February 17, 2012

WHY WRITE? by Bryan Norford

Is your experience is like mine? Do some consider your writing a sort of escape, a hiding place, a monastic cell—looking and commenting, but not really doing anything? “Why do you do this?” someone asked me once, with a get yourself a real job tone.

I suppose, looking from outside, writing can seem like that. Surely, it’s for discretionary time; a hobby to be wrapped around the urgent or important. Explanations are simply excuses. Writing is a sort of deferred hope, a refusal to live here and now. In an instant culture, preparing for the long haul is tedious, unnecessary when there is so much need now.

And don’t claim writing is a call from God. That makes Him the excuse for distraction from real work; worse, for laziness. Of course, most of us do perceive it as a call from God, frequently powered by a drive that nothing else will satisfy. Yet, legitimate as these reasons may be, they are insufficient.

Many have drive, often for destructive impulses. We need a passion, not just for pen and print, but also a passion for purpose. From reading this column, I doubt any here write passionately for money—although covering expenses, or making a living, are responsible by-products.

Beyond that: Why do you or I write?

If words transmit ideas, then words on paper should equally number those spoken. But writing is speaking to the future. Spoken words die on the wafting air, but words on media live somewhere to the end of time. If the speaker deserves adulation, the writer more so.

Our first book, not originally for publication, was a legacy of marriage for our children and grandchildren on our fiftieth wedding anniversary. Even after its publication, later writings were also primarily for our growing number of descendants.

The quarterback does not throw the ball to where the catcher is, but to where the catcher will be when the ball arrives. Similarly, we write for a future need, not necessarily a felt need in the present. Writing is a way of reaching beyond our lifetime to future generations.

Especially, it projects the grace and glory of God that we have experienced into the future. There, we can share the full life God gave us with those who follow.


  1. I'll never forget taking a 400 year old book down off my shelf and reading a few pages at random--to be blessed by the man's grace, piety and faith. I wondered if he, as he wrote that by candlelight with a feather quill, could ever have dreamed of me and how his words would bless....

  2. Hi Bryan,

    Your thoughts are so perceptive about how we write for the future. "The quarterback does not throw the ball to where the catcher is, but to where the catcher will be when the ball arrives." That gives me a strong purpose to write! Thank you,
    Pam Mytroen

  3. I loved the football analogy. The written word really can and does impact long after it is 'thrown' to its intended receiver.

  4. Thanks for this Bryan. And of course not all writing is equal. Staying with the football analogy, there are hail-Mary's, long bombs, swing passes and pitch-outs, and of course, bad throws, interceptions, bobbles and fumbles.


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