Before that next cup of coffee, consider slowing down a bit to chat with me. I may not hear your voices yet, but I’m here. We’re a family of writers, and we do best when we support one another.
For all of us, the current quarantine has brought minor to major changes to our lives. In general, our daily lifestyles have been disrupted. Many dimensions of our everyday life have been altered and one of them is our writing routine–let’s talk a little about how our writing, creativity, and inspiration have been affected.
Some writers have bloomed under these new, confined conditions. With less demands from the outside world, they’ve awakened to a new burst of imagination that has them writing and inventing like Agatha Christie or Stephen King on steroids. In fact, their secret wish is to linger a bit, like a happy hobbit in a smaller world.
For others, confined quarters have had the opposite effect. They’ve found it almost impossible to create under the hustle and bustle of family life. Space and silence once served as catalysts to their creative flow, but now they’re on sensory overload. The usual daily outings and family schedules that once sweetened and refreshed daily reunions, have now been stifled—even a beloved spouse may have become too much of a good thing. Each of us are different and flourish under different conditions.
Some writers are like emotional empaths. They have difficulty tuning out the noise and problems of the world. Worries about finances and health, echo around in their minds, leaving little space for imagination. If you fall into this category, there’s a good chance your writing is not only huffing and puffing but has come to a complete stop. Some are facing writers-block as they struggle to summon up new ideas.
Many literary artists require new surroundings and scenery to pen fresh ideas. They now feel trapped within the same four walls and are having difficulty seeing past them. In the absence of all their treasured hideaways—the writing nooks, bookstores, and coffee shops that once stimulated productivity—they’ve lost their mojo, their get up and go.
The good news is the Lord knows under what conditions you write and create the best. If the conditions you’ve been writing under have been difficult or even a complete train wreck, consider this—God’s plan for you, may not be a matter of production, but a matter of quality. He could be engineering a deeper well from which to draw words, a greater store of ideas. In fact, this could be the game plan for all of us–a chance to be given a fresh perspective, new experiences, and novel ways of communicating. As realizations dawn on how fragile life and civilization really are, we might feel more compelled to write about the eternal. These new insights could be the missing element in our work.
As we consider these scenarios, we may also want to ask ourselves—Is it possible the Lord saw our writer’s well of wisdom was becoming dry? And because He loves us and desires us to be the best we can possibly be, he’s now busy filling our wells with fresher, deeper water. The Apostle Paul said, “… we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Ro.5:3-5 NIV)
Think of all the great people in history who have birthed wisdom from pain. Their names could fill many novels, but let’s look at just two. Anne Frank’s diaries spoke of bright hope, despite her gloomy life, and a deep insight far beyond her years. Where did such wisdom come from? It’s doubtful her words would have spread across the world, survived over a generation, if she hadn’t been locked in an attic or died in a holocaust camp. If Anne had been free to grow up amidst friends, attending parties and proms, it’s unlikely her well of words would have reached such depths of truth and passion.
If Corrie ten Boom had never suffered, never been imprisoned and tortured in a German holocaust camp, would she still have touched the hearts of millions? If Corrie’s life had remained one of ease, sheltered in a loving home, busy about her family clock-shop, would her words of Christ’s love still have been immortalized in print?
Throughout the bible, believers were moved from place to place, uprooted from their homes, challenged to travel to vast new lands. We, on the other hand, have been moved to a smaller place, a smaller world deep within our homes—but what I believe to be, to a much greater plan.
When our lives are shaken, we’re challenged to grasp not only for reasons why but for ways to overcome. In our time of soul-searching, we may begin to question the direction of our lives. As writers, we may be asking specific questions: What has God called me to do? Am I truly called to write? Am I in the right genre? Targeting the right audience? How do I shift gears in this new world of marketing, and how do I entertain and yet still inspire?
The answers will come. With our focus on God’s purpose, we need to embrace instead of resist, the trials he has brought. Writers not only prosper from ideas of joy and hope, but from ideas of controversy, confusion, suffering, and pain. While we’ve been building grand illusions about who we are in this great big world, we’ve now found it shrinking—it’s a small world after all. A small world, yes, but the Kingdom of God is vast. Great beyond imagination. If you look around, you’ll see big things happening.
I believe God is using this time to bring families closer. He’s showing fathers how to teach their children and mother’s to better nurture. I see this same beautiful bonding at work within my own family, in my neighborhood, and especially on social media. While I peruse and scroll through streams of pictures and videos, I see mothers homeschooling and baking bread with their children. I see father’s teaching their son’s carpentry and the art of fishing. Parents and children are playing, singing, and dancing. Children are exchanging phones and I-pads for good old-fashioned fun.
There’s been sadness about us, but there’s also been gladness. Now, it’s time to step back and ask ourselves—when the world opens back up, will we bring the gladness with us? When we step back into the sunlight of this big bright world, will we be blinded by the light, or will we see much better? Ask yourself–will the treasures I’ve found be left behind, or will I bring them with me? As writers, we’ve been called by God to be modern day scribes and word weavers. With this in mind, will we be ready to express and document all we’ve felt, seen, and learned in these troubled times. Today, as the world around us slowly begins to open its doors, hopefully we’ll bring with us a deeper well of water, springing up in a dry land.