• Justin Myers

Why Write?

“I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

Augustine of Hippo

Writing is hard. Many days, I know that I want to have something written down, a blog posted, or a new and fresh idea to type out, but I just draw a blank, or, if I do get any words down, I don’t like how they sound. In those moments, motivation is hard to find. I want the joy of completed, written work and not the hard work it sometimes takes to get there.

I remember being bummed about this for a while until I realized this is the case for most writers, even the great ones. For most people, writing doesn’t come naturally—it takes work. Everyone at least has to edit. No one spits out golden lines over and over again on their first try. I can’t even spit out a golden line after many, many tries!

(Attempted) Glory-Getter

If it’s so hard, why take all the effort to go through it? I am sure there are many reasons that I desire to write—some good and some not so good. Even now, I am asking the Lord to purify my motives for writing and sharing it. Of course, there are many writers out there who also happen to be well known, well thought of, and influential. My sinful heart wants that influence for the sake of praise; I want to get glory. This is a true struggle. It makes me consider whether I should share what I write at all. If there was no “possibility” of fame, would I even consider writing? That is a question I have to keep asking myself.

The prayer is this as I think about my heart and my words: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). My desire is to reassess my heart regularly for negative motivations and pray in this way, leaning into the good purposes for writing and sharing, rather than aspirations for glory-getting.

Learning As I Go

When I search for good motives, I don’t draw a blank. I first identify with this quote from Augustine, that “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” Writing and learning are reciprocal for me, and thankfully I enjoy both! Writing gives me an avenue to organize my thoughts in a visible way. The thoughts are laid out on a sheet of paper, or computer screen, and I can see the organization of my thinking process, taking jumbled thoughts and resituating them into a helpful structure. Every paper for school or post for this blog has been written this way. Once the words are down, I can see what needs to be clarified or explained, and what needs to be moved around into a more logical flow.

Writing helps me to remember, too. I am one of those introverts who always has internal dialogue going on in my mind. I can’t imagine how many thoughts I have had that just disappeared forever. Maybe one or two of them—out of thousands and thousands—was a good or helpful idea, but now it is lost! That is why I started trying to write about at least some of the books I read, I want to remember the good ideas they contain and the good ideas the book inspires in me too. So I write in many ways with the motivation to help me think and to help me remember things. Getting words down on paper helps me to retain thoughts. It works as a sort of catalogue of my mind to keep in one place a collection of what seem to be good or helpful ideas. But it also helps me to think clearly and more thoroughly. In that way it helps me to learn.

Not a Trophy

Another desire in my heart is to produce good and helpful writing for the sake of others. I pray only for this desire to grow. I need to home in on a message and its effect on people, no matter how many there are who read—even if it is just me. If I don’t have a beneficial message for others to hear, then there is no point in sharing it publicly. Otherwise, sharing just becomes a display of “look what I have done”. The finished product is a trophy of self-imposed worth rather than life-giving service to others. May that not be! Part of the motive for writing then, and pushing through the difficulty that it sometimes is, is to benefit other people and to provide something to encourage truth in our lives or add beauty or goodness to our day.

The message I intend to communicate is everyone should find a way to enjoy reading thoughtfully. In some sense I desire to provoke people to be truth-seekers who read for life change. Currently, I am trying to grow in this myself. I used to be proud of finished books, like a middle school first-place trophy, and be excited to tell everyone which books I had read, simply for the sake of saying I finished it. But like that juvenile basketball trophy sitting on the shelf, many books lay dusty with no inherent value added to my life, no truth seen with fresh eyes and no difference in me after the close of the book. If people had asked what I learned from some of the books, there was a good chance, many times, I would have been hard pressed to say much of anything. How embarrassing!

Not only can reading be a joy, but it can also be beneficial—or massively influential—for your life. Reading should affect our lives and I want to encourage you and me to read better than what became my habit, and to think critically, and to look for what is true and good and beautiful, to live differently because of it, and share it with each other. If I can inspire that at all in me and in you, I will be satisfied and consider it worth the hard work of writing.

Words and Their Writers

I also enjoy what words do, and the people that work with them. How incredible is it that words spoken or marked on a page can communicate anything between two people!? Think about it. Words truly are a unique tool in the world that we don’t appreciate often enough. To me, it is a pleasure to watch someone use the tools well. I love a good sentence or paragraph and like to think about how a writer strung the words together, not only to communicate something important, but to communicate in a way that is compelling.

There are many who excel at the craft of communicating in a compelling way. And just like I enjoy watching elite athletes preform jaw-dropping feats, I also love to observe a great writer’s masterful prose. When I watched Drew Brees play football growing up, I wanted to play like him; now, I see the way C.S. Lewis wrote and aspire to put words on a page like he did. In both scenarios, I was and will probably never be as great as those two men. (Maybe I can be as great as Brees at writing, and Lewis at football!) Both men were masters at their own craft though, and I love watching them and want to try to do it on my own level too (well, the football dreams are long-gone at this point). Lewis is not the only writer I admire—there are many others who I enjoy reading from not only for the truth they intend to communicate in their content, but also for the style of their craft.

Worth It

Writing is hard, but worth it. And because it is worth it, it is many times not so hard! There is joy in getting jumbled thoughts in order and expanding and learning. There is joy in communicating something good to others. And for me, I love to think about words and learn better how to use them. So writing for these reasons is what motivates me to continue on. And as I write, I continue to learn.

“I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

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