fb

What is the purpose of writing?

Forums Fiction Themes What is the purpose of writing?

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #49458
    K.M. Small
    @morreafirebird

    Hello Emberians! (or whatever we ended up calling ourselves). I have a certain question I’ve been pondering for a while and I’d love to hear some other thoughts on it:

    What do you think is the purpose or end of writing? In other words, why should writers write?

    Specifically, I’m thinking about this in regards to publication. There are so many people trying to get published these days that it seems getting published itself has become the purpose of being a writer.

    Yet, I’ve asked people why they are writers, and I can’t recall one of them saying they are a writer because they want to get published. They usually say they’re writers because they want to communicate truth, tell untold stories, etc.

    That got me wondering: should publishing even be one of our goals as a writer? If we are writers because we want to, say, process things we’re feeling, why should we get published?

    Or are we obligated in some way to get published, because God has gifted us with a story and we should naturally be trying to get it to as many people as possible? Is simply writing for ourselves and just showing our stories to friends and family a misuse of the gift and desire God has given us to write? Should we be trying to get our writing to as many people as possible through publication?

    We work hard to improve our craft — why? So we can get published and give people quality stories? If someone doesn’t want to get published, do you think it’s even worthwhile for them to work and improve their writing?

    If we write to glorify God and point others toward Him through our stories, is it wrong and selfish to not want to put in the effort to get our work to as many people as possible?

    Anyway, that was a lot of questions — I dearly love the Socratic method and it’s become my brain’s primary way of thinking as of late 😛 I’m not necessarily looking for a “right or wrong” answer; any thoughts and more discussion questions would be great. I’d love to hear your take on what you think the goal of being a writer is.


    @josiah
    @daeus-lamb @hope-ann @kate @karthmin @gabrielle-pollack @jane-maree @brandon-miller @anyone

    ~ Khylie
    "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

    #49466
    Jane Maree
    @jane-maree

    @morreafirebird Wow, nice lot of questions! Let’s dive into some of my thoughts…

    First of all, every single person has a gift for something, given to them by God. In this context we’re talking about the gift of writing. If God gives me a gift, I shouldn’t waste it. I should use it for his glory.

    However, I think there are different levels of this. Some people have been given the calling to write novels and to publish them and to share those stories with the world. Other people have maybe been given it on a smaller scale. It could be just something they do for their friends and family. Or it could even be a simple personal exploration. But no matter what scale it’s on, it’s to be used to glorify God.

    If I published, I could glorify God by sharing a beautiful truth about him with all my readers.

    If I was only sharing it with my friends and family, it’s just as precious even on that smaller scale. Perhaps it’s even stronger to each of those who experience it, because it’s more personal.

    If I never shared it with anyone, it could still glorify God if I was using it to explore his truths, his story, his gift that he’s given to me, learning more of him and growing deeper in relationship to him through my private writing.

     

    I think that personally, publishing is one of the doors that will open up to share my stories to the glory of God. For some writers, it should be a goal…but only a goal which is the means to an even larger goal of sharing stories to the glory of God. ‘Publishing’ is a goal that’s very easily idolised, and we should never have that as the end goal. The end goal is to give the glory back to God, and publishing can be the means of that.

     

    There’s also the case of the person who can write, but doesn’t feel like that’s their main calling. Should they practice writing? Yes. Should they dedicate more time to it than to their main gift? Absolutely not. It’s a balancing act.

    I experience this (in the inverted way) with my gifts of writing and music (and others, but let’s stick to two for simplicity’s sake :P). I compose songs, play a lot of instruments, but I don’t feel like that’s my calling. I still use it to the greatest extent I can, but writing is more important to me. That said, I still keep an open mind, because maybe there will be an opportunity to share my music before there is to share my writing, and I shouldn’t let those chances slip by just because I’m obsessed with the fact that “music isn’t my main calling.”

     

    And I don’t even know if that made sense but yikes this was really cool to think about…

    Writing Heroes ♦ Writing Hope // janemareeauthor.com.au

    #49508
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @morreafirebird Definitely agree with Jane that different people are called to different things. One thing that may indicate you should publish a book is if you feel an insatiable desire to impact the culture through your writing, which I know several people do. Publishing is really the only way to do that. There’s also a great blessing if publishing can provide you a full or side income.

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #49634
    Hope Ann
    @hope-ann

    Jane said it really well.

    For me, I’ve always wanted to publish (except for the brief period of coming to grips with the fact I’d have to deal with money and taxes). And the main reason I want to publish was because I wanted people to read what I’m writing.

    Part of it was the fact that I was writing the sorts of things I wanted to read, and so I wanted them out there for others. I wanted Christian girls who loved reading to have the sort of books I wanted when I was their age. As I grew older, I wanted to impact readers and inspire them. And the main way to do that is to get published.

    Money is a nice part of it too because writing is time-consuming. And things like editing aren’t cheap. So while I’d not write just for money, if I can make money to help with my writing so I can produce more, it is a pleasant cycle for all involved.

    But yeah, it all goes back to what is the focus of life. Honoring God and serving Him. And for some people that will be through music, for others through writing, for others through art. So publishing doesn’t have to be an end goal. Though one will touch more people through publishing than otherwise. So one ought to consider a goal for life, then for writing, and then see how publishing fits into that.

    Victory in the march. Hope in the destination.

    #49838
    Josiah DeGraaf
    @josiah

    To quote the Westminster Shorter Catechism, I believe the highest goal of writing is to help us “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

    On a more specific level, God created humanity in his image with the mandate to take dominion over the earth and rule over it in Genesis 1. Ruling over the earth means forming cultures and you can’t form cultures without stories, and so I would argue that telling stories is part of fulfilling the Creation Mandate. Tolkien uses Genesis 1 rather effectively in On Fairy Stories when he says the following: “we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”

    This is also why we try to hone our craft and pursue excellence. Because God was excellent (“very good”) in everything that he did, we endeavor to do likewise to bring honor to him through humble mastery of craft. Even if no one else recognizes what we did, the things that we accomplish for God’s glory are innately valuable and meaningful (see: the short story “Leaf by Niggle” by Tolkien; can you tell I love his thoughts on this? xD).

    With regards to publication, there’s another dimension of storytelling as well that I think relates to this, which is that I believe that storytelling is a way to love our fellow image-bearers by helping them make sense of reality. Narratives are one of the most powerful ways we can help others experience truth, and stories are excellent ways to do that.

    As a result, I do believe that part of the purpose of writing means looking for ways to use what we write to love others around us. That can take many forms–from just sharing them with family and friends, to pursuing publication, or anything in-between. I definitely don’t think a writer is sinning if they never try to get published! But I do believe that when God gives His people gifts, He gives them gifts so that they not only glorify Him with them, but so they also bless the lives of others with those gifts. What that practically looks like can vary a lot (I don’t believe publication is required). But that’s why I believe publication can fit into the goal of writing, since it’s one of the most powerful ways we can use our gifts in service of others.

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

    #49840
    Martin Detwiler
    @karthmin

    @morreafirebird

    Publishing is not the purpose of writing. But it is often the gateway that allows authors to more fully pursue it. Not always, but becoming published often makes writing full-time economically feasible.

    So rather than a purpose, I would call it a stepping-stone. Because it’s the first major stepping-stone, I think it gets a lot of undue attention – to the point where we’re asking these questions at all.

    But on the other hand, I don’t think writing without the goal of becoming published is a misuse of talent or purpose – it all comes down to what place you want writing to have in your life (some people are satisfied to keep writing as a hobby their whole lives), and may even be effected by what time in your life it is. A young mother of four tumbling tots probably shouldn’t be actively seeking publication. In the same way, a struggling young father shouldn’t pass up a better job that will financially stabilize his family just so he can keep the free time to write and actively seek publication. There are first-order things that take priority in our lives, and writing is not one of them. God hasn’t expressly told me to write stories for His glory, but He has expressly told me to provide for my family and to love my wife as Christ loved the church (not that I currently possess either wife or children). And if I am faithful in those things, God will bless my other endeavors.

    Writing may be the particular gifting that God has given me, but it still comes in as a second-level thing for me.

    There’s a difference, I think, between balancing one’s priorities rightly, and ignoring (or misusing) God-given talent. The first takes into account a broader perspective of life, and never lets go of the talent itself; while the second is wilful neglect.

    Hope summed it up really well in the last sentence of her comment.

    I don’t know if you read the topic about Writing for Money Alone, but we had a good discussion there that touched some of the same questions that you brought up here. 🙂

    myths don't die

    #49846
    K.M. Small
    @morreafirebird

    @jane-maree I love your answer 😀 It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of “publishing” that we forget it’s a means to an end, not an end itself — that part of your answer is so profound. And I get what you mean about having multiple gifts. For the longest time, I thought I would have to choose between one of my gifts and /just/ focus on that one, but now I realize there’s a way to still use all my gifts, just to different degrees.


    @daeus-lamb
    agreed. It’s convenient when your calling also gives you money 😛


    @hope-ann

    So one ought to consider a goal for life, then for writing, and then see how publishing fits into that.

    Great thoughts. Do you think there’s a certain degree of publishing that should also be figured out? If someone went the traditional route, they’d be (presumably) more likely to reach a large audience, while independent publishing may not allow that until one has built a good platform. So if someone wanted their stories to reach a lot of people, do you think they should go with traditional publishing over independent publishing?


    @josiah
    wow. That was deep XD I’ll have to check out Tolkien’s essays. Those are some really great points.


    @karthmin

    There’s a difference, I think, between balancing one’s priorities rightly, and ignoring (or misusing) God-given talent. The first takes into account a broader perspective of life, and never lets go of the talent itself; while the second is wilful neglect.

    Really well said. It’s often easy to think that if we have the gift of writing, we need to be using it all the time, which results in ignoring the other duties given to us, and then our writing isn’t pleasing to God.

    I read the first few posts in that topic, but I’ll have to check out the rest. 🙂

     

    Thank you all so much for answering! I really appreciate your thoughts 😀

    ~ Khylie
    "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

    #49848
    Martin Detwiler
    @karthmin

    @josiah

    I appreciate your comment a lot, especially how you tied it back to theology and our purpose as humans. And you’re bringing Tolkien into the fray… I love that.

    (I got to read “Leaf by Niggle” for one of my English classes two years ago, and wow that story has a lot packed in it!)

    I didn’t see your comment when I wrote mine (I took quite a while!), so I just now read it. 🙂

    myths don't die

    #49909
    Josiah DeGraaf
    @josiah

    @karthmin Yeah–Leaf by Niggle is awesome. Probably one of my favorite short stories.

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

    #49923
    Hedges
    @h-jones

    So many long paragraphs and amazing insight. ^^’ Well, might as well offer my two cents here, and I may be repeating because I didn’t read everyone else’s thoughts. Still, when I first read the title to this thread, a quote popped into my mind that I absolutely love:

    “If you want people to know the truth, tell them. If you want people to love the truth, tell them a story.” – Andrew Peterson

    I think that such should be the end goal of writing. To show people the truth, and help them grow to love it, because it’s truly a beautiful thing. I think this is wonderfully communicated in the book Wonder, even though I don’t think it was written from a Christian worldview, lots of truth was packed into it and ah. Such a beautiful story. And it helped me see things from August’s point of view, and how every person is a person, no matter what they look like or behave like. It’s a beautiful story. And it helped me love the truth of the matter.

    Narnia. The Hobbit. Wonder. All these books grew the love for truth in me, and I think that’s awesome. OH YES. AND THE WINGFEATHER SAGA. All of those books. And they mean a ton to me because they showed the truth for what it really is: beautiful. It’s impossible not to love. 🙂 If that makes sense.

    And obviously, I don’t think that we should portray everything as perfect in our stories, but I think we should portray life as it is (at its core, naturally – some fantasy stories aren’t exactly true to life in the physical, but behind the magic and elves there are lots of good life lessons xD like the Lord of the Rings). And life is beautiful. Let the truth speak for itself. People speak or think or talk to much, I think, and stories are a good way to help people listen. 🙂 In my opinion, at least.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Hedges.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Hedges.

    Married a blacksmith, and now frequently uses his knowledge for writing fantasy.

    #49954
    K.M. Small
    @morreafirebird

    @h-jones beautiful thoughts! (and I love that quote). I definitely agree. Storytelling can carry truth so well and inspire others to love it 🙂

    ~ Khylie
    "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

    #49955
    Northerner
    @northerner

    @h-jones, the Peterson quote is right on! Not that the Tolkien and catechism quotes are at all wrong either; they’re what I first thought of when I saw the title of this thread, but that’s a perspective that often gets left out. It’s why we write stories instead of doing apologetics. Nothing wrong with the latter, and if I weren’t a writer I might go into apologetics myself, but it’s true that though argument is valuable and you definitely want people to know why they should believe something, and for yourself to have the practice refining the reasons you believe something yourself, it doesn’t usually teach people to love the conclusions. That’s the particular realm of art, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so against shoehorning sermons in — whether that’s an actual sermon in a story, or getting preachy in the description of a painting. You’re working on the noble affections, which tend to skip reasoning at times, though hopefully they end up in the same place reason would also take them to. A world with a lot of apologetics books and no good fiction would be just fine for getting people to Heaven, only somewhat boring, but woefully incomplete because people would have so much harder a time learning to love the good and true and beautiful for what they are apart from any hope of gain attached to them.

    #50224
    Hope Ann
    @hope-ann

    @morreafirebird Yes, I think the kind of publishing can figure into one’s goals. At that point, you’ll probably be considering both goals in marketing terms (yes, because of money. But also because if you’re trying to reach people, that means building a platform and a number of other aspects.) For some projects/points in life, traditional publishing might be better. For others, self-publishing might be better.

    For myself, I’m hoping to do both. I’ve self-published–as much to grow my platform as anything else, but I’d like to get traditionally published as well to reach a wider audience.

    Victory in the march. Hope in the destination.

    #50812
    K.M. Small
    @morreafirebird

    @hope-ann that makes sense. For some reason I’ve always thought it would be better for myself to have a smaller reader base (some instinctive thing…still trying to figure out why…), but traditional publishing definitely has its benefits.

    ~ Khylie
    "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

    #51272
    Hope Ann
    @hope-ann

    @morreafirebird Ha. Yeah. I mean, there is something to be said for going deep, not wide. It’s my own ‘tatic’ too. But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try to spread out and grow in reach as well as depth. Though I’d not sacrifice depth for reach either.

    *nods at self* that sounded very deep and thoughtful and stuff. I’m gonna just leave it here for all of you to ponder. XD

    Victory in the march. Hope in the destination.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Pin It on Pinterest