Are You Called to Be a Writer?

Are You Called to Be a Writer?

Most of us write for simple reasons: We enjoy it. It gives us personal satisfaction and fulfillment. Maybe it earns us a little money. For most of us, those reasons are good enough by themselves to justify our pouring our time and thought and effort into what is largely a metaphysical pursuit.

But at one point or another in your commitment to writing, you can’t help but wonder if this crazy passion is really worth your time.

What if You’re Not Called to Be a Writer?

Is your talent and desire for writing a gift you’re meant to use? Or is it just a harmless hobby, something to pass the time that others might pass by remodeling classic cars or playing soccer? Is your writing just a fun pastime–or are you called to be a writer?

Because fiction is largely seen as a venue of the entertainment industry, it can be easy—and even tempting—to dismiss writing as ultimately pointless. Is something as insignificant as a story really going to matter in a hundred years? Check that—is it really going to matter next year?

In short, as much as we love our stories, they really don’t measure up with the truly important things we could be doing with all that time we spend writing. Right?

Why Writing Is Always a Calling

My answer is no. Absolutely, unutterably, unquestionably no. Vinita Hampton Wright, author of the hauntingly beautiful The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life, puts it poignantly:

When you respond to your creative calling, you are doing something that is necessary for the world. It may be necessary in big ways—say a series of newspaper articles that can help shape the consciousness of a generation. Or it may be necessary in small ways—perhaps a charcoal sketch that brings you, the artist, healing. But art is not a luxury. Creative works are called out by cultural and personal needs that are too deep and intuitive to be obvious every time.… It’s difficult to quantify such quality. It would be impossible to do a spreadsheet analysis of how artistic work helps us.

Whether or not writing is your personal calling, I can’t say. Only you can decide that for yourself. But, chances are, if you’re reading this, you have been called.

Embrace the calling. Take pride in it. Thank God for allowing you to participate in such a spectacular life’s work. And never belittle it just because, at the end of the day, all you’ve produced is a handful of words. Words have ever been and always will be the most forceful catalysts in the world.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Have you doubted that you were called to be a writer? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments!

Are You Called to Be a Writer?

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Embracing. Thanks for this post!

  2. Beautiful post! (and I love the picture!) I love the inspiration of the words you wrote…thank you for sharing!

  3. Our world has its understanding of the arts backwards. This discipline is not some extra school activity (if the funding is available). It is, at the core, what makes us human.

  4. Thank you for this encouraging, beautiful post, K.M.! I believe God wants me to use my writing for him, but sometimes I think that surely there are more important, bigger ways to serve Him and use my time. Thanks for the confirmation that it IS OK if we’re called to write; and it IS important 🙂

  5. Your posts are always so inspirational and encouraging. I’ve thought about this ‘calling’ business often over the years. Only recently, though, have I decided to give it greater purchase in my life. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of our own way!

  6. Wonderful post. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes I do feel as though I’m wasting my time.

    I see that your reader Enders Game. I read it a few months ago and I enjoyed it, but not sure I liked the ending.

  7. Thank you, KM! This was beautiful! I need to check out that book!

  8. Because I’m supposed to be moving soon, my Christian critique group got together and each chose a Bible verse to share with me as encouragement to keep writing after I leave. One person shared the story of the master who gave talents to his servants–while two chose to invest theirs, and thus increase the master’s wealth, the third buried his in the sand.

    If we do not use the talents God has given us–great or small–there is no chance helping to grow His kingdom. If God has given you the gift of writing, then He had a reason for doing so and expects you to use it. Maybe it’s for fiction, maybe non-fiction, maybe only the occasional blog post or devotional. No matter the size of the “talent,” each investment reaches someone, somewhere.

  9. @MissM: You’re very welcome!

    @Sherrinda: It is beautiful, isn’t it?

    @Caroline: Couldn’t have said it better.

    @Mia: If God gives us a gift, no matter what it is, we should never feel it’s not good enough or big enough to use.

    @Madison: We’re our own worst enemies sometimes.

    @Mary: Actually, I’m reading the last book in the series. I’m a big Orson Scott Card fan.

    @Kristen: It’s a great book. One of only two I gave five stars to in the last year.

    @Kat: I often think of the story of the talents in relation to
    my writing

  10. Wonderful post. I do believe that I was called to write and sometimes, I think I forget that. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the reminder to embrace something which produces more grey hair! It was a good post – one I needed today.lenta

  12. Thanks for the inspiring words. A great way to start the week!!

  13. @Melissa: We all need a reminder, now and then. 😉

    @Steena: Oh well, just think how distinguished all that gray hair is going to make us look!

    @April: Good post!

    @Paul: Happy writing in the new week!

  14. Thanks for writing this post today, it was exactly what I needed to read. I shall attack my WiP with fresh energy and purpose…or at least I’ll try.

    Elspeth

  15. Attack away! I’m glad you found a wee bit of inspiration in the post.

  16. Wow – I got a chill with this post.

    Thank you for sharing!

    I do think my inclination to write is a calling, but it sure does get tedious sometimes. 🙂

    Who can look at the work of Faulkner, Hemingway, or Percy Shelley and ever question the validity and importance of literature? Who could read Poe and question whether ‘entertainment through words’ will last?

    My goodness – writing is extremely important! Writing of all genres and voices.

    KM – I left you an award at my blog:

    from the desk of a writer

    Thanks for your post here! Inspiring.

    All the very best,
    Corra 🙂

  17. Aww, thanks so much Corra. Much appreciated! 🙂

  18. Oh Katie!

    “But, chances are, if you’re reading this, you have been called.”

    I read. I’m embracing. I’m thanking.

    And I’m trusting.

    Beautiful post! Beautiful you!

  19. If there’s any inspiration and any truth trickling through this post, you have to know it’s coming from a Higher Source. But I’m so happy you were encouraged!

  20. Thank you for this post. As hard as try to be the cheer princess, I was needing exactly this today. I’m going to have to find the book by Wright. It sounds wonderful. 🙂

  21. I think even the most passionate among us run dry sometimes. 🙂 And I highly recommend Wright’s book!

  22. Sometimes well-meaning, nice, people will say, “oh, what a wonderful hobby you have…” *sigh* – I usually just smile or nod or whatever, but this is not a hobby, this is what I do and I work hard at it – I take it seriously – it’s my job, my business, my passion-sometimes my hate, my angst, my ARGH! – but never ever is it a hobby.

  23. I agree – words are so powerful, and important! The book of John says, “In the beginning, was the Word…” speaking about Jesus. If “the Word” is used to describe GOD, then certainly there is mighty power in words! Fiction can be very powerful, too; especially if we’re using it for the right reasons. People’s hearts and lives have been changed by fiction… sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Let’s aim to write stories that change people for the BETTER! And even more importantly; let’s write stories that give glory to God!

    By the way, I think it’s too cool that you just wrote a post about this. I’m working on a post that I’ll publish soon called “Why Write a Story?” It addresses many of the same things!

  24. I find it ironic how few people take artistic pursuits (and esp. writing it seems) seriously. One more reason writers need to develop thick skins!

  25. @Brianna: Send me a link when you’ve posted it, and I’ll link back to it.

  26. You’re right – it seems like people who are not writers will sometimes belittle people who express an interest in writing. Your post is a reminder to be proud of what we do.

  27. I think this post is the kick in the butt my muse needed today. I’ve been making some false starts on a piece I want to put on my blog, and can’t seem to find the thread I want for it. Now, after reading this post and considering how closely it follows my thoughts over the past couple months, I think I’ll set that aside for a bit and try to write myself an answer to your question. Thanks for the kick.

  28. @Melissa: It’s the non-writers I always end up feeling sorry for! They miss so much and don’t even realize it.

    @Gullible: I’d love to see the answer when you’ve posted it. Shoot me a link when it’s finished!

  29. Great post, as usual, Katie! 🙂

    Some others mentioned that other, non-writers consider what we do as a hobby. While I’d say at this stage, since it costs me time (and a bit of $ since I print stuff so much), it IS a hobby, it’s still my passion. I’m one of those few people that are passionate about two things, and my writing is one of them. So, no matter whether I get published this year, next year or a decade from now, I’ll keep writing, because while I do feel I’m called to do it, it’s not laborious because it’s my passion.

    And at this point in my life, that’s all that matters.

    At least where writing is concerned. 😉

  30. I’ve always said you know something is a passion when you’d *pay* to do it. *Getting* paid to it is just sprinkles on the ice cream!

  31. Words are the most forceful catalysts in the world. Loved reading this inspiring post–thanks!

  32. I’m glad you found it inspiring! Thanks for
    stopping by.

  33. Needed this guiding spotlight at this very moment. Thank you for passing along the inspiration that you received and for sharing it.

    Read your words, heard your words and now: embracing!

  34. I think too many writers struggle with feelings of guilt regarding their writing – instead of realizing that this is a gift we’re meant to wield with confidence. I’ve been there and done that myself. Don’t intend to go back!

  35. Thanks, as always, for sharing your perspetive. It was a great read.

  36. Thanks for reading!

  37. I agree!!! And in producing a handful of words, is also a piece of my heart intertwined between them.

  38. That entwining of our hearts bit is both the best and the scariest thing about being a writer.

  39. There’s no doubt in my mind, after reading all of your work that you have a calling in writing. May God continue to use you as He has done in the past to inspire others.

  40. Thank you. That means so much!

  41. What a blessing this article is for every one who is drawn in to read it. It begins to give language to the writer who finds themselves sometimes so committed to this type of work that it can feel startling particularly when they’re peers can’t relate. Kudos and thank you. 🙂

  42. One of the downfalls of writerdom is that most of the rest of the world doesn’t understand. But one of the blessings is that writers understand writers. It’s a good group to be a part of!

    I’m so thrilled that people were encouraged by this article.

  43. Lovely article, and thank you 🙂 I find stories and spirituality are intertwined. Some particular stories help me connect more deeply within myself, to that inner core of beingness, helping me be more authentic / true to myself in the world.

    If that inner essence is coming through me by writing, then the most authentic thing I can do is to honour that. It’s the fear that says No, and fear comes from the thought of being separate from that inner essence.

  44. Or fear of exposing that inner essence to the censure or critique of the rest of the world. Art is such a freeing experience – and yet it is so often shackled by fear.

  45. Yes – and I’ve experienced that fear as well, of allowing it to be seen, as well as the fear that can shackle art. I’m working through this fear using particular journalling methods. I look forward to reading more of your writing 🙂

  46. Thank you for this post. I can’t really say what my life’s calling is and whether it is writing, but I know that it would fulfill me if it were. I’ve wavered over the years, listening to people dissuade me and say I’m too young, I’m too ambitious, it will never happen, it’s too hard, it’s not a serious career, etc. But always I come back to it – my hand feels a pull towards paper and my heart a pull towards a story. I’ve never had as much support and encouragement as when I first began my blog. I’d do it all over again!

  47. @Josie: I think all artists have to encounter that fear at some point, if they want others to read their work. It’s something we all have to find a way to work through.

    @Julie: If it keeps calling you, don’t ignore it! Something you’re that passionate about needs an outlet.

  48. Thank you so much for this inspiring and energizing post. It bears reading and rereading from time to time.

  49. Thanks, Deb. I’ve been inspired and energized myself by everyone’s responses.

  50. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration.
    During our daily lives and the many responsibilities, it is sometimes hard to justify the time we spend on something as “useless” as writing without knowing if it will ever be read, or even less, published.
    I know this is so for me, and I often feel bad about it.
    And yet I carry on, and can’t stop, either.
    Maybe there is a calling in us, after all.

  51. It took me a long time to get over that sense of guilt. For me, it came down to realizing that if this was important to me then it was *important,* and I needed to treat it as such. I’m the only person in the world who can decide to make my writing a priority in my day.

  52. What a gold mine I have discovered! Thank you for your post and blog. I recently started a blog myself and self published a collection of short stories last year. I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Please let me know if I can send you a copy of my stories for your review. I greatly appreciate your time and consideration. Thank you!

    http://www.tokensofgoodness.blogspot.com

  53. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the blog! I’ll hop on over to your blog in just a sec, but I’m afraid I don’t review books on Wordplay.

  54. Somehow I missed this post until today — long after it was published! Great quote. Thanks for this. I’ve downloaded a sample of the book to my kindle. 🙂

  55. It *is* a great quote. And a great book too! I hope you enjoy it.

  56. It’s not a “hobby.” It’s a talent to use for the glory of God. I heard a quote once, “I write for the same reason I breathe. If I didn’t I would die.”

  57. I’m fond of the Eric Liddle quote from the movie Chariots of Fire: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” It’s no different for those whom He’s made writers.

  58. Thanks for the post!

    I don´t know if I will ever be a good writer, but I am one. And I know for sure I can´t quit it, regardless of how much I try when I get dissapointed. So yes, I do feel I was born for this 🙂

    Hugs,

    M.

  59. If you love it and you can’t quit it, you might as well claim it, right?

  60. Well, yes! I keep working!

  61. Highly inspirational.
    Thank you 🙂

  62. “Is something as insignificant as a story really going to matter in a hundred years?”

    I dunno. Why don’t we ask Mark Twain? XD

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      He’d probably tell us some story about digging up Jane Austen and beating her with her own shinbone. 😉

  63. Charity Marie says

    There has almost always been a calling to write in my life. It started with reading and grew from there. By the time I was fourteen I’d been encouraged enough by English teachers to write and they will never know how much their nurturing and support helped me become the writer I am today. Now, sometimes I can’t always or won’t answer the calling but it’s always inside me. There are times I doubt my ability to create but never what I’m called to do. And then there are times, like recently, when life gets in the way. But I always come back.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I always love hearing about authors who were *nurtured* by their parents and teachers early on. We hear so many stories of just the opposite, and it’s tragic.

  64. I always find myself wondering. At the moment, I’m only writing fanfiction, which I shouldn’t say “only” because it’s so important to me, although the thought of trying to write something original that has been stewing in my head for the last few weeks is there… but I’m 4 chapters away from completing this story yet there’s something that’s not letting me get the words out. Self-doubt? I have long since been at the point where I stop believing in writer’s block and that’s especially not the case considering I know exactly what to put into these chapters. I’m at the end. These last 4 chapters are the easiest…

    Some might think “fanfiction? what’s that?” or “fanfiction? that’s not real writing”–except it definitely is. I put as much passion and thought and care into that as I do for original stories (even more, considering I’ve now written nearly 100 fanwork stories)–and I have fans who are waiting for more stories from me. Over 700 people follow mine and my friend’s fanfic writing blog, and it’s relatively new. I never thought people would like my writing as much as they seem too, and it’s honestly the best feeling in the world.

    I should really just tell my self-doubt to shut up, huh? If I wasn’t meant to write, then why would I even be reading a post about whether or not I’m meant to write? I wouldn’t care that much. So I’m going to stop rambling and go write at least one of those four chapters before I sleep.

    Honestly, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve read your posts (I’ve been so distracted with other things the last couple years, yet the last few days I’ve started reading your posts again), but the last few months have been so good for getting me writing so much (over thirty stories of varying lengths, and one of my favorite works of my writing life so far!) and I don’t want myself to get stuck. I’m planning to do Camp NaNo this year for the first time. I did NaNo last year and won and tried again this year, but a week long trip to Japan and then a two week long cold in the middle of November killed my meager attempt but I’ve written about 60k words in 2 weeks! So reading this post tonight was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for writing this!

    Please forgive any bad spelling mistakes. I caught some embarrassing ones but it’s nearly 2:30 in the morning where I am so you can’t blame me, right? Heh.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I have this theory that the very fact that we worry about whether or not we’re called to do something is probably a sure indication we *are* called to do it. So rejoice in your doubt! It’s a good sign. 😉

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