Tuesday, February 20, 2018

When Writers Need to Rest

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

A whole week in a cottage by the sea. Sounds like a perfect time to write, doesn’t it?
Or not.

Maybe it’s a perfect opportunity to actually Do Nothing. To rest. To walk. To be silent. To listen. To remember.

To dream. To create. To be nourished, body and soul.

Victorian art critic John Ruskin once observed, “There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by rests, and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the rests. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear.”

Pauses are essential for those of us who spend our lives creating. And for everyone else too. That’s how our Creator wired us. We see it in natural rhythms which include times of both music and restful silences.

Are you so full of ideas, plots and words that you feel like you will burst? Or are you dry and empty, in dread of facing yet another empty page (or screen)? Either way, it may be time to pull away from it all.

No music for a time. In order to receive.

Start by unplugging from all your devices. Stop researching. Stop thumbing through your Bible in search of that perfect scripture quote. Stop reading great stuff by brilliant writers. Just stop!

Be perfectly quiet.

Sit in a comfortable place with your hands open wide. To release and receive.

RELEASE your concerns, anxieties and fears. Ask God to carry them for you; or even dispel them altogether. 

Identify them and then pray:

Lord, you know what weighs me down, what hinders my life and my work. And why. I release them now to You, one by one ________________________________, trusting in Your protection and deliverance. Amen.

Now RELEASE your dreams, hopes and daring ideas to the One who will hone, fashion and tweak for His best purposes. Identify them and then pray:

Lord, I want so much! Keep my vision and goals high and lofty – bold for Your glory. But today, as I name them _____________________________________, I release them back into Your hands, asking that You will guide me forward or redirect me as You choose. I want Your will and Your perfect timing. Amen.

You are now in a position to RECEIVE. Once again, open your hands and be still. Pray as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3.10)

Continue in silence. Five minutes may seem like five hours to those of us who love to fill all space with words. But God is so very present in this place as you pray:

Lord, I receive from You love, grace, mercy, hope, joy, forgiveness, wisdom, truth, strength, Holy Spirit power, courage, peace, and a very real sense of Your presence even now as I dwell deeply with You. Reveal to me where to direct my energy and resources in this ministry. Give me grace to face both opened doors and doors slamming shut. Keep me close to You that I might always recognize the Source of all that is worthy to be released to a broken world, through the very human vessel of my words. Amen.

Whether your time apart is a day or a week, it will be an investment in your ministry of writing and you will see benefits. Maybe not immediately. But cleaning the clutter makes way for fresh work, a fresh filling. Even our Lord Jesus withdrew to a solitary place for refreshment and renewal—emerging with power. To conquer the very next challenge—feeding the five thousand!

Writer, will you rest?
  1. Release 
  2. Receive
  3. Then go forth Restored.

Note: I’m teaching a 5-part Morning Track on “The Spiritual Life of the Writer” at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference March 22-26 and would love to meet any Write Conversation folks – come say Hey!

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she delights in weaving grace and mercy into ordinary life situations. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning, Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing Best Award for Devotional) , Ordinary Graces Live These Words Refresh! and Role of a Lifetime.  A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), Lucinda received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for The Write Conversation.Whether co-directing  "reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,"  pouring into young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.encouragingwords.net/ 


  1. Thank you Lucinda. Wise words and so timely. I needed to hear this. Blessings to you.

  2. Amen and Amen! Absolutely we need to rest Ms. Lucinda. Importantly, as you point out, we need to rest in God. For me, it's sitting atop a small hill as cattle come by to visit and then go back to grazing. I find great peace and a renewed energy when spending time among God's handiwork. God's blessings ma'am. Prayers for success of your teaching series.

  3. Amen, Lucinda. Ruskin's quote is one of my favorites. It's often hard to think of rest as productive. But God uses it to ready us for our next step. It is so needed in our culture, in our churches, and in our weary souls.

  4. Lucinda, thank you for the prayer to release our hopes and dreams back into God's hands. Keeping my thoughts focused there helps me feel renewed and empowered. It's a reminder that I'm not in control and don't want to be. That's too big of a job! Writers need permission to rest--and to not feel guilty for stepping away for a while.

  5. Lucinda, today was a perfect day for me to receive this message. Thank you. Thank you, Edie, for sharing your blog with Lucinda today.