July 10, 2011

The Spiritual Side of Writing - Bonnie Way

When Dr. Richard Wagamese told us—a class of thirty-some-odd mostly Caucasian writing students—that he was going to do a traditional Aboriginal smudging ceremony with us, I was at first uncertain.  What did smudging have to do with writing?  And was it okay for me, a life-long Christian and a Catholic convert, to partake in such a ceremony?

My curiosity (and my record for never missing class) won out over my doubts.  Gathered in the large ceremonial room with my classmates, I watched as Dr. Wagamese prepared for the ceremony.  As he did so, he explained the spiritual side of writing.  Every morning, he began his day as a working writer by taking a few moments to prepare spiritually.  While for him this involved the smudging ceremony of his ancestors, he encouraged each of us to find our own spirituality.

As he talked, I found his words creating an ache in my heart.  There had been a time in my writing when I noticed a connection between the amount of time I spent reading God's Word and the amount of time I spent hammering away at my keyboard.  Somehow, those moments of prayer and holy reading had ideas popping into my head faster than popcorn on a hot frying pan.  When I neglected that quiet time, my writing became laborious and slow.

While I learned many things in Dr. Wagamese's class, the thing that impacted me the most was his lesson in that ceremonial room.  The other lessons were for my head—concrete how-to-write tips and suggestions.  This lesson was for my heart—the place from which my writing must spring if it is going to touch readers.  If my heart isn't in tune with its Creator, then it doesn't matter how well I apply the other pointers Dr. Wagamese gave us.

As a Christian writer, I must remember to put "Christian" before "writer."  To take time to nourish my soul before I seek to nourish others.  To listen to what God is telling me so that I can pass His message to others.  To find the source of my creativity in my Creator so that I can encourage others to do the same.

~ © Bonnie Way (aka The Koala Bear Writer)


  1. Thanks for sharing, Bonnie. Too often I fail to "be still and know that He is God." and then wonder why I have nothing to give.

  2. Thank you for this Bonnie, and for being willing to stay in the ceremony.

  3. What an important lesson.
    Our ideas are skewed by the fall, and too often it is our ideas, rather than God's take on things that get recorded.
    At the very least, prayer for his insight and wisdom is a prerequisite for "Christian" writing. But also for cross-ever writing that may not be overtly Christian, but based on traditional Christian beliefs and values.
    I can't believe how easy it is to forget to refer my work to Him!

  4. Anonymous9:41 pm GMT-7

    Thanks for this important reminder, Bonnie. I needed that!

  5. The spiritual aspect of writing doesn't get much press, but those are the lessons that sometimes we most need to hear. Thanks for this, Bonnie!


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