Monday, January 24, 2005

writer's resolutions

Just before the new year, I posted a list of writer's resolutions on my website. Yesterday, a new friend (who I actually met through the posting of those resolutions) wrote to ask me how well I'd been keeping them. Because I have a doctor's appointment in an hour, but also feel the pressure to post something new, I'm reposting those resolutions here, with an update on my obedience in brackets:

1. Soak
Every day, before I lift my fingers to the keyboard, I will immerse myself in God’s Word. I will use that time to praise Him, ask questions, and center myself in truth so it can flow through me to my readers. [Check]

2. Learn
I want to grow in my craft, so I will educate myself by reading one book on writing every month. My list this year includes:

Stein on Writing—Sol Stein [I'm half-way through]
Techniques of the Selling Writer—Dwight Swain
Page after Page—Heather Sellers

3. Live
As Henry David Thoreau said, “How vain it is to sit down to write, when we have not stood up to live.” I need to have something to say when I sit down to write. I will listen to my children and spend time with the elderly. I will love people. I will stare at trees and think great thoughts of the One who made them. As Sir John Lubbock, another wise thinker, said, "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." Writing sabbaticals are collection periods. I won’t stay away too long, but I won’t allow guilt to consume me if I spend my children’s school vacations taking them to the mall or a movie instead of locking myself in my office. [Didn't write a word during the kids' vacation--and enjoyed every guilt-free minute.]

4. Stumble
This helps me minister and gives God glory. Now, I won’t purposely set out to make mistakes, but when I do—and I will—I won’t crawl in a corner to inspect my wounds. Instead, I’ll watch the tender way God deals with me and I’ll share that with my readers. [Check, check, check. I'm a natural in this department.]

5. Eavesdrop
Once a week this year, I will buy myself a tall, nonfat latte and sink into one of the upholstered chairs in a corner of Starbuck’s, grab my pen and spiral notebook, and listen in on people’s conversations. This will hone my sense of observation and give me fodder for character studies. And because it's the right thing to do, I will pray for those I'm stealing from. [Another easy resolution. I wrote half my last book sitting in the corner of Starbuck's--and managed to listen in on plenty of conversations while doing so.]

6. Bless
I will use my gift without expectation of pay--whether that’s helping a new writer, contributing to a ministry publication or teaching a class. I will tithe of my gift. [Check--I've been mentoring a handful of new writers via email.]

7. Walk
Walking accomplishes two things: it releases endorphins, which elevates mood, and it busies the left brain with all that mechanical motion so the right brain is freed up to churn out creative thoughts. According to Raymond Inmon, “Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.” [Okay, I haven't done this every day, but you must understand: I live in the Pacific Northwest. Now, I normally take umbrage with anyone who criticizes and/or pokes jabs at our weather--because I adore the rain . . . from the inside of my house--but for the sake of justification, I'll blame the rain for my lack of walk-days. But I'm trying to get more days in.]

8. Reveal
I vow this year to make myself vulnerable to my reader and write only true words. There will always be safer, less incriminating options tugging at my fingers—but I will resist. If I want my words to cut to the heart of my reader and leave change in their wake, I won't settle. I’ll swallow hard, corral my fingers, and force gritty, edgy, startling, honest words to the page. And I’ll leave the results to God. [Painful check! My current work-in-progress has demanded an edginess that has cost me greatly, but when I sit back at the end of the afternoon and re-read whatever chapter I'm working on, I know it's worth the discomfort.]

9. Anticipate
This year, I’ll be on the hunt for God. In every conversation, every still moment, every chance encounter, I’ll listen for His voice. I will wake each day with expectation, knowing that the God who is real desires to reveal Himself to me. [He's everywhere.]

10. Thank
I will see the gift of writing as just that—a gift. I vow to thank the Giver every day for allowing me to help build His kingdom, encourage His people, exhort the stragglers, beckon the lost, and lift His name to whoever will read my words. [Check]

Too much? Too abstract? If you want one simple, concrete tip for the coming year, it's this: Write 20 minutes a day. And don't forget to say thank You.

1 Comment:

At 1/24/2005 12:25 PM, Blogger Lori Seaborg had this to say ...

Thank you for the update, Shannon! I am one of those who is blessed enough to benefit from Resolution #6. You've been such an inspiration to me. Keep writing!


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