Hey Writer—the Ugly “Stuckling

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.Hey Writer—the Ugly "Stuckling"

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.

If you got this far, you deserve a standing O!

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.

~Jennifer

 

 

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Hey Writer, Lift Heavy Things

It’s mid-morning. I sat down to enjoy my some quiet creative time, and do you know what happened? Nothing. I sat down, buckled my seat belt, turned the key, and—Writers, Lift, Coffee cup

Silence.

Sometimes I imagine my brain cells lined up, waiting for the barista to get a move on. The sad thing is, I think they think I’m the barista! (Surely they know I’m not the dependable one for a fabulous cuppa before 10 AM!) I digress.

What’s my point? Simply this: writers talk about “the block” like it’s some kind of enormous object that drops from the sky and flattens them. (Now I imagine an ACME anvil and a coyote. You too?) The truth is, I don’t think the block is nearly as big or heavy as we might think. I like to think with the right “lever” we can move heavy things. So, what kind of lever do we need?

Writing. Just writing. Stream of consciousness. Haiku. A limerick. A brief character sketch. A few minutes’ work on a piece of dialogue. The lever, whatever form it takes, is personal to the writer. The lever is the tool a writer uses to refresh her raison d’être (reason for being).

Every writer needs to know there is a message waiting to be shared, that it’s important, and she needs to tell it. Writing needs to be partly creative and play (yes, even in business writing). Writing, in all its forms, is significant. And craft. And play.

Writer, when you feel stuck, the breakthrough is coming. Pick up your “pen” for a little playtime. Here’s what the process might look like for you.

Choose a tool. Choose something you really want to do and unrelated to the “chore” that needs to be done. Think about the writing genre or style you fell in love with, the kind of writing that makes you laugh, or the reason you began writing.

Set a timer. Limit the exercise to a few minutes to refresh your writing soul. If you’ve got extended time, great. Some of us need to return to our “real world” with real deadlines.

Write freely! There’s no judgment or evaluation of the writing sample when you’re finished, though you may decide to keep it as a springboard for later use.

I hope these ideas give you thoughts on breaking your barriers to writing. Try a tool. And seriously, if you write a Haiku, you simply have to share in the comments below! I’m dying to read a poem or two.

I was feeling a little blocked, so I wrote something about writing. Look at that!

All the best to you as you write today!

~Jennifer

Remembering with Purpose

Do you wonder how a collection of my memories could be useful in your life? I’ve walked circles around that question and come to a sweet pause—the path diverges right there. I’ve gawked at the train wrecks in my storyline, captivated by the damage and long-term consequences. That never led to healing, transformation, or victory. The myopic perspective emptied the story of any sweetness, light, or power.

Story is powerful. We can experience refreshing, exhilaration, and even healing when we take time to read about others’ victories and deep soul transformation. How much greater the impact when the story reveals the presence of the Lover and Rescuer of the soul through the highs and lows! During the good, bad, and desperate moments in our lives it takes special eyes to see Him. (He is there, I promise.)

For me, to lean in or not to lean in; that’s the question!

Today I’m thinking about my story in a little coffee shop in Iowa. (I love to write in little, caffeinated hidey-holes.) The opportunity to share the beautiful plot twist written into my story by the Author of faith sprawls in front of me, and I’m taking it.

When I sat with little vignettes and tried to capture them, the purpose emerged from the shadows. I remembered details, but I took extra time to find three things: the power in the memory, the plans of the Enemy, and the presence of Jesus. These three pieces are important to the transformation that follows. They are also common elements in every story. Mine. Yours. Everyone’s.

Then I began to think about two questions that have the ability to shift perspective on nearly any life story.

What do I believe about God based on what has happened to me?
What is true about God based on what is written in Scripture?

Something settled in my soul in those two questions. I almost heard and felt Kachunk! in my spirit. These questions begged to be answered, and I understood why. My perspective about God is critical. It’s only in relationship to Him that I can understand some of the story details, events, and characters. I may never understand the hows and whys in my story in this life, but I have no hope of a healthy viewpoint or healing without God.

I hope you’ll have keener insight into your own story after reading White Wave Crashing. When my eyes took in the scenes of my life at a glance, I overlooked the presence of Jesus. I was angry He overlooked the indelible ink falling to the pages of my life. Was He invisible? Unconcerned? (The answer is, “No!” but it took time to discover that.) I hope you find that to be true as well. He loves us. Deeply. And He wants to sit with us in the exuberant joy, the deep sorrow, and the painful grief.

When you begin to remember, I hope you’ll find healing for your soul, too. There is victory over the enemy of our souls when we step forward and tell of the things God has done.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on remembering…and its purposeful place. Share below or at my  Author Page.

Blessings!

~j

Hey Writer, Find the Why Cry: What’s Your Why?

Writers write. There’s no rocketry science involved, but there is a “why cry” deep in the soul driving the process. I’ve been thinking about some of the reasons, and this is what I’ve come up with. (I’d love to hear yours!)

The Why Cry...

Why do you write? 
You might relate to one of these.

“I’ve got a creative gene in my DNA that has to be expressed.”
These writers probably wear their heart on their sleeves and can’t resist the emotional flow toward the keyboard or the page. True creatives simply have to move the thoughts, feelings, and fabulous turns of phrases to the page. Resisting is futile.

If you’re this writer, you know it. The words pile up in your mind and react to one another. When a creative writer goes too long between pieces, everything gets a little angsty.

It’s not surprising the creative why exists. If it’s true we are made in the image of One who creates, then we get this from the One who made us. Creatives have freedom, and the best connection takes place when the art and emotion on the page is believable and relatable. Some may argue with “believable” art, but the too-far-fetched piece may cause confusion, unless you’ve got Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky, skill set.

“I’ve got truth to deliver.”
These writers may fit in the category of a messenger. The words, wherever they come from, simply have to be delivered to the audience. Typically, I think of these writers as honest truth-tellers. The package may be a non-fiction story with powerful impact, or it may be honest, real content the writer feels the reader must know.

If you are this writer, one main difference will be the voice. Some speak gently, but the truth can’t be compromised, and that more often leads to a forceful writing style. Maybe the origin and ownership of the package makes a difference, too. Just passing something along is nothing like delivering your own heart conviction on the page.

I tend to think readers consider the source when reading pieces from these folks. Intelligent readers evaluate the information, research, and the message for validity. Messengers have responsibility to deliver the best, truthful content possible. Just because you believe it with all your heart, doesn’t make it so. You need to corroborate with reliable sources, too.

“I know something you should know.”
These writers are teachers whose whole being simply must instruct. That’s how they are wired, and this kind of writing reaches across every subject and genre. The best teachers present information in a methodical way, so it can be easily followed and understood. If resources were important to the messengers, they are more critical for these writers.

If you are this writer, you may find your pieces explain complex concepts in simpler terms. You probably want to unveil something to the reader, something they don’t know but should. The tone of the writing is often encouraging as educating takes place, rather than condescending. Occasionally an author chooses a stern or curmudgeonly character and tone. This why may be the most obvious when it hits the page.

I can’t encourage the research enough here. Teachers hold a unique position of influence, and it’s of utmost importance that the information is vetted for truth and validity. It’s a reader’s responsibility to know who they read and the worldview they are receiving. The best teachers vet their information for integrity before it ever reaches the reader.

“It’s really all about me.” 
The reality is, writing can be a bit of guilty pleasure, a selfish endeavor. For these authors, writing is recreational. Some writers never intend to reach an audience. They don’t write for a specific reader of a particular age, gender, or interest. They write for themselves, and they often don’t consider themselves writers at all.

If you are this writer, it’s okay. Acknowledge who you are—a “recreational writer”—and be who you are. If you start here and always remain here (and you’re okay with that), enjoy the freedom to put words on the page. No pressure.

Can I encourage you in your recreation? Write whatever you write honestly. Pick up the occasional new tool in your writing toolbox and try it out. Take chances. Enjoy the learning curve in mistakes. See if you might be, deep down, a real writer who just hasn’t blossomed yet. Why would I say that? Because millions of people say, “One day I’ll be a writer…” What if that journey for you started today?

I think others have written different material on just this kind of thing. I thought I might explore my over-simplified experience with the writing whys.

Thanks for reading!

~j

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