This post was written for an online discussion group over at Kate Motaung’s place. We are working our way through On Being a Writer by Ann Kroeker & Charity Singleton Craig. This was prompted by
Chapter 11: REST— Sometimes, I stop for a while and do other things
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” ~Isaiah 30:15
Rest used to be a huge no-no for me. I used to think if I rested it meant I was lazy or selfish or incompetent or unintelligent.
But then God taught me otherwise. During an especially rough season in my life, He started teaching me a concept that I had never given much thought to before: Sabbath. After much study and research and self-examination, I finally began to understand that a huge piece of God’s intention for me involved resting.
“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.” ~Exodus 34:21
Even during plowing season… Even when deadlines loom. Even when your schedule is chaotic and you’ve got in-laws coming to stay and your kids have sports and your toddler is teething and your husband is grumpy and the house is a mess…
Resting is not only important, it is mandated.
Yes, there is a balance to be had. Yes, we live in a different culture than the Israelites. Yes, we even live in a different world than Jesus lived in when He was walking on this planet.
But it still matters.
In both the Old and New Testaments, God makes it clear that resting is for our own good. Even Jesus Himself rested from the constant hubbub of people that thronged to Him when He “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
God created human beings, fleshly beings, with an innate need for occasional rest. The human body has been designed to need rest. It needs adequate sleep in order to function optimally and it needs some version of “Sabbath rest” to heal up and recharge itself on a regular basis. Back in Exodus God said to do it once a week for an entire day.
Not sure if that’s still the “going rate” for adequate Sabbath rest, but regardless of that detail, there is definitely something to this issue of rest.
So how does this apply to my writing life? That’s the topic of this group discussion, right?
Focus, Kristi, focus.
Beth Moore said in her Bible study Children of the Day, “In between [writing] Bible studies, I miss the intensity of this process, and it’s not a happy miss. With no hiatus, however, I’d have no life from which to write.”
I have seen this to be true in my own life as well. Just as writing sharpens my awareness of my real life moments, so also does really slowing down and living in my real life moments feed my writing. I must stop writing so that I can read and learn and observe and interact with the world and the people around me. If I don’t, my writing will end up dry and flat and lifeless.
So, yes. I take breaks from writing. Being a mom, I have to take more breaks than I’d like to, to tell you the truth. But some of my “writing rests” are on purpose. As Kate mentioned, sometimes just stepping away from the screen or the paper and throwing in a load of laundry or going to water the garden or washing the sink-full of dishes is all the break I need to get a clear mind and gain some perspective on a piece. Sometimes I need to take a few days away from something especially heartfelt before I can dive back in to the emotional turmoil a piece requires of me.
Some of my favorite “wordless” writing breaks are hiking, walking, working out (I love fitbessblender.com!), visiting with a friend while our kids play, sowing, purging and/or reorganizing closets, painting, taking the kids to the park or out for ice cream, and… every once in awhile… a good old fashioned nap!
Each of those activities have the potential to remind me of what real life is all about. They also oftentimes get my creative juices flowing and unlock some stored-away bit of God’s Word or life lesson, etc that I had forgotten. Sometimes a simple chat with a friend can help me find the common thread that pieces together whatever seemingly disjointed ideas I had rolling around in my brain.
Writing is such a blessing in my life.
And resting from writing? That’s a blessing as well.
What about you?
How do you rest from writing? What about “in real life”— do you take rests there, too? How?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.