What do you do?
When I say I’m a writer, I see a confused or blank expression come over some people’s faces before they reply, “Nice!” “Hmm. OK,” or “That’s great!”
The curious folks follow up with, “What do you write about?” I tell them I write faith-based nonfiction. Depending on my mood, I add, “I’m a podcaster too.”
My answers often leave people with more questions. Do you write all day? Is podcasting really an occupation? Where do you write? Do you have a studio for podcasting? Are you famous?
On a recent trip to India, some of my relatives asked, “What do you do all day?” I understand they are genuinely curious because I’m the only author/podcaster in our large extended family. They don’t have a clue what my work entails.
I wish I had a definitive answer for friends who want to know what I do. Something along the lines of, “I work for Amazon as a Systems Analyst.” This could conjure up images of me clocking into a fancy office in my business casuals, working in a cubicle, eating lunch in a fancy cafeteria with my colleagues, and then clocking out in the evening. But people’s perceptions of writers are different, and outside of the questions I have been asked, I have no idea what they imagine about my profession. I can only hope they think I’m doing something useful and creative.
But what do I do?
After coming back from my trip to India where I fielded many questions about my work, I spent some time reflecting on my job description.
In modern-day parlance, I’m a content creator, my life being the basis for my content. In my articles, devotions, and books, I write about how my life intersects with my faith and the world. Everything that happens to me is fodder for my writing, directly or indirectly. An embarrassing parenting moment? I can turn it into a devotion. An exciting aha! while reading the Bible? I can turn it into a blog post. A lesson learned from a moral mishap? I can turn it into a letter to my email subscribers. My joys, triumphs, fears, learnings, emotional dramas, relationship problems, strange encounters are my work buddies.
Unlike people who work 9-to-5 jobs and have a clear demarcation between work and personal life, I have no boundaries on my work timings or space. Writing prompts can pop up in my mind at any time and anywhere—in the shower, just before my head hits the pillow, or hours after I toss and turn in bed, during a doctor’s appointment, while driving, and so on.
Since my life story provides the background, the characters, and the plot, there is no beginning and end to my work. I count the actual work of writing, speaking, and podcasting as active work, but thinking about ideas, strategizing, praying, meditating on the Bible, and talking with other believers constitute passive work.
If I work all the time, am I not exhausted or bored? Yes, there have been times when I wanted to stop the ideas running through my mind. Work can drive me mad. Work can keep me awake at night. Work can stress me out.
During those times, I pause and steer my thoughts toward why I write. I answered God’s call to use my writing to tell the world about him. God must be involved in every aspect of my work, from start to finish. He provides the inspiration, the tools, and the opportunities. He takes care of the results after I put my words out there. If I take God out of my work, it becomes a chore, a duty, or even a burden. But if I abide in the Vine (John 15:5-8), clinging to him and drawing nourishment from him, work can be a source of incredible joy and even miracles.
When I’m motivated by love for God and a desire to serve his people rather than by the desire to write more books or get better publishing credits, I can work with all my heart. I can also take breaks as needed, trusting that God will refresh me.
Work can also stretch my faith, as I learn to partner with the Holy Spirit to set my goals and schedule my calendar, leaning on him for wisdom, encouragement, and strength. And since I’m called, as a believer of Jesus, to worship God with my whole life and everything I do (Romans 12:1-2), then I can worship him through my writing. I may never comprehend the mystery of how God’s creative power can flow through me, how my stories can reveal God’s story, and how my writing can influence readers’ hearts and minds, but I’m in awe of this mystery. It keeps me humble and grateful and fuels my worship.
I can also find emotional and spiritual rest in my work when I hold on to two truths. First, my work is not about me, but rather about the body of Christ I’m called to serve (Matthew 20:25-28) and the unbelievers I’m called to reach (Matthew 5:13-16). Second, my work does not define me. I’m loved and valued by God regardless of my productivity or achievements or the quality of my craft.
So, what do I do?
I have the privilege and honor of being a Christian writer.
God has given me a gift and he has called me to utilize my gift to make him known to the world. I have wondered many times, why me? Who am I to write about God? What’s my background that he chose me? I don’t know. I trust in God’s providence and wisdom. And I can be certain of this. To be called to write is a sign of God’s grace and favor upon me. To be a Christian writer is also a responsibility. My goal is to relentlessly pursue intimacy with God and to chase after his purposes so I can become a channel through which his message spreads to those around me.
I can never be a perfect writer or the best writer in the world, but my aim is to be a faithful one, focused on glorifying God through all that I am and all that I do.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV).