In Others’ Words: I Must Write


It’s been a week of story. 

Depending on the hour of the day, I’ve either been mulling over a story idea or talking about a story idea with my writing friend and mentor, Rachel Hauck, or writing out a story idea, a.k.a a synopsis … and repeat, repeat, repeat.

The sentence in the quote, “I must write it all out, at any cost” — I get it. Tuesday night I was mentally exhausted by all the mulling, talking, and writing it all out — and I knew I wasn’t done. More of the same waited for me the next morning.

As Anne Morrow Lindbergh also said, “Writing is thinking.”  Writers think as they plot a story — before they ever write the once-upon-a-time beginning. They delve deep into the why of their stories, which often carry echoes of the whys in their own lives. And then they think, think, think as they write scenes that become chapters that build a manuscript, which, when it’s edited and rewritten (and rewritten), becomes a “real” book.

Yes, novels are, by definition, fictitious. Make believe. But for most of the writers I know, the stories they write are steeped in real life struggles. Real life challenges … and triumphs. Real life heartache that maybe didn’t have a happily ever after. The characters are imaginary, but the authors are so, so conscious of what has been lived as they write Chapter One … all the way to The End.

In Your Words: When has the truth “I must write it all out” gripped you? Do you journal? Write novels or nonfiction? How does writing help you be conscious of living?

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  1. September 15, 2016, 4:33 am   /  Reply

    Actually, I don’t have to write. I don’t even LIKE to write.

    I do it as a kindness to my characters, whose stories, I am convinced, exist separately of my life, and who have chosen (or been unfortunately assigned) me as their journalist.

    I can’t say that writing has ‘sharpened’ me, any more than polishing a tile will turn it into a mirror (Zen proverb). I’m already quite conscious of living and dying in every moment, and I don’t journal. As the hrossa of C.S. Lewis’ Malacandra say, “It is better to remember.”

    • September 15, 2016, 5:24 pm   /  Reply

      I loved reading this glimpse into the “why” of your writing, Andrew — the force that pushes your pen, so to speak, or that causes you to put your hands to the computer keyboard. And don’t you think journaling is one way to remember?

      • September 15, 2016, 9:51 pm   /  Reply

        Journaling, to me, is like trying to capture a sunset on a cell-phone camera. If we have an assumed way to preserve an experience in amber, so to speak, we surrender a little of the immanence of the gift we’ve been given.

        And one of my tenets of faith is that the Almighty has saved up all that is important, and that in the eternal morning of His presence, I will be able to wander through the memories at my leisure. I don’t have to worry. Nothing is truly loved, and lost.

  2. September 15, 2016, 6:22 am   /  Reply

    You especially are a gifted writer for whom thinking and writing becomes reality and truth that enriches your readers so you do pay a creative birthing price that we respect and appreciate–birth pangs, as it were, and we look forward to the delivery and then the growing child.
    Our home in Canada was heated by an efficient wood-burning stove with a glass door so we got to enjoy warmth as well as beauty. Sometimes ashes from previous fires accumulated and we couldn’t get a good new fire going until we shoveled out the old ashes into a bucket and carried them away. But underneath we would find even tiny insulated sparks that were enough when blown upon to start a good rousing new fire. I’m praying that for you today, used ashes gone by the wind of God and a fresh steady new fire burning and growing to warm you and us all 🙂

    • September 15, 2016, 11:49 am   /  Reply

      Delores, that fire and embers metaphor is sheer genius.

      • September 15, 2016, 5:27 pm   /  Reply

        Isn’t it though, Andrew? 🙂

    • September 15, 2016, 5:25 pm   /  Reply

      And your comment today, Dee, brimming over with encouragement, also displays your writing gift.

  3. September 15, 2016, 6:56 am   /  Reply

    Some days I have to ask God for every word. Every sentence. Every paragraph. Then there are the days when the words flow, but either way, I must write. I must tell the stories of my characters. Know exactly how you feel. When I sit down to start a new book, it’s like, Now, how did I do this before? 🙂

    • September 15, 2016, 5:26 pm   /  Reply

      Ah, yes, Pat … the “now how did I do this before?” moments. They happen over and over again, don’t they? 🙂

  4. September 15, 2016, 7:09 am   /  Reply

    There are times, when I’m hearing something that speaks to me on a heart level (like Ted Dekker’s keynote speeches last month), that I just HAVE to write in order to process what’s been said, and how I’m responding to it.

    I love writing in story too. It’s not usually easy, but there’s something freeing that comes from creating. There are days when the words come hard. And there are days when the words come easy. Writing words helps me understand myself and the world around me. And, it can help me to hear God’s words in my heart.

    • September 15, 2016, 5:26 pm   /  Reply

      Jeanne — ah, the echoes we hear when we write. Echoes from our lives, others’ lives, from God’s heart. It’s so, so true!

  5. Jackie Layton
    September 15, 2016, 7:15 am   /  Reply

    I woke at 3:30 this morning from a dream so real and intriguing that I knew I had to write it down. It may be the beginning of a story someday.

    Thanks for sharing, Beth. You always share intriguing quotes!

    • September 15, 2016, 5:27 pm   /  Reply

      I’m so curious about your wake-you-up dream! I do hope it births a story! 🙂

      • Jackie Layton
        September 15, 2016, 7:55 pm   /  Reply

        Thanks, Beth! I told my husband about the dream and he asked if I had taken cold medicine. Haha!

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