I know you don’t have time. I know that you may be at the beginning of the process or, worse, some where in the middle, and that middle looks like a big dark hole without relief or rescue or air. But do it anyway.
Your life is busy. Really busy. Your days are full, and next week is already jammed in your mind so that you’re starting to feel overwhelmed at my slight reminder that next week is next.
Creativity is far from you, even if there’s a little spark of wonder, discontent, and upset at the bottom of your stomach because you really are creative when you humbly say so yourself.
Give yourself room to make space for the words. You can’t make them come, but you can clean up the clutter that makes them uncomfortable.
You can close the door so they’ll feel welcome and confident that they won’t be shown prematurely to the world. They won’t feel like the naked things that they are; they’ll have time to explore the space behind the closed door. They may feel so hosted that they’ll stay a while.
You can turn on that lamp that makes you feel like doing something great, the one you bought at a yard sale before you moved into your new place. You can tell the words that they’ll be glad they came to dance in such a dazzling space.
You can sweep away the dead dry insects from the corner near your writing space because your words hate dead insects. You can turn off your phone and grab a pen and close your eyes and write your ABCs until the letters turn into words and the words turn into sentences and the sentences into the ideas underneath the noise of outside.
Imagine that you really are a storyteller, an idea machine, a keeper of some gift for the world. Then go sit down or stand up or walk around and write. Do it on your phone. Or on somebody’s permanently borrowed laptop. Do it on a legal pad, in a red moleskine, in an old ruffled spiral notebook, or on scraps of torn envelopes from mail you didn’t read.
Write the words.
Michael, I really enjoy your words of encouragement and prayers for writers. I feel that I may be one of the people that you pray for and think of often, by way of the Holy Spirit. Today, as I was driving from the far south side to the far north side (and beyond), I began to wonder when I would ever get the kind of time I need in order to really begin writing the way that I want to. With two small kids in the house, and being at home with them just about all day, everyday, it has become quite a challenge to put pen to paper, or fingertip to key, and write something extraordinary.
What’s more exasperating is the fact that God keeps giving me these titles, but no text. I don’t know if this happens to you, but I’m always hearing titles, and I know they are works that I am yet to write. Usually when I hear something, I’ll grab my phone or tablet and write down the “title” so that I don’t lose the thought or idea. When I actually sit down to write the text, it’s like I’m staring into space. Empty space, that is. This is very frustrating, and I want to ask God to stop giving me these titles with nothing to back them up, but something inside tells me that this is not at all an accident. There is something waiting for me as I discover the text instead of waiting for it to magically beam down from heaven and appear on my computer screen. As with most things of a spiritual nature, I’m aware that this too is a journey within itself, and I’m simply being invited to walk the path with my Father. This understanding, however, does not make the task any easier.
Anyway, as a response to this post, I wanted to say THANK YOU for your encouragement and motivation for writers. It seems to come just when I need a small push. Your words (and consistency) inspire me.
Give Dawn & Bryce a hug for me…God bless!
You’re welcome, Toya, and thanks for the comment. I thought of four things reading your comment. First, you may not write anything extraordinary, but ordinary is very much worth working toward. You have fifteen minutes to write something ordinary, and that’s enough to start. Doing that for a month is substantial. Second, I read Writing Down the Bones a few years ago and thought immediately of it reading your comment. Have you read it? It may help you think through small steps you can make inside your busy life. I can loan it to you if you can’t find it in a library. Third, you won’t get around making a decision to protect/guard/honor/respect your writing process. You’ll probably have to teach the others in your life (people and things) to respect it. Last–and this is a re-frame–try to see your ideas as an invitation. Invitations are aspects of hospitality. They’re a part of the party but only an early part. So much more comes after the invite. But you have to get dressed and then actually attend the event that is your writing. I think of the idea as a gift from God. I think of my follow through as my gift back. Instead of getting frustrated with the empty space, sit in it and search for the gift (the words) that are yours to write.
Michael, these words (yours and Toya’s) are indeed a beautiful, lovely gift–what a vehicle you are for such grace! I read your prayer the other day, and used it. My thoughts are unfurling like seedlings that have begun to sprout with hope hidden under the flower pot, rather than being tucked inside comfy soil. They have been whispering non-stop, raising their heads also with titles and the thinnest threads of story. Emptiness is their rejoicing because they finally have room to breath!
But yet. My oldest leaves for college next Friday. My heart is torn between celebration and… bittersweet. The other five children, each with their own needs (the youngest is barely three), clamor for my attention. As do my husband and the golden doodle, though not necessarily in that order. He gives us all such richly more than we can even ask or think! ;o)
I have a lamp like the one you mention. Except I bought it a Big Lots for my oldest daughter when we moved in above my grandma after the divorce. My grandma is passed on now, and I am married again, and the lamp is being used as a dusty spotlight in a bathroom we are redoing. I am going to clean it off. Perhaps my daughter will pack it up with other memories to take with her.
Yesterday, I actually had my first writers’ group meeting. Although I’ve had my writing published in the form of blogs and children’s workbooks and local magazines and greeting cards, I’ve yet to release the full storm. This piece you wrote today. I read it with my mouth open and hands on the sides of my face. It stuns me, this oft-visited and yet seemingly desolate place it seems our minds frequent. Yours and mine and Toya’s and the girls from my group and so many others whose fingerprints I don’t yet recognize.
I love the thought of an invitation. I heard recently the reminder that we reap what we sow. If we want to reap writing, we should sow writing seed. I am writing something now every day. Even if it’s a six word challenge. So, for example, answer the following in exactly six words: What does your talent of writing mean to you? (I might respond something like: Resilient fragility framed–vehicle of grace.)
I will read Writing Down the Bones over the next week. I will read Ecclesiastes and I will read Philippians–these refresh my soul. I will pray for you, for Toya, for all of us. It will be a prayer of joy and thanksgiving.
Alissa, I love that you’re finding time to write and that you’ve gathered a few friends in the process. I can imagine it’s been a road full of sacrifices to do so.
Thanks for your prayers and kind words. Let me know what you think of Writing Down the Bones. I found it very helpful. It was a different way of thinking about writing for me, and a lot of it really connected with me.
Reblogged this on Life in a Gaggle and commented:
As I say, just throw the words on paper or screen. Worry about making them into an orderly flow after they are all written. Just write.