Each year 3 million books are published while 550,000 people finish a marathon. Maybe this is why I admire people who finish a marathon more than people who write a book. As I said on FB this morning, you could probably write a book with a 1/4 of the discipline it takes to run a marathon. That discipline towards writing is becoming more common. Yet it is a peculiar discipline. In the age of A.D.D. it takes presence before the key board to write clearly, concisely and contribute within an arena of ideas.
You need discipline but you also need a sense of confidence that your ideas mean something. That confidence comes from testing your ideas in submission to a real community. (much better than a virtual community if you ask me). Most academic writers gain their confidence within the academy. But I believe, writing birthed within the depths of church life is more powerful, impactful and in the end theologically rich. These days finding a church community to journey with is more difficult. Nonetheless, it is so important to life, thinking, being grounded, and yes, good theological writing.
Some writers start well, writing vibrantly within a community. And then they migrate to writing for a living or becoming a professional conference speaker. They sometimes lose their connection with a vibrant community. Much like the pastor whose sermons lose their connection to any people struggling with Christian existence, their writing is dulled over time. In the same way academic writers, writing within and only for the academy, become “academic” (to be redundant). Their writing is of interest now only to specialists and their wider impact wanes.
So to my many good friends who think writing a book will change your life, I urge you to slow down a bit and think about running a marathon. Gain some discipline. Then, out of your everyday life, test your ideas in the midst of a real community. Then out of your experience and wealth of dialogues, write this book as an act of integration that comes from your life. Let go of what happens with it. You know, send it to some publishers, etc etc, but let your daily life in mission drive your life. Let what happens with the book be inconsequential to your life. And for sure you can manufacture a platform. But I would advise you let that platform happen organically, out of what you do in your everyday life.
Have I done this? Not always. Nonetheless, this is what I aspire to. Blessings to everybody who does NOT desire to write the next big book unless it comes out of their everyday lives, God forces it out of them, and it comes as a great surprise.