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Who Are You Writing For?

A commenter on the previous blog said that one should always write for himself.

However, what happens when no one reads what one has written? What happens when one really wants to write for his ideas to be acknowledged? What if one is writing just to write?

Have I used the word “one” enough already?

Certainly, you write not just for your audience, but also for yourself. If you make the end justify the means, you can certainly get lost in writing material that merely appeases your audience and constantly compromises the artistic integrity of what you’re creating.

Inevitably, there seems to be a tension here — as in most creative efforts. You don’t just write for yourself or for someone else. Perhaps, you write for neither… and both. (Is that paradoxical enough for you?)

How do you find balance between being heard and fulfilling your personal passions?

Who are you writing for?

Do You Write Like Coldplay?

I’m listening to Coldplay’s song “Fix You” as I write this. In a simple, but powerful climax at the end of the song, Chris Martin sings:

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try… to fix you

A friend I know said she “had an encounter with God” listening to this song. There’s just something about it that’s electric.

The lyrics, while interesting and somewhat compelling, aren’t all that poetic or life-changing. There’s nothing musically complicated about the song, either: a simple bass line on the organ, a two-note piano lead on top of that, a three-chord acoustic guitar part, and delay-driven, unforgettable two-note electric guitar riff.

Each piece of “Fix You” — in and of itself — is nothing that a high school band geek who dreams of his own mediocre rock band couldn’t do. But the genius of Coldplay is that they put it all together; they layer it, build the tension, and wait for the final arrival that thrills their listeners.

And that’s what you can do with your writing — start small, simple, build slowly but intentionally, and let it all come together in a beautiful climax and resolution. It’s possible. You don’t have to be the best writer; you just have to know how to put together the right tools and resources. In fact, that’s true with just about anything creative.

Who Is Your Favorite Writer?

For me, there are several writers that I appreciate reading — it varies depending on my mood.

When I need my heart to be rejuvenated by simple themes of beauty, truth, and justice, I read John Eldredge.

When I’ve got a creative idea or am wanting to feel innovative, I read Seth Godin.

When I’m feeling profound and wanting to be challenged by something academic that will make my head hurt, I read C.S. Lewis.

When I want to read a great story told in an untraditional way, I read Ernest Hemingway (although, I confess, it’s been awhile).

When I’m feeling worn out by religiosity and perhaps a bit of angst towards the church, I read Anne Lamott or Donald Miller.

When I want to read something poetic, I read Pablo Neruda (in Spanish).

When I’m starved for truth or good theology, I read John Piper.

When I need a good old-fashioned kick-in-the-butt, I read the blog of my mentor Seth Barnes.

And, of course, whenever I need to feel inspired, I read the Bible — often an epistle of Paul, the Gospel of John, or the Psalms.

Who is your favorite writer? I don’t think that I could pick just one.