Thursday, January 17, 2013

How the Magic Happens

Have you ever wondered how writers get their stuff? I have. I used to think it was all about their amazing imaginations, their intelligence and their education. I used to wonder how they got from point A at the opening of their story to point B at the close. I wondered about the whole process and because it seemed mysterious and overwhelming I gave up and figured if I didn't know the basic way they did their job I would never be a real writer.

Like so many things I think I know, I was wrong about that.

I have had to answer that same question about how I write. What happens when I get an idea for a book or a story for a blog post? After having to answer that question, I realize for each writer it is different. Sometimes, especially for me, it is different for each idea.

Mostly, I get my writing direction from God. I know... Sounds very mystical and esoteric, doesn't it? One of those answers that leaves people staring askance at me and nodding knowingly, as if I would balk if they asked what I mean by that. I will tell you exactly what I mean by that - TODAY.

I get my writing direction from God in a few different ways. First, let's be clear: I am not espousing clarvoyance, I do not hit a trance-like state when I sit at my writing desk, and I don't scour the bible for hours on end until the booming voice of the Lord says, "Today, you will write on David and Bathsheba... GO!" It doesn't work like that.

The simplest thing can be going on in my life and suddenly I will have this overwhelming intuition that I need to pay attention. God is speaking to me, through the radio in my car, through the sunset I am watching, through a television commercial - "Pay attention, this is going to be important." Sometimes the idea comes complete, beginning, middle and end. Other times, I get just the basics: What does courage really look like? Some days the idea needs written out like a burning match and there is urgency, other times it stews around in my head for a day or two - maybe more - and comes out slowly, like maple syrup in the woodlands of Vermont.

Often, I will scurry to notate my pay-attention-moment into my phone. Some ideas need more time to simmer and bubble on the back burner of my psyche and if I am not careful the cacophony of life will steal away the original thought. Once I have it down somewhere (and let's pray that I remember where that somewhere is), I can relax a little into the process of research, prayer, devotions and actual writing to get what is in my muddled noggin onto these cyber-pages and out to you.

With the larger projects I have done, God has been gracious enough to give me complete concepts. Three books, one completed, two in process and all three ideas came complete. Write this, like this and for this audience. Now actually sitting down and completing the work... Well... Working out those details and making my writing a priority isn't always top 'o' the list. After all, I am the only one who knows what is in my head and on my God-given task list to complete. No one will know if I never finish those things, right?

Well, not this time. I decided with this new year, I would put myself out there and enlist an accountability partner. I would give myself a reason and a deadline and I would be disappointing someone if I didn't make it happen. I was excited at this new approach. I work so much better when I have a goal, a deadline, an assignment! Yeah. And the first thing that happened was that life got hectic, the weather got cold (well-diggers-lunch-box cold!) and I fell down. But you know what? This is me... Getting back up!

I have a series that I have been asked to write on Christian attributes. It won't be easy to complete because the concepts are often misconstrued. They aren't easy to hear about either, but just like every other post I have written, this isn't about me teaching you - This is about me being schooled by God and you watching the carnage from a safe distance. If I get a little on ya, well that's something you can take up with the Father on your own.

I also have a plan and a hope that the fictional work I have been tediously avoiding will reach completion this year and somehow God will provide the means to get it edited. I know that this is going to be difficult work, I know that there will be missed deadlines and my accountability partner will have to jerk on my chain to get me to comply (I chose her for just that reason). I also know that things worth doing don't come easy. They just come. Sometime they sit quietly and politely in the background and wait until I am ready. Sometimes they don't. And sometimes, like this time, God pointedly asks when I will think His request is important enough to finish?

What little closet task has God asked you to complete? Why haven't you? Are you ready to quit giving excuses and give an accounting? Step up, step out and tell someone who will graciously hold you accountable for what is being asked of you. No one ever has to know, but you will... And God does.

Be blessed.