Hey, Writer—are you fighting through your planned writing time today? Fingers hover over the keyboard eager to generate word flow. Then long stares at the screen are punctuated by brief looks around the room and quick glances at customers coming and going at the hidey hole. The word count only shrinks as you edit words you had an hour ago. You’re tapping your foot more than the keys.
Even if not today, it can be a battle any day.
What brings your writing to an ugly, screeching halt?
Consider the fear of failure and rejection. Writing puts the whole heart out there for all to read. Ideas are a target for criticism. If there’s an unhealthy connection to the work, then who becomes the target?
My worldview allows for God to work in and through everything in His time. He knows all things. If we invite Him into the process and trust Him—with the work, the pace, the release of fresh thoughts, the timing, with everything—what might happen?
Comparison is a killer in the writing process. Writers think of fresh ideas and shape them, scheming and planning and plotting to the end. But truth and reality exist, and that’s a problem:
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV
Suddenly the genre reveals all that millions created in an overwhelming body of literature. Paralysis sets in. The “competition” in the field is stiff. What new thing could possibly be said? What is a fresh idea anyway? Five minutes on a search engine proves a thought isn’t so original. Then what?
Surrender to and love His purpose for life. Striving and driving on our own steam has consequences. Do we want that? Better if it’s not us! Do we want to put that ugly, jealous, anxious art out there? Striving shows in the work. Peace, gentleness, and respect or anxiety and the fight-flight-freeze cycle—which creates the best work? What does excellent work require? Ask Him what He requires if you’re the curious, daring sort.
The Writing Process in Partnership
When we partner with God in work, we become sensitive to His voice saying go, wait, or stop. Standing and waiting is also serving God. There is something to be said for waiting.
I’m not talking about a frenetic pace of life that puts off creativity, a choice of location that leads to distraction, or perfectionism that shuts down the process. That’s not honest waiting; at best it’s unwise, at worst it’s shirking the work. We have to sit and do the work.
There are unique times when the words won’t come that are worth noticing. In His mercy, God creates growth and learning opportunities through rest. A good friend reminds me, ‘Sometimes you have to live a little more before you can write it,’ (whatever it is). She’s not wrong. Growth over time can temper or heal emotions, craft powerful scenes, or grant fresh perspective and creativity.
How to Partner with God
Keep in step with Him. Surrender all the dreams specifically to allow Him to work. Our best writing is created when God’s wisdom and heart take the lead; that generates very different content. Living life aligned with Him—especially in our work (creative fiction or non-)—changes everything. Comparison issues melt away. The message emerges, but leave it to Him to decide how and if it will be used. Let the message be worked in you first! Each has a part—the Author of faith and the author—and humility goes a long way.
Connection to the Lord yields supernatural power. Let Him craft words through you. Let Him infuse words with power (something better than conniving might twist into existence). His Spirit tempers and tames the big feelings, heals the brokenness, restores stolen things, and often turns the mess into a unique message to share. That’s redemption.
We can try to make things happen these days using the right networking, marketing, and crazy-insane effort. Or we can get close to God and let Him speak.
When we think we’ve heard some of His wisdom, we can ask our audience questions about their needs (a whole other partnership idea for a future post). Interviews and questionnaires are treasure chests full of possible direction and purpose, great ideas, and fuel for the road ahead. That audience feedback becomes part of the conversation, too.
Lastly, if you’re a little “stuckling,” try a writing prompt or stream of consciousness exercise to begin getting words down without judgment.
Here’s a 3-minute assignment:
- Put your finger on what has you stalled right now. Give it a name.
- List 1-3 things that need to happen for a breakthrough to occur.
- List one thing you can do today that will begin to change the “ugly stuckling” into the graceful swan floating with peace and a clear head.
Want to make an action step real? Write it down! Feel like sharing? I’d love to know how your writing journey is going.