Many of us envisioned idyllic times of writing in quiet rooms with little interruption. We would work as long as the inspiration gripped us, pounding out words and emotions onto our laptops. We imagined Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott in attics or secluded locations. We would record our thoughts with the modern equivalent of their parchment and ink-stained fingers.
Rarely is it like this. Rather, it’s more like juggling.
Many of us rise at 4 or 5 a.m. to grab an hour of writing before we get our family up and off to school, and then we head to work ourselves. Some of us forego sleep, squeezing in our hours of writing long after everyone else in the house slumbers. These are the only hours available.
Some write on the run, driving our kids, watching their activities, perhaps schooling them, and then quickly pounding words onto the laptops we drag along. We hold onto that emotion or that next sentence as we drive from one location to another, chatting with kids and enjoying their stories, all the while hoping we don’t lose the inspired thought before the next stop.
Some are full-timers, our entire day circling our writing. But life still happens, bringing repairmen, illnesses, company, emergencies, and cherished interactions with loved ones right into the climax of the novel, pushing us also to be midnight writers and carriers of ideas scribbled into notebooks crammed into our purses.
As with Austen and Alcott in their era, this is the time period in which God had us born. Therefore, we’re writing precisely where he desires.
So, what do we do?
First, we recognize that this tension has always existed for writers. Life happens to every Christian author. Consider, for instance, the apostle Paul. For about three months, he holed up as a houseguest in Corinth. There, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he penned a masterpiece. He also dealt with all the messy problems expressed in the letters to the Corinthians.
There were meetings, meals, disagreements, local church politics, conversations with repentant sinners, sessions with church leaders, and the urgent pressing of the Holy Spirit, all while Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, an organized theological argument filled with powerful doctrine. Three months. Miraculous. With all of those “interruptions,” imagine how he felt as he wrote.
Obviously, we’re not writing Scripture, but we are penning what the Lord has given us for his purposes and the advancement of the Gospel in today’s wider world. That means our words are important. It also means that those “interruptions” are necessary.
When the Lord allows a pause to enter the composition, there’s a real-life person or situation that takes precedence at that time. He pries us away, giving a lesson he wants us to ponder, a point he wants to make. A so-called interruption is, therefore, more like Selah, a term used in the Psalms, a call to pause and to reflect.
This is God’s way of giving us time to interact with him about what comes next and the impact of that particular portion of the story. Rather than merely pounding it into reality, we’re instead forced to step away, stow it in our brains, talk to the Lord about it, and maybe even sleep on it. This produces a sense of writerly frustration, but it’s coupled with our recognition of deeper truths, which are revealed during the wait.
God leads us. Remember that.
The events of our lives are significant and are used by God to shape the piece of writing. Take time to listen to the Lord, to consider the whys of the events that take us from our laptops, and, most importantly, to consult God himself.
Rely on the Holy Spirit. Give the story into his hands. Let him lead.
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