There is only one single way. Go inward. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all—ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into your heart for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong simple "I must," then build your life according to this necessity. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
Why write? I guess every writer, author, or poet--of which I am none of the above--has to answer this question for him or herself. I am just a guy, and a very ordinary one at that. All I can do (all anyone can do) is give you the reason why I write. That's why I have always found these words from Rilke to be so incredibly helpful. I write because I must. I do not write to be read. I do not write to have an impact. I do not write to become famous. I do not write to be published. I do not write to make a living. I write because something deep inside bids me write. It is essential to the health of my soul, and to my calling in this world. Simply put, I am not being the one God created me to be if I do not. So I write.
And as I do so, it is essential for me to keep this necessity on the front burner of my mind. For it is so easy for me to lose sight of the must in the midst of the abundance of lesser reasons that are apt to divert my attention and dilute the clarity of my voice. Mine is to be a faithful witness to the work God is doing within me and around me. To tell the story of what God is doing in my heart and in my soul and in my life and in my world, regardless of whether anyone else ever reads it or finds it helpful. Mine is not to be helpful. Mine is to be myself. That is why I have to resist the other voices that are apt to try and sway me with notions of "what readers want" or "how to write in a way to gain an audience." Frankly, I don't care what readers want. And I shouldn't care what readers want. That, for me at least, cannot be the reason I write. For the minute I start writing for an audience, or for a publisher, or any of the abundance of people I might be trying to impress, the whole process takes a terribly wrong turn . I am no longer myself. I am what someone else wants me to be. And the only thing of real value that I have to offer anyone is the authentic, unique, genuine expression of God that he created me to be.
So whether it is writing, or painting, or singing, or speaking, or banking, or engineering, or whatever it is that God has made a must in our lives, may we do it as beautifully and as authentically and as diligently as we can. And may we build our lives according to that one necessity, not because we can, but because we must.
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