“Why do I write?”
I’ve had to ask myself this question lately and had to do some internal soul searching.
I am a writer.
Sometimes maybe I feel too humble to admit this or I feel not worthy of the title, but in reality, it is the truth. It has been the truth from the time I could write with a pen. In elementary school, I was already writing children’s short stories and illustrating (or shall I say attempting to) those stories as well. It was my dream as a 3rd grader to be a writer one day. As I got older, I dreamt of the day that I would be a writer and photographer for National Geographic and travel the world to all the places I saw in the pictures in their magazines. Throughout school, my teachers would commend me for my writing. And I wasn’t writing for their approval or praise. I was writing for myself. Because I loved to. Because it was a part of me. I had to write. Always a deep thinker and introspective person, the words easily flowed from my head onto paper. It gave me joy and happiness to create something from nothing. From a blank page into a work of art – not of painted colors but of words pieced together to create meaning and to create a story.
There are boxes in our garage full of journals, my journals, that I have bled my heart into. And I keep buying those journals. I keep filling the pages, and I keep writing.
But, there are times, when, I don’t want to write anymore.
I feel uninspired. This happens to every writer and we automatically think of the word, “writer’s block.” It’s a real thing. There are no ideas. Or we can’t find the way to get it out of our heads….like when a word is on the tip of your tongue.
Or, I simply want to regress away and hermitize myself. Being a writer, at least when you are writing about your own life, is highly personal. It’s risky. It’s scary. Putting yourself out there and exposing yourself takes courage. And it can take a lot out of you. For me, it sometimes creates anxiety as the writer is often wondering what other people are thinking of their writing, and, “what are they thinking about me?”
Which leads me to a reason of why I recently found myself putting my writing to a halt. I had to ask myself why I was writing. Was it for the people? Was my heart in the right place?
In our world of social media, it is so easy to get caught up in the self-gratification of getting “likes” on what we post. It sounds silly and juvenile, but unfortunately, over time, some of us find ourselves becoming obsessed with the number of “likes”, comments or now it’s “reactions” that we get. We can find ourselves rating the worth of what we posted, whether that be a picture, a blog post, etc… based on the number of “likes” we got. Our minds, naturally so, are wired to think that the more “likes”, the better it is. And the less “likes”, we are apt to think that what we presented was not that great after all. We want what we present to the world to be perceived well. As a writer, I have found myself from time to time getting wrapped up in this. And so then I have to ask where my heart is in all of this.
I often find myself thinking of the verse, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” (Galatians 1:10). It was this very verse and a convicting lesson I heard in church one day several years ago, that I made the decision to get off of Facebook. And I did. For two years. Two whole years, people! That’s a long time! Especially for someone who had realized she was getting too much out of the approval or lack of approval from others through Facebook. She needed to start living more for herself, and not for others.
That was several years ago, and I’ve been back on Facebook since then, though I have had my short breaks that I’ve needed to take from time to time.
Alas, but this post isn’t meant to be just about social media.
I’m being honest about the struggles of being a writer, especially in today’s modern world of technology. I’m talking about the things I wrestle with as a writer.
When I find myself getting gratification from the accolades of people and losing sight of why I wrote what I wrote in the first place….then it’s in those times when I have to take a step back.
I recently found myself feeling a tug at my heart strings to step away from some things in my life. From a group I was leading. From Facebook. From writing.
I found myself needing to get away from people. To become a hermit for awhile. To rest. To seek God. To seek peace in a chaotic world. To see where my heart and priorities were and do some evaluating.
It was during this sabbatical, that I found myself feeling down in the dumps. I didn’t know what to do with my time. I didn’t have Facebook on my phone to scroll mindlessly through. I didn’t have my group to lead. I was losing connection with friends and feeling an emptiness and loneliness. The worst feeling, though, that I found when getting rid of several things all at once, was I was feeling unfulfilled. And then I realized that all these things that I had let go of, including the praise of man, had been giving me a lot of fulfillment. I then felt guilt because of this. But it was during this short break that I found myself spending more time with God and reading books that drew me closer to Him. I felt, at times, a sense of peace and weight off of my shoulders to have surrendered these things for a while. I felt less anxious.
But I began wondering a question – a question we all ask ourselves. “What is my purpose?”
I stopped writing altogether, even for myself in my own personal journals and I realized that something was missing. Something is missing when I am not writing. I am not feeling fulfilled. Writing is like life to me. It GIVES me life. And it has been this way for years, without me even realizing it.
And I think I have come to realize that part of my purpose here on earth is to write. God gave me a talent – a passion, and I must not let it go to waste. As I was going for a run the other day, a thought came to my mind; “I love to inspire people.”
This brought clarity and happiness to my soul. And then that was the answer to my question, “Why do I write?” I write for several reasons, but the driving force behind it is truly to inspire other people. To help people. To encourage others to follow their dreams.
Ever since I overcame my sickness with postpartum depression three years ago, I have been so transparent and vulnerable about that time in my life and what life looks like since going through that. It hasn’t been easy to be so honest, but I have felt compelled, perhaps even called by God to do this. And the reason has been to help others. To know they aren’t alone.
I’ve tried to write about “real life stuff”, so that people can relate. There’s so much perfection that we see on social media and perhaps I’ve even portrayed that from time to time when posting pictures of our travels that have been edited and filtered so that the picture looks like it’s from a fairy tale. But, for the most part, I have felt the calling to, on Facebook and in my blog posts, to be real. It’s kind of against the norm to talk about things like depression and anxiety, but after having gone through it myself, I want to shed light on it. And as one who is on the other side, I want to encourage and inspire others that they will get through the darkness.
And so, I write to inspire. I write for myself. It has helped bring me healing from my battle with PPD. I write for others.
I don’t want to get caught up in the applause of men and I think this is something I will have to constantly keep in check and not lose sight of the purpose of the piece I am writing.
A dear friend of mine sent a message to me recently during my sabbatical from writing, and I felt it was perfect timing and perhaps a sign from God. She said, “You have a gift. Keep doing what you are doing. You have a beautiful way with words.” And her words inspired me to write again. Her words inspired me to say to myself, “I’m not meant to be here to just be silent.”
And I will not be silent. I will not let my pen become covered with dust. I will not let the pages of my journal be left empty.
I will fill those pages with my words. I will fill them with my heart.