Dear Writer, This Is Your Only Job

Your most important job as a writer—in fact, I would argue your ONLY job—is to keep yourself writing; and trust me, that is job enough.

When you sit down to write, it will seem like all heaven and earth has come down to stop you. Every distraction, every hesitation, every uncertainty, every insecurity, every dramatic event, every heartsickness will descend on you in the hour you are to write.


You will think to yourself, “Oh, this doesn’t matter much. It can wait until tomorrow. I need to think about it more. It isn’t turning out well, anyway. I’ve written better. Other people have written better. No one will read it. I’m wasting my time. This will never work. I should come back to it later.”

You will be fully convinced all of those things are true (“No really,” you’ll tell me, shaking your head, “In my case it is true!”).

But here’s the thing: none of that is your job to arrange. None of it is your job to coordinate. None of it is your job to ensure. The readership, the organization, the goodness or badness of the writing, how much it will matter in the grand scope of the Universe, whether lives will be changed, even the punctuation and spelling —none of that is the job of the writer.

Writing is not an exercise of the mind. It is an exercise of the heart. (tweet this)

Come to think of it, the same is true for life.

There are activities in life that require our minds. But the art and the act of living, for the most part, is a task of the heart. And when it comes to how your life is going to turn out at the end, what people are going to say about you at your funeral, what they’ll write on your gravestone, if a decision you make will be the most brilliant decision ever made on the face of planet Earth or whether it will be a colossal failure, well… that’s not really your job to decide.

Your job is to just keep living, just keep facing forward, just keep moving in the direction you’re led.

Give yourself a break. Tell that inner-critic inside of you (you know the one I’m talking about, the one that says, “are you sure you want to do that? You’re going to screw this all up…) to shut up for once.

Sit down and write. Go out there and live your life. The rest will work itself out.

This is your only job.

9 comments on “Dear Writer, This Is Your Only Job

  1. SO needed this today! I make extensive “to write about when I have time” lists. But then, when I do have time to sit down and really write, I can’t get back to where I was when the ideas struck…no matter how detailed my original notes.

    If my job is to write, then surely I can give myself permission — an admonition, even! — to sit down for 15 minutes and let the initial jumble of words/ideas/connections pour out. The brilliance of revision and editing I can save for “when I have time.”

  2. Beautiful! I’m in the middle of a 31 day writing challenge about faithful fitness and I’m wondering if my readers want to hear about this topic anymore. Yet my heart and mind still have more to say. I feel a push-pull. It’s time to stop thinking and just DO.

  3. Hi,

    I just wanted to say thanks for this post, I really liked it.
    I stumbled upon your site about a week ago, and today I received an email update about this post. I’m glad that I did, I needed to read this. It isn’t often that I come across a blog or post that I absolutely love, but today I did. I usually stay up to date with writers like Jeff Goins and Renee Bergeron, I plan to add your site to my list of favourites along side these great writers. You are inspiring people with your writing, keep up the good work!

  4. In a moment where every distraction possible is weighing down on me, stopping me from writing, this distraction is one that was well needed.

    Your point about spelling and grammar especially struck a cord. I’d written a piece for a popular blog, had it published, was glowing from the recognition and then bam. A comment pointing out a typo and how everyone seems to call themself a writer. I went from elated to deflated in a heartbeat.

    It didn’t matter that I poured my heart into my writing. The typo and grammar – that was the sticking point.

    Thank you for the reassurance that perfection isn’t a prerequisite for writing. You’re an angel. 🙂

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