On Writing and Writing with God
|June 9, 2012||Posted by Derek Elkins under Elkins Blog, The Blog|
Y'know, sometimes writing is a job, especially when I'm feeling lazy, which is a lot of days. When I'm feeling lazy, anything is better: playing video games, reading a book or just watching a movie. I have to push myself to accomplish things.
When I first began writing screenplays, everything was new and fresh. It was like finding I had a new skill or after I just bought a new toy. I went nuts on writing for a good couple years. And I thought my stuff was the most perfect material in the world. I submitted my writing to contests and wondered, when I lost, why they didn't see my obvious genius. I concluded that they didn't know talent when they saw it and kept on going. If I had allowed myself to obsess on their criticisms, I would have stopped right there. But there's this momentum when you're starting that pushes you forward, makes you strive higher.
As I progressed through my writing, as I wrote more, I became a better writer. But it came at a bit of a price. I wanted to write slower and perfect as I went. It became a bit more like a job. But my writing was better and is better. It came with that sudden burst of speed at the beginning, but, like life, it slowed down and began to polish its act.
Was the first stuff I ever wrote garbage? I don't know. I'd have to read over it again, if I get the time. I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time this year. It was her first work. But was it really her first work? I don't know. If she had a chance to perfect her writing through short stories or whatever as a kid, I have yet to find out.
I was reading this other book by this guy named Malcolm Gladwell about the people who hit it big in our society. According to his study, even the Beatles had practiced over 10,000 hours before they started writing their best material. So, a lot of what we think about natural geniuses is probably really wrong. I'm sure there are probably people who are naturally gifted, but even they need to perfect their art. Mozart performed a ton of hours as a kid as well. That doesn't mean he wasn't naturally gifted, but even Wolfie had to perfect his art.
A lot of Christians automatically think that since God gave them a talent for writing, that He's automatically gonna make whatever comes out of their word processors a work of art. But everyone needs practice. If God gave you natural ability without you having earned it, you would begin to have a sense of entitlement. But, see, God's not an enabler. Will He help as you go? Will He provide inspiration and creative ideas? Certainly. But He also expects you to get down in the dirt and roll up your sleeves. And you won't want to do that hard work if hard work wasn't what brought you success in the first place.
Now, don't think this is a God helps those who help themselves speech. Although it kind of is. My thinking and experience is that when we work with God, it's not a one-sided deal. It's not Him doing all the work. He's got His side of the bargain and we've got ours. We step out in faith and He provides, as long as we keep walking. I honestly believe that we can accomplish anything for the kingdom of God that we want, as long as we don't stop in our tracks and think that God is gonna keep on going without us.
Can God accomplish His will without us? Of course He could. But God likes working with us. He loves working with us. He loves it when our goals are His goals. And He will honor our efforts. But we've got to keep moving forward and pushing ourselves, especially when our gifts start to feel a bit like work.