Monday, January 24, 2011

Writing as Participation by Wm Paul Young

Happy Manuscript Monday, dear readers. Annette here. Ever hear someone say "it was all God" when complimented on their work? Last September, my husband and I went to see (and hear) Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack. One of the statements Paul made has since stuck with me, both as a writer and as a child of God. He said we write as participants with God. How inspiring. He graciously agreed to expound on this concept for us. May the following article encourage you. Enjoy!

Writing as Participation
Wm Paul Young

Before there was a creation, before any space, time and matter, there was a relationship: three uniquely distinctive persons in the great dance of one essence where other-centered affection and communication are both the truth of being and the way of being. This is God who has never been alone, never done anything without the others and knows the reality and pleasure of participation. This is God who has included you into this great dance of affection. Part of grace is that God invites and encourages our participation as imperfect and damaged as it might be, but like the parent who wonders at the child’s attempts at coloring and drawing, so too God wraps us up in tender embrace oohing and ahhing at the messes we have scribbled on life’s parchment. There is a profound respect given to us; a respect that has always existed for the other within that first circle of relationship, and now includes us.

This has implications for us as writers. It is not the intention of God to displace us in the creative process, to overtake us in such a way that we express only God’s personality and character. This means that the more whole you become as a human being, the freer you are to fully be yourself, the greater clarity you will write with your own voice and the deeper will be your ability to participate. Who you are and are becoming matters.

Nor do we have the power to eradicate the presence and participation of God in our creative process. You were included into the life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, whether you want it or not, know it or not, like it or not. You are part of the ‘all flesh’ on whom the Holy Spirit was poured out. This is one reason why an ‘unbeliever’ is able to write with deep and penetrating insight and creativity. They are participating whether they know it or not. God comes not to displace you, but to bring everything God has and join it to everything we are and are becoming. If we had eyes to see, we would see a beautiful mess.

Life is participation and writing is one of the exquisite expressions of that journey. It is the reaching for and the grasping of the "invisibles" and making them accessible to a conversation. But the product of writing is not the goal. Rather it is the journey, the relationship, the dance, the participation that is the destination.


The Shack became a runaway self-published bestseller a few years ago. Though controversial, this book is life-changing.

Here's the back cover copy:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!


To read Paul full bio, click here.

Learn more about him, his speaking engagements, etc., at his website.


  1. Paul, I like how we can apply this participating with God concept to all we do in life as Christians. Appreciate your wisdom on this. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Wonderful article! Thanks, Paul.

    What a gracious God we have. He doesn’t sweep in and take over, but participates with us on the creative journey. And at the same time, how comforting to know that we’re not on our own. Love that!

  3. Wow, what a fascinating concept. I've heard it expressed that our creativity is a facet of God's creativity, but I like the idea of participation. Makes me think of all the different writers of the Bible - each writing in their own style and their own way, yet conveying God's words.

  4. Thank you for writing The Shack. I passed it on to my brother who reads it when he is depressed and needs a reminder of Papa's love1


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