Friday, November 14, 2014

The Deeper Magic of Writing

by Allen Arnold

One of my favorite passages in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe occurs when Susan and Lucy are bewildered by how Aslan has come back to life. The lion gently reveals to them “that though the Witch knew the deep magic, there is magic deeper still which she did not know.”

There is also a deeper magic to writing that will determine your destiny as a writer. Yet few know it.

It goes deeper than the business aspects of getting your story published.

Deeper than an Indie / Trad publishing conversation.

Deeper than anything technique or craft can offer.

Deeper than the discipline of hitting a daily word count.

And deeper than any social media success.

This deeper magic comes down to one simple word.

With.

Are you actively writing with God? This is radically different approach than starting your writing time with a simple prayer or asking God to bless your work once you’re done.

This is a much deeper invitation. An offer to be so intimately focused on his presence that you quite literally create together. It involves knowing God’s rhythm. Sensing his suggestions. Playing together in the realm of imagination. Following and waiting on his cues as tangibly as you would a skilled dance partner.

There’s a passage in Exodus 33 where Moses has a rather passionate conversation with God. He basically says to God “If you’re not going on this journey with me, let’s call the whole thing off.” He demands God’s presence.

Are you so hungry for God’s involvement in your writing that you’re willing to call it quits until you sense his presence? Because what you most need – and your readers hunger for most in story – is the eternal spark of life that comes only when you create with the Creator.

Can a writer experience success without that fellowship? It depends on how you define success. You can certainly hit your word count. You can relentless hone your craft. You can build a better social media platform. None of those things are bad. But none are the main thing. And notice how so many of those last sentences focused on you and your definition of success.

The deeper journey isn’t about you.

It’s about you and God experiencing the creative dance together. And that kind of rare, shared journey transcends all of the typical measures of an author’s success.

It’s like taking a road trip where you are so consumed with getting to the destination that you forget to enjoy the journey. And you miss that you have a companion who is the most creative, wise, enjoyable, funny, comforting presence imaginable. He also just happens to be the driver. He knows where you are going. He knows why you are going. Even more – he knows you inside out. You thought the road trip was your idea. But it was his. And the primary reason is for the relationship and the transformation (yours not his) that will happen along the way. Miss that and you’ve missed the entire purpose of the trip.

Believe me, I’ve seen it with hundreds of authors. Better to call the whole trip off like Moses was willing to do than to get to your destination successfully – yet still be empty and alone.

God gave you your gift of creativity as something the two of you could experience together.

That is the deeper magic of why God invited you to write. 

Allen Arnold loves the epic adventure God has set before him. From the mountains of Colorado, he leads Content & Resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries (led by John Eldredge). Before that, he spent 20 years in Christian Publishing - overseeing  the development of more than 500 novels as founder and Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction. He was awarded the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. But that doesn't really describe the man. Allen savors time with his family, craves the beach, drinks salsa by the glass, is hooked on the TV series "Once Upon a Time" and is passionate about helping storytellers tell better stories from an awakened heart.

22 comments:

Henry McLaughlin said...

This is an awesome post, Allen. Thank you for the encouraging reminder about what is really important in our writing lives.

Rita Kroon said...

Sitting at the kitchen table this morning searching my heart for my reason for writing - I know my desire is to encourage others to look to Christ Jesus, to have a deeper walk of faith, and to honor the Lord. But, I have seen very little response from people and so I wonder - am I really seeking the praise of others. I hope not. Then I read your blog and I realized that my own walk of faith must be deeper if my readers are going to connect on a deeper level as well. Thanks, Allen. This post was timely and crucial for me. Many blessings to you. Rita Kroon

Julie Lessman said...

You know, Allen, I read Novel Rocket all the time and love it, but honestly, when I see your name pop up, I settle in with my coffee and expect a blessing that I can carry through the day and week.

I don't know if your writing is just that anointed or if I am personally experiencing whatever you cover at the time, but I suspect it's the touch of God either way.

Speaking of the "road trip," your blog today is a confirmation of a spiritual sabbatical I just finished taking for the last eight months, where I clearly felt God saying, "Julie, take your hands off the wheel and get in the back seat." Driving Miss Julie, if you will, and I have to say "The Deeper Journey" was something that not only has changed my life ... but changed my focus as well to where it should be: on "dancing" with God.

Thanks again for always giving us a piece (aka "peace" of His mind. :)

Julie

Robin Mason said...

Reading that, where you liken writing to the "deeper magic" was a 'deeper' God moment for me. I know my writing is His gift to me and in me, but to think of it as 'deep calls to deep' stirs me, gives me, well, deeper purpose, and encourages me. This post, sir, is a keeper, and I expect to return to it over and again. Thanks for some powerful - deep - words!

Michael Ehret said...

Allen, your posts always make me soul vibrate...they are a call to me, "Remember Me, remember Me, remember Me..."

Ashlee Willis said...

Wow, what a wonderful thought. I've always done as you said, prayed before writing, then asked God to bless the story when it is finished. But writing WiTH God ... I'm a bit ashamed I've never considered it. Thanks for such awesome inspiration!

Angie said...

This is a fabulous post! I have FINALLY started to grasp this concept of writing "with" God...not just "for" Him. It is AMAZING to sense His presence as a story is fleshed out...and it makes the time so much more treasured and filled with unexplainable peace. Even if I just get a paragraph or two out in one session, I always walk away satiated from my writing experience WITH God! Thanks, Allen!

Vie said...

Thank you for this inspiring and defining post. I love word meanings, and the powerful difference between "with" and "for" makes all the difference for Christian writers. Thank you for putting this concept into perspective for me.

Kristy Cambron said...

Had we been asked to distill down to one word that describes the writing journey, how many would choose the absolutely critical "With"? I'd have failed to recognize the depth that word holds and would have opted for a word like: beauty. Or creation. Maybe author, storyteller, or even passion. But the truth is - and you nailed it in this post - there are no such things apart from Christ. The journey is beautiful ONLY when the "With" is firmly rooted in place. Thanks for the reminder, Allen.

Bonnie Roof said...

Beautiful post!! Thank you!!

I'm not a writer, but do believe God must go "with" us in EACH thing that we do for it to become it's most useful, fulfilling and foster our relationship with Him!!

Shared post!!

Shari said...

This is excellent. I rarely hear anyone speaking like this when it comes to writing. Well done. This is exactly how I want to write.

Rachel Hauck said...

I love this. Our life journey begins and ends with Him.

My writing process lately has been "God, I do not want to give myself to anything that will not remain." So what I write, has to make it to the next life! :)

I also know that God is calling us to partner with Him for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. We're not robots or empty vessels. He wants to hear from us. "What's on your heart?"

That partnership is what makes the journey really fun. Yes, hard at times and \ so often we feel we are "walking in the dark," but it's a both AND. He's wanting to partner with us because HE wants us to partner with Him.

As an author, I've been in that place of "God, what do I write. I'm YOURS. Use me." But at the end of the day, it was work. Getting my backside in the chair and typing words whether I felt inspired or not!

Then even worse, is pouring out your heart, praying, crying over a story, feeling His presence as you write only to have it nominally received by both publisher and reader. Ha!

That's a WHOLE other journey of "God, you've given me these stories, but no one seems excited about them."

That is probably from the outside looking in... so we have to partner with Him for our expectations too. Just because one is anointed to write doesn't mean she'll have the most popular or most loved or best selling book.

Same with a pastor. He might be all kinds of anointed but not have the biggest church.

LIFE is about walking with Him daily. It begins in the "cleft in the rock" of prayer and intimacy. And it's a hard place to climb to because it's not always easy.

Hey... I think I'll blog off of this! Thanks for the inspiration, Allen!!

Allen Arnold said...

Great insights, Rachel. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading the post that dovetails with this topic!

Allen Arnold said...

It really is the optimal way to write. The experience you'll have with God as you create together is worth everything. Then...what happens with the book from there is simply a bonus!

Allen Arnold said...

Writing with God really changes everything. The whole reason I believe God gives us a gift is so we can open it, experience it, and ultimately become an expert of it - with him at our side. It is beautiful and it is a creative process that puts the value on our transformation as well as what we are making. And from that, the work will have an eternal spark that can reach others. I wish you the best in your writing!

Allen Arnold said...

Julie - wow, thanks for your encouragement. It sounds like God is inviting you into some wild new terrain on your shared writing journey. Enjoy it. Savor it. And know you are creating in a way that surely is making God smile!

Allen Arnold said...

Thanks Michael. Sometimes it is the foundational things that are the easiest to forget. I resonate with your call of "Remember Me".

Allen Arnold said...

Angie - it is inspiring to hear how you are writing with God. And while that alone is worth it all, I look forward to the additional plans God has for your stories in the days and years ahead!

Allen Arnold said...

Yes - the journey "with" changes everything. Mostly because it changes us first. Anytime we pursue our passions and gifting with God, we are transformed. Then...the art itself becomes something more. Thanks for your comments, Kristy!

Allen Arnold said...


You are right, Bonnie - the process of "with" applies to everything we do and any calling or gift imaginable. Thanks for your encouraging words!

Allen Arnold said...

So glad these words were an encouragement to you, Robin. Keep pursuing the deeper magic and the greater intimacy with God as you create together!

Allen Arnold said...

Thanks Rita. Keep going deeper in the time spent writing with God. The joy that will bring is enough in itself...but often it is just the start of all that God has planned. Either way - rest in him as you write with him!