A new story is hard to write. And generating ideas to fill it is even harder. When you’re staring at a blank page, Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes might haunt you: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
Fear is beneficial for the warrior. When the earth was younger, fear motivated people to fight lions and giants to protect themselves or loved ones. Today’s writers are no longer battling beasts with spears but blank pages with pens. Like our brethren of old, fear can strengthen us, helping us to honestly evaluate our work and aim for excellence.
People often ask me how I manage to be a mother, pastor’s wife, and writer all at once. My answer is that I don’t. I’m human, with only twenty-four hours at my disposal, and I need sleep. Without it, I become a scary zombie mommy!
When was the last time you were bored? During my childhood, those who dared utter the forbidden phrase “I’m bored” were saddled with a chore or two (or three). Boredom is often viewed as idleness, and the solution is to fill that void with productivity. What if I told you that, as a writer, boredom holds an advantage?
I used to avoid nonfiction—in both reading and writing—until I discovered that creative nonfiction employs literary techniques usually associated with fiction. How could this be? And would trying it expand my skills?
Last February, I contracted a severe case of creative block. Inspiration seemed to pack its bags and depart for an unknown region. Everything I wrote sounded wrong, and artistic feats became a struggle. I couldn’t craft a poem, paint a canvas, or sketch a character! I’d never experienced such a widespread form of mental paralysis before.
We live in a society that loves to overflow each day with pursuits. All too often, we pile on obligation after obligation. Our kids need a chauffeur, the church needs a Sunday School teacher, our mother needs a gardener, the writers group needs a speaker for next weekend, and the list goes on.
Many of us, myself included, struggle to break away from the types of stories we gravitate toward. We assume that we need more training before we can tackle a different genre or point of view. But expanding is one of our responsibilities as writers, and it’s a precursor to growth!
We’ve all been struck by writer’s block at one point or another. We lament the shortage of words and wait impatiently for inspiration to return. But even when we’re unable to make progress on a project, most of us would rather die than voluntarily set down our pens. We bravely forge through any and all problems, determined to meet our goals.
Rejections are a staple of the writing life. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But it’s true. I have a notebook where I track the status of all my short story submissions. I’ve recorded roughly forty titles in it from 2019.