The ironic thing about life is this: when life is intense with many things to process and write about, it’s too intense to write about, and when the intensity lessons, the emotion and adventure that I wished to write about eludes me.
Many people assume I can just write whenever. I can write under the following circumstances: an assignment, an idea I’ve been mulling for months that finally forms words, a direct inspiration from God’s Spirit, or a two-o’clock-in-the-morning-session to quickly capture that intense experience. Yet there are many reasons not to write.
Writing takes time and work. My high school English teacher forced us to plan what we were going to write, make an outline, write rough drafts, edit them to shreds, and produce elegant final drafts. I do the same to my students; but in my own process, I cheat. I make all sorts of plans in my mind, wrestling with words in those moments between wakefulness and sleep; so that when I do get the chance to scribble them in a journal or peck them on a key board, they march across the page as directed (with about five read-throughs to rearrange phrases and catch typos). But even with my stream-lined process, there simply isn’t time for all of the words. I have a day job that requires I sleep.
Writing takes inspiration. It’s the old struggle I used to introduce this article. When life produces inspiring writing material, there’s no space for writing. When there’s space for writing, life is–well–bland. I can, in these bland seasons, write incessantly, but I fear that I’m going to repeat myself. It’s easier not to write at all. I’m also rather stubborn about not writing about what’s trending. I should probably get over that and “Redeem the times.” Additionally, right now as a composition teacher, I am called to inspire thirty two seventh and eighth graders to write wonderful things, and when I’m done pouring out creative ideas (which I absolutely love!), there’s plenty of week left and little inspiration.
Writing is a practice, placing it up there with the daily habits like brushing your teeth and making your bed. When you write often, it flows more easily, but it also takes discipline. Discipline can steal the joy of writing, which is probably why in my two years of college with multiple writing assignments, I had little motivation left to write anything else. Yet I can see those years of disciplined assignments positively influencing my writing today.
Finally, writing is processing. When we humans process our experiences–placing them into prosy sentences or poetic rambles or share them as a story to a friend–it actually makes us experience them more fully, more deeply. Some experiences are hard and painful enough without deepening the process. It’s easy to think that if I don’t actually process something, it wasn’t really real. It takes courage to process life.
Yet, I will keep writing, keep managing my emotions with my pen, keep framing my story with words that hopefully illuminate the handiwork of God. I will keep writing for several reasons. Writing brings me satisfaction and joy. Writing is a part of who I am. These words are a gift from The Word, The Author and Finisher of our Faith.
What about you? Why do you or don’t you write?