Thursday, December 21, 2017

Take Your Writing to the Next Level with Intentional Consistency


By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

The title of this post may seem too obvious to merit mention, but I would beg you to stick with me. Life these days is incredibly busy. We’re subdividing our time into smaller and smaller portions, leaving us with just more details to keep track of.
Writing can easily fall between the cracks.

But I would propose that worked-in-between-the-insanity isn’t where our writing belongs. We have been given a gift and entrusted with a calling. I’ve come to believe it’s poor stewardship on my part to ignore that. So I’ve decided to begin the practice of writing with intentional consistency.

But all around, no matter my good intentions, life continues to loom and intrude.

So how am I putting intentional consistency into practice?

1.  I’ve determined my most creative hours of the day and blocked them off on my calendar. For me it’s the morning—anytime before noon. Truthfully, I’m not able to spend every single morning writing, but with the time blocked off, it makes me weigh other opportunities differently.

2. I set weekly goals. I prefer weekly over daily goals because they’re easier to meet. If I miss a day for some reason, I still have the rest of the week to meet the expectations I’ve set.  Sometimes I structure my goals around word count, but not always. Right now I’m working on a series of devotions, so I have a set number I want to finish editing each week.

3. I write regularly. No, I don’t always write something every day. I believe writers should have a Sabbath rest. But I write when I don’t feel like it, as well as when I feel like it. Hear my heart on this. We are all busy. We all have important things that need doing. But if we’re going to call ourselves writers then writing MUST be one of those things. We can’t just talk about writing, critique other writers, or plan to write when life slows down. If we choose that attitude then we’re no better than the rich man in Luke 12 who was planning to build bigger barns. We are not promised tomorrow and we’ve got to quit squandering today.

4. I respect my calling. This is an attitude change for me. Through prayer and study, I’ve determined that God expects me to be obedient. I know, not a huge revelation, but just wait. That obedience isn’t supposed to only be in regard to the hard or the difficult things in my life. Obedience is foundational to everything. You see, I love writing and because it’s fun, I had developed the idea that it wasn’t important. And by the way, this has nothing to do with whether or not I'm making money with my writing. It has to do with obedience only.

5. I’m willing to let God set my priorities, even when it means saying no. I’m doing my best to model my life on Jesus. As I’ve studied His life, I’ve realized that He was not constrained by someone else’s agenda—even when it was urgent. He walked away from crowds who needed healing, those who were hurting, even disciples who were confused. Only God set His priorities. Everywhere around us are ministries that need workers, children who need babysitting, and loved ones who need help. I am not God. I cannot be everywhere at once. God is the only one who can make sense of all the needs surrounding me. When He says no, I go with it. When He says write, I sit down and write.

6. I’ve enlisted a team. Actually, I have a couple of them. I have a prayer team who pray specifically for me and my writing ministry. I also have a group of writers that I meet with regularly. Both groups hold me accountable and help me remember my priorities. They also give me the perspective I need to make wise choices.

7. I now take time off. I’ve tried to work every waking hour I can, and it just doesn’t work. I’m not capable of sustaining that time of schedule. It makes me cranky, tired, and generally difficult to live with. It’s also NOT fair to my family and friends. Relationships do matter. When my life is out of balance, my calling isn’t the only thing that suffers.

8. I nurture my relationship with God. This is foundational and without it, numbers 1 through 7 are meaningless. I make regular times of prayer and study a priority. I’ve discovered—the hard way—that the crazier life gets, the more time I need with God.

None of these eight things is earth shattering, in fact they’re fairly obvious unless we’re applying them to ourselves. For me though, they required a dramatic shift in thinking and acting. I’d love for you to share your thoughts on intentional consistency in your writing life. Be sure to share your comments in the section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

TWEETABLES

Writers write. Learning to practice intentional consistency with #writing - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

12 comments:

  1. GREAT post going into 2018, Edie. Mine is a spin on your #6 in that our group uses prompts and challenges to keep the bar (our individual production) high. It sounds competitive, but it has never felt that way. It's all voluntary and all any of us have to do is check 2017 results vs 2016 vs 2015 and decide whether it was worth it. 6 of us have published our own book of our own work in the last 2 years. I'm agreeing with you - the right group helps you make wiser choices.
    Jay Wright
    Anderson, SC

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    1. Jay, I think that's a GREAT idea! Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

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  2. Wonderful counsel Ms. Edie. Thank you so very much for sharing with us. For me, I always make my study and devotional time a priority (right after I feed the livestock each morning before the wife awakes). Most of my writing ideas come from my time spent with God. I somehow sense the same happens with you ma'am. God's blessings...

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    1. Jim, you're right. My creativity comes straight from God! Blessings, E

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  3. Hi, Edie! As long as I'm teaching full-time, it is hard to do anything but write "between the insanity." But I'm trying harder to recognize areas where I can give myself more writing time. For instance, this will be the first time in 24 years that I don't have senior research papers to grade over Christmas break. I made changes to the semester schedule, so by the time the research unit started, we could start a few days early and research papers would be finished a week earlier than usual. So now I have the last week of the semester to grade, which frees up Christmas break for me to write...and I'm excited! Spring semester will be a little easier for me to find more writing time. Rather than teaching Comp I and grading essays, essays, and more essays, I'll be teaching a lit class. Thank you for sharing your strategies to prioritize your writing life. I want to be more intentional in all the areas you mentioned.

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    1. Karen, that's excellent! And remember writing on a regular schedule looks differently for each of us. For some, it means only once or twice a week. Or 20 minutes at lunch. The idea is to carve out regular time. You're doing a great job of that. Blessings, E

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  4. Your word of wisdom are sage advice. Thank you for sharing your insights as well as inspiring all levels of writers on their journey.
    Teach on. You shine.

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  5. Edie: Thank you or the reminders. Sometimes things crowd in or I don't feel well. Writing goes by the wayside. I need to be more intentional about my activities.

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  6. Thank you so much Edie. For me, time with God is essential for my focus, themes and sometimes titles in my writing. I am learning to recognize my own expectations vs. His leading.

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  7. Thanks for convicting me, Edie. Aside from my blog, the rest of my writing has sort of fallen to the wayside. That being said, starting a new job next month, and having two book deals in the works, it'll be more important to have some consistency in the time I spend writing. Thanks for the reminder. For me, that may mean stepping back from the big picture.

    Expecting great things in 2018! Happy New Year Edie!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

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