Sunday, December 10, 2023

Keeping the Grinch Out of Our Writing

by Martin Miles @LinesFromGod

Thanksgiving hadn’t arrived, but I was feeling grinchy.

I love the Grinch. Since I’m known as a strict teacher who requires a lot of my English students, my students think I like him because of his mean nature. They also think I hate Christmas, yet expect me to decorate my room in Grinches every year because they believe it fits my character. 

So, when the teacher across the hall put up her Christmas décor two weeks before Thanksgiving, I knew I had to get busy. My wife ordered a small Christmas tree to decorate with my Grinch ornaments, then pulled out all my Grinches and placed them all over the room. We completed the décor by hanging a sign over my door that read, “Merry Grinchmas.” 

Some of my eighth graders—who don’t visit my room because I teach them in the computer lab—stopped by to reminisce. My sixth graders were awed, since this was the first time they had witnessed my grinchiness, while the seventh graders remembered it all from the previous year. 

But what my students don’t realize until I tell them is that it’s not the Grinch’s mean and nasty nature I like, nor that he hates Christmas. Occasionally, one of my students will remember what solved the Grinch’s problem. His heart was too small. It needed to grow. And when he witnessed the love of the Who’s down in Whoville, his heart grew. He was transformed. Then, he loved Christmas. And that’s what I love about the Grinch—what he became, not what he was initially. 

Many of God’s people in the Old Testament had Grinch hearts—too small. 

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT).

God called His children stony and stubborn. It took a few captivities in foreign lands to change their perspective. It also took God’s love shown through discipline--a little harsher method than the Grinch experienced. Yet, the result was the same. 

All of us can feel a little grinchy at times. One of my wife’s favorite restaurants makes me feel that way every time I visit because of their poor customer service. Sometimes, my grinchiness comes out. At other times, I hold it in. 

But life can be challenging in many more serious ways—financial setbacks, relationship crumbles, disease, family disruption, unemployment, dissatisfaction, disappointment, rebellious children. 

We writers aren’t immune to grinchiness either. Sometimes, it even enters our writing, and when it does, everyone suffers. No, we can’t cover up the truth—and sometimes that’s harsh—but we can deliver it with love. Our readers need encouragement. Everyone does. God has given us good news—news we celebrate at Christmas—and we can share it through fiction and nonfiction. 

At other times, our disappointment bleeds over into our writing. We’ve received too many rejection letters from publishers or potential agents. Something came up, and we didn’t get to attend the conference. More doors seem to be closing than opening. Or life has interfered with our writing. Before we know—and sometimes without our knowing it—we get grinchy. 

Letting God replace our stony hearts with forgiveness and grace certainly helps, but this doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing from then on. We just view things from a different perspective. 

That was the key for the Grinch—a different perspective. When feeling a little grinchy because life has gone sour our writing journey hasn’t turned out as we imagined, we must remember God has not stepped away from the throne. He’s still in control, still has our best interests at heart, still has a writing plan for us, and still loves us. And knowing that will keep our hearts from going into Grinch mode. 

How do you typically react when you’re feeling a little grinchy?


Martin Wiles is the founder of Love Lines from God (WWW.LOVELINESFROMGOD.COM) and serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and Directing Editor for VineWords. He has authored six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, DON'T JUST LIVE...REALLY LIVE, debuted in October of 2021. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, author, and pastor.


  1. Martin, this made me smile as we like the Grinch too. When the grinchy heart starts to take over we can remember how his heart didn't stay small but grew "two sizes that day." A great lesson to apply to our writing attitudes.

  2. I love this, Martin! A fun post with a deep message. Thank you!

  3. Love this excerpt: "Letting God replace our stony hearts with forgiveness and grace certainly helps, but this doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing from then on."

  4. I think we can all identify with the Grinch. Writing is a good way for me to ungrinchify. Pouring words out through the keyboard helps me see life more clearly. (Exercise helps too!)