and asked God, “Did I really hear you correctly?”

      An angel came and sat at the table with him. “Don’t fear, Man. You did hear God correctly. Never pay attention to the Father of Lies. His only aim is to kill, steal, and destroy. Think for a moment. Did God tell you to move the rock?”

      “No. He said to push it.”

      “Then you did obey His command. When you are obedient, great things happen. Usually, you don’t notice it right away, but there are plenty of blessings God bestows when you obey. Look at your arms, you back, your legs. You have strength and muscles you never had before. Pushing the rock was how God decided to get you ready for a mission.”

      Kerroll, lots of times we can’t see God’s motive when He tells us to do something. Sometimes it’s just like “Wax on. Wax off.” No seeming reason until much later.

    2. Hearing and following GOD’s voice is the right thing to do. That you may have misheard or got ahead of GOD is something we all seek not to do, but do. What did Paul say? ‘I don’t do what I want to do… and I do what I don’t want to do’. (Romans
      Well, hours of work and hope later, you’ve learned. I think there is never a mistake in learning:)
      Bless you for your noble efforts. And just because the book was not a huge success, doesn’t have to mean it was wasted, does it? You have a wonderful story to share:)

  11. I simply write because it is a calling…. to share the Good News also through the different social networks.
    My recent experience (around 5 years ago) of Jesus showing me the way, is precisely of writing Christian books. Since the early nineties when I was a missionary, I always felt this desire inside me to write books with a Christian theme. I never really understood what this meant, or maybe I did not take up the challenge at that time. Maybe, I never had the time to do it! Still, over these years I kept feeling that He wanted it from me! Since that time, it has always been in my heart… but it was never fulfilled!

    My ‘Yes’ to take up this challenge happened in November 2014, and since then, I have published 14 Christian books. God has paved the way for me to do it. I do sacrifice myself to write these books, as it needs time to write and to publish. But, I thank Him, that through this challenge, although it is tough, it is also peaceful and it is rewarding to see other people appreciating my work, and receiving the messages I write… which are based on Jesus’ love to us, that is, His Salvation.

    My writings are a simple message of encouragement for life, to make the reader think about what life is all about, and to give the reader a challenge to live life through God’s Love. My writings are based on my Christian values, and I try to reach out to all people in the world, whatever their belief is, as I believe that every person is able to love his neighbour. So through my writings, I present the message to the readers to have this personal relationship with God and to love every person through God’s love.

    So, I do appreciate your prayers and support, that I may continue to publish Christian books. And finally I hope that you enjoy my writings and be blessed by reading them.

    If you want to contact me personally please email me at :- peacethroughunity@gmail.com

    1. George, I’ve read your blogs — you are a deep thinker and your love for the LORD is shown in your impassioned messages.
      Bless you for following His call.
      You are amongst a family of writers who support our shared faith and our shared mission to bring light to one another and into a dark world.
      Shalom and GOD bless.

  12. So often, Deirdre, we get lost in the doing and forget the purpose of our writing. We are not writing to success but for the LORD GOD, Creator of the Universe. You remind us that our advocate has given us the inspiration and the gift to write. As we obey, and pray, the outcome will be of His working.
    Bless you!

  13. I write because this is what I can that requires just me, my imagination, and God to take a hold of my fingers. I hope my stories give hope that life can bring you many challenges, but faith can bring you many miracles.

  14. My first attempt was writing a poem called When God Speaks as the path to follow His way of living by the process of financial prosperity & wisdom, much admiration will be attained in the life of his children. Since then, I also wrote another poem called Guardian Angel’s & was completed with few revisions 7 stanzas long in less than 45 minutes to complete. Words flowed through me very quickly as I revised it in rhymes. I often listened to a Christian radio station called Night Sounds in Wheaton, Illinois & habitually audio taped ir with cassette tapes. God prompted me to send it in to the radio broadcast. One Sunday morning, while hitching a ride from a fellow church goer, I mentioned my poem to him & I will never forget his words that I will hear about it. At that time, his statement slipped my mind. On one night a few days later, again taping Night Sounds, the radio show host said my name, described the Angel’s on the card & then read my poem. Afterwards, a song reflecting God’s Angel’s was sung by a famous Christian singer who had been the solo performer for the late evangelist Brother Billy.Graham. I was elated with joy as a prelude to continue writing Christian poetry for several years to follow being lead by the Lord Jesus in my life! A long the way, I wrote down several ideas knowing my inner voice for children’s books & now young adults a series of redemption in their lives on life & death situations & afflictions posed on them thus changing not just them but also others which impacted & opened their hearts to God. At this moment in time, I have been struggling for two years with horrendous afflictions with my own health & several ambulatory trips to the hospital, I am desperate in attempting not just to continue in my writing endeavor but my life is unbearable wondering if I’m going to see the next day come or soon called home to heaven as meds for type 2 diabetes has caused the damage in the first place with the first doctor in denial & my new one claiming the drugs to be the cause. Thus, I sense my time is on Earth is coming to an end. Please I ask for your heartfelt prayers. Sincerely, Rosemarie Pundsack. In a few moments, I am calling for another ambulance as I am having trouble breathing. God Bless you all who read this message.

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