The Doors Every #Writer Must Choose Between

The Doors Every
Writer Must Choose Between
by Allen Arnold
Every writer enters into their creative
gifting through one of two doors.
Door #1 is With God.
Door #2 is Without God.
If this were a multiple-choice test, the
answer would be pretty simple. 100% of us would check the box labeled Door #1.
The problem is – Door #2 draws an enormous
amount of actual traffic. I believe that’s because humans like formulas,
techniques, and measurable goals they can set, control and achieve. And Door #2
thrives on those aspects.
The only way to enter Door #2 is through self-effort.
This door focuses almost exclusively on tangible, external performance metrics
such as hitting a daily word count or increasing social media buzz. Validation
comes through what is achieved – awards, number of books sold, ranking on
Amazon, or growth of one’s tribe. Yet God never confines himself to formulas or
human expectations.
None of Door #2’s external measurements are
inherently wrong. But let’s be honest, people can achieve them without God. In
fact, sometimes we get so busy with all the things associated with Door #2  because we believe they are the keys to our
success. And in those moments, it’s hard to tell when God has left the building
because our eyes are no longer on him.
A sure sign of spending too much time at Door
#2 is you regularly find yourself overwhelmed, disheartened, or burnt-out as a
writer. You either are consumed by your desire for success or feel like a complete
failure…sometimes both in the same hour. Unfortunately, those are the fruits
of self-effort.
On the other hand, the only way to enter Door
#1 is with God. It involves the
internal, mysterious, unpredictable path of entering the creative playground
with him. Signs of spending most of your time at Door #1 is that you take your
cues from God more than the market, you savor the writing time with him each
day, and you sense his purpose and pleasure in what you are doing.
Door #1 doesn’t always lead to commercial
success. In fact, that’s not even the focus of this door. But it does lead to
your transformation as you spend time creating with the Creator. And it is the
only way your writing will ever have eternal value. Remember – the reason God
gave you the gift of writing wasn’t so you could write books about him or for
him. It’s so you could write books with
And here’s a secret. If you start each day
walking through Door #1, you can always visit Door #2. But if you start at Door
#2, it’s extremely hard to find much meaningful time in Door #1. That is
because God wants to be your primary focus as you pursue the calling he gave
you – not an add-on or enhancement. He’s the Creator who loves to reveal
himself through story and art and imagination and ideas. But only to those who hunger
and thirst for his presence over their own productivity.

If you aren’t sure which is your door of
choice, here are some questions that will help bring clarity:

  • What
    does writing with God look like for you? Describe it in tangible terms. I’m not
    asking whether you say a prayer before
    you write but rather how you engage with God actively as you write. 
  • In Scripture, Moses was so dependent on God
    that he once said he’d call the entire trip off if God didn’t show up (Exodus
    33:12 – 18). If you don’t sense God’s presence when you sit down to create, do
    you push forward on your own or do you wait on him? Does waiting like Moses did
    seem realistic for your schedule as a writer? 
  • What determines if you have a good or bad day
    as a writer? Is it mostly based on external or eternal issues? 
  • What does God think of your writing? Have you
    ever asked him this question and listened to his thoughts? 
  • What do you spend the most time as a writer
    talking and thinking about? Are they things that draw you closer to God and his
    desires for your creativity or more the metrics, industry, and craft aspects of
    the business? Why is that? 
At the end of the day, we spend more time in either Door #1 or Door #2. The right door makes all the difference. Choose
Allen Arnold loves the epic adventure God has set before him. From the mountains of Colorado, he leads Content & Resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries (led by John Eldredge). Before that, he spent 20 years in Christian Publishing – overseeing  the development of more than 500 novels as founder and Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction. He was awarded the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. But that doesn’t really describe the man. Allen savors time with his family, craves the beach, drinks salsa by the glass, is hooked on the TV series “Once Upon a Time” and is passionate about helping storytellers tell better stories from an awakened heart.