Growing Spiritually Through Writing (and Reading!)

2012 Conference

Author Caryn Rivadeneira, Friday night Dinner With Writers, 2012 conference.

That I never know what I think until I write it out is not a new idea. Joan Didion said as much. As did Flannery O’Connor. As did scores of other writers.

Though I’ve accepted this as truth—that I needed to sit at my laptop and plunk out words and then sentences for thoughts to emerge, to roll around, to take shape—for nearly as long as I’ve been writing, it’s just been in the past few years that I’ve come to realize this: I don’t really even—well, hardly, even—believe what I believe about God until I write it down.

At first, this thought terrified me. After all, I’ve been professing a belief in God, in the saving grace of Jesus, since long before it ever occurred to me to write it down or to type it out. Did this make my belief less real? Of course not.

But perhaps that’s not even what I meant. Just as I don’t have to write out every thought to know what I think (I think pizza tastes good whether I write it down or not), nor do I have to write every belief.

And yet, whenever I do, whenever I begin to write the stories of what God has done in my life, of how I’ve seen him work in this world, of the places I’ve tasted his sweetness and known his presence, whenever I’ve remembered in writing his faithfulness to me, my beliefs sharpen and deepen.

God becomes nearer and clearer in the writing process, and my spirit grows.

I’m excited to be talking about this at the Evangelical Church Library Association’s annual conference in Wheaton this October. Hope you can join us and hear more about how we can grow spiritually through writing (and reading).


Caryn is a writer, speaker and author of five books. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics, a columnist for ThinkChristian, and has written for OnFaith, Relevant, Christianity Today, among others. Caryn is also the co-founder and vice-president of Redbud Writers Guild. Visit Caryn at

About ECLA Web Team

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals. This account is managed by the ECLA Web Team.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: