When CHRISTIAN STANDARD asked me to share why I write books, I had to smile because I actually ask myself this question all the time. Writing a book, for me personally, is a torturous and time-consuming exercise. Please don’t be offended when I say that it leads me to imagine what a woman experiences when giving birth to a child.
Writing a book can be very painful, and if it goes well, it’s completed within nine months. Afterward, you are filled with incredible euphoria as you hold in your hands this crafted project that truly is an extension of your life. And that’s the easy part. Next come the editing, packaging, publishing, promoting, and marketing aspects.
I recently did 28 book-promotion radio interviews in a three-day window that left me hoarse and promising myself I would never do that again—only to move on to the possibility of the next writing project. Why? Because, as you know, one cannot be partially pregnant with a book idea any more than with a baby! Once it’s in you, you cannot rest until the job is complete. And that’s really where it all begins . . . with an idea that is birthed in you.
You can try to let it lie dormant, but it never goes away. At any moment, the thought comes to the front of your mind—I need to write that book! You tend to squash this thought because you know the long odds against a publisher actually wanting to publish your book.
You may think, I’m really not a writer. Or, I don’t have time to write a book. Or, I really don’t know where to start. Or, No one will ever read it anyway. Or, My grammar is lacking.
Or perhaps you’ve walked into a Barnes and Noble, stared at the sea of books, and asked yourself, Why would the world need another book, or why would anyone ever read anything I wrote?
You might ask, “Dudley, how did you know that these were my exact thoughts?” Because I had every one of them when I wrote my first book.
Discipline and Determination
Proverbs in a Haystack, a study and reference companion, was my first book and it took 10 years to complete. Most of that time was spent getting from the idea stage to the research and writing stage, which requires discipline and determination. No sooner did I finish Proverbs in a Haystack than God put an idea in my head for another book. And that’s when I started working on my second book, a 365-day devotional called Romancing Royalty.
There is much truth to the expression, “There is nothing scarier for a writer than a blank page,” and yet there is nothing more exciting for a writer than the possibilities that blank page offers. When you sit down to write, you’ll find your idea continues to evolve and get better with each draft. And once you complete one book, as arduous as it may have seemed during the writing process, you realize there are still books to be written, ideas that need to be scribbled out. I’m literally working on six different book ideas simultaneously right now; the ideas keep coming and need to be shared.
I believe God has created all of us uniquely and that we are to use our gifts, great and small, to bless others. The art of writing can be seen as you sharing your ideas with someone who may benefit from your words of wisdom. I have never written a book because I was under the false assumption I was going to become rich or famous or that I was going to articulate something that had never been said before. No, I write because I know the power a book has to fall into the hands of someone who would be blessed by my life experiences or by my writings.
Making a Difference
This brings me to the primary reason I write books, which is to help make a difference in the world. When my latest book, God Has an App for That!, was released a few months ago, I was very excited to see it for the first time at the Hudson bookstore inside the Los Angeles International Airport. There was one copy left, and I bought it, knowing God would show me whom to give it to.
As soon as I got situated in my assigned seat on the airplane, there he was. Sitting across the aisle and one row in front of me, was a distinguished-looking man who was reading intently a book by Deepak Chopra. Immediately, I knew this was the person. He was totally engaged with this book, and there I was sitting over his left shoulder, desperate for him to read God Has an App for That! with such intensity.
Time to be bold. About halfway through the six-hour flight, I followed my inner prompting. I wrote a note inside the cover and simply touched him on the shoulder and extended the book to him. The man took it, opened the cover, and read the note. He immediately put the Chopra book down and started to read God Has an App for That! with the same level of intensity.
In that moment, I knew God was using the endless hours of work and energy we put into that book. When we landed at our destination, the man was about halfway through the book and told me how much he was enjoying it. As we went in different directions after baggage claim, I knew that writing had the eternal possibility of changing someone’s life for the better.
Touched and Changed
Some people write books that are all in the same genre, while others write books in many different genres. Both begin with a love for books. My love for books started with seeing a myriad of books in my father’s sermon library. Not only was he always scouring books looking for ideas and illustrations, but he also was a genius at finding some out-of-print sermon book that had a hidden gem of a point he would use in his sermon, and it would stir people’s hearts toward Heaven and salvation.
Books have the potential to hang around long after you and I are gone. The Bible itself is made up of some 66 different letters or mini books, and here we are—thousands of years later—still reading them. Thus, I understand that when I write a book, it has the possibility of outlasting me . . . and many years after I am in my heavenly dwelling, those who are here on earth may still be touched and changed by a simple book. So grab your idea and start writing.
Dudley Rutherford is the author of God Has an App for That! and the senior pastor of the 10,000-member Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch (Los Angeles), California. He serves on Standard Publishing’s Publishing Committee. Find him online at www.Godhasanapp.com or on Twitter@pastordudley.