if you were a writer long before you were a blogger, these words are for you...
Encouragement for Digital Wordsmiths

Back to Writing {For Writing’s Sake}

I have a question for you.

Are you a blogger or a writer?

You may very well be both, but you were one before the other, and I would venture to say that unless you began blogging for the sole purpose of making an income with the tool of blogging, then you are deep down, first, and at the end of the day, a writer.

 And if that is the case, I have some words for you, and me, that need to be said. I need to talk to us writers.

if you were a writer long before you were a blogger, these words are for you...

The Gift of Writing

If you’re like me, blogging was the best thing that ever happened to your writing. It took writing from a solitary experience, with a single moment of satisfaction at the peck of the last period, to a shared experience, the gratification multiplied each time another read your words. Instead of the last sentence being the end of the story, it was the beginning of a conversation. You experienced the thrill of you words impacting someone else.

And it was awesome. So, you became a blogger…probably before you ever claimed the title of writer.

Blogging not only helped you recognize the writer in you, and it also improved your writing because there was accountability—you kept showing up, and you kept practicing. You participated in writing prompts and challenges that pushed you to grow and improve your craft. It was a wonderful thing.

Distracted From the Gift

And then, one day, if you were like me, you read something about making money on your blog. It was presented in such a way, or from such a person, that you believed it might be possible for you. So you began researching and learning and gaining experience. It was a lot of work, but filled with the thrill of discovery, and you got to write—a lot—so you didn’t really notice that you’d jumped into what is now considered a valid career—professional blogging. (If you did, at one point, think it did kinda feel like a job, you thought you had actually figured out how to turn your love of writing into a paying job…and you were almost right.)

Maybe it was a few months, maybe a few years before you realized something was wrong. Your blog was keeping you awake at night…and it wasn’t all good. Between attending an online seminar about maximizing Pinterest, answering emails, negotiating with sponsors, fighting Facebook to connect with people you’ve never met, researching hashtags for Twitter promotion, and trying to figure out Google Plus, you’re maxed out. Not only is blogging taking up most of your spare time (what used to be your writing time), it’s competing (and often winning) against other priorities like family, food, and sleep.

And you can’t remember the last time you just wrote your heart out.

Forfeiting a Miracle

Do you know why this is tragic? Because you—and me (I’m writing this to myself, too, you know)—we’re writers. We come from the that part of the Father’s heart that beats best with lots of words present. Good words, holy words, and words that come from we-don’t-know-where when we sit down and just put our fingers to the keyboard. We thrive on words—reading good ones and writing the best we have. We process life through words, we worship through writing, and the best way we serve others often has something to do with words.

But we’ve turned our backs on our first love. On a quest for fame and fortune, we’ve sold our soul.

And this has to stop. Because we’re exchanging our birthright for a bowl of porridge. As writers, we’ve been given the gift of sitting down, putting our fingers to the pen or keys, stepping out in faith and obedience, and experiencing the miracle of having God meet you and speak to you and change you and grow you during the simple process of putting words on paper. (You’ve experienced this miracle, too, right? You’ve sat down to right you-don’t-know-what and an hour later words you didn’t even know you had inside you have formed themselves into thoughts that have led you further toward His heart? Please tell me you have—share the miracle with me!)

Such a miracle—such a gift. Yet we’ve turned away and sought Facebook likes and sponsorships. Spent all our time creating pinnable graphics and courting ad networks. We have assigned more value to temporary, monetary gain than to the gift of being a writer. It’s time to remember what is most important.

What About the Money?

But, you say (and I say), “What about the money? We need money to live! And there’s so much potential, if I could just figure out….”

Is money driving you? Oh, I hope not. Because I’ve taken that ride, and it ain’t fun. Do you fear for your provision if you do not wear yourself thin online? The Lord has whispered this verse to my heart in regards to my blog…

“It is vain for you to rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil for He giveth His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2

I’ve tried really hard—so hard to make money online. The problem is, I’ve been just successful enough to make me keep trying. But 6 months ago, my Father said, “Okay, good job—but you need a break. Let me take over—my turn.” Has my income increased? No. But my faith has. My trust has. And my peace. I sleep at night.

(I’m not apposed to making money on my blog–just feeling convicted about pursuing that over my call to write. You will see the occasional add or affiliate link on my sight, but these are low-maintenance, passive income strategies I employ in an effort to be a good steward of my online time.)

Maybe you’re blogging to make a name for yourself? I tried that for a season, too. Until the day I quit blogging for attention and committed impacting the few He brings to my little corner of the internet. (I wrote about that journey in my free eBook More Than Numbers.)

Returning to the Gift

And so we come back to writing just to write. Going back to our first love. Putting words on paper not for likes or pennies or shares, but for the sake of the gift. For how words center us, and draw us toward our Author.

And so I ask you again. Are you a writer? If so, when is the last time you wrote just to write? Just for the fun/agony of it (hurts so good sometimes, doesn’t it?)? Have you mortgaged your blogging soul? It’s not too late to go back (or, better yet, forward) to writing for writing’s sake. There are treasures in this discipline that will never be found in trackbacks or affiliate payouts.

What if you took all the hours you spend each week on social media (sharing, promoting, learning) and focus on simply producing high quality content on your blog? Focus on your calling as a writer, and leave the increase to God.

P.S. Are you ready to try? Not sure what it looks like? Are you a bit rusty at writing just to write? So was I. So I started a private blog (silly, I know, but I type faster than I can write longhand, and I’m impatient to get to the treasure). I wrote 3 posts in one 24 hour period—stuff I’d been wanting to write about, but wasn’t fit for public consumption.

And I got unclogged. Remembered where my writing muscles went, and it felt good to flex. And then I wrote this post. Which I knew how to begin though I didn’t know the ending. I still don’t see the climax, actually, but I know I’ve made progress in pinning down God’s heart for my writing in this season. I put this post on my public blog because I wanted you, too, to be encourage to turn from whatever distracts you and embrace the gift of writing again. Let me know how it goes?

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56 Comments

  1. Thank you so much! I’ve been a writer since I was in middle school and it was so good for the soul. Nowadays I get too caught up in the thought of “publishing worthy” material or crowd pleasing. I too need to unclog!

    1. Katy, I’m so glad my words could remind you what our writing can and should be more often: a soul exercise …Here’s to unclogging!

  2. Thank you for writing your post! I too have felt so stressed out with the social media aspect of blogging. I am too busy promoting and connecting that I feel zapped for energy and creativity of the content. This motivates me to get back to the basics.

  3. Trina, you basically told my story. I’m on a blogging sabbatical now to back to basics – my love of writing, my true identity and calling. This was so perfectly timed. Thank you.

  4. Well, I never wrote on my blog for the moolah (as I’m not techno enough to figure out how to make it work), but I had found community online (who knew?!) and over the course of a couple years I changed my writing to what I thought “those” people wanted (because, well, because it’s what I saw in their posts). See how I talk to myself even in other people’s comment boxes (oh, yeah, I do it in mine too) – anyway, where was I?

    So, this year I started writing longhand mostly, in a Despicable Me2 Minion notebook (of all places–because really, who stays tense when writing in that?) I scratch out whatEVER I want just after bible time and before online time. And ya wanna know something? (Sure ya do – or you woulda stopped reading and wandered off to milk a cow or something.) I’ve met me again. And boy howdy, I like her. She cracks my up. She makes me cry. She is real.

    Okay, so, you are actually the one who some time ago (maybe over at Gretchen’s place) said, “Who is this Simply Darlene anyway?” <– That right there, is what I'm talking 'bout. She's who I'm learning to be all over again. 馃槈

    Thanks for this post. (And for reading all the way to the end. If you lived nearby, I'd bring you a "Good Job!" sticker.)

    Blessings.

    1. Darlene, you are a riot! I’m so glad you have taken the steps you have–it is so evident that this has borne fruit: your voice is strong and unique! thanks for stopping by and making me smile today!

  5. Thank you for this! I’ve been “playing around” with blogging for over a year…posting here and there, wondering if I could do this after I retire from my full time job and my 17 year old son is off on his own. (I’ve got the whole “second half of my life” quandary goin’ on.) But lately I have been so intimidated by what the actual blogging world looks like…the “making money” part, I mean. Right now, I only have the energy to write when something gets placed upon my heart to write. I can’t even begin to think about gathering “customers” and making my blog look like a showcase so that people follow me and share me. I just need to write sometimes! So, thank you for confirming that it is OK for me no to be the queen of blogging and that there are only 5 people right now who care enough to read what I am writing about! I don’t ever want to feel consumed by anything except what it is that God has planned for me. If that turns out to be “professional blogging”, then it will happen in His time. Meanwhile, I will just write when I need to write and trust that God is using me in some way.

    1. Linda, thanks for bringing your story to the conversation. Loved this line, “I don鈥檛 ever want to feel consumed by anything except what it is that God has planned for me.” Amen, sister! And yes, just keep writing!

    1. It is hard to find the balance between ‘bread and butter’ pursuits and ministry. I was thinking about it yesterday, though–Jesus had the same struggle here on earth. He was here to touch our hearts, yet He spent a lot of time healing temporary, earthly disease, as well. Somehow He found the balance between ‘practical’ and ‘spiritual’. I want to do that, too.

  6. The money…that elusive incentive! I’ve officially announced my giving up of facebook for my blog, and any other social media that I find to be more of an annoyance than fun.

    This post so hit the mark for what I’ve been feeling about my blog and writing!

    1. yeah!!! yes, let’s focus on what gives us life and joy, instead of draining our energies! (Instagram is soooo fun, isn’t it?)
      I was so glad to read your post on your blog–I am excited to see what comes out of this new season for you, Jess!

  7. Wow!

    I just discovered your blog, Trina – and even though I haven’t read much yet, it already feels like “coming home” 馃槈

    Yes – writing because we are called to do so really is the only way to go. I am also learning these days that everything else will well and truly be added unto us if we put God first in everything. Believing what He says first and foremost – and listening to His still, small voice every moment (quite a challenge every day …).

    This song SO helps me to do just that – do you know Scripture Lullabies? They are songs taken straight from God’s Word, and we have experienced amazing things through this beautiful music. God’s Truth can sink straight and deep into our hearts, SO powerful:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_-rI4tRxRs

    I am hoping and praying to grow in listening to this wonderful voice, especially also when it comes to starting my own blog one fine day – and learn more from all your experience, Trina, and all the wonderful people commenting here. THANK YOU!

    And congratulations on your adorable addition to the family 馃檪

  8. I did this recently. I couldn’t sleep one night due to things on my mind that I could not possibly post for the world to see, at least in this season of my life. I hadn’t written about it because it wasn’t blog material, but this night I got up and just wrote. I wrote and told my story for over two hours. I didn’t finish, but it was so nice to get it out of my head. I have it saved on a disc drive now even though I’ll probably never do anything with it. Maybe I can finish it sometime soon!

    1. This is great, Chelsea! Maybe you’ll never finish it, and that’s fine. But maybe? There’s a treasure in pushing through beyond the words you know, into the words God may have for you in the process. Whatever you do, keep writing! 馃槈

  9. Love these words, “As writers, we鈥檝e been given the gift of sitting down, putting our fingers to the pen or keys, stepping out in faith and obedience, and experiencing the miracle of having God meet you and speak to you and change you and grow you during the simple process of putting words on paper.” This does indeed happen every time I sit down to write. I’m not monetizing yet鈥ut plan to. Like you, so I can feel like I am making a little something back from the time I put into my blog. But most importantly I want my words to resonate with others and bring about encouragement and blessing.
    Thanks so much for the reminder to focus on my calling and leave the increase to God!!
    blessings,
    Gay Idle/CaptiveHeart

    1. Gay, I’m so blessed to hear your heart in writing- to bless and encourage. For too many years I sought to impress and get attention, but the Lord has refined that to where, I too, simply seek to pursue the art of encouragement on my blog.

      I’m a firm believer in being a good steward of my online space and all the hours I put into blogging, but am equally passionate these days about not ever letting monetization take priority over writing.

      Thank you for joining the discussion!

  10. Consider the lilies, for they toil not…..this was such a beautiful post to me. I have a terrible propensity to take something delightful and think of all the ways to turn into a business or a money maker. It is the entrepreneur in me. But you just can’t do that with sacred things or gifts. Thank you for reminding us and doing so in your delightful way- writing.

    1. “but you just can’t do that with sacred gifts” – yes, yes! Thank you so much for sharing your gentle wisdom, Shannon. And the lilies verse – another great one to meditate on. 馃槈

  11. Thank you for sharing this one publicly, Trina! I recently created a Google+ page for my blog, feeling somewhat pressured into it by reading 50 too many posts about how Facebook is terrible and nobody sees half of what you share there unless you pay for it . . . And I watch others in my culinary network trying to figure out and make Google+ work for them and I think . . . I just can’t! I can’t deal with another social media site. 90% of the time I don’t even bother with Twitter. Sometimes I forget to share my posts on any other sites at all!

    The thing is, I DON’T want to be the well-known blogger earning a substantial paycheck every month. Sometimes I think I do and there’s definitely an attraction to it, but it does not fit into what I want for myself and my family. I don’t want to pay someone to watch my children for me so that I can blog and write books and promote my work. (And I’m not saying that it is wrong, but it is wrong for me!) I frequently question whether I should even spend the time writing blog posts and there are times I only keep going because my husband reassures me that it is worthwhile.

    1. Claire…it’s taken me years to say this whole heartedly, but I don’t want to be a ‘well-known blogger with a paycheck’ either. Not that that’s wrong. But it’s not right for me, it’s not what my Father has called me to.

      I think it’s totally ok that you don’t do twitter–I let it go months ago, and have been back maybe every 6 weeks (to find direct tweets I should have answered sooner…ooops? lol). And I have complete peace about it.

      I love that your husband is encouraging you–you will find blessing in following his suggestions, even if he’s not social media savvy. And I say, keep blogging and writing for the joy of it. Spend as little time on social media as possible. You do not HAVE to promote yourself, though that seems like the sign of a serious blogger these days. For me, it was a distraction from my calling. And since letting it go, I love blogging and writing again.

  12. You blow me away. I’ve missed your voice online for a bit, good to see you back! And I can so relate. I am tearing in two over this struggle , hovering between the world of blogging and writing. Social media is sucking the life right out of me and I’m ready to quit it and get back to the heart of the matter. But how do you engage your audience without spending so much time? I’m not about the numbers, but I feel a responsibility to those who read what I write. How do you balance that?

    1. My dear Lauren,
      First of all, it’s good to be back, especially to such fond welcome as you all have given me!

      I can so relate to that tearing in two feeling. I’m finally coming to realize that striving has NO PLACE in my blogging. If I’m striving, it’s a signal that I need to back off and ask my Father again for His direction for me in this season. You can only imagine the kind of striving that went on behind the scenes of this very post. The reason I’ve been so quiet (other than moving, having a baby, and terrible internet lol) is because this post was actually in drafts for 2 months as I tried to figure out what God was speaking to ME about my blog. When I found peace in an unconventional approach to blogging (minimal social media, no self-promotion, and blogging from the heart) I knew I had to share my story in case others could relate. I really appreciate your comment because it shows me I am not alone, and that all the work I put into this post has made at least some small impact.

      How do I engage audience? Well, it’s kind of selfish of me, but I only meet them one place…here on my blog. I had advice from a very wise friend last year that took me a while to apply, but make so much sense now. She said that if you share a post on facebook, you start a discussion there. if you share it on twitter, you’ve got conversations going there. Plus the conversation in the comments on your blog–you’re spreading yourself too thin, and often having to repeat yourself on the different platforms. I experienced that last summer when I would share a post to both my facebook page and my personal page…I was getting the same questions both places, and had to do double duty to answer them and be present. So, I’ve slowly backed off on all self-promotion of my posts, instead putting my energy into being fully present in my comments and my inbox. I want my readers to know that if they take the time to get in touch with me personally or visit my space, they will get me. But I can’t be off managing facebook discussion threads, which are inefficient, and eventually dissapear in to history, no one able to glean from them at a later date.

      I’m not sure if that answered your question…perhaps it’s actual comments and emails you’re having trouble keeping up with?

      1. That was so very helpful, and makes a lot of sense! I don’t like Facebook, and actually got off for a year and a half, only to get back on again because the blogging group I was starting with wanted me to. I’ve regretted it ever since as it is a downward spiral. Interaction is so very surface, not involved, and as you said, disappears and though it may benefit for a moment, isn’t lasting. Not that what’s exchanged there doesn’t have an impact, but when you’re stretched thin in all the arenas, it’s insane! I gave up on twitter to focus on facebook, only to have that bite me in the butt since now I get pretty much NIL interaction (and yes, it’s doubled up on my personal profile too, iy yiy!), and most of my posts not even seen.

        So I’m trying to use G+, but more casually, however, I just cannot keep up with it all. I feel a huge emptiness and silence hanging over me, though I have committed to writing only as the Spirit moves, and he does move, but I’m so tied up with following and trying to draw attention that, as you said, I have no time or motivation to write.

        I’ve been in tears for days over this, praying, and still trying to listen to the voices HE wants me to hear. Thank you for being one of them!!

  13. Trina, I love this! To answer your very first question I would say that I am a writer, but if you had asked me that 6 months ago I probably would have said, “Who me, a writer?” I didn’t even have a blog at that time, but the Lord had been nudging me about starting one. Finally, with Jamie’s help, I started it in October of last year, and I think it really has helped improve my writing, but more than that it helped me realize how much I loved writing. Since then I’ve joined some writer’s groups and that has also helped. I had, at one time, wondered about using the blog to make money but really wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted. Sure it would be nice, but that was not my intention for starting it. And I just love this: “We come from the that part of the Father鈥檚 heart that beats best with lots of word present,” and “Focus on your calling as a writer, and leave the increase to God.” Anyway, thanks for all your good words:) I appreciate you!

    1. Gayl, it’s an absolute delight to have your sweet voice join the discussion here. Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m so glad you have found your love for writing and been developing it. I don’t think it’s wrong to set up your blog to bring in income if the Lord leads you, but as writers, I think we need to keep that in its proper place. For me, business ventures fall below writing in the line of priorities. But it’s taken me a long, long time to embrace that fully. I hope sharing my story can help you skip some of the distracting detours I’ve taken on my blogging journey!

  14. Finding that balance can be tricky, can’t it? I have another friend who is stepping back (or forward) in this similar fashion as well. I think it’s good to make sure we don’t lose touch like that. (PS. I have a private blog like that too! ;))

  15. I’m not a writer per se, just an occasional Trina Holden reader, but was impressed by the entry. I have to admit my time-wasting-internet-surfing-hunger-to-read-about-someone-elses-life-curiosity has been a bit disappointed in the past few blog entries, you know, not enough”flashy” health food stuff I guess: )…But this past entry left a very sobering impression on my mind/heart/self.
    It served to remind me of my spiritual reading yesterday, (shocked that I found that reminder in my time wasting activity: ) , which I already seemed to have forgotten, …to Live in the presence of God always. This alone will make us so happy that we might not be able to imagine how heaven could be any better! Anything that distracts us from God is only a fraction of Him…I don’t want to settle for anything less than ALL of Him.
    Yeah…thanks for the reminder, now I’m going get off the computer and REST.

    1. Joanna, thank you for taking the time to comment! I need the reminder to rest so often…it’s lovely to have others who have the same calling, and that we can encourage each other. And I shall take your request for ‘flashy health food posts’ to heart. Did you have anything in particular in mind? 馃槈

  16. Oh, such wisdom and encouragement here! Thank you for reminding us of the reason we do this: “Good words, holy words, and words that come from we-don鈥檛-know-where when we sit down and just put our fingers to the keyboard. ”

    Deb Weaver

  17. This is exactly what I’ve been going through the past few months as well! Luckily I have a husband who saw exactly what was wrong and found a way to tell me. I’ve not been writing in a document program on my computer but it’s a lot more fulfilling than my blog had been in a long time.

  18. Sitting down to write I-don’t-know-what and finding that God shows up with words and heart-changes — yes! That has happened to me, many times over!

    Thanks for the reminder, Trina.