Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why Writers Must Practice Resurrection

It’s almost Easter, which is a pretty good time to get reborn, if you ask me. Especially if you’re a writer. What do I mean by that?

Photo of a tree

Photo credit: Lauren Mitchell (Creative Commons)

Every writer as a creative entity “dies.” And every writer, in a manner of speaking, must be resurrected. If you choose to ignore or avoid this fact, it could be mean the end of your art and even, possibly, your life.

Let’s unpack this a little.

Every writer dies

To create is to suffer. Just ask any mother. It is a painful, grueling task of bringing new things into existence. This is why, among many reasons, there is an unmistakable sadness to most creatives, even God.

And this is also why writers commit suicide, why painters cut their ears off, and why actors go through serial divorces. Creativity is a hard business.

There is an inherent frustration to it. And if you don’t know what to do with the inevitable pain, it could be the end of you. (It was for Hemingway.) Ironically, those who destroy themselves never learn to die — they don’t know how to grieve loss and let go of past seasons.

Every writer must be reborn

When you write, you share a piece of you with the world. You put your very soul on display for all to see.

Sometimes, the world doesn’t reward creativity. Sometimes, it stones prophets and crucifies saviors. Sometimes, the world scowls at genius and scoffs at insight.

Every creative has critics, and every critique is an arrow. There is no getting around this. Creating is painful, and every writer gets wounded. In order to move out of wounded-ness (“My God, why have you forsaken me?”), we must face the injustice of unfair criticism, and heal.

We must get reborn and become whole again.

The art of practicing resurrection

This is the season in which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Even in non-Christian contexts, the earth is teeming with rebirth. It’s hard to ignore.

Trees are budding. Flowers are sprouting. All of creation is collaborating to share one message: New life is here.

I struggle with these cycles — the ebb and flows of the seasons. My creative self wants to camp out in the wilderness, to to sulk in its travail. It’s been hurt, and it wants to wallow in its pain. It’s scared of trying again.

Currently, I’m coming out of a season of death — of letting go of what once was familiar and beginning to walk in newness of life. But I’m taking these first few steps slowly.

There is grief that needs to happen — losses to be mourned, disappointments to be acknowledged. We must grieve before we can move on. We must acknowledge what was before we can welcome what will be.

Death before life

We writers must acknowledge failure. We must come to grips with death. And we must practice resurrection. There is hope beyond the story of a tragic hero. There is health. There is freedom.

If this describes you (and it might), I hope you can move out of the pain of dwelling of what’s been lost and start creating beautiful art once again. It begins with honesty — with acknowledging the rejection you’ve experienced without excuse or justification.

As an exercise, try writing it all down. Then, if you’re comfortable, give it to God. Receive healing. And welcome a new day. Like I said, this is a great time to get reborn.

What do you think about this idea of practicing resurrection? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Good stuff. I used to think that the death you speak of in this post was a signal that I was an overall failure. So I denied it was needed. But it is. It’s a part of the refining process. It’s painful, but essential.

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  • I think this is a great concept. It makes those dry periods easier.
    Thanks!

  • Looking back in my own life some of my best creations were right after my largest failures. I love the concept that we have to become completely broken before we can be made whole – we have to completely die before we can be made alive. Such divergent states that most people can not understand that the two really go hand in hand.

    Thanks for reminding us of that!

  • Excellent points, Jeff.
    As creatives, we must be reborn often, while at the same time bringing along the wisdom that will serve us, as we move forward into each new chapter.
    This is usually a painful process, but also liberating once we reconcile ourselves to it and face the moment with a strong sense of resolve as we meet the new horizon.
    Thanks for the thoughts, Jeff!

    Peter

    • Always appreciate your encouragement, Peter.

  • thewatersings

    Death, resurrection, rebirth, redemption–these are key themes of nature, and of the Bible. This past year I have experienced them as never before and have understood more deeply the need to grieve, the fact that there is no condemnation in it. It is a precious and necessary gift to us. This blog entry gives me yet another area of life to apply these concepts…and it is so helpful. I’m entering a new season as a writer. There will be rejection ahead, and loss and mourning. But there will be resurrection and rebirth. I guess we can’t have the latter without the former. Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Great post, Jeff!

    I grappled with much the same on my blog today (though not in the context of Easter):

    Of Life, Art, & the Artist

    I have to say that your posts, and our brief email interactions, always leave me inspired!

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  • Phil

    Sometimes I feel as though I am reborn to something completely different each time I die and rise again. Not sure I am comfortable with that, but then I guess comfort is not part of the process, is it?

  • I like your take on this. I think writing and creating is kind of like when the seed dies, falls apart, and something is born from its death. And yeah, we need rebirth after that. Thank you.

  • Proverbia31

    Jeff, Great Post here… I sometimes feel others don’t understand a writers heart and I get impatient … But your so right Writing is sharing part of your soul with the world putting yourself out there on the line even. My heart flows much better with pen and paper than it does when I try to verbalize things at time. Thank you for what you have written, I can relate to this on so many levels…

  • It is difficult to expose yourself. I am very self-conscious and writing something and publishing it is scary. Just as you said, it is sharing part of me with everyone else. What if people think I am stupid or misguided? What if people get angry?

  • Naomi

    This is so insightful. It’s taken me over 50 years to start figuring some of this stuff out. How’d you get so wise for such a young person?

  • E4unity- John Todd

    I love this universal concept in life and agree w/ your take on it as a writer. There is a “generic”, as in nature, necessity of death in order to bring forth life, and then there is in the Gospel a specific declaration of how God Himself as embraced this as His redemptive strategy in Christ. The Christian then, as you said, must learn to apply this in his /her own unique situation being sure to put the emphasis on the ‘once-for-all’ identification with Christ’s death & His resurrection.

    You may enjoy this essay from another Christian writer:
    https://e4unity.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/humiliation-of-the-word.pdf

  • kathyescobar

    thanks for this, jeff. you always have such beautiful stuff. yes, i think that resurrection is hard as a writer, as a person. it’s far easy to live in death/grief for me (which i think are essential, extremely important parts of the process and have not been given enough attention – the “friday” and “saturday” of holy week–the crucificixion & living in the grief of all hope lost–are central parts of our stories. but i also know how sometimes it’s hard for me to move toward sunday as a writer. it takes a lot of courage to stay in and keep waking up to try again. peace to you as you practice resurrection.

  • Rob

    Wow Jeff this is an incredible post. Very wise and helpful. Well done. Thank you.

  • Suzanne

    Thank you Jeff.

    This is not just for the creatives… Anytime anything ends, and I do mean anytime, I suffer with death. Not in the literal sense, but in the emotional, mental and spiritual realms. I find the grief palpable, the struggle real and add to that the weighty knowledge that I do not transform easily. This is even more difficult, as I age. Though I know, in part, the purpose of seasons in life, I’m often too tired to take on yet another beginning. However, the alternative is sad – stagnation and death of a wonderful part of the abundant life I’ve been given.

    Where is the vision I once possessed as a young person? It has yielded to dreams, a less threatening form of action. Where is the stamina and sense of adventure? It has yielded to ordinary activities. Sigh…

    And, yet, He is drawing me. On a much deeper level, my name is being called to arise and take hold of what lies ahead. Maybe the zeal is less strong, but a greater thing has taken hold – perseverance and waiting. It may seem less exciting, but it acknowledges something greater than me and my ability, exists. It is the Creator of all life – my life! The old will pass away and all things will be new, here and in that place called Eternity, because of a life laid down for me. Joy!

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  • I needed this today. Thanks.

    • Thanks Mary! Tough day?

      • The publishing/writing journey is hard.

        • i’m beginning to realize this. is it worth it?

        • i’m beginning to realize this. is it worth it?

          • That’s hard to say. You have to have a deep sense of God’s calling on your life to write, otherwise you would go crazy with all the dips and roadblocks and detours.

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  • Terence Verma

    Only the Almighty is a creator and all creation is complete. We humans only discover what has already been created. The pain of diligence only brings forth what is already within, and God divined. I think the sadness is on account of the realisation that there is no finality to artistry…unceasing frontiers – the new seasons – to be conquered and then some…