Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Spiritual Formation Institute
Writing as a Spiritual Discipline
I always wonder why I write. Writing is not an easy task. It is not just
putting words on to paper or inputting data into a word processor. Writing needs
content. These content needs to have meaning. This means that it has to be
ordered and structured. All this is hard work. After writing is the part I hate-
editing, proofreading and rewriting. Ernest Hemingway, a prolific writes
comments, “There is nothing at all to writing. All you do is to sit down at a
typewriter and bleed”! So why do I write? Five reasons comes to mind and I am
sure I will be able to add a few more when this piece is finished. Writing is a
task that is never ‘finished’.
Firstly, I write because it is a way to clarify to myself what I am thinking.
Thinking is another hard thing to do. In the process of writing down what I am
thinking, I am actualizing my thoughts. I am making my thoughts real as I
fashion it into words. I am ordering them. Choosing the right word, the
appropriate syntax and the context, I am making my thoughts ‘real’. Without
that, I have a lot of free floating thoughts that mostly end up nowhere.
Secondly, writing helps me to focus. There are many distractions in my life and
I am very weak in resisting distractions. Writing helps me to anchor my thoughts
and feelings onto one area. It helps me to focus, concentrate and think deeper.
It opens different possibilities and realities. It helps me to ask the right
questions and seek the correct answers. It helps me to examine my life and my
motivations. It brings to light what in hidden in my subconscious.
Thirdly, writing helps me to be disciplined. To be able to write means I have to
sit somewhere within reach of a keyboard. In assembling the alphabets into
words, I am building a discipline of writing. To improve, I have to practice. I
have set myself a target of writing 500 words every day. If I write 500 words a
day, in one non-leap year I would have written 182,500 words which will turn out
nicely to be a book! Hopefully, I will be a better writer because of that.
Fourthly, writing is a form of keeping records. A written piece is a snapshot of
my life at a moment in time. It is a sum of my lived experiences and my life of
the mind. It is also a record of that moment. That is why in Christian
traditions, journaling is regarded as a form of spiritual discipline. Journaling
as spiritual discipline focuses on a person’s experiences with God in his daily
life. Augustine’s The Confessions may be the earliest autobiographical Christian
journal. Notable Puritans such William Law’s A Devout and Holy Life and Letters
of Samuel Rutherford are other examples of journaling which are edifying to its
Finally, writing is my act of worship if I am able to share my limited
experience of him and his revelations of himself through his word and works.
Writing allows me to share what he has taught me. It allows me to be transparent
and be authentic. Of course, there is the temptation to extol myself and my
achievements. That will be the antithesis of my writings. I write to share
Christ and to share in the fellowship of the witnesses that surrounds me. My
writing is my statement of my witness of him.
Writing is a spiritual discipline if spiritual discipline is a holy habit to
draw us closer to God. As Eric Lindell commented on his running as portrayed in
the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire said, “I believe God made me for a purpose and
he made me fast and as I run I feel his pleasure.” I write to know myself and to
experience God. And hopefully, as you read my writings, you will get to know him
12 May 2015