Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Christians must Write and What They must Write about

This summer my alma mater, New Saint Andrews College, held a writing conference/workshop called Three Days in the Wordsmithy. I seriously considered attending, but what with David's work and the problem of finding babysitting, those plans failed to come to fruition.

Yesterday, I saw that CanonWired has released a video of Douglas Wilson's introductory talk at the conference, titled "Why Christians must Write and What They must Write about." Normally, I avoid watching Internet videos the way my husband avoids eating vegetables (why would you want to waste time watching a video when you could read/skim an article much more quickly?), but I made an exception and watched this one through to the bitter end. The end turned out to be the best part, so I'm glad I made it that far.

Wordsmithy | Why Christians must write, and what they must write about | Doug Wilson from Daniel Foucachon on Vimeo.

Just in case you also have an aversion to watching videos on the Internet--or don't have 26 minutes of time to spare--let me give you Doug Wilson's summary of the main points (in bold), with my notes following them.

1. You can't teach writing, but you can learn it. God has gifted some people with the ability to become good writers. The best writing teacher in the world can't make a gifted writer out of an ungifted person. Buy writing books and study them, but don't think you can force God into granting you a talent which he hasn't bestowed. If, however, you are truly called by God to be a writer, develop that calling and don't hide your talent in the ground.

2. Why should you write? Because Jesus is the Word and you're a Christian. Christians are inherently "people of the book," and people who must love words. All Christians are called to literacy, but some are especially gifted in the world of literature and should use those gifts to bless the rest of the Body of Christ.

3. How should you write?

  • Pursue godliness - write with a Christian worldview
  • Be interested in the world God has made - interested people are interesting
  • Be observant - look around you; don't bury your head in the sand
  • Love words - I love that he said this!
  • Love words in time - or as he puts it another way, love "narratival unfolding"
  • Be critical of your own work - and let others critique it; the only thing that should offend you is when there's not enough red marks
  • Adopt as your subject matter the cosmos (i.e. everything) because God put it here for you to write about - a great reminder that anything is fair game to write about, as long as you keep the first point (pursuing godliness) in mind

So that, in a nutshell is the great start to the conference I never got to attend. If the first talk is any indicator, it sounds like the whole event was full of good pointers for Christian authors, whether novices or experienced in their craft.

* * * * *

And while we're on the subject of Christian authors, I'd like to give a shout-out to Daniel Wilson, a former high school student of mine and an aspiring author. This talk from the Wordsmithy conference reminded me of the tagline of Daniel's blog, "A writer's mission to create worlds with words, just like his Heavenly Father once did." I love that line!

Daniel's on another mission right now to gain 100 followers. Head on over to his blog and check it out--and if you like what you see, be sure to add yourself with Google Friend Connect.


  1. Thanks Rosanne, this is so very interesting. I just wrote a piece and linked your article and book. I'm Orthodox Christian, and happened to have written something recently that fits totally with what you highlighted here:
    Thanks again for this interesting piece.

  2. Emma,
    Thanks so much for linking to your own article! I come from a Protestant Reformed background, but we had a Sunday School class about beauty last year at our church that looked at works by a lot of Orthodox theologians. Alexander Schmemann's book For the Life of the World is a favorite of mine.


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