by Allen Arnold, @TheStoryofWith
The more you do, the more successful you’ll be.
That maxim seems true, but it’s actually a lie that erodes our identity and creativity.
This isn’t a post about being unproductive. I’m all for getting things done. It’s the motive of striving and constantly doing more that I want to discuss.
We’re regularly encouraged to spend more time on social media, grow our platform, conduct more interviews, increase our daily word count, garner more reviews, and chase the latest trends. Why? Because if you can just master enough tips and do more each day, you’ll eventually experience success in your writing career, right?
Well, not really.
It’s not that these particular things are bad or good – most are neutral and some are needed. But we must free ourselves from the underlying assumption that our calling is all – or mostly – up to our efforts, connections, and mastery of the latest techniques. If we truly believe that it’s all up to us, we’re living like orphans who try to do things in their own strength for God rather than with him. Soon we find ourselves on a treadmill of our own making, always running but never quite arriving.Success is always just around the corner.
But there is no secret elixir for success. It won’t come from doing more or chasing after every new “five-step” formula. Doing so will leave you exhausted. And there’s no correlation between good stories and exhausted writers.In fact, the world doesn’t need more stories from worried and weary storytellers.
I believe the way an artist achieves true and lasting success begins with how they create. If they enter into the creative process and actively pursue their talent with God – at his pace and rhythm – they are successful. If their motive is Creative Fellowship with God, that transforms every other aspect of their writing. In that sense, it’s the opposite of doing more. Presence comes before productivity. The illusion of control is relinquished for the intimacy of relationship. It’s stepping into a larger story with God that then enlarges the story you are writing with God.
When artists choose being above doing, they still get things done. But they do so from a foundation of freedom. They’re no longer looking for validation from readers or sales. They know it isn’t all up to them. They aren’t orphans proving their worth through external measurements but sons and daughter son the playground of ideas, creating from a place of deep identity, intimacy, and imagination with God.
Make this shift and the old external measurements of success lose their power to validate or invalidate you. You are a son or daughter of the Father who writes rather than a writer who does things for God. Your identity is based first in who you are rather than what you do…and that can never be lost or stolen.
It’s true that the world doesn’t need more stories from exhausted, striving authors. But it desperately needs more stories with the glow of those who have spent time creating with the Creator.
Be that writer and tell those stories. It begins by doing less and becoming more.
Allen Arnold is the author of The Story of With, an allegory that reveals a better way to live and create through the doorway of identity, imagination, and intimacy. His mission is to help people actively pursue and transform their talent by discovering how to pursue it with God. As the founding Fiction Publisher for one of the world’s largest Christian publishing houses, Allen oversaw the development of more than five hundred novels. He knows first-hand how common it is for creators to become disheartened, overwhelmed or burnt-out–as well as what it takes to help the dreams of writers become reality. In his current role at Ransomed Heart, he oversees content from the mountains of Colorado for the ministry. Before becoming a Board Member for ACFW, he was awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 for his substantial contributions to the world of Christian Fiction.