Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday Review—One Word

by Lynn H. Blackburn

I’m sure many of you have heard of the idea of choosing One Word for the New Year.

My word for this year is Margin. 

(The word nerd in me is thrilled to have such a writerly word as my focus for 2013.)

For writers, margins are a big deal.

I once experienced an anxiety attack when I learned that the first reader for a contest I had entered assumed that everyone knew their submissions should have 1.25 inches margins. Mine were 1 inch.

I couldn’t breathe. My heart raced. I was sick to my stomach for several days before I found proof that the margins had not been specified in the entry rules and that submissions with 1” margins would not be disqualified.

We writers take this margin thing seriously.

As we should. Because those margins are important.

Can you imagine trying to read a book or a poem without any margin? What if the words raced to the very edge of the page and dove over the side like an infinity pool of letters?

You couldn’t stand to read a page like that for long. Your eyes would start to cross, your mind would protest. And those words, no matter how powerful, no matter how polished, would go unread.

As a writer, I’ve come to realize that as much as we need the margin on the page, we need it more in our lives. I know that in my case, without some margin in my life, there are words in me that will go unwritten.

There are books and poems and articles and devotions that swim in my head as I go through my day, but without some margin, they will never find their double-spaced voice in Times New Roman 12 pt.

As 2012 came to a close, I’m sure many of you were, like me, disappointed in your progress as a writer. Maybe your blog didn’t take off or your agent didn’t sell your book. Or maybe, like me, you didn’t finish the book and when people ask “How’s the writing coming?” you’ve started changing the subject.


Maybe we have really good reasons. I know I do.

But as valid as those reasons are, I’m thinking that as writers, it’s time we took our margins a little more seriously.

It’s time we click on the page setup tab of our life and take a good hard look at our settings.

It’s time we said no to a few more evenings in front of the TV. Or maybe (gulp) it’s time we said yes to a few more mornings that begin before the sun comes up.

No one can set our margins for us. It’s something only we can do.

But we have to do it.

Because something tells me that the writers who change the world are the kind of writers for whom margins are a big deal.

Now it’s your turn. Let’s learn from each other. How do you create some space for writing in your busy life? Share it with us. You never know when your idea may be just the thing a fellow writer needs.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.


  1. Love this word, Margin! I never would have thought of it.

    And I love you. :-) We both must make time to get back to writing!
    Happy New Year, word nerdy friend!

    1. I love you too, Vonda! I was thinking Margin was rather original, until a friend from church posted her One Word - and it was Margin :-). We had a nice facebook chuckle over it. My hope is that my margins help me get a few more entries into your MoGo7000 challenge this year!

  2. This is great! I love the idea of creating margin for a purpose, not to just have more time. My word for this year is GO! I wrote about it on my blog.

    Thanks for your posts; I am a faithful reader.

  3. Great idea! My ONE word for 2013 is IMPACT. Impact changes lives. We all need to strive to have IMPACT, we are all "for Impact" in our daily lives!
    Best wishes for a great Impact in 2013!

  4. Margin...great word. My word is humility. Don't even ask why. :-) Love this post!

  5. Lynn, your posts always inspire me and I hate having to wait until Thursday to leave a comment! My one word for 2013 is COURAGE because I know God is once again calling me out of my comfort zone and I'm terrified! Thanks again for the guest posts, Blessings, E

  6. What a fantastic word, Lynn! My one word is Everything. As I make Jesus the center of everything this year, hopefully my margins will become vividly clear. ;)

  7. I would have never thought of MARGIN as my one word. How clever. My one word is PRAISE. I want to praise the Lord in everything I do.

  8. Margin ... I've got to say that the word freaks me out a bit. There was that whole book on margin a number of years ago ... and I never had the time to finish it.
    Isn't that a very telling admission?
    But you are so, so right in saying we need margin -- and we will make margin for what we truly value.
    And sometimes I bulldoze margin into my life by staying up until the wee small hours of the morning. It's desperate, but it's so helpful too.
    I don't want to live that way on a daily basis though.
    Now ... to figure out how to establish margin more regularly.
    My word for 2013: Confidence.

  9. Great word (and reminder!), Lynn. You're awesome.

    Thanks so much for telling us about Melanie at One Breath. I love the button she created for my word, SEEK. Not only this, she is one of the sweetest people I've "met" online.

    Happy New Year!

  10. What a great post. My word for 2013 is INTENTIONAL. I need to focus on God's word and be intentional in applying to my life. I want every moment to be with purpose. Planning and following through with my writing is a goal I intend to strive toward. Intentionally being "in the moment" with whoever and wherever I am--staying tuned in to who/what God places in my path. Intentional.

  11. Ok, THAT is a great writer's word! I love your blog and really need to come back more often. You asked about creating space for our writing.........I have an ODD problem; too much space! I am an empty-nestor who freelances from home. Margins are definitely required and I tend to fail more often than succeed so far. Hopefully this new year will be different.

  12. Great post, Lynn!! I hope to post my word tomorrow...if I set my margins correctly...and do the thing!

    Sweet blessings to you and Edie!

  13. I love reading all your words for 2013!! I wish I could reply to each of your lovely responses, but I injured my thumb this morning (freak kitchen accident that is so going in a book someday!) and I am having to peck at the keyboard. But I had to pop in and say a huge "Thank you" to all of you for joining the conversation!

  14. Thanks so much for sharing about the one word button, Lynn. I plan to send Melanie an email. Love your word! Very unique. Mine is ponder.

  15. Wow! Thank you for sharing this thought and post. I really needed to think about this and hear it.

    God bless you all in determining the margins in your life this year, 2013!

    Laura ~