I spoke with a fellow writer this week who was excited about his writing again. He told me he thinks about his book all the time, particularly when he isn’t writing. And he has managed to find small chunks of time here and there to actually sit and write. He also told me he knows why he is excited about writing again, because according to his words, he hasn’t been especially enthralled with the task of sitting to write for some time.
He went to a seminar. Then he went to a couple of good writers group meetings. Then he signed up for a writers retreat. And all of that ignited his passion for writing once again — investing in his calling as a writer made that calling seem more real, more urgent, more attainable.
Because, let’s admit it, there are few things in life as scary as staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen, waiting for words of inspiration to come flying out of our pen or our fingertips.
Sure, once we get the words flowing, it’s easy after that. Getting some positive feedback from a publisher or editor, seeing a deadline in black on white gets the creative juices racing.
But the every day, mundane, mandatory process of writing can wear us down.
Unless we see value in it.
Let me share a parable with you: Our church runs a small food bank ministry each week. When we first began, we didn’t ask for any donations, because we had minimal costs, and our church was happy to cover those costs. What we discovered, however, is that when the clients who received food from the food bank went out into the parking lot, they threw away some food items they had received. So, foe example, if an apple had a bruise on it, they threw it away. If the bananas weren’t green, in the trash. And we realized that the clients didn’t put a value on something they didn’t have to pay for. So we started asking for a $2 donation. And people were happy to receive it, and we didn’t find food thrown away. Why? Because they had to “pay” for it (although the donation was always voluntary).
If we don’t see a value in our writing, we might tend to “throw” it away — we’ll find reasons not to attend a meeting, we’ll find excuses not to write, we’ll allow distractions to take us away from our calling.
Investing in your writing career is one way to ignite your passion to write. Remembering how excited you were about your story when you first started writing will inspire you to sit and write. And if you aren’t sure you’re writing the story you need to tell, sit down and make a few notes that will identify the story that is burning you up on the inside as it waits to be written.
Beginning again, again, is no sin. There is no shame in admitting you got side-tracked, but now you are back on the road again. Setting aside your current work and starting a new one is not the same as quitting — you are just going to write the story that you should have started with.
Is something holding you back from beginning again, again? Tell it to go away. Nicely, of course. Tell it to come back after you’ve finished with this book, this story, this poem, this song.
All writers will, at times, face a brick wall of reasons why they can’t write. And even if you can’t write all day, for an afternoon, an hour even — find fifteen minutes in your day and at least think about your project.
New beginnings are all around us at this time of the year. Today, right now, is the best time to begin. So sit, write, make notes, don’t worry about how much you have left — count your words from today, right now, and put them in the plus column of how much closer you are to the end.
And then, when you reach the end, begin again, again. And again. And if you haven’t signed up for the writers retreat in April with Cecil Murphey as keynote speaker, you need to do that. Check out the details on http://www.acfwcolorado.com. You will definitely be ready to begin again, again after that.