This post was written for an online discussion group about the book On Being a Writer by Ann Kroeker & Charity Singleton Craig and was linked up over at Kate Motaung‘s place.
Chapter 2 – Arrange: Making Time for Writing
In the past several months, God has been showing me that I have indeed been built to write.
Whether the words I jot down are for my own sanity or for the sake of my friends’ time management (so that they don’t have sit there and listen patiently while I chatter on for hours at a time, “verbally processing” my life), or whether my words are a way for me to somehow bless or encourage or inspire the world… or whether they are written simply to bring pleasure to God… all of that is rather irrelevant at this point in my journey.
All I know is that I must write. I need to do it in order to think straight. I need to do it in order to feel free and not like a shaken up bottle of coke, waiting to blow up if given the least bit of room to breathe. I need to do it in order to feel like I have any idea what is going on inside myself. I need to do it order to feel really, truly alive. I need to do it because when I don’t do it, I don’t feel like I’m fully me.
I once heard Ann Voskamp say that “Some people can make sense of their life by just living it… but I have to write it down to understand it” (HistoryMakers Interview). This resonated so much in me when I first heard it— I had never heard someone put words to this concept before. I had aways thought I was a bit of a weirdo and that no one else could relate to that part of me. And as I mulled over Ann’s quote in the months following, I felt God speaking to me, comforting me, affirming me and telling me “It’s okay to be built the way you’re built, Kristi. It’s okay that you have a busy brain and love to ponder and love to feel deeply and love to figure out which words can accurately be attached to all that is going on in your mind and heart. And it’s okay to feel the need to set aside time to do that. In fact: please do that. Take time to get to know what’s going on inside yourself and take time to write it all out,” I sensed Him saying.
So, months after I originally heard Ann’s statement and let God confirm in me the truth of what it meant for my life… I finally started heeding that truth— the truth that I must write in order to truly feel connected to my life and to my God.
I was always a journaler. Always one who felt free after unloading my prayer life onto paper or onto the screen via a keyboard. Getting all my thoughts or prayers out by writing has always helped me stay focused and helped me to feel a sense of release when I’m done. It’s like I am a cauldron of hot water, just on the verge of boiling over— and I need a place to safely bubble over and just let it all out.
Writing is that safe place for me.
And even though the writing and prayer journaling dropped off significantly after I had a couple babies and was too tired and busy to even remember that writing had the power to help me get through that rough season… on the whole, writing has always been a part of my life.
But it was never a scheduled part of my life. And then, 4 years ago, I had a breakdown/crisis/epiphany wherein I started tuning back into God in a way that I had never done before… and He started waking up in me those parts of my soul that had long laid dormant.
And while He’s been teaching me and leading me and affirming me in this for a handful of years now, I’d have to say that the last 7 months or so have been pretty intense while God has been showing me even more how very freeing and beautiful writing is for me. When I am writing habitually, I come alive in a way that nothing else is able to do for me.
And God has also blessed me with a 2-year old who takes a good long nap every day while his big sisters are at school.
So every day right after I lay that little guy down for his noon nap… I walk into my bedroom, jump on my cozy, beautifully made bed, fluff up the pillows behind my back, grab my laptop and my Bible and whatever books I’m working through— and I write. Or I read. Or I pray in writing.
However that space of time is spent, I am connecting with my God and my soul. It is a gift, I tell you.
I no longer use that time to work out or clean house or prep for dinner or do yard work. I do my best to get those tasks done either in the early morning hours before most of the household has woken up or I just do them with the kids playing and making noise in the background. Because while I don’t need peace and quiet to work out or to clean or to make food… I am built in such a way that I need silence and solitude in order to think straight or to really truly tap into myself and write.
So naptime it is! (And sometimes I’ll revisit it all again after everyone else is asleep at night. Those make for sleepy-eyed, and sometimes grumpy, mornings, though— so I have to be careful of how many late night writing sessions I dare to string together in a row. But sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve just got to do when you get a chance to do it, right?!?)
I also “write” while I hike on the weekends: I have the Evernote app on my phone and I will often dictate my prayers or ideas into that while I’m moving my body up the hill.
And, for me, I’ve found that oftentimes writing is kind of like a labor and delivery. There might be a long time of waiting around and having a little progress here and a little progress there… nothing spectacular happening, but progress nonetheless… and then: BAM! All of a sudden I’m “in transition” and I can’t think straight until I get this stuff out of me. I’ve got words and word pictures and epiphanies and clarity coming out the wazoo and I’ve got to just buckle down and push it all out while the urge is there!
And, you know… I used to feel guilty about grabbing those slices of time. But I must admit: the more I do it, the easier it gets. And the more rewarding it is, too, in a sense. Because each time I do it I can build on the time before. Each moment of clarity leads to another moment of clarity or another question to wrestle through and another list of books I want to read and another bunch of writing sessions wherein I can hash it all out to my heart’s content.
It’s a vicious, beautiful cycle.
Does that make sense to any of you?
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What about you?
How do you find time to do the things your soul longs for you to do in order to feel truly alive and connected to God? And how do you arrange your life and/or relationships so that you can actually get those times that you need?
Are you a writer? If so, when and where and why do you write?
Please feel free to share your own journey in the comment section below.