As writers, we may feel that our most productive time is spent getting the words down. But where do we find those words to begin with? And when we are burned out and our well is dry, where can we go for inspiration?
Are you a writer first? A mom? A dad? Are you a student who writes or a writer who goes to school? How you see yourself has a lot to do with how you spend your time. What if we didn’t need the label? What if we are just people who do many things and one of them is write? Our God is the Creator and we are made in His image so we are also creators. Whether we create cars or buildings or books or art or people or chaos or conflict or peace, we are creators. Writing may take up most of our time or it may be the thing we do when everything else is finally done. But whether it’s a vocation, a hobby or a calling, we are writers.
Besides writing, what do you like to do? Recently, in a writing group I belong to, a question was asked about the value of pursuing different forms of art even if we are complete beginners. If we can’t monetize that effort, is it worth it? My answer was, yes absolutely. The value of our words cannot be measured only in money and that also applies to the value of pursuing other artforms. When we take a break from writing to pursue other interests, our writing improves. There are measurable differences when we get fresh air and exercise, meet with like-minded friends and enjoy time with our families. Likewise, there is also evidence of the value of lifelong learning in whatever we find of interest.
Learning is not exclusively the domain of the young. My dad finally put away his motorcycle but not until he took one last ride, an epic one, through the Rocky Mountains. He was 82. The brain is an amazing thing and we do well to continue to exercise it, making new connections and pathways. Learning new skills adds to our enjoyment of life, expands our horizons, puts us in different social circles and makes us more interesting people. Taking calculated risks such as signing up for a beginner class when most of the students will be a lot younger takes guts. But that courage adds to our character. Persevering in a new hobby or sport makes us stronger. Meeting new people helps us to see things in a new light. All these things will only improve our writing. Since we write what we know, or can imagine, having new experiences helps us to expand our repertoire.
I love to be in or near water. Swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking by a lake or even just sitting on the beach watching the waves all help clear my mind, help me focus and give me much needed perspective. Some days I take my notebook to the lake and write. Some days I leave it at home. But every time I take the time to get by the water, I leave better for it. We are in the midst of a very snowy winter here in Northern Ontario and my beloved lakes and rivers are frozen. These days I find myself heading out for trail walks in the woods. I love to watch the brave and hardy chickadees, jays, woodpeckers and grosbeaks. I look forward to spring but I enjoy the freshness and beauty of our northern winters as well whether it’s on cross country skis or just walking on the frozen trails.
I have always wanted to be able to draw or paint as many of my relatives do. So, this winter I decided to get a sketch book and some pencils and start practicing. I’m enjoying it immensely. It is a different way of seeing things and it has helped me to think in a new way. My cousin paints and the posts that I have seen of her paintings are something to aspire to. I appreciate how she is able to form a lifelike scene with paint and make the viewer feel something. I have also realized that art looks different for everyone and that gives me some comfort. I may not draw or paint as well as someone else but that doesn’t mean my art doesn’t have value. At the very least, I enjoy creating it and I am exercising a different part of my brain every time I get my sketchpad out.
But art isn’t the only activity we can turn to. Whether we’re exhausted and need a break or the well is dry and we need inspiration there are countless places to find it. Sports, music, meditation, reading, sewing, travel, the list goes on. Whatever stokes the fires of your imagination, brings you peace and clarity, fuels you and brings you joy will bless you in immeasurable ways. For perspective, there is nothing like hiking to the top of a mountain. It is a rare person who can see those mighty mountains and still question the reality of a Creator.
Some might consider taking a break self-indulgent but I think it is a necessity. We can become so determined to get a project finished that we set unreasonable goals for ourselves and end up burned out instead. Besides, whether those words really tend to be our best work is debatable! The same God who created us and inspired us to write, also gave us a big beautiful world to explore, create in and discover. We create best when we create with Him, not apart from Him. Whether you feel called to go build a snowman with your child, get together with a friend to knit and chat or finally learn to play that instrument, follow His lead. If we enter into our days prayerfully, we can be assured He will guide us with all wisdom in the abundant life He gave us.
This post is part of a series first published on https://wordalivepress.ca/blogs