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The Ebb and Flow of the Writing Life

Writing Seasons

Seasons change. That is a certainty. Any type of change, like the seasons, is usually circular, not linear. Spring leads to summer, summer leads to fall, fall leads to winter and it starts all over again. As writers, we also go through seasons of change. We will have times of productivity and inactivity; inspiration and dryness, but rarely will we stay the same. I recently heard a speaker who quoted John Maxwell as saying, “Change is inevitable; growth is optional.” How we react and embrace our writing seasons makes all the difference.

Winter can seem desolate with its sparse daylight and cold temperatures. However, many plants enjoy a dormancy during the winter that rejuvenates them for the coming spring. The cold temperatures actually kill certain plights, resulting in stronger and better crops. Some animals hibernate in the winter, resting and growing in preparation for warmer days. Even the soil itself requires a certain amount of fallow rest in order to replenish itself. In other words, winter is a necessary part of the seasonal cycle. Even tropical climates have their own rhythms of rainy and dry seasons. God designed it that way. So why do we tend to berate ourselves when we go through these “off” seasons?

Just like in nature, a season of rest – even inactivity – might be exactly what is needed to re-energize our writing. One can’t expect to drive and drive and drive without refilling the tank. We need a certain amount of inspiration and energy–refilling our tanks–in order to be motivated to write. Determination alone does not make for good writing.

I’ve experienced a few of these “down” seasons, often after some kind of physical setback. After a heart attack and bypass surgery, I spent long hours studying the Bible and praying. I didn’t have the energy or interest for writing fiction, but found that studying the Word gave me focus during my recovery. I took the time I needed to recover, guilt free, without doing much writing other than in my journal. Out of this season came a devotional series which would have never been written had I not been forced into slowing down. I know that other writers have experienced similar times of rest and subsequent rejuvenation when they’ve suffered physical or emotional trauma. God knows we need time to heal, and through that healing process, we are often inspired in new ways.

Other life interruptions can have a similar effect. Moving, renovating, children and grandchildren, busy times at work, hosting company, ministry… I’ve had all of these “life interruptions” in the past several months, making it difficult–if not impossible–to maintain the kind of writing productivity I had envisioned. At some point, one has to simply give it over to God. He knows which books need to get written next and which ones can wait! After all, rocking new babies is always more important than meeting my word count!

I believe nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy. Without life’s interruptions–even hardships–we wouldn’t have much to write about. Conflict is essential to make a story interesting, so as writers we need to embrace life’s difficulties as fodder for our next project. Unexpected situations just create more folklore. They are necessary parts of the ebb and flow of the writing life.

This was originally published in Feloowscript Magazine, November, 2022


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