Something I’ve been learning a lot about lately is how to include God in my writing, specifically how to write with Him. I’d like to write a couple of posts on how this has been affecting my life, so I thought I would start with timing.
Let’s talk about it.
When I was in high school, I remember getting super knotted up in editing or writing and just driving myself crazy with wanting to move forward. I would sit at my desk for hours knowing things weren’t working but unable to step back because I just couldn’t stop. The drive to keep going, to fix things, was just too real.
When things got like that, it was always an indication to me that I needed to take a break, that my writing was taking up too large of a portion in my life and that I needed to step back to breathe. Usually, that meant taking a few days off to cool down, sometimes a little more, sometimes less.
Now things don’t usually get nearly that bad. Some of that has simply come with time, the common realization most writers have that sometimes you really do just need rest, a break, or time for your brain to think. Everyone has bad writing days, and that just comes with the territory.
But there’s another layer to this that I’ve discovered, and tapping into it has really helped me whenever I feel stressed out. That layer is trust.
What I mean by that is this: God is the God of all time. He knows what I need, my deadlines, my stories, and my mind. If I put Him and His priorities first, if I listen to Him about when I need to write and focus or rest and wait, I will get done everything that I really, truly need to get done.
If that sounds a little wishy-washy or naive, let me give you an example.
My writing group meets approximately once a month. Since I’m in the middle of editing the first draft of the novel I’m currently sharing with them, that often means I’m trying to edit just ahead of that deadline, with about three weeks to re-write and fine-tune a chapter before I hand it in for review. I also blog twice a month here in addition to whatever world-building, plotting, or editing that needs to take place based on previous feedback. I write 3-4 days a week, 2-3 hours at a time, which gives me about 48 hours a month max. Subtract time for bad writing days, Facebook surfing (*slaps wrist*), or life coming in, and you can start to see how time gets away from me.
So a couple months ago, I was trying to get my chapter in, and the chapter was just not gelling. I was teetering on the edge of panic mode because I didn’t want to miss the deadline (though to be fair, if I don’t have a chapter in, it’s really not a huge deal), it was a busy week, and I wasn’t sure when I was going to have the time.
I had two options: A. Let the deadline consume my thoughts and stress write my way through to the end even when I knew things weren’t working or B. Trust God would give me the time and solutions I needed to get everything done even if me being present for other people, family, friends or activities meant I wouldn’t have as much writing time.
I chose option B.
And, guess what? It worked. In the final hours I had to work on the project, inspiration struck, and I handed my chapter in minutes before having to leave to go to something else.
That experience has been a useful reminder to me since then that God’s timing does work. I don’t have to stress myself out that I won’t get everything done. God knows what I need and if I do things His way, trusting Him, He’ll take care of the rest.
And that’s great in the short term. People meet deadlines all the time, but what about the larger scope?
Let’s talk about that, too.
Enter, as ever, Machine.
About the time I was going to leave for my DTS, I was really struggling with that terrible beauty of a book. I’d been working on it for about eight years, and it seemed the more I worked on it, the less happy I became. Plot problems I’d tried to bury kept popping back up like the undead, character decisions and moments seemed clunky or wrong, and my hope that I was ever going to get it where it needed to be had worn tremendously thin.
It was all I had ever wanted to publish as an author and after nearly a decade of hard work, I was ready to throw in the towel.
Then DTS, transformation, abject desperation, and grace.
During that time I realized just how much I’d been doing alone, how much I’d kept God out.
I also realized just how much was knotted up in that book, and how unhealthy some of that was.
As in high school, I needed a break.
And I did take a break, sort of, for nearly a year. I realized Machine had to be re-written, and even made that announcement here.
But the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became. Several key issues at the start that I’d largely ignored still needed answers, and none would come. I thought I stumbled upon one at one point, but even that would destroy the whole second novel, one of the strongest books I’ve written to date. Something still seemed off, so I decided to wait.
And as I did, I realized something: I still had more to live before I was ready to write that book.
Which is kind of where I still am with it, waiting for that inspiration to come.
Now for those writers of you out there, you might be worried, thinking, “Never wait for the muse to come, you just have to sit down and write!” And that is true, often, that you just have to sit and do it, but with Machine, that’s not quite right. Because I know that in this case, I really do just have to wait. There are more experiences for me to live before I’ll be ready. Who knows what day that will be. I hope I’ll recognize it when it comes.
Letting go of Machine was and sometimes still is one of the greatest struggles I’ve ever faced. I’d heard so many stories of people who had thrown their first book in the drawer and never pulled it out again, feared for so long that if I let it die, God might not bring it back. Choosing to set it down was one of the hardest, scariest decisions I’ve ever made as a writer.
And yet, I have peace about it. I trust God will bring it back. I know that this is one of my passions and that God knows and cares for my story. In fact, when I ask Him about it, the main emotion I get back is usually excitement. He has plans for Machine, and I know without a doubt that I can trust it in His hands. He can’t wait to get started on this with me…whenever it is that I’m ready. I believe this with all of my heart.
In the meantime, there’s been healing. Things I thought were dumb or would have to be removed or redone, God has restored, reminding me why I love and care about this world and these people in the first place. I’ve had ideas about how to market my books; had people speak specific, encouraging things over me about my work, sometimes out of the blue; and even had a general restoration of my passion for these stories. I’m working on another project that I love, thinking fondly instead of despairingly about my other works, and in the back always wishing and hoping for the day Machine comes back.
It’s been a long journey, but I know I can trust Him. The rest will come with time.
So, how about you? Do you believe in God’s timing? Have you had experiences with it? What about times you’ve been impatient? Have you ever had to let go? Tell me in the comments below, and if you want more content like this, follow me here on the blog or via the social media links in the sidebar. Thanks for reading!