Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Don't Think. Just Write.

"The LORD said to me, 'Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen...'" Isaiah 8:1

From the beginning of time, God commanded his words be written down. He's hard-wired some of us for writing, but we struggle getting started.

Here's what worked for me:

The blank page stared me down, taunted me, challenged me to a duel. "Go ahead. I dare you! Strike this page with ink and scratch your thoughts upon these lines! I. Dare. You."

Early on, that's exactly how my writing practice started. A daily duel between me, my pen and the blank page. Then, I read Madeline L'Engle's memoir, A Rock That is Higher. She grabbed my attention with this tidbit of advice: "Don't think. Just write." She explains, if we think too much about our words while actually writing words, we stop the creative flow of story. As writers, she says, we're allowed to think before writing, think after writing, but never think while in the process of writing. According to L'Engle, over thinking our words deafens us to our inner voice, even God's whispers.

Following her advice transformed my writing process. Before I write anything, I read. I read Scripture, Christian devotionals, and inspirational books or blogs. Reading awakens my brain, feeds my heart and centers my thoughts on God. Here, I'm teachable, inquisitive, questioning, thinking. In the midst of reading, something inspires me, gets me mad, makes me question, starts a dialogue between me, the author and God.

Then, I write.

I. Just. Write. I don't focus on syntax, grammar, punctuation, or voice. It's a tough discipline, especially for perfectionists like me, who scour pages with red pens and cringe at every error. If that's you, too, there's hope. Just. Write.

When my inner voice grows silent, speaks it's last word, then I think, again.

I read and reread my free-hand scrawls searching for a nugget worth sharing. If I find one, my brain goes on high alert and editing begins. Words align into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into a blog entry, a speaking topic, a book chapter, or a children's story idea. I don't publish everything. Some words are best kept to myself. Others are private between God and me.

I. Just. Write. That's what I do. I'm hard-wired that way.

How has God hard-wired you? What form of expression do you find most comfortable?

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