A few months ago, I poured my heart out into an article and submitted it to the website’s editor to review. After clicking send, feelings of doubt washed over me and I started dissecting the words over and over in my mind.
What if no one can relate?
What if I offend someone?
I’m definitely not perfect
Was I being too honest and vulnerable?
Is my writing good enough?
The other day while my husband was driving and I had a few minutes of peace, I read some encouraging words from a writer and author I’ve followed for a while now. Jeff Goins wrote about the subtle, dangerous temptation to write for recognition:
We begin to focus on the audience more than the act of creating, and ultimately, our art suffers. We grow self-conscious and worrisome about how a certain word or phrase will be perceived. It becomes less about the art and more about how much other people like us.
As I read those words it was like my soul was being exposed. As a writer, it can be so difficult to spend hours upon hours creating words only to later fear what your audience will think of them. I have worried about that many times.
But the truth is that I write because I love it. It’s a part of who I am. I write to tell a story, share biblical truth, encourage, and instill life and hope into others. I write because I feel closest to God when I do. I don’t know any other way to make sense of life than to write. That’s probably why I’ve had 13 journals since middle school.
If I have an audience, great. That’s a privilege in and of itself. And I always keep the reader in mind. But I shouldn’t be writing to please anyone.
Naturally, this flows into my spiritual life. In fact, it’s dug down deep in the roots of my sinful nature. You’d think at 31 years of age this would have taken care of itself but insecurities are difficult to beat. Just ask my husband.
People pleasing in life and as a writer is dangerous because it’s man-centered, not God-centered. Living for the approval and admiration of man is an idol. Paul knew it well:
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Gal. 1:10
It places the concern of people above God’s. It elevates them and not Him. And that’s a struggle that must be worked through.
But I know I’m human and in need of God’s grace. I need His discernment and love to guide me as I strive to bring him glory.
My article ended up going live at the first of the year. I prayed that God would use it how he wished and I was blown away by its positive response. Some readers contacted me through email and Facebook and we were able to encourage each other. Because it reached a broad range of people, I also had readers who misunderstood me.
One reader projected her pain onto me as the writer and she wasn’t nice.
I was tempted to get upset and dwell on her words. But I prayed for thick skin. And God gently reminded me that the audience I need to be most concerned about is the Audience of One.
The writing life is hard work, just like our faith journey. But it is love that motivates us to stay the course.
Do you find any of the above true in your own life? Feel free to share in the comments.