I love to write. Not only do I enjoy it, but I feel like I need to write in order to process my thoughts. There are days when writing is tough and the beautiful, flowing sentences in my head come out onto the paper in a jumbled mess. But after I spend time writing, whether journaling or adding to a story I’m working on, I feel so much better. I feel I accomplished something, and cleared out my head.
Why is it so hard to sit down and actually write?
I will count down the minutes until the kids are at school. I’m ready to write and nothing is standing between me and my paper. Except, oh wait, before I sit down at the table in my backyard, I should clean the dirt off of it. Oh, and since I already have the glass cleaner in my hand, I might as well clean the sliding glass door too. When I throw away the dirty paper towels I realize the trash is full and I should empty it. It all goes downhill from there as I end up folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, paying bills and baking a cake. Just like the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” one thing always leads to another. Before I can blink, it’s time to pick the kids up from school, my window of quiet writing time is gone for the day and I’m left scratching my head and wondering what just happened.
Why did I spend a couple of hours doing chores I despise, instead of sitting down and writing, which I enjoy doing?
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15 ESV
This verse describes it perfectly for me; not only in my writing but also in other areas of life. Does this happen to you, where you had one thing you wanted to get done today but at the end of the day you realize that although you did accomplish many things, you didn’t do that one thing? I used to blame this phenomenon on busyness, or a lack of good story ideas, or the way things are right now because of my family’s schedule in this season. There are always plenty of good excuses, aren’t there? However, do I really have writer’s block, or am I afraid to try and fail? Am I really busy and tired, or is it my impossibly high standards and perfectionism rearing their ugly heads and keeping me from even beginning a project? Because I don’t just write for myself or to use up those pretty journals I can’t stop buying. I write because God has called me to.
I don’t have one perfect solution to end everyone’s procrastination towards writing, but I do have a few things I try to remember that help get myself in a chair and putting words on paper.
I now take a long, hard look at the things I “have” to do that pop into my mind. Of course, I have to pick up my kids from school at a certain time; you might have an office job or other such obligations. And while there are other necessities I do to keep my household running, do I really have to drop everything and mop the kitchen floor right now? Or am I unconsciously sabotaging my writing time because I’m not sure I will write anything worth reading? The dirty floor will still be there later, and if I wait I can even rope my kids into helping. Everyone always has a never-ending to-do list, and if you don’t get to something, it often can be done the next day. If you are called to write, yet day after day you don’t write, are you using your talents the way God intended?
Something else that helps is scheduling writing time on my calendar. Whether you work at home, in an office, or are retired, make sure you find a time, no matter how short, to sit down and write. What comes out doesn’t have to be a perfect masterpiece. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about all the other things you aren’t doing; just write. You are prioritizing something important, and there is nothing wrong with that.
If your writing output ebbs and flows in different seasons of your life, don’t beat yourself up! I thought I would get so much writing done over the summer. My kids were off school so I could hang up my chauffeur hat for a couple of months. I imagined them outside playing while I wrote up a storm.
Aren’t I hilarious?
What in fact happened was that for the entire summer I barely wrote anything. But you know what? That’s okay. The important thing is not only do I have a summer full of fun memories made with my family, I didn’t give up for good and I am back at writing. I will not let fear and guilt build up until I’m paralyzed and can’t even pick up a pen. Instead of looking back at what you didn’t do, look forward to where God will lead you and what you will do in the future.
Life is busy, and no matter what season of life you are in you probably have a lot going on. But schedule writing into your life, don’t apologize for it, and look for the blessings it will bring to you and those around you.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You so much for this gift you have given us, the gift of writing. Please help us to use it wisely, to not hide our gift because we are scared, but to use it to reach out to the broken world around us. We want to use our pens to speak words of Your truth and love to those who need it most. Amen.