Monday, February 20, 2017

Writing Rush Hour

I've got a problem.

I can't-- no matter how hard I try-- get anywhere on time.

Everyone close to me knows it. And it's strange, because I'm generally so reliable. Like, over-the-top reliable, perfectionistic, and thorough. But every single time I think I'm actually going to be early to something, by the time I get in the car, I glance at the clock and realize I'm already ten minutes behind.

Do you ever feel that way? Behind?

We all know what happens next. The speeding down the road, the irritability at those slow drivers that seem to have come out of nowhere, and the anxious heart that tends to stick around even after you've finally arrived. You know the feeling.

But have you ever felt the same about your writing?

Maybe you're on a deadline for your editor or agent. Or maybe you just promised yourself you'd finish this book by a certain day, and that day is fast approaching.

What happens as a result? That same anxious heart.

Today, I want to encourage you to think differently about writing. Remember when writing wasn't a job? When it was a dream in a young girl's heart or a knack for storytelling before you even knew how to type? Remember when God first called you-- when you first came up with the idea for your current project?

Do you remember your passion?

I'm always telling my literature students that academic writing takes time, many drafts, and a lot of thought, and that they can't rush the process. But you know what? The same holds true for any type of writing.

Why do we expect art from our stories when we aren't even taking the time to let the canvas dry?

We live in such a rushed society, it only makes sense we want to rush our writing too. But what if we took a step back and looked at writing truly like a work of art?

What if the only thing keeping your sketch from becoming a masterpiece is more time?

Most of us probably pray before we write, that God will bless our words to His purpose. But what if, instead of saying, "Here's what I'm offering, God-- please bless it," we asked, "God, where are You in this story today, and what can I learn from the process?"

My last story took me two years to write. Two years, you guys! And I don't know if that beautiful little manuscript will ever even see the light of day. But do you know what? I learned so much through that process. My writing grew to a level of honesty and (hopefully) lyricism I never knew before. And most of all, that story changed me-- not just my writing.

So, today I want to encourage you to ask questions of God. Ask Him to guide your story. Ask Him His purposes for that writing time. Actively invite His presence into that space.

Slow down.

Slow down until all the traffic noise in your life stills to the beautiful hum of art.

I want to hear from you! How do you dig into those deeper layers of your stories and keep yourself from getting caught in writing rush hour? :)


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Robin E. Mason said...

THANK YOU ASHLEY!!! <3 as of today, I am 3 weeks behind my set deadline!! darn bronchitis!! The story isn't stuck so much as I've had so many days I can't focus or haven't had the energy to stay with it. :-( You've reminded me to trust Father to get the story (and sequels) done at the right time!!!
ps - I am very close to THE END now, hopefully this week...

Ashley Clark said...

So proud of you, Robin! Hang in there!