Christian author Emily Freeman recounts a recent experience she had while listening to another author’s audio book:
I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, in my car as I drive around town this week… but as I listen to her read, I am pleased by this one thought: I’m so relieved I already wrote my own Big Magic. It’s called A Million Little Ways and it came out in 2013.
Why did she feel this way? She goes on to explain:
…while I listen to Big Magic, to Elizabeth Gilbert walk the same circles around creativity that so many of us have walked around and then written about, I realize I am deeply grateful.
Because while our perspective and world view are vastly different, while our personality and theology might not mix well, and while her book sits high up on bestseller lists while mine is mostly unknown by the majority of the population, I feel a certain kinship with Elizabeth Gilbert as I listen to her book.
And I am thankful that, at least this time, I do not feel threatened by the voice of another author who is saying similar things I’ve said.
You see, Ms. Freeman had a choice. She could have allowed this experience to demean her own work in her eyes. But instead, she chose to be grateful that she’d been able to contribute to the subject of creativity, yet also appreciate similar writing by another author.
The truth is that many writers and would-be writers are intimidated by the quantity of books already written on their subject, causing them to ask: Why should I write a book that has already been written? How can I possibly add to (or stand out from) the surplus of high caliber work that currently exists?
Perhaps we can find comfort in the words of King Solomon:
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
While Ms. Freeman was able to appreciate that her subject (creativity) has been so extensively studied and explored, bestselling author Jon Acuff comes at the situation from a different angle, as he expressed in this tweet:
Dear writers, someone smarter and more talented hasn’t already written the book you want to write. I promise. We need your book.
— Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) April 11, 2017
He makes the point that – yes your subject has been written about – but not by you. Your peculiar voice matters. It turns a rote topic into a unique and indispensable part of the subject’s greater lexicon.
Once we can accept these two truths—that our theme or revelation is not particularly unique, but our voice is—there is freedom:
- Freedom from the need to write an exhaustive dissertation
- Freedom to narrow your writing to the areas where you have the most revelation, knowledge, and experience
- Freedom from comparison with those who have greater academic or theological insight on the subject
Now we can begin to ask:
- What is my contribution to this subject?
- How can I use my individual experience, perspective, and voice to further the discussion and broaden the audience’s understanding?
- How has God uniquely crafted me to speak on this topic?
This self-awareness allows us to avoid many of the traps writers fall into, such as writing for other authors and comparing our work unnecessarily. We are now free to write the book that is within us to write, and nothing more.
At Certa Publishing we believe that each of our authors possesses a unique and God-given voice, along with a high calling to use that voice to impact the Kingdom. Through our distinct “partner publishing” model, we come alongside writers to support them in their publishing process. Contact us today to find out more!