J. I. Packer’s Advice to Aspiring Writers

Desiring God has been posting some video interviews with J. I. Packer. As usual, he offers plenty of great insight. And I thought this video was particularly good for those of us interested in writing.

The video is less than ten minutes long, so it’s worth watching all the way through. But here are Packer’s three main pieces of advice:

1. Go deep in your grasp of God, and his will, and his ways, and the spirit of worship. Because you must constantly be expressing those things in every bit of writing that you do.

2. Understand, as preachers also have to understand, that it’s as important that you communicate with people as it is that you set before them truth and wisdom from the word of God.

3. Don’t attempt to be a writer unless you have got things to say which you feel must be put on paper and I am being called to do it. Writing, in other words, is as vocational an exercise as becoming a preacher.

And one quote in particular jumped out at me:

There are writers who think that simply by crisp, orthodox formulations of Bible truth and wisdom, without any searching application to the reader, they are fulfilling the full role of a Christian writer and that nothing more is required of them. That I do not believe to be so. There are enough people around already who can verbalize orthodoxy on paper. What we haven’t got is writers who can blend, or join, truth and wisdom about God from the Scriptures with personal communication, that is, communication that hits the heart, that makes you realize that this writer is a person talking to other persons, that this writer is trying to search me in order to help me, and I must let him do it. There is a certain art, or shall I say a certain craft, or perhaps I should use both words, there is a certain art and craft in writing in such a way that it gets to the reader’s heart. I think sometimes God has enabled me to do that in things that I have written. It isn’t accident, I means it’s something that I’ve been trying to do, and shall go on trying to do. So I would say to my budding writer, now this is a craft you must learn.

Here’s the video. Enjoy.

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