Friday, July 2, 2021

Can Your Writing Change The World?

by A.C. Williams @ACW_Author

When I was young, I wanted to change the world. I dreamed about revolutionizing the entertainment industry. I wanted to write a novel that would turn the culture inside out. Everyone would read it and come their senses about life, the universe, and everything. 

Isn’t youthful idealism nauseating? 

No, of course, it’s not. It’s cute. But I do roll my eyes at myself when I think back to my big, innocent childhood dreams.

I won’t lie. There is still some part of me that wants to change the world, but as I’ve gotten older and gained more experience, I’ve learned a valuable lesson that only many years of hurt and disappointment and loss can teach. Changing the world isn’t up to me.

Gracious, I can’t even change myself, let alone the world. I sure can’t change the people around me. I can write until my fingers fall off. I can shout until I’m blue in the face. I can work myself to the end of my strength, and nothing I do will be enough to change someone else’s mind.

But isn’t that why we tell meaningful stories? To challenge the status quo? To make people think? Surely our words can change the hearts and minds of our readers! 

Sorry to disappoint you, my fellow storytellers, but the power to change hearts and minds is not given to us. And if the point of our stories is to change people, we’ll miss the mark in a big way. Our stories will turn into sermons, and, more often than not, we’ll only further alienate the people we’re trying to help. 

We’ll also drive ourselves into discouragement and depression, by the way. If we write with the expectations that our words will change how people live, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. 

I’m not saying that our words are inconsequential. Quite the opposite. Words have power. They can build up or tear down. They can strengthen others or weaken them. But the only words that will effectively change someone’s heart belong to God.

God is the only Person with the power to change anyone. He changed me. I’ve seen Him do miracles in other peoples’ lives as well. I’ve watched Him turn the coldest, hardest hearts into warm, compassionate servants. 

Maybe a story you wrote opened the door, but God is the One who walks in and changes the heart. Not us.

So why do we put that pressure on ourselves? Maybe it’s pride (speaking for myself). Maybe it’s misunderstanding the responsibility that God has given us. I don’t know. It’s probably different for everyone. 

The truth is that before I can sit at another person’s table, I have to earn the right to be there. Nobody owes me their ear. Nobody is required to listen to anything I say simply because I’m the one saying it. If I enter that conversation with the well-meaning intention of changing the other person, all I’m going to accomplish is telling them that I’m right and they’re wrong. That’s a recipe for disaster and miscommunication, my friends.

When we try to change people, we point fingers. We make laundry lists of their flaws. Yes, maybe we do it in love, but whenever you make a list of what’s wrong with someone else, all you end up doing is making them feel guilt and shame. And, friends, guilt and shame has never drawn anyone to God. Guilt and shame make me want to hide from God. What draws me to Him is knowing that He will forgive me, that He loves me in spite of my brokenness.

If I want to see the world changed, I have to get out of the way. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write about the subjects or topics that are on my heart, but maybe it should change the way I approach those subjects and topics. I have to accept that I don’t have the power to change other people, and the more I try, the more damage I do.

Storytellers have an amazing gift. We can use our imaginations to create characters and scenarios that resonate with readers in a way that challenges what they think and believe. But we have a choice in how we use this gift. We can use our words to accuse and shame and preach at our readers, or we can show them that no one is beyond redemption, that God’s love extends even to the outcasts, and that reconciliation is possible through Christ.

I’m a storyteller, and I can’t change your mind. But I can speak from experience that finger-pointing never made me want to be closer to God. But when I saw one of God’s children in a real relationship with Him? When a Christ-follower showed me love and grace that I didn’t deserve? I wanted a piece of that. And I believe our readers will too.


A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @ACW_Author.


  1. What a wonderful perspective. I pray I will remember this every time is sit down to write. Thank you for sharing!

  2. This is a great writing, A.C. Williams. I truly enjoyed reading it this morning. Thank you for making it available to all of us.

  3. I love the way your voiced this. Once I learned that I cannot be the Holy Spirit for anyone it was freeing for me too. When I write I pray that the words I put out there will bring a hunger for God's Word to the reader so they will have the desire to draw close to Him. But it is up to Him to inspire them to do so. Thanks for sharing your heart!

    1. This is so true. We can't be the Holy Spirit for anyone, not even ourselves! That's why we have Him! Thank you for your comment!

  4. Did you used to write for Wesleyan periodicals some time ago? I loved your work--if that's you! I would have been editing VISTA at the time. Great writing!