Friday 15 September 2017

Why we Write

Photo courtesy of KEKO64 at
For those of us who’ve started out on this writing journey later in life it’s often a result of that burning story idea that’s been bugging us for years. That was me 15 years (really has it been that long ago?). Or how many times have we met someone who says they really want to write their personal story because they believe their life has been sufficiently interesting that others would enjoy it? My dad’s one of those. And an elderly family-friend only mentioned it to me the other day. She said she had all these handwritten notes tucked away where she’d documented important moments of her life.
But so many of those people don’t get around to writing their stories. Why? A host of reasons I expect.
And then there are those many authors who consider the Lord has called them to write. I’m not one of those and have no qualms about not being.
A Seeker
“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – Cecil Day-Lewis
It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve come to realise the above quote is true for me. I think many people write or desire to write (like those I mentioned above) because they seek to be understood. Having read many non-fiction books, memoirs and such (I read more of these than fiction) I’ve realised the ones I struggle to read are those that are focusing too much on sharing their story rather than universal truths that provide relevance for a reader. As I only read today from Wayne Jacobsen (one of the co-writers of The Shack):

Your story needs to be the illustration; your book needs to be about the life lesson that will help your order.”

I’ve found this a useful reminder as I type away with the non-fiction piece that I’m writing. Yes, I’m seeking to understand why intimacy with God is such a struggle for us that can also flow over into our relationships but I’ve found I’ve needed to first chart my own story of intimacy before discovering those pearls of wisdom that others may find meaningful.

But I write fiction

“All of my novels began with a question I was wrestling with. A doubt or struggle in my life that I wanted to explore in the context of story.” – Ted Dekker

We write stories to discover the truth. And in so doing we discover more about the Lord and ourselves.
As I mentioned in a previous post last year I had to wrestle with my own shadows to effectively write a story of the same title.
The Privilege of Writing
God is creative. The first thing we see God do is … create.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 NKJV)
We are made in His likeness. So we are ALL creative. We create because He did. “We were born to make art. Our artist identity is our birthright.” (Emily P Freeman)
And we get to create with our Creator.
Double Wow!
Doesn’t it blow your mind? For whatever reason we’re writing fiction or non-fiction, we get to do it with Him. And that’s the point.
Doing it with Him.
I’ve read books and unpublished manuscripts of varying quality recently; some have been great, some not so. But what I know is that all these authors had a story in them (some were their own personal stories) and it was important they be written. Not so that it gets published, not that it sells squillions of copies, or wins awards, but they created with their Creator. And in so doing they gave Him glory.
Dan Balow summed it up really well in his Steve Laube post the other day: “God does not need your book. But he loves it when you exercise your abilities for his glory and not your own.”
And then:
“God grants his children the privilege of joining his work, no matter what you do.”
What an honour it is for us authors. To write with Him. To co-create.
So stay close to Him when you turn up each day to the blank piece of paper. He’s there. In you. And He’s so excited that you’ve once again turned up to create something … together.
Grace and peace, my writer friends.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. You're so right, Ian. It is a privilege and an honour to co-create with God. I love how writing gives space to discover answers, and that in the wrestling of truth we learn more about God's nature and character. Thanks for your post!

    1. You sum it up so well, Carolyn. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Thanks for your very thoughtful comments, Ian. Only a few days ago, I experienced again that deep joy you mention of co-creating something with God--just a small piece of creative writing for our church's upcoming Art Installation--but it felt so fulfilling. Apart from my regular blogs, I haven't had time recently to work on any significant piece of writing, so it was wonderful to feel that surge of creativity rising up again.

    1. Wonderful you got to experience another one of those moments, Jo-Anne.

  3. Thanks for the inspiration, Ian :)

  4. Creating with our Creator. I love it! And I love that He lets us join his work. And I admit that sometimes I learn more from my own writing than I think anyone else does. Thanks for a great post, Ian.

    1. That's a good place to be, Jenny - learning more from your own writing. Thanks for the encouragement.


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