Write Like a Dead Man

Many writers have trembled at the prospect of publishing their work, knowing that their readership could disapprove of, or worse, refute, their thesis. There have been many times I have sat paralyzed before my computer, discouraged before authoring a single word. While writing can be a blessing to both yourself and your audience, it can also be a point of sanctification.

Charles Halton has recently posted four tips for better writing. The fourth tip was the one that best captured my attention: Write as if you’re dead. Based on advice that author Jeffrey Eugenides gave to young writers, Halton concludes his list by suggesting that you write as though your work would be published posthumously. Without the fear of failing to measure up to the expectations (self-imposed?) of the guild, you can be free to make your contribution. I found this tip to be profoundly helpful as I have often found myself in a place where this advice could greatly increase my productivity.

Yet further, from a biblical perspective, one can identify the root of much such fear, namely pride. Though we may have something valuable to add to a public discussion, we can be hindered because of the lingering thoughts that someone may not think our work is as great as we think it is.

As I write, I frequently remind myself of passages such as Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in Yahweh is safe.” Rather than writing to please, in an ultimate sense, my target audience, crippled by fear of how they may receive my proposal, I am to write as one who trusts in the Lord. For after we depart from this world, the approval of the guild is not ultimately what matters, but rather, whether we were faithful to our calling.

So do not allow fear to corrupt your creative process. Write as one who is free. Write like a dead man.

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2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Write Like a Dead Man

  1. David

    I’m just finishing up Doug Wilson’s Wordsmithy which has been tremendously helpful to me. I believe all the chapters have also been posted at his blog and grouped here: http://www.dougwils.com/Table/Literary-Notes/. Its been awhile since I’ve seen you bud- congrats on graduating!

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