Workshop 10: Live Free, Write Free
Author James L. Rubart and ACFW’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement award winner Allen Arnold began their ACFW conference workshop Live Free. Write Free. by asking what that title meant.
“It is from the heart of the storyteller that the story comes,” said Arnold. If a writer has something blocking her heart, often it manifests in her writing as well. He suggested that writers with a deep case of writer’s block turn the lens from their writing to themselves and examine their hearts to find the root cause for the blockage.
What is your identity?
Many things can derail writers on any given day, including illness, loss of Internet, teenagers, 500 e-mails, or the dreaded editorial letter.
Arnold and Rubart suggested that when writers truly understand who they are, stumbling blocks like those mentioned, are brought into perspective. An author’s true identity is not “an author.” An agent’s true identify is not “an agent.”
Instead, we are sons or daughters of God. Calling lives within identity. For many, that calling is to write, but our writing is not our identity. When we clearly separate our identity as sons or daughters of God from our writing, it frees us to follow God’s will for our lives—and for our writing.
Arnold urged authors to “hold on loosely.” When an author realizes everything he’s accomplished came from God, it alters how he looks at change. “We have to die to all of our dreams, all of our passions, so we can be reborn,” Rubart said.
Arnold and Rubart said writers have a unique challenge because the nature of the job is isolation, which the enemy can use to fill a writer’s mind with lies. For instance, a bad day of writing can feel like failing, which can say to the writer, “You are a failure, you can’t do it.”
Thoughts like those then reflect on the writer’s sense of identity. Do we, as writers, get our identity from a good daily word count, or from God?
A writer’s freedom can be hampered if she allows her story to become the barometer of who she is, her identity. Examples are authors who habitually check their Amazon ranking, or have an insistent need for their novel to hit the bestseller list, or who continually read reviews.
Authors can allow the novel they’re working on too much control over their lives. When this happens, the novel becomes an idol. Instead, if writers are to write free, Arnold said they must realize that God is in control. “If God has called you to be an author, He will take care of book sales, too,” he said.
Both presenters urged attendees to guard their hearts and exercise them by incorporating more freedom into their lives and their writing.