The Dark Side of Writing

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Image by Sandra Konrad via Flickr

There is a dark side of writing, specifically blogging, that I believe many people experience but few talk about. I have known this dark side very well and have become so accustomed to it that it took a long time for me to even understand it or do anything about it.

I wrote a blog post last July about why I stopped writing, and at that time I was fully committed to putting that part of my life behind me. I already had done so for quite some time before really announcing it and I figured I’d be too busy being a mom to even want to pursue writing again.

But shortly after my daughter was born this past October, I began feeling a longing to write again — about my new experiences as a mom, what God has been teaching me, some more details about my pregnancy and birth, the challenges I’ve been facing — but I fought that longing and tried to push it as far away from me as I could. Instead of it going away, it only became stronger. So strong that even when I would rather have been thinking about anything else, I was already writing full length blog posts in my head. No matter how hard I tried to distract myself or think about something else, the words would not stop coming to mind. I thought the enemy was trying to tempt me and that giving in would only upset God, who I assumed was proud of me for putting writing aside in the pursuit of godlier things.

Honestly, I was scared.

I knew what writing had done to me, how I had pursued this “calling” and worked on finessing this “gift” to the point of losing myself.Β When I look back, I see the way it brought out this ugly monster inside of me — this greedy, insecure, jealous person who cared too much about gaining a following and keeping up appearances on social media. I was fame-hungry and applause-driven. What had been a passion became an obsession.

I don’t think I’m the only one who can attest to the way that being in the spotlight and having a platform can bring out the worst in you, yet this dark side to writing is not talked about. Even I didn’t want to admit to it for the longest time. Because why would people look up to us or admire our gifts if our character is slipping away? Being vulnerable to this level doesn’t seem so exciting anymore when you know it may negatively affect the way people perceive your “brand.”

And that’s what mattered to me, really. The brand. I was trying to sell myself to the public without even fully realizing it. And in doing so, I feel like I was also selling little parts of my soul, like the part that enabled me to celebrate other people’s successes without feeling like I need to compete with them or the part that was able to enjoy life without caring what other people think of me.

But God.

Yes, there is a but.

But God, in his immeasurable grace, still somehow used me. Because when I look back, I also see the way my truth encouraged and ministered to others. I remember my stories reaching the hearts of hurting people. With the gift of writing I was able to put into words what other people were experiencing, whether the aches of being a young twenty-something, the woes of relationships, the bitter seasons of loneliness, or the inner conflicts of our spiritual walk.

When I look at my journey as a writer as a whole picture instead of just focus on my shortcomings, I am reminded that writing was never my sin. It was many things — a hobby, a gift, a passion, a ministry, a calling — but a sin was not one of them. I lost myself for some time and sin found a way to creep into my life, but that didn’t negate what God was able to do with a testimony and a gift. And it still doesn’t.

I am thankful for the season when I wasn’t writing because it led me to understand there is a more graceful way to live that doesn’t involve so much selfish ambition or people-pleasing. But I’m ready to rediscover my passion for writing again. I am putting several safeguards in place this time, aware that the enemy is always going to want to corrupt a good gift, especially when the aim of it is God-glorifying. Even though I don’t know how often I will write or what exactly I’ll even write about, I trust that God can do something with my mess and use me once again.

I still believe there is a dark side to writing, but I know there is also a beautiful one. I realize now that it’s up to us to decide which side we’ll give power to and I want to pick the right one this time.

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