Thursday, August 30, 2007

Writing Responsibly

When I was in high school learning to drive, I remember having to watch a video with a horrible title like "Bloody Asphalt" or something like that as part of my drivers training. The video showed how driving too fast, driving while tired, and all other types of reckless driving could result in injury or, worse, the loss of life. It was powerful to me to see these images. To know that as a driver every time I got behind the wheel I was in a position that required great responsibility. The message was simple: Drive Responsibly.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, as a writer, every time I sit at my computer I am in some ways as if at the wheel. People will read my books (if I do my job right, lots of people! he, he) and thus, the words, images, and messages I choose are very important. I should most definitely: Write Responsibly.

So what does that mean exactly? Does it mean all of my characters have to be angelic and say only words Thumper would approve of? Does it mean I must only write about rainbows and kittens? Some author friends of mine have recently been discussing this very issue. Questions about author responsibility have been posed and answered in a variety of ways.

When I write, I find that two tests help me to know if I am writing responsibly. I thought I’d share them with you. The first test comes from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and the second from the Holy Bible.

Test One: The Invite/Entice Test:
Does my writing “invite and entice to sin,” or does it “entice to good continually,” and to “love God, and serve him?” (See Moroni 7:12-13)

Test Two: The Fruit Test
Does my writing “bring forth good fruit?” Or does it bring forth “corrupt fruit?” (See Matthew 7:17)

Asking these questions has helped me in my journey to be the most responsible writer I can be.

So tell me about your own tests. How do you write responsibly? How do you exercise responsibility in all aspects of your life? I’d love to hear your insights.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

I love both of your tests and think I will start using them. Usually I try write things that I would be comfortable having my grandmother and my children read.

Stephanie Black said...

What a wonderful and appropriate application of those scriptures! Thanks!

Tristi Pinkston said...

These are great scriptures -- thanks for including them here.

I measure my writing by how I feel about it while I'm doing it. Do I feel uplifted, do I feel weighed down, do I feel like I've pushed too far? Most often, when we follow our instincts, we can't go wrong, when we remember where we got those instincts in the first place.

Tamra Norton said...

Great scriptures to write by! I think about this a lot because I write for children and teens.