Thursday, February 25, 2016

Courage, Dear Heart

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." - Proverbs 23:7

This week, as I've been working on a new story proposal, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the condition of our hearts-- how our hearts affect our stories, and vice versa.

See, it's easy to compartmentalize our writing as if it were a usual job. But it's not.

Writing is more like a well. You draw the water from who you are.

Which means the condition of your heart is what's going to come out. The beauty, the passion, and the ugly. 

As Christians, we have a responsibility to guard our hearts, for they are the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). It's not optional. Some of our hardest work on a day to day basis ought to be disciplining ourselves to protect the gates of our hearts and what we let inside. Think of it like a beautiful garden that a hoard of beetles flies in upon. Wherever you are in this writing journey, whether you are just beginning or already published, you have to decide. When the beetles come, and they will come, will you let them eat your harvest?

We as authors are almost like stained glass, which God's light shines through. We write in different colors, patterns, and sizes, to create different images of His glory. But with this process comes a great responsibility, because readers only know the message God has given us in terms of our story. So if you allow your heart to become muddled up, your ministry will become muddled right alongside it. Now, that's not to say we have to be perfect. There are many fractures and broken pieces that come together to form the mosaic. But it is to say that you can expect the dirt in your heart to show up as dirt in your writing.

Writing from a pure heart is the only way we give God the liberty to freely use our stories as He intended them to be. Writing from a pure heart is a gift to readers because a pure heart leads to a pure story.

So I want to encourage all of us today to do a heart check. What areas in your life and faith are a struggle right now? Can you use those as part of the message God has given you--as fragments in the stained glass--rather than allowing them to muddy your heart? Have you ever connected with a book on a heart level and sensed the author was speaking from an honest place in their own heart?

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."- Ephesians 4:29


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Cara Putman said...

Great post, Ashley. The state of our hearts and our characters' hearts are crucial to story.

Angie Dicken said...

So true, Ash! I completely agree and love your analogies.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, this is great stuff Ashley!

Love this: So true! Writing is more like a well. You draw the water from who you are.

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you, sweet friends! <3