For Christmas this year, it happened to work out that I was able to take off the whole week with a few extra days added on for New Years and weekends. I was feeling pretty peopled out at the time and running inches ahead of schedule for writer’s group, holidays being what they are (delightful, much needed, and very busy), so I was pretty excited to block off most of that time just for me, family, and my writing.
What I was not expecting was to rediscover the process of writing and why I love it so much.
Let me back up.
I love writing. I always have. I love the sound of words together, the way they look on a page, and the idea of telling stories that people love and follow and are changed by has been a dream of mine for ages.
And back when I was in high school and just out of it, there was almost nothing I loved more than the simple process of writing itself. I remember spending hours working on my books, working until my brain turned to jelly, thinking “this is what I was meant to do” whenever I put words to page.
There was frustration in there too, of course, there always is, but the pleasure I got out of just doing it, writing, editing, whatever, was so fulfilling.
Except, somewhere along the way, I feel like I lost that joy. Somewhere in those years, disappointment and frustration took over the contentment of growth, of process, of putting letters in rows in blank spaces.
I’m sure working on Machine for so long was a key part of my mistake. Putting so much time and effort into something that just isn’t going to work is a sure fire way to lose some of your spark.
But there’s another element to this, one that I think is perhaps even more profound.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before on this blog, partnering work and faith has often been a struggle for me. Whether running from God because I didn’t want him to make my work boring (a lie), running from God because I didn’t think my work was good or Christian enough (another lie), or any of the myriad other reasons I’ve had for not wanting to let Him come alongside and help or guide, it’s never been particularly easy for me to join my passions and dreams with God (or at least who I thought God is or wanted).
He’s working with Me daily on that, but that’s a whole other world of posts.
For now, I’d like to focus in on a specific problem I think I’ve had, which is mainly the idea that if I’m truly writing what God wants me to write, He’ll somehow just give me the words. And I don’t mean that in the sense of general guidance or sparks of inspiration, I know and have seen Him work with me in these ways. I think mentally, at least until recently, I just had a more verbatim sense of His help. Like if I was really listening hard enough, God would just tell me what to write down.
Or, worse, if I was really listening hard enough/doing what He wanted me to do enough, everything would just fall into place and I’d have been published by now.
And there’s nothing wrong with saying He could, and I believe in some cases, He might or does. It’s certainly seemed that way with many of the people I’ve seen around me that I’ll admit, frankly I’ve been jealous of (certainly wrongfully so).
But as evidenced by, well, to my understanding, the entire Bible, that’s simply not how God works most of the time. More often than not, He works through process.
You wouldn’t tell an athlete that if they’re following God’s will they don’t have to work out. You wouldn’t tell a politician if it’s God’s will they don’t have to campaign. And while there’s certainly an element of blessing and divine intervention that can and does come into our lives when we partner with God, that doesn’t mean we still don’t have our part.
That’s something I rediscovered on my vacation.
Spending time with my work, writing it, rewriting it, sensing what works by feel and error rather than hope, it was something that, between my busy schedule and misunderstandings of God, I had forgotten. I’d lost my sense of adventure, of courage and growth with my writing, and with it, I’d lost my joy.
I don’t often give myself very much grace. It’s another area in which I believe God is helping me to grow. I believe that writing, and the process, is a part of this, and I hope it helps you too.
So if you’re feeling frustrated with your writing, wishing it would just be good already, just remember, it’s a process, and that’s part of what makes it worthwhile.
What are some areas in your life where you’ve had to go through process, creatively or otherwise? Have you found more joy or pride in the end product because of it? Where do you think you could continue to grow? Let me know in the comments below and if you want more posts from me, feel free to follow me on the blog or on social media!