Happy new year (again)!
One of my (few) New Year resolutions is to grow as a writer. I know growth in skill will be owed mainly to consistency so I’ve created two measurable goals to track progress: bimonthly blog posts and a list of books on writing (among other things) to tick my way through.
Anyway, I’ve noticed a pattern occurring in my writing workflow and thought I’d share with you what’s been working for me. I hope it will encourage you as we move into this new blogging year together.
I felt compelled to share mainly because I am eternally curious about how other writers not only fit writing into their schedules but come up with regular ideas (Stephen King being an example of one of these other worldly creatures writing two novels per year). Yes, his book On Writing is on my list, in case you were wondering.
- I start with a tickle of an idea. Honestly, just a tickle. Then I write it down, always.
Many times, an idea will come from a fleeting thought after reading a verse, listening to a podcast, or reflecting on what’s been a struggle or what’s been helpful in my walk.
I also try to reflect on what has made me laugh, cry, or seek the Lord’s input. What is causing me to feel the feelings? The’re usually great starting points. I know a moment holds significance because it will elicit either an emotional or limbic response in the form of me reaching for my phone to jot the idea in my iNotes.
An example of one of my iNote lists: moments that made me cry. It sounds lame, and it is, but it’s also hilarious.
For example, one of these moments occurred while watching the 2014 film Noah. Particularly when a stone angel was being killed by Cain’s people (they really exercised their creative freedom with this film…). The angel was trying to prevent them from entering the ark but he was being defeated and crushed. I thought for a moment, as he lay there dying, God was going to punish the angel to hell for the disobedience that lead him to being on earth. I instantly starting crying
hysterically stupidly (much to Stuart’s confusion and then subsequent annoyance, followed by a lackluster leg pat and an eyeroll). But then the angel says, “Forgive me, Creator,” and breathes a sigh of relief as he is summoned back to heaven moments before he dies.
I was bawling like a baby at first with grief but then joy.
Anyway, these moments, whatever the reason for their significance, should be written down not only to remember for the sake of remembering but also because they could become relevant as you’re writing. I had no idea when or where I’d share – if I shared – that little inote of my blubbering over a fictional movie scene, but here we are and it somehow works.
An example of a blog post inspired by a significant moment: Why you should ditch your phone during Christmas.
This post was inspired by a brief moment of insecurity while browsing social media. The reason I was upset when I saw this photo on Facebook, I realized later on, was because a decision I made left unresolved insecurity and hurt. As a consequence I felt like a failure in many aspects. It is miraculous that these small, emotional responses have deeper roots we tend to ignore.
I’d encourage you start exploring these moments and see where they lead you in your writing. Even if you never write about these moments, being self reflective and aware of our emotional state is always a plus.
2. Ask yourself, Where is the Lord leading me in prayer?
Do you have certain emotions that you find yourself repenting often? Do you find yourself lingering on a moment or reflecting on what someone has said? Do you feel drawn or lead to do something in your Spirit and find yourself constantly praying over it?
Where the Spirit leads in prayer can be a starting point for me when sitting down to write.
An open letter to the Christian blogger is one of these posts for me. In this post I shared my sentiments on the idea of being called to blog as it related to how others hype the idea in this community.
The reason I wanted to share my thoughts on the topic was because I’m always striving to be lead by the Spirit in what I share on this blog. I named this blog “Heart After God” because my heart is aligned with His when I write in the Spirit. Thus, I’m constantly praying about my blogging journey – and as a result this post was born.
3. I reflect on where I’m at and what I’m learning in this season. Start with these questions.
- What are some significant things that have happened to you or others during your week?
- Can you pull meaning or significance out of these mundane moments?
- How might this season relate to what you want to write about? How can this benefit or encourage others?
- What’s one thing you have learned recently that you are trying to apply to your everyday life?
- What does this season hold for you and loved ones? (This idea came from Emily P Freeman’s Simply Tuesday which I highly recommend you read if you need some chicken soup for the soul).
Mine looks a little like this (this is definitely not all inclusive):
This season holds waiting for Stuart and I regarding his green card.
This season holds saving up as much money as possible. This means… free, brisk walks down country lanes, Netflix and Tesco microwave popcorn, and cuddles in front of a fire while dreaming of our own place.
This season holds a job in insurance that pays well for saving but also leaves me emotionally and mentally zapped some days. But I’ve made solid friendships with those that make living away from friends at home a hell of a lot more bearable.
This season holds regular cuddles with my favorite big blue eyed nephew Oscar.
This season holds becoming more serious about my writing so I can reflect back on this time of my life.
This season also holds learning how to keep the world at arm’s length.
4. I make a list of the reasons I want to write and another for why I love to write.
This tip has been invaluable. I return to these lists constantly. Each has its own purpose; the first list is for why I want to/should be motivated list. Why do I want to be disciplined with my writing?
This is my personal list for why I want to be consistent in my blogging/writing:
- It builds trust, authority, and reliability.
- It builds on my writing skills.
- It means I am moving forward.
- I want to write a book one day.
- I’m less overwhelmed when I stay on top of blogging.
- I’ve promised myself a writing retreat/mini holiday at the end of the year for meeting my bimonthly blogging goal.
My list for why I love to write motivates me in ways “why I should want to be consistent” never will. That list looks like this:
- Creative freedom to express myself.
- It makes me happy, end of.
- I want to remember moments I would have otherwise forgotten.
- It makes me a more reflective, thoughtful person.
- It honors the Lord and encourages others.
- In this season, writing feels like a part of my purpose.
- Writing reminds me that the Lord has written my story in His book.
5. Lastly, perhaps most importantly, is to wait.
Patience is always key for me. I write a little, wait, reflect, write a little more, wait a few days, and maybe edit/write a little more. Every blog post is special to me and I want to give each piece of writing the space and time it deserves.
I take into account that the Lord will potentially say, “Wait. Not yet,” for something I have started on a Wednesday that could have potentially had a Saturday deadline.
Every time I wait, I’m allowing the Spirit to lead. I know this because in my flesh I want to rush the process. So, I’m taking the slow blogging approach and writing bimonthly this year.
What are your blogging goals this year? Do you have any practical idea generation tips for Christian bloggers/writers?
Overall, mine can be summarized like this. First, start with an idea and write it down. Notice where you are lead in prayer. Get self reflective and take notice of the day to day details. Notice what makes you laugh and cry. Make a list for the reasons you want to write and enjoy writing. And lastly, take a slower approach.
We aren’t machines; we’re human beings and the best place to find ideas, IMHO, lie in our everyday moments, thoughts, and feelings.
Do you have any practical tips to share or add to the conversation? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. God bless. xo