Tuesday, August 17, 2021

What to Do When a Writer Needs 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 creatives—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.

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 15 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her award-winning books include Soul Strong, Life-Giving Choices, Dwelling Places, and Ordinary Graces. Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and AWSA, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for ‘The Write Conversation.’ 

Whether coaching writers and speakers, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. As a communications teacher, she has served on the faculty of Speak Up Conference, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Florida Christian Writers Conference, Asheville Christian Writers Conference and co-directs the annual spiritual retreat reNEW – retreat for New England Writing & Speaking. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, McDowell shares words from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at WWW.LUCINDASECRESTMCDOWELL.COM


  1. Thank you. I needed this today 🙂

  2. Thanks Lucinda, I especially needed to hear this today. I've printed this out to use in the future too. Blessings, Lisa

  3. Thank you, Lucinda, for such a powerful and refreshing reminder. I'm praying that this will stay imprinted on my heart.