I absolutely despised writing when I was younger. So imagine my surprise when at age twenty-four I sensed a calling to write a book. And imagine the even bigger surprise of publishing that novel a year and a half later and feeling the desire to write more books. Life is funny sometimes.
In novel writing, authors tend to categorize themselves into two main categories: plotters and pantsers. A plotter is someone who takes the time to create an outline and work out a plot before sitting down to write the main prose of the story, and a pantser is–you guessed it–someone who flies by the seat of their pants. As someone with no formal writing skills, it is probably not surprising that I identify with the latter group.
My “seat-of-the-pants” writing style has become even more obvious to me as I currently work on my next novel. When I sit down to write, I have at least a small idea of what the main characters will do in that particular scene and imagine how they will feel, behave, and interact. But something very strange tends to happen. Without warning, my characters begin to take on a completely different persona than the one I intended. At times they act irrationally and go places where I never planned to send them. Before my very eyes the characters comes to life and begin taking control of the story. They become real people.
Now, while I don’t plot out my stories, I do have some particular events in mind that I want to take place in my books. I do have an ultimate end goal for my characters. The challenge of writing in this style is having to constantly redirect the characters back to the main parts of the story. In a sense, I give my characters free will to become real people and take on the various roles that they desire, but all along I must constantly course-correct to bring these characters to their ultimate fulfillment in the final scene. As I consider the implications of this writing style, I can’t help but draw an analogy to the story of life.
God is the author of life, and contrary to what many evangelicals might think, God is not a plotter. God does not preordain our lives, but rather gives us free will to become real people, not robots. God wants to watch us become the character that He’s always known we could be. But as every good pantser does, God is constantly course-correcting, guiding us through the story, pointing us to the main events, and ultimately leading us to the final chapter.
God is the author, but as a character in His story, you are not a victim to His every whim. God calls you to help write your story. Where are you in your story right now? How might God be asking you to step up and play your part?