25 Quotes from The Storied Life

by Jared C. Wilson May 7, 2024

My new book The Storied Life: Christian Writing as Art and Worship is now available from Zondervan Reflective. This book is for both experienced and aspiring writers — whether you write stories or sermons or even just social media posts or daily journal entries — and is designed to equip you with some nuts and bolts practicalities for better writing and to see your writing as a reflection of the One who is “writing” you!

Here are some quotes from the book to whet your creative appetite.

1. “To get to the glory, you have to go through the chaos.” (xvi)

2. “One key to powerful Christian writing is not in our trying to say something new but in our saying something old in a new way.” (17)

3. “It is one thing to say in my preaching that ‘Jesus is glorious.’ That is definitely true and it must be said. But it is another thing to preach Jesus in such a way that the hearer is led to declare in response, ‘Oh, Jesus is glorious!'” (23)

4. “It’s not always explicit gospel content that makes writing Christian, but often the worldview of the writer and, most importantly, the way the writing reflects a sense of the Divine Author’s story of the world. The content is not incidental, and there are certainly worldly ways to tell ostensibly Christian stories. But for writing to be well thought of as Christian, it must reflect The Story.” (29)

5. “Christian writers will find that to write in a way that is true, they must also give space for the incursion of the world into the attempt to subdue it. Parted waters recede. Manna spoils. Weeds shoot back up. We do not have to yield to the reality of the curse, but to write what is true, we must be honest about it. The worst Christian writing glosses over the dirt in the garden of cultivation.” (38)

6. “The story that God is telling in the world is beautiful, but it’s not always pretty.” (67)

7. “It is in the creation of art, perhaps, that image bearers most closely reflect their status as image bearers. To contemplate a blank page or a blank canvas or a lump of clay and turn that void into something articulate, resonant, to make of it something that was not there before, is akin to creation ex nihilo. When we create, we image the Creator.” (74-75)

8. “All artistic creations are innately spiritual acts.” (76)

9. “Training to read and write well is not simply about improving one’s skills. Reading and writing are formational for our improvement as persons.” (79)

10. “Whether I’m staring out the window or looking at Van Gogh’s paintings of cypresses or reading Leif Enger or John Milton or Thomas Hardy, I want to tune my internal narration to the God who has given us all of this vision and these visionaries. I realize the right disciplines can make me good, but it’s the right dreaming that can make me great.” (83)

11. “The Christian writer’s first audience is the one who has gifted him.” (87)

12. “You must see reading not just as an imperative for becoming a better writer, but for becoming the kind of writer whose life is shaped by story (and The Story).” (99)

13. “Your voice is somewhere deep in the uncharted jungle of the writing life. You must hack your way sweaty and weary to get to it.” (105)

14. “It’s never too soon to start writing, but the writer you are when you start is not the writer you will be later.” (105)

15. “For the Christian artist, finding one’s voice is not about building some Babel tower of personal distinguishment but about contributing your voice to the music of the spheres, which exists to glorify the truly distinguished Creator of all.” (111)

16. “There is a way to write about Christian doctrine that doesn’t sound very Christian at all. You could go to your local bookseller and find the books marketed to evangelicals and discover a whole range of options that read like appliance manuals. The theologian may be the smartest guy in the room, but his book is as dry as old toast. The inspirational influencer may be the peppiest gal on Instagram, but her book book reads like it was spit out by an A.I. program. It probably was.” (129-130)

17. “The writer is to love his neighbor as himself.” (132)

18. “People who say they’ve always wanted to write a book typically mean they’ve always wanted to have written a book.” (138)

19. “Nonwriters do not understand. They want the magic spell, the magic beans. But there are none. You have to put the words down on a page.” (139)

20. “Even if you do achieve amazing success, you need to remember that The Story is not about your fame, but Christ’s.” (150)

21. “Platform is a stewardship from God.” (152)

22. “One of the worst things we can do in the face of [writer’s] block is to give up. We are going to have to fight it in some way.” (161)

23. “The words don’t show up if you don’t.” (164)

24. “The stuff of our everyday lives isn’t meant to be oriented around the idol of our creativity. Rather, our creativity is meant to flavor our everyday life.” (169)

25. “The call to write is a call to see as many ways as possible that God is telling stories in the world. The call to write is a call to press deeper into The Story. And when we do, we find that we are not just being called to ‘make stuff,’ but to be made. God’s calling is in fact a storying of us.” (191)

Order The Storied Life from Zondervan or from any of your favorite book retailers.

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