Writing as a Spiritual Walk

Photo © 2007 TheRogue CC 2.0 BY NC SA

One of the core human needs we seem to have is to make a difference in the world around us. This is what some have called “spiritual need.” We envision something that doesn’t exist, something we haven’t done, and we instinctively long to turn the dream into reality. We seek to fine-tune our perceptions, to reach new epiphanies, and then to reflect those epiphanies in the world around us.

I have posted on my desktop a saying I picked up from one of my pastor’s sermons. I don’t remember what his talk was about, but I do remember this quotation: “Give me a place to stand and change the world.” In a way, that’s the essence of spiritual fulfillment.

And yet, there are two ways to pursue this fulfillment.

Some writers are artists, in the heart-led sense of the word. They study the craft. They write from passion. And they always seek to “improve,” always trying to climb ever higher, to reach ever closer to some personal ideal. Each successive project seems to excite them more than the last, because they’re always discovering new ways to draw on their values and passions. And if they happen to find others who share those values and passions–and are even willing to part with hard, cold cash for the privilege–so much the better.

These writers can be a joy to follow, because they are following a spiritual path. They’re in it for the life-long fulfillment, and they tend to collect intensely passionate fans, but slowly. They don’t generally write blockbuster hits, and most of them are celebrities only in the eyes of their hard-won fans.

Unfortunately, we tend to glorify the other kind of spiritual writing journey. We look up to those writers who sell lots of books, to raves from a broad array of cheering fans, no matter how profane the work may be. At some level, we seek spiritual fulfillment in this brand of “success,” because we instinctively believe that if that many people knew of us and looked up to us–the way that we swoon over other top-selling authors–then we’d be part of something bigger than ourselves. And we dream that if only we could have a best-seller, “breakout” novel like that, then we’d be happy and fulfilled. Because we would have made a difference.

But you know, that kind of difference is only skin-deep. True spirituality comes from within, not from without. And as you seek it, you’ll hopefully meet other seekers who just happen to be going in the same direction. And you can connect and share along the way. And then you will have made a true difference in their lives, and they in yours.

When I wrote my first story, I hated to hear that anyone was any less thrilled with it than I was. I so wanted to be accepted and liked and appreciated. And that’s only natural. We all do. I still want to be accepted and liked and appreciated, because it hurts when someone doesn’t love my stories and characters as much as I do. But at some point, I started to internalize the truth that I had always said I believed, that I was not writing to be liked. I was writing to exemplify who I am.

We are the stories we write.

I was taking some part of me and putting it into words, turning it into a substantive entity of the real world, no longer just in my imagination. And I finally got it, that it didn’t matter as much whether the work was up to the level of Twilight. It was much more important that my work was ever more me.

That, I think, is the essence of writing as a spiritual journey.

Keep writing!
-TimK

About J. Timothy King
J. Timothy King

I'm the eldest of three siblings, a stay-at-home father of two daughters, the husband of a wonderful wife, and an indie author of life-expanding character fiction. When not writing, I read, watch old TV and movies, play bass guitar, and tend to my family in our Boston-area apartment.

Catch me on:  my web site Facebook Twitter 

Comments

Sometimes we can get up on valuing our writing journey by how others see us, how much we sell, how many followers or fans we have, but writing brings so much more than that. Thanks for writing this Tim.

I am keeping this. Thank you for saying it. It is encouraging.

J. Timothy King

Thanks so much, Tessa, Tiffany. -TimK

I think you’re right. Writing isn’t about the fame or fortune. It’s about being true to ourselves and this dream inside of us, this gift we’ve been given to share with others.

[…] King presents Writing as a Spiritual Walk posted at Be The Story, saying, “We write for spiritual fulfillment, as for other reasons. […]

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