Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Gift of Presence for Writers

I've been reading several books and listening to a podcast in the past few weeks about a topic that's been changing my writing life.


Presence. No, I’m not talking about how many people follow you on Twitter or how many comments are posted on your last blog entry.

One of my favorite childhood heroines, Ramona Quimby was told something puzzling by her teacher on her first day of Kindergarten.

“Sit here for the present.” Her teacher tells her as she points to the front row seat.

Ramona is eager to do as she’s told. What five year old doesn’t enjoy receiving a gift?

When she sits through a day of school and no present is forthcoming, Ramona is crestfallen.

After class a tearful Ramona listens to her beloved instructor who explains the meaning of present. Now. The teacher may make changes in the seating plan later, but Ramona should sit where she’s told.

Yet, Ramona was right, wasn’t she?

The present is a gift. How often do we lose sight of that, both in our writing and in our day-to-day life?

Many creatives share the same ritual according to DAILY RITUALS by Mason Currey, a walk each day. Milton paced back and forth in his beautiful gardens. Perhaps he caught a glimpse of the beauty of heaven as he writes about in paradise lost within the simple flowers. Charles Dickens sauntered through London for hours on end. If you’ve read anything by this prolific author you know he had a knack for capturing the everyday lives of people and illustrating the daily ills of the time. Flaubert took an outside stroll with his family. Kafka, Freud, Tchaikovsky and others also spent time in the outdoors.

The other twenty some hours of the day influence our writing life just as much as the block of time spent at a keyboard.

Sleeping. Without these hours all creativity suffers. Many of the creatives took naps daily. I know when I don’t get enough sleep my clear thinking and ability to catch my own errors suffers. The amount of sleep needed may vary but over time there is a benefit to knowing your own best rhythm. I found a wonderful sleep tracking app which calculates my best wake-up time and I have felt so much more refreshed in the morning as a result. I am accomplishing more in my writing and in my life.

Time with Jesus. If we’re not filled to overflowing with the Living Water how can we pour out Spirit filled words that will bless others. First I must find the rest in repentance in my life. It is hard to find dead quiet with children at home but it’s so needed. These are the first moments I spend in writing, journaling what God is showing me and writing out heartsongs to my beloved Papa.

Through the eyes of children. Good writing shows people the wonder of a new world. Children give us new eyes. Whether at church or at home, children live life engaged and encourage us to do the same. When I watch my children I notice they take joy in tasting a warm chocolate chip cookie, in jumping on a trampoline, and so many other activities that I’ve often allowed to be mundane.

Being fully present with those in my life, appreciating the world around me. Eating warm bread with homemade butter. Crunching in the fall leaves. Smelling a woodburning stove and delighting in tales told around it. Singing to your children. Kissing your spouse. These are the moments, lived well, that make for a beautiful writing life. Spend your nonwriting hours engaged and reap the benefits. When we drink from the richness of life it will overflow into our writing life creating a rich bounty that will encourage others.
Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men. -Colossians 3:23
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.-Colossians 3:17

4 comments:

kaybee said...

JULIA, this is good. We need to live full lives in order to be the people -- and writers -- God wants us to be.
Live well,
Kathy Bailey

Gail Helgeson said...

Amen! Thanks for a lovely post.

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Love this and needed it today!

Julia M. Reffner said...

KATHY, I figure if its something I need to learn maybe others are in process too!

GAIL, thanks for stopping by!

LAURIE, So glad this spoke to you today!