A year of writing

Happy New Year.

I’ve decided that 2016 will be a year of writing. Quite what that looks like I’m not yet sure but don’t hold your breath that there will suddenly be more frequent posts on the blog. My plan is to write something, somewhere every day. Some days this will be covered by work: for example I usually write 1000 words per week for a Sunday morning sermon. I’m also trying to be more intentional about doing theological reflection as I’ve finally come round to the idea that it might occasionally be useful. Blogging about knitting is also included, as well as writing letters. It might include creative writing or calligraphy.

In October I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat,Pray,Love fame). It’s a fabulous book about creativity and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is one concept that has stuck with me particularly from the book: being a disciplined half-ass as opposed to a lazy perfectionist. Creativity is stifled by our own propensity to think that we are not good enough. Writing something, whether it is good or not, without self-censorship on the grounds of being rubbish is the key to getting better at writing. I see that every week as I’m writing sermons for work. There’s no real way of getting around the fact that, come Sunday morning, I have to be standing up talking about Jesus. This happens, whether or not I am actually happy with what I have prepared. I have discovered that there is very little correlation between how happy I am with the sermon and how happy other people are. (They tend to like the short ones and the ones with funny bits). The discipline of writing and writing and writing, week after week, means that I suffer far less from the crippling lack of self-esteem and writer’s block that I used to be plagued with in the early days.  Remind me of this at 6am tomorrow morning when I am staring at the screen in despair.

That will have to do for now. I have a date with the family at a Chinese restaurant. My daughter has just enquired whether it is bonfire night tonight. I think this is because the last time we went out after dark it was bonfire night, so her expectations are set accordingly. She is now changing out of her wellies and putting her torch away.

5 Replies to “A year of writing”

  1. What a good idea. I’ve been telling myself that I need to keep the blog more up to date, just to show that there is life in it. I told myself that a little bit every day (almost) is better than longer occasional things. 🙂

    1. Absolutely. I rarely have the time or emotional energy to write something big. Just a paragraph is better than nothing.

  2. I learned, on a writing course that I did, about Morning Pages and Freewriting. It could be a useful discipline for you (oops, did I say the D word?)

    You can google on it for more detail but the basic idea is that you set aside ten/twenty minutes a day (first thing seems to be recommended, but hardly fits with family life) and just sit down and write.

    In the Freewriting version you just start writing and see what comes out of your head but it is just as valid to set out with a purpose, maybe diary pages.

    The Inner Critic is not allowed to play this game with you and you write non-stop, without thinking about it. One idea leads another to flop out on to the page. Repetition is OK if nothing new comes up immediately (I frequently wrote “I can’t think of anything” or “my head is empty” or “what can I write about?” then somehow, miraculously a thought arrived and off we went again.)

    Don’t worry about punctuation or spelling or what your hand looks like on the page.

    The scribbling can be useful as a writing warm-up exercise but the scribbles themselves can be gold dust. Ideas, sentences, phrases can be plucked out when reading back and used or re-worked into more disciplined writing. I have found whole poems buried in half a page of notebook scribbles – gently nudged into my consciousness from a deeper level.

    I see that Freewriting would tie in nicely with your Theological reflection, for instance?

    1. That’s a good idea. I’ll add it to the list of techniques I am collating. Thank you.
      It’s funny though, I rarely lack inspiration for things to write about. Rather, I lack the time or inclination to sit and write. I can have a blog post brewing for weeks before actually sitting down to make it real.

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