writers write, why we writers write, bucket list reimagined #21, 100 droplet gifts, woman in blue jeans writing in a notebook on her knees outside, encourage others, process life, envision the future, glean from the past, change the world, share our stories, don't take me home

Why We Writers Write

“I write on my knees,” said Gabriela Mistral, as cited at the museum in Vicuña, Chile, that honors her life and legacy. So do I—that’s how we write. But why do we writers write?

The Chilean poet and Nobel laureate meant that she preferred scribbling in a notebook on her lap as opposed to writing at a desk or pecking at a typewriter. Robert Louis Stevenson (of Treasure Island fame) always kept two books in his pocket, “one to read, one to write in.” Smart thinking!

I don’t know why everybody else writes, but when I write (figuratively) on my knees, I’m praying (literally), “God, what do You want me to write? How can serve today?”

Not that I’ve ever lacked for ideas. But how do I choose which of the thousand thoughts chasing around in my head to develop? It depends on my purpose.

Sometimes writers just want to have fun! That’s more than okay ?. But today I’m sharing 6 reasons for writing. We writers write to…

Share our stories.

Oh, not our personal stories necessarily, but our love for stories and the magic of creation. We love the rhythm of language, the melody of a well-told tale in counterpoint harmony with the precise words. Ah, the alchemy of planting a seed thought and transforming it into a golden harvest, an epic of enchantment.

On the other hand, much of our writing sprouts from life experiences, including the books, music, art, and relationships we nurture our souls with. Travel enhances the flavor and color, but lacking this, reading and keen observation will add plenty of juice too.

These details become the treasure chest of our minds, from which we draw an infinite variety of twists and turns and what-if’s. Writers write, from an overflowing mind, what they want to read.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison

Process life.

In the present tense. Though catharsis is highly overrated. No writer I know really lets it all hang out. And nobody needs to know all my secrets either—or even wants to. Yet we should never keep either the pain or the joy forever bottled up.

I’m still afraid to write about some things. It will come someday. But isn’t it great that somebody has the courage to approach difficult subjects and walk through them with us in the pages of a book?

And whatever is happening, we need to stop, look, and listen. Every evening, I pause to tell myself, No matter how bad things are… (Not “they can always get worse.”) No matter how bad things are, I’m grateful to be alive in a world full of wonder if I pause to see and feel it.

Writers write, as a way of releasing on paper, what calls to be touched upon, faced, opened up.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Encourage others.

Who wouldn’t like to win the prizes and accolades and a spot on the bestsellers list? Though I wouldn’t object, that’s not why I write. If I can bless, inspire, or even just cheer up a few readers by sharing my writing, then I consider it time and energy well spent.

So my Droplet Gift #21 is… I will write on my knees today. I will focus on what will encourage and have a lasting impact.

It’s so tempting to write to impress, you know. Thousands do. But I believe we can influence far more by showing confidence in others, cherishing their dreams, and challenging them to reflect God’s glory. We Christian writers write considering “how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).

Glean from the past.

Reliving memories, recapturing our histories, and culling the experiences of our generation is the first step to preserving and benefiting from their lessons. And this is true whether we are memoirists, historians, or authors of medieval romance. Because all of us—no matter what we write—draw on our personal and collective reminiscences to make sense of the world.

“Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers.” ― Steven Spielberg

So I’m convinced you have to be a pretty steady consumer of great books before you can become even a mediocre writer. You have to steep yourself in a discipline before you can transform into a master of it.

I write to learn, as much as I read to learn. Because I don’t know everything, and I can’t possibly make every mistake. And whatever I pass on, I’ve first of all tested myself. For ourselves and others, we writers write to help tease out the transcendent from the mundane.

Envision the future.

Where do I imagine Seaglass Books in 5 years? That’s a question I get sometimes, and a valid one.

However, someone I read recently mocked the whole concept of having a vision. Not that it’s unimportant. Instead, the point was, often we’re so fixated on setting long-term goals that we fail to realize the superpower of today’s work.

The only way for me to make any truly lasting impact is to concentrate wholeheartedly on doing a quality job right now. The key to 20/20 vision is to balance farsightedness with nearsightedness.

So the future matters, but all of it—the next 5 minutes as well as the next 5 years. How essential it is to keep in mind that someday the distant future will be NOW. And the way I have spent this day in 2019 will have made a difference to THEN. We writers write to ensure that what we pour ourselves into today may accomplish its purpose in God’s time.

“Work on stuff that matters.” —Tim O’Reilly

Change the world.

What can you or I do that will matter in a million years? Some days I’m convinced that nothing I do or say or write can make even the smallest difference, let alone an impact. Perhaps my little writing ministry sounds trivial, a pathetic joke.

 “I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.” ― Orhan Pamuk, The New Life

Then I remember how deeply books have changed me. Once again, I knuckle down to the long-range view, the probability that I may never see this side of heaven even half of what God does with my words once they wing into cyberspace. I can only plug away, writing on my knees.

Our Lord Jesus Himself never aimed to ‘have a great ministry,’ only to offer people a glimpse of how great God is. His goal was never so much to change the world as to change the hearts of individuals.

So it is, writers write in the hope of changing even one person’s life.

Lord, don’t take me home…until I’ve fulfilled, not my all prideful ambitions, but that which matters to You for eternity.


  1. You do a wonderful job of expressing what Christian writers do feel in our heart of hearts. I always think of the line from Gladiator: “Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity.” Nothing is lost on God. And . . . isn’t it downright fun to noodle until we come up with just the right adjective or verb?
    Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to share your heart and wisdom.

    1. Oh, I love that quote too! Thanks for reminding me. And how about (from The Fellowship of the Ring): “All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

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