Three Things for Writing Into the New Year

The creative process is something that carries the weight of tension in the area of expectation.  I’ve had a desire for years to write… and write… and write…  There are moments when the words flow easily.  There are moments when the words do not flow at all.  In my laziness, I would simply dismiss the reason for it and trust that that is just the way that it is.  No intention beyond that.

In truth, however… I am coming to understand that writing is work.  Even in the ‘down time’.

My day job puts me in a place where, for most of the year… the work flows steady to heavy.  It is during those times that the functional nature of the work is satisfying, because people can leave at the end of the day, feeling accomplished and able to say that they have earned their keep.

In recent weeks, however… the flow of work has been on the slow side.  This is out of our control, but creates a bit of a panic in the white collar world of functionality and efficiency.  It is disheartening at the end of the day to know that you are able to produce more for the bottom line, and not be able to deliver, simply because the data that needs to be processed is not there.  People begin to become desperate to justify what it is that they are doing and there is a cloud of uncertainty as to their value in the company.

I try to encourage them to enjoy the breather and focus on the fundamentals of what they are doing, because in our environment… things will again pick up… and the fruits of the downtime will pay dividends when the stream of work becomes heavy again.

There is a great deal of truth to that, because the skills that can be defined more during the slow times can become razor sharp… and automatic… things that are needed when there is less time to think about what you are doing, and simply produce.

This is true for any area of life.

It’s the basketball player who spends hours just practicing jump shots on an empty court.

It’s that time spent in middle school typing class plucking out something about a lazy brown fox over and over again.

The same is true for writing.

During my times with various blogs through the year, I would find that there are seasons where posts are plentiful… and then nothing.  The few people that do check in to what it is I am putting on the site have come up to me during a slower time and point out what is obvious to me, ‘nothing has been posted in a while.’

This I know… and it typically involved an internal guilt of some sort that I couldn’t put my finger on… which then led to just putting up a post, simply to… put up a post.

My expectation was that I should be ‘doing more’ in the area of combining nouns, verbs and the sort to keep the flow of the blog moving.  That’s no longer good enough for me.

Truth is… there are slow periods during the writing process.

Truth is… I am not intentional about how I use that time.

So… for the New Year, my writing resolution is simple.

I am going consistently… simply to write… and keep the skills sharp.

Saying that, I am going to acknowledge that when the writing seems less than inspired:

  • I am going to be more intentional about using that time as an opportunity to ponder more on the ideas that I desire to frame into something structured… and call that writing time.
  • I will keep a notebook or voice recorder on hand to ponder out loud the ideas that are still taking shape… and call that writing time.
  • I will allow the merging of the forming ideas and the discipline of writing them down to be less than perfect, trusting that with time, the nature and purpose of the ideas will be clear and articulate.

It is my hope for the New Year, that I will be satisfied in this resolve to become a better writer, and it will be for writings sake.

Happy New Year.

‘Twas the Day After Christmas

Twas the Day after Christmas… and all through the house, every box was left empty… even the one kicked under the couch…

Well… you’ve arrived.  The post-Christmas hangover that has little to do with the abundance of eggnog, or that new Belgian beer you were gifted from that really cool uncle.  No, this is the hangover that you experience when all of the anticipation of gizmos and gadgets that were unpackaged created a silence in your soul that have you wondering if something was missed along the way.

Every year, the best intentioned of us approach the holiday season to get in touch with the true meaning of Christmas… something to do with the heart of the issue that says that Love didn’t come in the form of an accessory… but as living, breathing flesh.  The gift of presence… not presents.  The gift of touching human, not touching screen.

On Christmas Eve, I made a quick run up to the local Family Dollar to grab a special chord that I needed, and ran into a mad house.  See, we have a house on some land in a small town, and the Walmart is about a 20 minute drive away.  Our town has two dollar stores to accommodate a poorer population, and so this stop is not only convenient, but also a necessity for many who call this place home.

When I arrived, and made my way to the ‘technology’ aisle, I found it to be cleaned out.  Now hear me… while I’m not knocking the Family Dollar (it’s my store of choice for most everything essential), truth is, the shelves here don’t typically carry the top of the line products.  They are the knock off brands made for those with a tighter budget.  The shelves here were stripped bare.

These are the types of items, that in the 11th hour of Christmas shopping are there more to fill a void in the giver… than they are the recipient.  That void that screams, ‘so-in-so is going to be devastated on Christmas morning… if… they… don’t… have… one… more… thing… to… open…’

Now… don’t get me wrong… I’m not trying to scrooge away the magic that a child feels when, through that early morning grogginess get to see a beautiful tree with packages that contain their name.  I’m just advocating for the warm memories that last after they have all grown up, and they remember the feel of sitting on someone’s lap… under a blanket… on that long December morning from years gone by.

You know what I mean.

The good news is that the holidays are not over.  For many, the next week will continue to be filled with getting together with family and friends as we look forward to ringing in a new year… and yet anticipation begins to build.  That of a hope that says maybe next year will be even better that it is now.

And so, here is our hope for you: that you would consider meditating on some or all of the following things from our friends at Becoming Minimalist… and see if you can enjoy a happy and healthy 2014, and not stress that there are only 363 more shopping days till Christmas.

1. Spend Less | Choosing to accumulate only the essential often results in financial freedom.

2. Less Stress | A minimalist home is significantly less stressful.

3. Easier to Clean | The fewer things in our home, the easier they are to clean.

4. More Freedom | The sense of freedom that comes from minimalism is truly refreshing.

5. Good for the Environment | The less we consume, the less damage we do to the environment.

6. Be More Productive | Our possessions consume our time more than we realize.

7. Example for my Kids | These are valuable life lessons they will never learn in the media.

8. Support Other Causes | Money is only as valuable as what we choose to spend it on.

9. Own Higher Quality Things | More is not better… better is better.

10. Less Work for Someone Else | Create a less stressful life today and lessen the burden on someone else too.

11. Be Happier | Owning fewer possessions makes you happier.

12. Do Work You Love | Own less stuff. Choose work you love.

13. Freedom From the Comparison Game | Our culture begs us to own more.

14. Time for Things that Matter Most | The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.

15. Visually Appealing | Make your home more appealing.

16. Not Tied to the Past | Release the past to create a better tomorrow.

17. Less Places for Your Heart | Invest your heart into meaningful things.

18. More Opportunity for Rest | Take a deep breath.

19. Find Things Easier | Own less clutter. Find stuff quicker.

20. Live in a Smaller Space | For most families, a house is the costliest investment they’ll ever make.

21. Display What You Value Most | Communicate what is most important.