When we think of our writing, we often focus on the challenges. This month we ask the question: In what ways is writing a joy to you?
Sometimes the answer is simple—making a list: “How do I find joy in writing? Let me count the ways” (with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning). But sometimes the answer is not that straightforward.
Let’s dig deeper.
The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength
(From Nehemiah 8:10)
In June 2015, our InScribe Writers’ Online blog topic was: “When I write, I feel His pleasure.” This experience was a game-changer for me; I was sometimes discouraged with my writing progress, but through reading others’ blogs that month, I became vividly aware that God does take pleasure in our writing.
About that time by Divine Timing, I read Louise DeSalvo’s The Art of Slow Writing. She said that writing for a few minutes each day on what went well and what we have learned “can afford us insight into our writing lives and our works in progress… If we understand what went well today, and why it went well, we’ll be more likely to engage in activities that will yield positive results in the future.”
As a result of these two events, I began a journal of joy. I knew these reflections would help me overcome discouragement and instead focus on how God was pleased with my writing.
God instructed His people to “rejoice in all that you put your hand to… in which the Lord your God has blessed you” (Deuteronomy 12:7).
But can we reconcile “joy” with times we’re bogged down with our work-in-progress? Or when our hopes for success fall apart? Or when critical needs or emergencies take over and we’re unable to write at all?
Perhaps not. But it is at these times God brings a new perspective that will eventually lead to joy. Here are some of the ways God has given me greater meaning and joy.
Dialoguing with God about our situation. “If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). The key is to pray specifically. The more I dialogue with God about issues, the more He gives me peace and a way forward.
Rejoicing in God’s love and plans for us. Just this morning my devotional reading brought me to Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”. He has already made plans for us, and has promised to guide us.
Doing one small thing towards our goals. Our pastor often asks: “What is the next step God is asking you to do?” Sometimes the next thing to do comes as an insight, while other times it is, as Gloria Guest said in her January blog, “with continued effort”. As a result, both we and our writing become lighter and those “small, minute changes can turn into a wide open curtain and a room full of sunshine.”
Focusing on our readers and praying for them. People long to be encouraged. Many are broken and hurting. People need Someone to fill that void in their lives. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation through our writing (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). This last summer joy welled up as I began to pray more deeply for the ministry of our InScribe Writers Online blog. I prayed that our words would be a part of meeting those needs, elevating Jesus and reconciling readers to God.
And now it’s your turn. In what ways is writing a joy to you? What draws you to the page or computer day after day? What satisfactions do you receive, in both your unpublished and published works?
How can I express how truly grateful i am for you, Sandi? Your commitment to God and ability to listen to His prompting is so evident at the beginning of each month. thank you for all you do and have done for Inscribe and especially for this blog! Bless you, friend! Reading YOUR posts each month brings ME joy!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for this comment, Tracy. You are ALWAYS so affirming!! You bring Me joy! I'm sure your students love you, too.Delete
Appreciating your discernment, Sandi. I think a joy journal might be a good thing for me, too, to get my focus where it needs to be. And I like the idea of slow writing too. It kind of sounds like morning pages in a way, but with more listening to God.ReplyDelete
I hope you do begin a journal of joy, Pam! Slow writing has taught me to be patient with myself when I get into that messy middle. And as Pierre Berton wrote in his "Joy of Writing", “The great moments of joy…come when, in a moment of revelation, the writer discovers that the child of her creation is not stillborn but will live. These final hours of gestation are the most rapturous the writer knows.”Delete
"Doing one small thing towards our goals" is doable and would definitely bring me joy. That is one phrase I'm going to keep in my head. Thank you, Sandi. I appreciate all of your insights here.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing, Joylene. Thank Gloria Guest, too, for her insight on this topic last month!Delete
Love that statement : when I write I feel His pleasure. That's that feeling I get! I never quite recognized it as such.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad you feel God's pleasure. I don't always FEEL His pleasure, but I know it's there.Delete
Great perspective, Sandi! I did a joy journal when I was going through chemo and radiation treatments and it really helped. When I'm writing the joy comes as the story or article unfolds and God reveals something about Himself to me - the joy is in the process. It also comes when I discover what God is doing with my words. Last Sunday a woman told me she copied one of my Christmas pieces and sent it to everyone on her Christmas card list and I recently found out my devotional column, The Spur, is copied every time it goes out and put in the bulletin of a huge Mormon church in Hawaii! I just love it! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for your perspectives, Marcia. God gives us special moments as we journal our difficult experiences. It must have been a great endorphin lift to hear hour your Christmas piece was distributed, and how the church in Hawaii posts your devotional!! Keep us encouraged by your reports of how God is using your writing~Delete
Thank you, Sandi, for reminding us to focus on the positive and for sharing the ways God has helped you find more meaning and joy in your writing. So often we tend to focus on what's going wrong, rather than on what's going right. God has shown me how to take things one step at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed and discouraged. I also take joy in knowing that God is pleased that I use His gift to help and encourage others.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing, Nina. I'm sure with taking on the FellowScript magazine that you sometimes get overwhelmed. It's such a big job. And to add a bit of humour, a friend of mine once said, "Chin up and keep the flag flying!"Delete
Thanks, Sandi, for this upbeat and joyful blog. You really do get us started for the month with "our chins up" and "our flags flying." Bless you, sweet friend, for doing thisReplyDelete
Thanks for such an affirming response, Sharon. I look forward to your blog later this month.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your beautiful post, Sandi.ReplyDelete
You reference that now classic line from Chariots of Fire, "And when I run, I feel His pleasure". In truth that was a game changer for me all those years ago -- to think that God would be happy with me and what I do. It made everything new and beautiful. Decades later, as a result of that moment, when I write, I have no doubt in His pleasure.