“Open a Vein” {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}


We spent Saturday afternoon as a family at our local thrift store and ended up with all the randomness that you do when you troll through other people’s junk: a fish tank, a hot pink baby tub (we’re having a boy), $5 name brand flip flops, a pocket Thesaurus, The Tipping Point and a gem–Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner.  He was recently recommended to my husband after being interviewed on the podcast What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel, so we were excited to find one of his books on the cheap. 

The reading for July 24 was like a signpost to me; one of those moments where you feel God’s fatherly hand patting you on the back saying, “Yes, daughter, you’re on the right path.  Keep walking this way.  I’m right here with you.”

Last week I wrote about writers having the propensity to bleed on the page, having never read any of the following.  For the meditation on July 24, Buechner says:

“…What Red Smith said was more or less this: ‘Writing is really quite simple; all you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and open a vein’–another haematological image.  From the writer’s vein into the reader’s vein: for better or worse a transfusion.  I couldn’t agree with Red Smith more.  For my money anyway, the only books worth reading are books written in blood…Write about what you really care about is what he is saying.  Write about what truly matters to you–not just things to catch the eye of the world but things to touch the quick of the world the way they have touched you to the quick, which is why you are writing about them.  Write not just with wit and eloquence and style and relevance but with passion.  Then the things that your books make happen will be things worth happening–things that make the people who read them a little more passionate themselves for their pains, by which I mean a little more alive, a little wiser, a little more beautiful, a little more open and understanding, in short a little more human” (p. 190).

As a writer, it is tempting to write “things to catch the eye of the world.”  Some call it “writing for your audience.” But as I delve into this art, I’m finding that it is the words that cost us the most that are of the most value to others.  I’m learning, like Buechner says, to “open a vein.”

~~~

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On (most) Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m not an expert, but hope to seek personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  If you’re new to the series, check out the posts you missed here. Please introduce yourself in the comments–I’d love to meet you and hear your thoughts on writing.

Happy writing!
Leslie

 

Fight Injustice (offer what you have) {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

"You have no idea how or when God is going to use the offering of your words."

I used to want to be a world-changer, but now I am a diaper-changer.  I used to travel to far-off lands and now I cringe when I think of taking my children to the grocery store.  I used to be a professional teacher and now I strap shoes on little feet, wipe yogurt off walls and lamely answer the question “Why don’t you know?” about a hundred times a day.  I used to live in another culture and speak another language and now I live, shop and worship in Homogeneous Land of All Same.  

I used to write in a journal with a metal lock, but now I write on the internet for strangers to rifle through my thoughts as if they are sifting through my bedroom closet. 

Lately, as the world seems to be clattering down around us (and I need to propel my 8-month-pregnant body to make dinner for our family of four with no groceries in the house), I literally want to curl up on the couch, pull our plush throw blanket over my head, close my eyes and disappear.  I tried it yesterday, actually, and we eventually ended up sharing three grilled cheese sandwiches and eggs for dinner.

So when I start reading about not being silent in the face of injustice, speaking out, and standing up, it makes me feel…tired.  It reminds me of those over-worked disciples warily looking over the fields of thousands of people and saying to Jesus, “It’s late. Should we send them away for dinner?” And gentle, irrational Jesus calmly saying to them, “No, dears. YOU give them something to eat.”  They managed to scrounge up a meal for thousands from one little boy‘s contribution of five loaves of bread and two fish.  Jesus made much of their little.

I’ve written about it several times already, but I was recently moved by Lisha Epperson’s piece called “One Small Square” because she broke down our responsibility to confront injustice into an attainable goal that I would summarize like this: do what you can, where you are, with what you have.  We offer our meager loaves and fish. 

Fight Injustice (offer what you have)  {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

The average person doesn’t write on the Internet other than the occasional Facebook outburst, but those of us with writing blood must spill it online for all to see.  And whether we have 25 readers a day or 25,000, whether we write books and publish for big-name magazines, or write for free, we have a platform to launch our voice that others do not have.  And because of that, we have a responsibility to stand up and speak out–no matter how tired, weary or befuddled we are.   

For the past six months Ive been digging into the race issues in America.  Many days Ive driven through the mountains of Colorado after my kids have fallen asleep in the car, listening to podcasts on racial injustice and weeping.  As a white stay-at-home mom living in a nearly all-white area of America, it seems ironic that God would break my heart at a time when I don’t even interact with people of color.  And yet less than a year ago, one thing led to another and I started this little blog, opened a Twitter account and started a business Facebook page.

So when I read about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and saw that other white people like me were beginning to see and wanting to get on board with our African American sisters and brothers, I published my simple offering–what I’ve been learningIn less than two weeks, that post has been visited nearly 60,000 times and 170 books on racial issues have been purchased on Amazon. God has multiplied my offering and used my bread and fish to feed hungry people. 

I’m not writing this to brag, but to encourage you.  You have no idea how or when God is going to use the offering of your words.  Like me, you might have a little blog with just a few readers.  But let your voice ring out into what feels like the void.  Offer your loaves and fish to God and to the masses and wait.  Perhaps God will do a miracle with your simple offering.

~~~

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Linking up with Grace and Truth

On (most) Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m not an expert, but hope to seek personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  If you’re new to the series, check out the posts you missed here. Please introduce yourself in the comments–I’d love to meet you and hear your thoughts on writing.

Happy writing!
Leslie

"You have no idea how or when God is going to use the offering of your words."

A Writer’s Prayer

A Writer's Prayer

My dear Jesus,

As I pull my chair up to the computer to write, I beg that you would not only sit next to me, patting me gently on the back, but actually dip down and draw up words from the well of your Spirit. I pray for your anointing.  I want my words to make you smile.

Lord, I’m sorry for competing, comparing myself, and seeking affirmation from others. Forgive me for the pride of exalting myself instead of pointing to you. I confess my blatant ignorance of the suffering of others and the ways I shield myself from their pain so that I can continue in my comfort.  Wash me, Lord, and purify my motives for writing.

Thank you for raising up writers to speak truth during days when truth seems like a shimmering mirage.  As your daughters and sons, we see through a darkened glass, but it doesn’t mean that Truth is not solid or that it does not exist.  

I pray for the boldness to speak up against injustice when I have the opportunity–even when I don’t have a solution.

I pray that fear would never keep me from doing what you have called me to do.  Please give me faith to keep moving forward.

I pray that you would pour my boiling anger at rash injustice into the funnel of faith, hope and love. Mold it into a useful tool for building and planting instead of a weapon of violence that only kills, destroys and feeds the fury of hate.

I pray for the strength to do what I can, when I can, and to have grace for myself and others for the things that I am not capable of doing right now.

I pray that I would do my part–tend my small square in the larger tapestry–and write for my community and my people without being overwhelmed by how much more there is to do in the name of justice, hope and love.

I pray for the courage to be vulnerable, authentic and transparent if my openness will free others to feel they are not alone, aid in their healing or empower them to do the next thing.  I pray my writing would cost me something.

I pray for the gift of words–dazzling, true, clear, precise words–that will best speak the message you want me to share.

I pray for discipline to write even when I feel tired, uninspired or empty.

I pray for energy to learn, change, grow, admit my weaknesses, beg forgiveness and ask hard questions that may have no obvious answers. 

I pray for wide eyes, hearing ears, open hands and a burning heart that come from spending time in the presence of Jesus himself. 

I pray for wisdom in choosing the path you have marked for me without getting distracted by the daisy-lined trails that may intrigue, but are not the ones you want me to explore.

I pray for miracles.  May your Spirit transform my words–my simple offering of a few loaves and fish–and multiply them to feed the ones (even the one) you intend for them to feed.

I pray for encouragement on the days I want to quit.  Please minister to me when I feel depleted and nourish me with even one small crumb of a reminder that I am still on Your Way.

Jesus, thank you for raising up other writers to add their voices to the collective chorus that is singing out boldly for you in the midst of so much pain, hatred and bitterness in the world. Keep our voices sweet, but strong.

Finally, I pray for love.

For “if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 NLT).”

Loveless words are empty words.  Infuse my words with the purifying fire of your love.

Thank you for calling me to write for such a time as this. Thank you for the few magical moments when I’ve felt that you are pouring words into and drawing them back out of me.  I pray that you would keep my voice in tune with yours and fill the earth with even more voices to sing out to you.

I pray that you would give us holy anger, inexplicable wisdom, unshackled hope, compassionate love, endless grace, spirit-fueled power and unpolluted vision as we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20)

Thank you that we are never alone, but that we write with you. 

In Jesus’ powerful name.

Amen.

~~~

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Related Post: To the Writer Mamas

Check out all the posts in this series here. 


A Writer's Prayer


On (most) Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m not an expert, but hope to seek personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  If you’re new to the series, check out the posts you missed here. Please introduce yourself in the comments–I’d love to meet you and hear your thoughts on writing.

Happy writing!
Leslie
A Writer's Prayer

To the Writer Mamas

Writing while simultaneously being a mother to teeny children is a bit like trying to renovate a house while youre still living in it. House projects–or writing goals–abound, but messy, magical, mundane life cannot stand still for you complete them. But is it possible that every finished project, however inconvenient, will eventually improve your quality of life–and the quality of life of your family? 

Since I began writing more seriously eight months ago, several older people of faith have warned me not to get “too distracted and carried away” by writing, lest it infringe on my duties as a mother. As a result, I’ve been on the hunt for other mamas who are leaning into this tension of the dual callings of art and home and can help me answer the question: Is it possible to be a mother and a writer–and still do each one well?

Madeline L’Engle is a hero for those of us seeking to debunk the myth that being a writer and mama are in conflict. L’Engle inspires us as writer mamas because she managed to have a flourishing writing career while raising three children. I recently listened to a podcast by Ann Kroeker where she spoke of getting the opportunity to ask L’Engle how she was able to be a writer and mother at the same time during those years when her kids were small. After a long pause, L’Engle finally looked at her and answered, “It was hard.”

But in her book, A Circle of Quiet, L’Engle recounts a time when her eldest child noticed that she had been in a bad mood lately and said to her, “Mother, you’ve been getting cross and edgy with us, and you haven’t been doing much writing. We wish you’d get back to the typewriter” (p. 199). In Walking on Water, she refers to this story and says, “I had to learn that I was a better mother and wife when I was working than when I was not” (p. 166).

Like L’Engle, writing has made me a better mother. It sets me on high alert to notice the beauty, meaning or hilarity in the ordinary. Writing plants seeds of gratitude within me as I am more apt to discover the magnalia Dei, the marvels of God, in my daily life. I have the mind of an explorer, always on the quest for new places, people or ideas.   Writing shoves me into the presence of other pilgrims, seekers, and beauty-finders. It gives me the opportunity to “live life twice,” as Natalie Goldberg said, and finally work through my past, present and future with infant eyes. Like thumbing back through my pictures from a trip, writing allows me to slowly reexamine and delight in the minutia I might otherwise have missed as time whizzed by.

Writing also heals. As someone who has always called my journal my “personal counselor,” writing unlocks old, dusty treasure troves of experiences and gives them value as they are polished and given away. Healing comes as I write in league with the Spirit, who illuminates my path and reveals the times when I was not walking alone. Writing enables me to offer a more whole version of myself to all who know me.

Fitting writing into the more than full-time job of being a wife and mother has been a challenge. But L’Engle also admitted that, “For a woman who has chosen family as well as work, there’s never time, and yet somehow time is given to us” (Walking on Water, p. 165). We make time for what is important to us. Its been amazing to find that if I am willing to let my floor be a bit messier, the laundry to linger a little longer and the T.V. screen to sit blank and lonely, that I have time in the margins of my day to write. L’Engle remarked that “A certain amount of stubbornness—pig-headedness—is essential” to the mother who wants to write (Walking on Water, p. 165). For me, that is a 5 AM wake-up, writing during the kids’ nap time, scribbling notes for articles while sautéing vegetables for dinner and spending free evenings thumping on my keyboard.

But I also have to accept my limitations as a writer during this season of being a mother to tiny ones. In the conclusion of her podcast, Ann Kroeker finally got a more satisfactory answer to her question about juggling motherhood and a writing career from the writer Holly Miller. Holly told her, “You still have time to develop your career as a writer, but you only have NOW with your kids. Your kids are so little and they’re little for such a short time. You’ll never regret spending this time with your kids.” But she also encouraged Ann to “Keep your finger in the publishing world. Keep it going on a small scale and your time will come.” Years later, Ann agrees that these small deposits into her writing career did add up.

I will have more time later to write. Now is the season for delighting in the magical world of child’s play: splashing in the sprinkler, sending dandelion seeds flying, lying on the ground to poke ants and rollie pollies, taking very slow walks around the block, tickling again and again, building towers, blowing hundreds of iridescent bubbles that float into the neighbors’ yard, making toy cars talk, endlessly making up answers to the question “why?,” rolling out play dough snakes and zipping baby dolls into tiny clothing

It is talking to my children about this God-man, Jesus, who loves us so, reading stories about talking animals, kissing ouchies, holding up traffic to spot the prairie dogs in the field, finding pine cones in the pots in my cupboards and deliberating over whether picking up the toys again is really worth the effort. It’s wondering if I am still the same person that I was four years ago and deciding that I am not. Parts of me have been lost, but other, more fruitful branches, have grown where the others have been stripped and pruned. Though I may not be writing for five hours a day, this season of slowness is training me in the discipline of noticing.  

Tears streamed down my face as I listened to Ann’s podcast because it validated me as a writer, but also gave me permission to enjoy my children right now. To the other writer mamas wondering if their callings of motherhood and writing are in conflict, please know that they do not need to be. You will be more whole and available to your family if you are using your gift and following your call as a writer. But also know that you do not have to achieve all of your goals right now. 

Life is long, but the time with our kids is short, so keep in step with your kids and allow your writing to have the same pace that they do—even if that is stopping often, moving slowly and developing gradually. Our writing in this season has a similar rhythm and stride. It is slow, but there is progress as you slowly renovate your rooms. Keep celebrating the small advances in your life as a mother and in your career as a writer and know that these two are not mutually exclusive, but inextricably bound as you settle into the home of the mama writer self you were created to be.

~~~

Are you a writer mama?  What has your experience been?

~~~

  Resources for Writer Mamas:

Ann Kroeker (Writing Coach) Podcast mentioned in this post: Here’s to the Writer Moms (just 7 minutes!)

How Alive Do You Want to Be? by Ashley Hales (mother of 4) for The Mudroom 

An Interview with Sarah Bessey on Faith, Art & Motherhood (writer and mother of 4), by Jerusalem Greer 

~~~

Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  I’d love to get to know you better!

~~~

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Next Post: Monthly Mentionables {May}

Linking up with Grace & Truth

 On (most) Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don’t miss a post.  If you’re new to the series, find all the posts here.  Come meet me in the comments–I’d love to read your thoughts on writing.


Happy writing!

Leslie


Is it possible to be a good mother AND a good writer?


Are You Afraid to Speak Up? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

Are You Afraid to Speak Up? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

Most times I’m terrified to speak up.  Someone more knowledgeable, experienced and articulate should be the one to take a stand. Who would listen to me anyway? 

And then there’s my tendency to avoid conflict. I duck out of the room when people begin to disagree.  I hate discussing politics, theology and controversial topics.  I would much rather pretend life was like the world of kid cartoons than face the realities of inequality, oppression, and brokenness.  

But lately God seems to be searing my heart with the heat of injustice. It’s uncomfortable, but also feels very human to experience the raw anger and pain. And it’s gotten nearly impossible to sit here motionless under the heat.
 
After visiting the slavery plantations on a school trip in college, a classmate of Austin Channing Brown, the racial activist, proclaimed to her classmates, “Not doing something is no longer an option.[1]As writers, sometimes we have an obligation and responsibility to report what we have seen and heard. 

Are You Afraid to Speak Up? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}Our platform may be tiny, our words imperfect and our confidence shaky, but that is not our concern. Fear is rarely a valid reason not to act. Instead, we trust the work and especially the Source behind it. We take the next illuminated step on this dark path because that is all we can see at this moment. And we have faith that we are being led. 

Sometimes we report what Jesus is cultivating in us personally.  Other times we are eyewitnesses of His presence and activity in the world. But many times writers are modern day prophets.  And like the prophets of old, our messages may fall on deaf ears.
 

Esther was a nobody-become-queen. She was a Jewish orphan who was chosen to become royalty at a time when her people were living in a foreign land. Aside from being a beauty, she was no one special.  And yet God strategically placed her in a position of influence and gave her the courage to speak up when the time was right [2].

The writer and speaker Sarah Bessey says that sometimes our calling is hiding somewhere in what makes us angry [3]. What enrages you? What brings you to tears? God may be leading you to take and leap and ride that violently thrashing horse–and write about it. Do you trust that He is strong enough to help you stay mounted for the duration of the ride?

We are to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.[4]”  The ESV says to “open your mouth for the mute.”  Who needs you to speak up for them or they will never be heard? Perhaps God has brought us to be writers for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
 
~~~ 

[1] Podcast: Seminary Dropout, episode 66: Austin Channing Brown

[2] Esther 4:14 (NIV)

[3] Podcast: The Practice: Stories of Resurrection in Religion, Sarah Bessey

[4] Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV) 

Previous Post:  When Life is Less Radical Than You Imagined {Mudroom}

Linking up with Velvet Ashes

Are You Afraid to Speak Up? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

On Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don’t miss a post.  If you’re new to the series, find all the posts here.  Come meet me in the comments–I’d love to read your thoughts on writing.


Happy writing!

Leslie



Online Resources for Bloggers & Writers {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

The following are resources I have come across in the past several months that aid writers and bloggers in their craft.

The following are resources I have come across in the past several months that aid writers and bloggers in their craft.  Since my blog is not monetary, this list is mainly geared towards simple blogging and those needing a bit of encouragement as a writer.  I’ll be updating it periodically, so bookmark this page for future reference!

Blogs about Writing:

Jeff Goins
A blog with tons of ideas, tips and inspirational posts about becoming a better, more productive writer.

Writer’s Edit: The Literary Magazine
This site is full of tips and resources for writers.  If you follow them on Twitter, they often post great quotes about writing!

Podcasts for writers and bloggers:

Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach
This link will take you to her blog, podcast and coaching business.  I’ve been binge-listening to the podcast because each one is only 3 to 7 minutes long and she offers some helpful tips on writing.

The Creative Penn 
Joanna Penn offers resources on how to write, publish and edit your book.  Though I’m not writing a book, I still found this podcast to be relevant as a writer.

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins
Goins provides inspiring ideas for developing professionally and personally as a writer. 

How They Blog
Although the last episode for this podcast aired in 2014, I am still finding the information to be very useful as a blogger.  I especially enjoyed episode 33 with Anne Bogel (whose podcast, What Should I Read Next is also fantastic) and episode 30 on the fundamentals of becoming a better writer.

Podcasts related to creatives:

The Accidental Creative
I listened to the episode “10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Podcasts” and really enjoyed hearing about what he has learned over the years.

Magic Lessons, with Elizabeth Gilbert
I especially loved the first two episodes of this podcast, so I would definitely start there.  It was very encouraging to me as an intrepid new writer to just get started doing what I knew I needed to do. 

Websites for Images:

Pixabay
I’m not a photographer, so this is where I usually get the images for my blog.  They have over 620,000 stock images that are free and within the copyright laws of Creative Commons.   

Canva
This is my favorite site for creating blog titles and twitter and Pinterest images.  The images are limited, so first download an image from pixabay, upload it to canva and then add your title.

Picmonkey
If I do happen to take my own photo, this is a very user-friendly site for free photo editing and creating collages.


Helpful Articles:

15 Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout, by Pinch of Yum blog
Though this is from a food blog (with amazing recipes, by the way), this article applies to all bloggers.  It gave me some great ideas on setting boundaries.

Why It’s Kind of Okay If No One Reads Your Blog, by Rebecca K. Reynolds
I mentioned this article in a previous Thursday Thoughts for Writers post as one that liberated me from feeling like I had to share everything with the world for the sake of authenticity.

In Which I am Retiring “In Which” and a Few Other Decisions About Blogging, by Sarah Bessey
Love this:  “Chill out. Write what I want, when I want, and hang the rest of it. I still believe down deep that good content trumps click-bait titles and free graphics.”  This is also a timely post if you feel close to burn out!

Groups:

The Peony Project (Facebook Group)
A space for women who love Jesus, love blogging and love community.  This is a fantastic group of women and I have learned a ton from being a part of this group.

~~~

What other resources can you add to this?  Drop a comment below or send me a personal message and if it’s relevant, I’ll add it to the list!

~~~




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On Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don’t miss a post.  If you’re new to the series, find all the posts here.  Come meet me in the comments–I’d love to read your thoughts on writing.


Happy writing!

Leslie

The following are resources I have come across in the past several months that aid writers and bloggers in their craft.

9 Things I’ve Learned in 6 Months of Writing {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

9 Things I've Learned in 6 Months of Writing~ I've been writing consistently now for the past six months and I wanted to spend this post (my 97th!) just reflecting on this journey so far as a writer (as every teacher who's ever assigned a "reflection" can appreciate).  Here are few things I've learned along the way.

This post is for me.  But I’ll let you in on my thoughts if you promise to share some of your journey after reading this.

I started this blog over two years ago, but had exactly zero page views–because I told no one about its existence.  I stopped after a few posts.  It wasn’t until I had words that were burning holes in my soul two years later that I dusted the ole blog off again to link it up with another site.  It was terrifying–and exhilarating–to have words I wrote be read by others.  But it wasn’t until I jumped in to the write 31 days challenge that I really flexed my muscles as a writer.  And after 31 days straight of writing, I couldn’t imagine it not being a part of my life anymore.  

I’ve been writing consistently now for the past six months and I’m spending this post (my 97th!) reflecting on this journey so far as a writer (as every teacher who’s ever assigned a “reflection” can appreciate).  Here are few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Blogging is a unique style of writing.  Blogging is perfect for the lazy reader. It’s more conversational and casual.  It defies all the rules you learned in English class.  For example:  Writing.like.this.for.dramatic.effect.  Bolding random lines. Writing lists like “9 Things I’ve Learned in 6 Months of Writing.”  And using fragments. Or one word sentences that get their own space.

Naturally.

2. Writing is not a means to an end.  Writing is an end in and of itself.  Writing, like running, has become therapeutic for me.  There have been moments in the past six months where I have literally written out my anger, loneliness and frustration and gotten up from my chair feeling like I had molded those emotions into something more beautiful and useful.  I’m finding that I’m not writing to publish or to get X number of “likes” or follows (and certainly not to make money), but because I love writing and it gets my inner gears turning in ways I can’t even explain yet. 

3. I share much more in my blog posts than I do with people face-to-face.  Although I’m an extrovert, I’m more private than I realize because some of my close friends have read more about me in the past six months than I shared with them in a year of in-person friendship.  I like hiding behind words.  It is terrifying to accept new friends on Facebook who don’t know about my writing because they will have a doorway to my heart.  Honestly, I would rather write for strangers than for friends and peers.

4. You have to let go of control when you share your words on the Internet.  Once I hit publish, I have no more say over who can take my words and share them on any social media platform they choose.  Though I haven’t had any posts “go viral,” I have experienced a spike in numbers of a certain posts that have left me pondering the fact that some stranger somewhere is sharing my heart words with people I don’t know.  It’s flattering, but also unnerving if I think too much about it.

5. I constantly question how much self-promoting I need to do and it never stops feeling kind of icky.  I usually share to my personal Facebook page once a week, but share every post several times on Twitter.  I make myself feel better about this by telling myself that people only have to click on the link if they want to.  Many blogs host link-ups, blog hops or blog parties where you can link your blog, but have to comment on one or two others.  If I did this every day, it would take up every minute of actual writing time for me, so I’ve found the next point to be a better way to get my blog out there.

6.  I appreciate the challenge of attempting to get work published.  Since January, I’ve submitted several articles for publishing.  A few have been published and even more have been sent back.  The ones that weren’t published, I’ve usually re-read and wondered what I was thinking to have even tried to get them published.  In most cases, I’ve reworked them and made them better than before.  So lately, I’m relieved if I get an acceptance, but with the caveat of “but would you mind working on this some more?”  I’m thankful for the second chance to polish up my rough drafts that seem more rough from a distance than the day I first hit “send.”

7. God is so pleased that I am using this gift.  I know it sounds arrogant to put words in God’s mouth, but  I can’t tell you how many supernatural winks, nudges, smiles and hand-squeezes I’ve felt over the past six months of writing.  Like the probably overused quote about Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure,” I can honestly say that that’s how I feel when I write.

8.  I wouldn’t be writing if it weren’t for my husband.  I’m thankful to have a husband who has not only an appreciation for the arts, but a real love for them.  With a bachelors in theatre and a masters in acting, if there’s anyone who understands doing something you love without hope of monetary compensation, he does.  Since I started this venture, he has been my cheerleader, proofreader and greatest fan.  I would have talked myself out of writing long before now if it weren’t for his encouraging words and support.

9. My world is wider, my friendships deeper and my soul more attuned to God’s work in the world now that I am writing.  I have met people I never would have known existed were we not bumping along the same roads of the Internet highway.  They have enriched my life.  And though I have often chosen to write instead of calling a friend, the new friends I meet can get to know me at a much deeper level more quickly by reading my blog.  And finally, as a writer, I am more aware of the metaphors, symbols and details in daily life than I have ever been before.  I now walk through life with ears straining, eyes open and my mind ready to receive whatever God wants to show me. 

~~~

I’m sure Ill think of 10 more things to add to this list as soon as I hit “publish,” but I’ll leave it at this for now.  If you are a writer and/or blogger, what have you learned through the months or years you have spent writing that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise?  How have you grown?  And do you have any advice to give me as an amateur writer?  I’d love to hear it!

~~~

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9 Things I've Learned in 6 Months of Writing~ I've been writing consistently now for the past six months and I wanted to spend this post (my 97th!) just reflecting on this journey so far as a writer (as every teacher who's ever assigned a "reflection" can appreciate).  Here are few things I've learned along the way.
On Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don’t miss a post.  If you’re new to the series, find all the posts here.  Come meet me in the comments–I’d love to read your thoughts on writing.


Happy writing!

                     Leslie 

I've been writing consistently now for the past six months and I wanted to spend this post (my 97th!) just reflecting on this journey so far as a writer (as every teacher who's ever assigned a "reflection" can appreciate).  Here are few things I've learned along the way.



 

Is There Such a Thing as Being Too Vulnerable? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

Is There Such a Thing as Being Too Vulnerable? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

I felt as if I were standing naked on stage, but with my eyes squeezed shut.

Did I really just hit “publish? I asked myself.

This level of vulnerability is applauded in the writing world and is usually strangely liberating for me.  But there have been a few times over the past six months of writing consistently that I wondered if my secret was meant to stay that way for a little longer–secret.

This week I ran across an article that gave me permission to guard my heart again.  Rebecca Reynolds, in her article “Why It’s Kind of Okay if Nobody Reads Your Blog,” writes, 

“…we can feel like we always need to know the beautiful narrative running through our present disasters. This is something that can take years to figure out, but as bloggers, we need to know it right now, today, and be able to communicate it to others...We can feel pressure to tidy up our story too fast. We try to tuck all the loose ends in and sand off all the raw edges. But if we define what’s happening too soon, we might miss what’s going on that is more important that we haven’t even considered yet. Like touching a moth while it’s coming out of a cocoon, we can distort what’s really needing to happen in a time of transition.” 

In December, I wrote about Mary pondering in her heart and keeping secrets with GodIts time that I apply this not only to my daily life, but to my writing life as well.  In that post, I said, “I aspire to be more like Mary.  To absorb more and pontificate less.  To meditate rather than act thoughtlessly.  To be a contemplative in a world that demands action.”  

Perhaps if I extended my pauses, I could ward off the impulse to hit “publish” before the time is right.

This morning as I chopped onions and rosemary for our crock pot dinner, it hit me that this slow-cooking food is just like the narratives God is speaking to my heart.  What would it taste like if we decided we wanted to eat it after 3 hours of cooking instead of 8 hours like the recipe called for?  If we allow our stories the time they need to simmer instead of serving them before theyre ready, then we’re more likely to offer a fragrant meal of wholeness.  

And maybe–just maybe–God did not intend for every thought and reflection to become a blog post or articlePerhaps He wants to have an intimate moment with me that is not shared with the masses, but is whispered to my ear and intended for my heart alone.  

I’m praying for wisdom to know when my words are ripe for the sharing.  And I’m asking for faith to believe that they are valuable even if they are never read by anyone, because through them, I have shared a secret with God.

~~~~~~


How do you know when it’s time to write about something and when you need to let it simmer a bit longer before sharing it with the world? 

How much of what you have written have you never shared with anyone?

 ~~~~~~ 

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Previous Post: The Hub’s & My Monthly Mentionables {March} 

Next Post: 3 Things Helping Me Right Now as a Mother

On Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don’t miss a post.  If you’re new to the series, find all the posts here.  Come meet me in the comments–I’d love to read your thoughts on writing.


Happy writing!

Leslie 

Is There Such a Thing as Being Too Vulnerable? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}


Taming Spaghetti Brain {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

Taming Spaghetti Brain {Thursday Thoughts for Writers} ~ Now that I've been writing more regularly, I find that not only am I thinking about menus, relationships, the to-do list and the general stuff of life, but now I have to contend with Writer's Brain trying to infiltrate every single corner of my life as well.  And I haven't figured out where the "off" switch is yet.

You may have heard it said before that men’s brains are like waffles and women’s are like a plate of spaghetti.  Stereotypically, men are better at compartmentalizing home and work life, while women’s brains are following one stringy noodle down a path just long enough to touch another, then another all day long.  Our thoughts are everywhere at once.

Writer’s Brain
Now that I’ve been writing more regularly, I find that not only am I thinking about menus, relationships, the to-do list and the general stuff of life, but now I have to contend with Writer’s Brain trying to infiltrate every single corner of my life as well.  And I haven’t figured out where the “off” switch is yet.

I wish I had that waffle brain so I could put my life in neat boxes and concentrate on just one thing for a while.

Smartphones
One item that certainly hasn’t helped is my lovely, sometimes overly-eager-to-be-helpful companion and side-kick, my smartphone (SP).  If I had any hope of compartmentalization in my day, my SP reminds me about some other aspect of life that my brain had forgotten about momentarily.  While I’ve tried to turn off notifications, they still sneak by, alerting me the second I receive an email or a friend tags me in a photo from high school.  

And as a blogger, the thing is constantly communicating one of two messages to me.  Either “people love your work–you’re a success!” or “you’re such a failure, no one even commented or ‘liked’ that post you spent three hours preparing.”  Thanks a lot, SP.

Thinking in Boxes
So in the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to take what my college culture classes would have called a very “western approach” to my time, and think of it literally in terms of boxes, where unwanted thoughts and devices are forbidden to enter.  

Mornings are chaotic, so that’s more of a “free space” box where anything goes, but around 9 am to 11 am, I’ve sketched “kids” into the imaginary box and the goal is to be with them like it’s my job (oh wait, it IS my job…).  This can also include all those domestic duties I ho hum about, but the goal is to turn off Writer’s Brain and my SP and just focus on my children, friends we may meet up with and my home.  I’ve been trying to literally shut down the computer and put my phone on power saving mode so that all I can do is use it to text and make calls.

Lunch time is another “free space,” but then the kids’ nap time can be filled with any of these: write, do bloggy social media stuff, sleep, read or a mix of those.  Then 3:30 to 5 pm is shaded in as a “kid” time again.

In my spoiled life, my husband who records in our basement “comes home” at 5 pm and that time is shaded the color of daddy playtime, while mommy listens to podcasts/music and experiences food prep therapy in the kitchen time.

Dinner and bedtime falls into kid structured routine time (therefore already very waffle brain-esqe) and then evenings are all more free spaces for my husband and I to fill in with our activity of choice.

The Effect on Writing
As I’ve started this discipline of attempting to focus on one person, event or task at a time instead of just trying to be better at multi-tasking, I’ve noticed that there is a greater likelihood that more seeds have been added to the writer’s storage room, ready to be taken out and sown on the page during designated “writing box times.”  

There have been moments of simply sitting on my couch with a cup of tea watching my children play, reading books to my son in the backyard or completing a single task of cleaning an entire bathroom instead of leaving the floor for “later.”  And I’ve been surprised to find that those are the moments that have given me enough breath to write with life again.   


I’m slowly learning the wisdom of poet Luci Shaw as she said, “Whether we are poets or parents or teachers or artists or gardeners, we must start where we are and use what we have. In the process of creation and relationship, what seems mundane and trivial may show itself to be a holy, precious part of a pattern.”
 

As we shave off the excess, we are left with the essence.  How have you found ways to compartmentalize in such a way as to give more of yourself to each task or person without so many distractions?  How does this affect your writing?

Have you put any rules relating to technology in place for yourself that have helped to keep you grounded in reality?

~~~~~~

Last Post: KonMari Krazy {The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up}

Next Post: The Hub’s & My Monthly Mentionables {March}

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Linking up with Grace & Truth and A Proverbs 31 Wife 
 

Taming Spaghetti Brain {Thursday Thoughts for Writers} ~ Now that I've been writing more regularly, I find that not only am I thinking about menus, relationships, the to-do list and the general stuff of life, but now I have to contend with Writer's Brain trying to infiltrate every single corner of my life as well.  And I haven't figured out where the "off" switch is yet.

On Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don’t miss a post.  If you’re new to the series, find all the posts here.  Come meet me in the comments–I’d love to read your thoughts on writing.


Happy writing!

Leslie 

Now that I've been writing more regularly, I find that not only am I thinking about menus, relationships, the to-do list and the general stuff of life, but now I have to contend with Writer's Brain trying to infiltrate every single corner of my life as well.  And I haven't figured out where the "off" switch is yet.

3 Myths of Perfectionism {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

As a former teacher, I’m the sort of person who gets distracted by typos in the song lyrics during a church service.  If someone’s blog post has more than three errors, it’s hard for me to keep reading.  And with my own writing? I am constantly fighting back the demons shouting at me, Who do you think you are? It’s not good enough!

Do you struggle with perfectionism as a writer?


These are 3 of the myths of perfectionism that I’ve been striving to overcome when those voices just won’t keep quiet:

1. My writing is not good enough.
Everything that I write is a part of my journey as a writer and as a person.  I have really enjoyed Sarah Bessey’s writings and though she recently deleted over 1,000 blog posts from her archives, she said that each one had been a personal altar for her where she met with God.  Sometimes writing is just personal.  (She also likes to call herself a “good-enough-ist,” which is oh-so-encouraging).  Blogging is a place where I explore areas that God is intersecting with my life. At times my blog is my altar where I, too, can personally meet with God.

But often writing is public. I’m learning to trust that though I will not be changing the world through my writing any time soon, I may have the opportunity for one other person to stride next to me and share my journey for a while.  And this makes it worth it.

2. If I revise again and again, then eventually it will be perfect.
I probably read something I’ve written about 20 times before I hit publish (double that if it’s a submission somewhere other than my blog).  I also beg my husband to proofread every.single.post I write.  Though I still think that you shouldn’t sacrifice certain aspects of writing because of laziness, I also know that I need to cut back on the revising.  When it turns from being responsible to being obsessive, I just need to publish the thing. Margaret Atwood said, “If I waited for perfection…I would never write a word.” 

3. I just need to wait longer to publish what I’ve written.
I’ve had some pieces sitting as Word docs for months.  I’m just waiting for…what?  It is mainly out of fear that the well will dry up and that tomorrow will be the day I run out of ideas.  To continue on the Sarah Bessey train, I love the post she wrote called In Which Art is Like Manna.  She writes, “Art is like that daily manna-bread to me. There is always enough for the day. Gather it, eat it while it’s there, turn around and release it by sharing it.”  I need to trust that God is always going to provide for each new day of writing. 

~~~~~~

The truth is that good enough IS enough.  As you let go of the expectations and pressure that you place on yourself and simply write out of the pleasure of living and writing about living, that is when your writing is “good enough” to share with others. 

In his blog post, Overcoming Perfectionism, Jeff Goins says, “Art is not perfect. Art is human. And I want to create beautiful art. Not stale perfection. I don’t want to “get it right.” I want to make it beautiful.”

~~~~~~

In what ways do you struggle with perfectionism?


Resources:
6 Ways for Writers to Overcome Perfectionist Tendencies, by Jeff Goins, has some great advice (and the comments from others are super helpful as well!)

Related Posts:
Bread & Fish

Art & the Alabaster Jar

Writing is Narcissistic (and 4 Other Reasons Not to Write)

Previous Post: On Race, Rights & Raising a Black Son~An Interview with Rachel Yantis

Linking up with Coffee for Your Heart

3 Myths of Perfectionism {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}


On Thursdays this year, I’ll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I’m certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who’s also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don’t miss a post.  If you’re new to the series, find all the posts here.  Come meet me in the comments–I’d love to read your thoughts on writing.


Happy writing!

Leslie

http://www.foreverymom.com/how-talking-to-your-kids-about-race-helps-fulfill-the-great-commission/