Seven Deadly Sins and the Writer

Michelle Ule

Blogger: Michelle Ule

Sitting in for Wendy Lawton, whom I hope is no longer waiting for a plane in Duluth . . .

What are the seven deadly sins for a writer?

The usual ones:seven deadly sins and the writer, recognizing greed, sloth, gluttony,lust, wrath, envy, pride, writing life, publishing, editing, spell check, Michelle Ule

  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Wrath
  • Envy
  • Pride

How do the seven deadly sins play out in a writer’s life?

Let’s take them one by one.

Lust

Fundamentally, lust is a desire for something you do not have.

The list can be endless for a writer, but the biggest one is the desire to be published and/or famous at all costs.

As in any sin, there are good aspects of it: lust can also drive a writer to work hard.

But, it’s always important to examine goals. What is the point of all of this?

Gluttony

Holy Spirit Interactive provides an alternate definition of gluttony that goes beyond food. Here it is:

  • Wanting more pleasure from something than it was made for.
  • Wanting it exactly our way (delicacy).
  • Demanding too much from people (excessive desire for other people’s time or presence).

The last two definitions apply the most in the publishing arena. Some writers aren’t content to work with editors–they want their manuscript to reflect only their work.

Other writers require an inordinate amount of time from their agents, writer friends, editors, publishing houses, marketing folks–you get the idea.

It’s always helpful to ask ourselves, “Do I really need to contact this person and demand their time right now?”

Greed

An alternate form of gluttony–see the three definitions above, greed is most often connected to money, power and fame.

For the majority of writers, the desire may be there but if you’re looking for money, power and fame, you might consider another line of work.

Sloth

Sloth can take many forms, but basically boils down to a writer who can’t be bothered to run spell check.

It’s seen in folks who believe their first draft is perfect and requires no editing, because they’re too busy to deal with it.

Most writer probably struggle with a different form of sloth: the inability to get themselves into the chair to work.

It’s amazing how many things can get in the way of your writing time unless you’re disciplined.

Wrath

You can recognize wrath in comments like this:

  • “Those gatekeepers don’t know what they’re thinking not picking up my book.”
  • “Why won’t anyone buy my book?”
  • “Why does this computer not work?”
  • “Where can I find a publisher who wants my work?”
  • “Why would someone publish that trash when my book is so much better?”

And so on.

Envy

I’ve written before about envy and the writer.

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins because it destroys relationships.

It’s important to remember that each of us are on a different writing and life journey.

What works for one writer may not work for another.

The book that garners great attention may have cost the writer far more than you are willing to pay.

Envy can be a natural reaction, it just doesn’t need to be shared or acted upon.

When I feel envy, I confess my sin to God and try to thank Him for what He’s doing in another writer’s life.

Pride

Pride is the cornerstone in many of the above attitudes. It’s all about me, right?

Don’t most of these seven deadly sins revolve around our demand for attention?

Isn’t that demand to be a famous bestseller what caused Satan’s fall?

Examine your heart

Publishing is a relational business–between you, your God, your agent, your friends, your publisher and the public.

While we’ll applaud you when you succeed, no one really wants to work with someone who exhibits the seven deadly sins.

Beware.

I’ve found there’s a bittersweet humility from seeing my name on the cover of a book.

What do you do to combat any of the seven deadly sins in your writing life?

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19 Responses

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  1. The seven deadly sins? No problem here.
    *
    Oops! That pride thing keeps tripping me up. Always has.
    * Shifting the focus from “I” to the great “I am” — that’s the issue. God nudges me when I write in my journal about “my blog” or “my book.”
    “You don’t own it,” he says. “You’re an overseer. Take good care of my words.”

  2. Michelle Ule says:

    Yikes. Isn’t that the truth, Shirlee? 🙂

  3. Thank you for this list, Michelle. I think the main thing to combat all these is to acquire knowledge of them, and this list provides that. We have to be aware. And when we are aware of the sin in our heart, are we quick to turn the other way? Like you said, repent. I’ve been part of a wonderful crit group this year, and it really helps in combating these issues. It’s hard at first because it knocks you down, but it lifts you up. The feedback knocks you down off that high horse, and lifts you up to humility. If you let it. And there’s truly no better place to be.

    • Michelle Ule says:

      A critique group can be so helpful in fighting back against those deadly sins. I’m glad you’ve got one, Shelli!

  4. Susan Sage says:

    These are great thoughts! I haven’t ever considered these seven sins in applying to the writing world…thought, why not?

    Thank you for your insight and well thought-out words. I’m going to need to spend some time pondering these.

  5. There’s also an inverted kind of pride – humbled than thou and proud it it.
    * it manifests in “There are so many more things I need to do that are more important than my writing…”
    * Well, sure, but if you truly believe that your writing’s a God-given gift, then the attitude is rather a slap in the Almighty’s face.

  6. Michelle, I love this post. It is a great reminder for us. It also reminds me of a time in my life as a teenager. I was seventeen and it was probably somewhere in 1975. I was just a baby Christian and was sitting in the library staring at the cover of a magazine. The cover photo was of Princess Caroline of Manaco. I have no idea of how long I gazed at that photo wanting every bit of her life, from her strappy white sandals, and stylish jeans, to what to me at the time was a fairy tale life, a life far different than my own.
    Thankfully, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart, about my own uniqueness and that my life, my being me was not some kind of awful mistake intended to ruin me. He spoke so gently to me, a young woman, who had much less than a fairytale existence.

    He assured me that, if I was Princess Caroline, then who would be me? Who would be the one to fill my shoes, my jeans, and the place that He specifically chose for me in this world, and in His kingdom?

    That settled it for me, at that moment I chose to be the best me I could be, to honor Him, and bring joy to Him, for all he had done for me.

    I never became Princess Caroline of Monaco, but I understood I was God’s daughter, in the midst of God’s plan.

    Further side note: I am a Sanguine, people lover who loves to celebrate with others. God has more than enough ideas for books for all of us to write. But because, I am that Sanguine social butterfly, my greatest challenge is to get my seat in the chair. Once there, I’m good.

    Thanks again Michelle.

    • Michelle Ule says:

      Excellent point and poor Princess Caroline of Monaco did not end up with a happily ever after.

      If we write what God has called us to write we can relax about watching anyone else’s career.

      That’s not always easy, however!

  7. I have a sloth named Abercrombie,
    and he’s my inspiration
    for a writing life that gift-fits me
    and saves me trepidation
    that earnest work would surely key
    in my leisure-gentleman station;
    “I’ll write tomorrow”, and days, they flee
    without my verbose libation
    added to the torrent, poetry to rap
    that floods the ether; ah, time to nap!

    • Michelle Ule says:

      Did you write that?

      LOL

      I’m in the middle of a “write-this-many-words-a-day-challenge,” and while I personally didn’t need it (and 500 words is nothing), it still hangs over my head and spurs me on . . .

      Ooh, maybe I could just write long responses to comments on this blog post? Bring on the replies! LOL

  8. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    I’m wondering if the seven deadly sins are the underlying cause of my being an “introvert”…I know I exhibit these at different times–but sure wouldn’t want others to know about it! Thus the excuse–“I’m an introvert”.
    Thanks for this Michelle… made me look at my writing behaviors (or lack of) from a different–and stronger–viewpoint.

    • Michelle Ule says:

      There’s an idea, Pa!

      Because I’m an extrovert, I often don’t remember to consider life from the other angle. 🙂

  9. I agree with all those and I am very pleased to see I am mostly free of them, but there will be no limit to my wrath if my computer stops working when I am finishing the last chapter! 😀

  10. Steven Fantina says:

    The seven deadly sins can damage us in so many ways. We have to be on guard in every aspect of our lives including writing.