The Unglamorous Lifestyle of a Writer (Guest Post by Aaron Armstrong)

“Aaron Armstrong is the author of Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World, both available from Cruciform Press. He is a writer, serves as an itinerant preacher throughout southern Ontario, Canada, and blogs daily at Blogging Theologically. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronStrongarm.”

Ah, the life of a writer…  So glamorous, so fulfilling. So filled with daily trips to Starbucks and a schedule you control.

Many people think this is the writer’s life. I used to think this, too.

And then I became one.

Because I work for a non-profit organization, I spend most of my days in an office. There are fluorescent lights (it hurts). I spend a lot of time working on projects that aren’t terribly exciting, even though they’re very important. Because people need me for meetings, I am generally at the mercy of other people’s schedules.

But I do still get a daily trip to Starbucks, which is delightful.

The lifestyle of a writer isn’t a glamorous one, but it is one that’s helped me grow in my faith in at least two significant ways:

1. It’s a life of service

As a writer, I serve those who read my work. So my goal is always to try to encourage, inspire and challenge them, whether the subject I’m tackling is one I find terribly interesting or not. Because I also lead a team of writers, I edit a lot of work from other writers so they look their best (especially when I assign them the really cool projects).

Without a desire to serve others, I don’t know that I’d be able to do this part of the job. It’s easy to get focused on my own stuff (like my other tasks or my desire to get out of my cube). But because I want to serve as Christ serves us, I can put my employers’ and fellow writers’ needs ahead of my own.

2. It challenges you to grow in humility

There are times that I find myself working on some pretty amazing projects, both in the office and outside of it. When something is really well received or turns out in a way I’m really pleased with, it’s very easy to become prideful about it. But as a writer, you’re only as good as your last project. If people don’t like what you’re writing, the ego gets deflated pretty quickly.

Because other people edit my work, it’s sometimes challenging for me to see a number of red underlined bits of text—or entirely restructured paragraphs. If I put too much stock in what I’ve written, forgetting that someone else can always make it better, it’s easy to fall into despair and frustration.

These twin challenges—pride and despair—drive me as a writer to always be pursuing humility. There are always going to be better writers than me and in the same way that I want my writers to be better, my editors want the same for me. Humility allows me to gratefully accept praise without turning it into a “god” and accept critique without being crushed by it.

The lifestyle of a writer isn’t terribly glamorous, but it is one that’s enormously valuable as God uses it to conform me ever so slowly into the likeness of His Son.

How is God using your calling to do the same?