If you’re anything like me (I extend my sympathies), the dawn of a new year brings with it a chance for reflection and re-vision. I like the hyphenated version of that word; I think it conveys the meaning a little better than revision. Re-vision suggests to me the casting of a new vision, new direction, new emphasis, new focus.
So, as I reflect and re-vision, I would like for my 2022 to be a year in which I “spend it all.” I borrow the phrase from one of my favorite writers, Annie Dillard, who wrote in The Writing Life (also one of my favorite books):
One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give now (Annie Dillard, The Writing Life).
Spend it all. I’m frugal by nature, but I see the wisdom in Dillard’s words. I can think of three excellent reasons to spend it all, every time you write, in everything you write:
We’re not promised tomorrow. Remember Jesus’ parable of the rich fool, who built more and larger barns to hoard his surplus, only to hear God say to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20 NIV)? As with crops, maybe with words. If we don’t “spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all,” who knows whether we’ll ever get to spend it at all?
We owe the reader our best. It is a grand privilege to be read, an honor and joy for any reader, even just one, to spend valuable time reading words we have written. How stingy would it be to take that for granted and fail to give readers our best? Not to mention (though I’m going to) it’s also a great way to lose readers and keep them from coming back for more. And who among us can afford to do that?
Creativity is a muscle. Many times over the course of my writing ministry—which now spans more than four decades, fifty books, and hundreds of articles and blog posts—I have wondered just how many more ideas I can come up with and how much longer I can write such exquisite poetry and prose. (“Lord, forgive me, and try me one more time.”) But, somehow, God continues to bless me (and tolerate me); and creativity—like any muscle—gets stronger and better as it’s used. To use a different metaphor, spending it all primes the pump and keeps the inspiration flowing.
For those reasons—and more, which I hope some of you will suggest in the comments—I hope and plan to “spend it all” in my writing efforts this year. How about you?