Truth, Creating, and Writing

Truth, Creating, And Writing

Writing Life

 

This week, I explained to my young son why I like working for myself vs. having a steady job. On the one hand, a steady job with a steady paycheck, steady hours, and steady benefits sounds nice. But writing….

 

The thing about writing is that if you want to make more (in general), just write more. It’s not quite that simple, but it kind of is.

 

The only challenge is writing well for that long. The secret to writing well (all other things being equal) is flow or being in the zone. What kind of creative state of deep working can you get into when you write? How long can you sustain it?

 

This week, I will push my limits and experiment with these questions. I will attempt to write 3-4 times more output than usual. I’ll let you know what happens.

 

If you are willing to try the same, let us know in the comments. How much do you currently write? Triple it and see what happens.

 

Truth

 

My wife and I were talking with our children this week about a new Netflix documentary (The Social Dilemma) that exposes the engineering of minds and behavior through how social media presents information.

 

The point of the documentary is that none of us have free will. I object to this, but I understand what they mean. The only way to have free will is to maintain radical independence in your thinking. How do we stay independent when we are evaluating what is presented as true? How do we teach our children to do the same? This latter question haunts me most.

 

Then this morning, I was thinking about it in the shower (where all my best ideas happen), and I remembered a biography I read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who the Nazis hanged for being part of a plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer’s whole family resisted Hitler in one way or another. Germany didn’t have social media, but they had some of the same mob-creating forces of groupthink that drive social media algorithms today. But the Bonhoeffers didn’t fall for it. Why?

 

Dietrich’s father was the head of psychiatry in Berlin, and he knew a thing or two about the human mind. What I remembered in the shower was that he never allowed his children to speak in the faddish teen language of the day (whatever that was!).

 

My own kids pick up the lingo of today quickly, and I don’t understand what they are saying half the time, “On bro, you could tell he was rizzin her because his drip…”

 

What? All I remember saying at their age was, “Cool.”

 

At any rate, I told my kids that, while I would not try to forbid them from speaking their new language (freedom of speech and all), I suggested that they resist faddish language and that by doing so, they might train themselves to be independent of the crowd. This ability to stand alone will matter, I told them, when they are in a situation in which the crowd is all going in a scary and irrational way.

 

Are there forces at play in social media that are shaping our minds? I’m certain of it. Are we helpless? I don’t think so, as long as we love the truth and care about thinking for ourselves.

 

News From One Source?

 

“It’s gotten so bad that I will only get my news from The Daily Wire now.” That was said to me by a politically conservative man in my church during the height of the pandemic. I’ll tell you what I told him, “I don’t care how accurate you think one news source is; you owe it to yourself to hear from multiple sources and make your own conclusions.”

 

Getting your news from one source is like getting your biblical interpretation from one source. People do it because of the “low cognitive load” of following a herd or, worse, a mob or gang.

 

Thinking is hard. Taking responsibility for what you think is even more challenging! But we must. It is our privilege as image bearers of the Creator, and our churches, communities, and nations need to be wise crowds of humble, cooperative, but independent people.

 

I’m not talking about being contrarian, just to be contrarian. Taking the opposite view of everyone else just because it’s opposite is no harder than agreeing with everyone.

 

Independence can be lonely, but you may also find a small community of people who value their judgment enough to value yours, too. Good luck.

 

Creating

 

God created us with a command to create in His image. He creates from nothing; we create from something. This is being human.

 

One aspect of creation is owning what we create. There are laws about intellectual property. I sell most of mine as a co-writer (ghostwriter for credit). I sell away the rights to intellectual property every day. But since I insist on some minor credit somewhere, I am still putting my name on it to take responsibility for what I’ve created, even as someone else uses it (which makes me happy for them. I hope they make a million dollars with it).

 

Putting Your Name On It

 

When we make something, we thereby stamp it with our identity. Our name on it is meaningful. We don’t get our identity from what we create, but what we create should get its identity from us. That’s why God claims us for Himself. He made us, and He takes responsibility for us.

 

Writing Craft

 

Who is your reader? They are your main character. At least they are if you want them to read your book and not be able to put it down.

 

“But what if I’m writing my memoir?”

 

Most memoirs don’t get read, even if it’s about a famous person. Because who cares? But the ones that do get read somehow end up being about the reader. To this day, my favorite is Open, tennis player Andre Agassi’s autobiography. It is astounding. And it’s about me. If you read it, you’ll find it’s about you.

 

I heard a rumor that the ghostwriter for that book (yes, ghostwriting is quite common) also wrote Prince Harry’s book. Spare. I’ve read a few pages. It’s incredible. And it’s also about me.

 

Writing Inspiration

 

In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1). If that doesn’t inspire you to learn to use words to create, I don’t know what will!

 

What I’m Reading About Writing

 

Snow Leopard How Legendary Writers Create a Category of One by the Category Pirates. It’s about being a category creator and differentiating between obvious content and non-obvious, ground-breaking content. I’ll write more on this in a later edition. It’s a great book.

 

What I’m Reading About Everything Else

 

The Creative Act by Rick Rubin. I’m just starting it, but so far, it reads like a daily devotional on living a life of creativity. I think his thesis will be that “creative” is a way of being that is not just for “artists.”

 

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