Quote for the Day

If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy.
If you write for men — you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while.
If you write only for yourself you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish that you were dead.

— Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Seamus Heaney reads "St. Kevin and the Blackbird"
"That God's Love Might Live in Us" — A Few Lovely Words from Thomas Merton
"Life is Change... How it Differs From the Rocks"
Seven Essential Thomas Merton Books


  1. Corina Simon says:

    Thank you for this quote. I am not a writer, but I strive for better all the time.

    This morning I remembered this quote while I was doing a creativity exercise – Morning Pages – 3 pages worth of the talk in your head, every morning the first thing that you do.

    I realized that my Morning Pages are all about writing for me as in the quote. Then I wondered how do you end up writing for God if not through going through all the stages of writing for yourself, writing for people and in the end, once you are ready, writing for God.

    Then I had another thought … that is it not true that God is within us all, within everything? If you are writing for God in yourself and God in everyone around, perhaps you ARE writing for God.
    :) Anyway, thanks for helping me realize this in a beautiful morning of Christmas.

    Happy holidays!

  2. I wonder, what qualifies as “writing for God” and what qualifies as “writing only for yourself”?

    I write “for myself”, in that I write what I want to write without thinking about its marketability or whether my eighth grade English teacher would have approved of it (not “writing for men”, in other words). But it’s often motivated by a spiritual drive, a drive to know God and to verbalize my interactions with him and with the world, to ask questions about human nature by putting characters into situations that forces them to make tough decisions or relate to one another in new ways. And often I do look back on these stories, months or even years later, and though I’ll have plenty of criticism for the style and grammar and story structure, I’ll still agree with the spirit, the sentiment, the message – even if I have undergone radical changes in my philosophy and spirituality in the interim.

    Perhaps the real distinction lies in the word “only” – to write “only” for yourself, with no regard for how that self relates to others and to the universe and to God, without thinking deeply about grander issues and letting the message flow from that connection, THAT is the kind of writing that limits itself to one reader in one moment, that fails to reach out and change lives.

    Now, I shall go and apply these thoughts to the story I’ve been working on…

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