Guest Post by Joe Bunting: Why You Are Toiling at Your Keyboard

Sep 17, 2011Archive

I’m happy to have Joe Bunting here today. He writes fiction and non-fiction and teaches other folks how to write it, too, over at The Write Practice. If you’re a writer who wants to work on your craft, swing on by.

Today, I realized a dangerous thought was causing havoc in my head. The thought has circled through my subconscious for several days, maybe even several months, and I didn’t even realize I was thinking it.

The thought was a thief. It stole my creativity and my joy.

If you are a writer, you have probably thought this thought before.

What is the thought?

Writing For Others

First, let me tell you something about my life right now. I recently started a blog, as all responsible writers do. To draw readers to my site, I have been guest posting on other blogs. It’s been great. Bloggers, I think, are some of the most gracious people in the world. I’ve enjoyed interacting with them.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed writing has become harder. One day, I got writer’s block. Another, I put off writing until late in the evening because I was scared of the blank page. And this thought has been haunting me, the thought I was telling you about. The thought is this:

What should I write? And who should I write it for?

Now, you might think, What is so dangerous about that? Seems pretty harmless to me. The reason this thought is dangerous is because of one small word.

The dangerous word is should.

I started writing not because I should write, but because I wanted to write, indeed, because I needed to write. Somewhere along the way, though, it stopped being a want or a need. It became a should.

It became toil.

I decided to change my thought. “No, not what should I write,” I said to myself, “what do I want to write? Better yet, what do I need to write? Who do I need to write for?”

And then it struck me. I’m embarrassed it took so long.

Writing For God

“Better even than that,” I said to myself, “what does God want me to write? What can I write for him?”

It reminds me of what Thomas Merton said his New Seeds of Contemplation:

“If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men—you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.”

All of a sudden, the scales fell off my eyes. I saw writing not as toil but as a gift I wanted and needed to give. The realization cleansed me and cleansed my craft. I felt whole again. I didn’t feel dry but full of new life.


Do you need to re-focus your writing toward God? What do you think God wants you to write today? What would please him the most?