The content of my blog thus far reflects the amount of time I’ve had to write relative to the amount of assigned reading I’ve been doing. Since I’m an English major, the latter has, quite inconsiderately, dominated my time this semester. There are pros and cons to that; but I wanted to write a post about writing to freshen up that situation, if only on this blog.

So, if you’re a writer or you have another artistic interest and you’re frustrated by the lack of time there is to produce creative material, maybe this post will help both of us. Whatever you’re passionate about, hopefully you’ll find something useful here for your craft as well.

Reading and learning about authors is essential to the craft of writing– I’m not arguing at all that I shouldn’t have to do it, or even that I shouldn’t have to do it a lot. Heck, I’m willing to do it a whole lot more than I feel like doing it. My frustration comes into existence at the point at which my creative impulses are delayed or squeezed to death by anxiety repeatedly because of other obligations. That isn’t just school; I put limitations on my own work. I fill up my calendar without making room for one f the things that gives me the most fulfillment, and then wonder why I never have time.

So, my first thought about this would be,

Pick a time block and plop it somewhere on your calendar for you to be creative.

An hour a day; three hours a week; ten hours a month (that last one’s weird, but whatever works). For me, this initially looks like another stress-inducing obligation. But at the end of the week, I’ll have done more than nothing. And, if I turn the perspective upside down and look at it positively, I’m putting up walls around a time in which I’m going to get to express myself without conditions or due dates.

Secondly, when I do sit down to write, there are a lot of voices. Especially in college, exposure to many critics, poets and opinions is both necessary and beneficial. The problem I have found is not with the authors, pastors, speakers, or other messengers in my mental databases. The voices that mess me up– that hinder my expression– are the ones that tell me I’m not as good AS the other artists in the world. The ones that tell me I should be. The ones that argue there’s even an overarching scale for that. While learning from others is essential, I’m talking about my contribution to art being worth inherently just as much as someone else’s. As a child of Christ, our work is inherently valuable, which gives me the permission to focus on my own work and not compare on the basis of value judgments that aren’t fully mine to make.

…I still compare.

That being said, it’s important to pray, keep that communication line open, and

Block out the voices that rail against potential, especially before the creative process has even started.

Not throwing away half-done masterpieces. That’s my third struggle. Getting halfway done with something, mentally projecting a finished image, and deciding I don’t like it has discouraged me many a time. Just because my guesses tell me it won’t be as good as the thing I just read for class, I figure, “What’s the point of trying my hand at this?” and give it up.

The two novels I have finished I LOVED writing, editing, rearranging, and polishing. But we don’t always feel like we’re on cloud nine with art; and that doesn’t scrapping is necessarily the answer.

Give yourself a chance to see what your work can become.

(Insert lots of examples of small beginnings that turned into big successes here– you can provide them from your own experiences.)

When I do get inspired, sometimes it’s really easy to pull out two playlists, a sheet of inspirational quotes, and a Youtube marathon of advice. University resources give you all kinds of access to helpful links and tidbits. While everyone else’s inputs are fun and helpful, there comes a point when I’m trying to write my own thoughts and feelings. If I don’t quiet the other sources, I can lose that expression to imitation or simple overload. Then my opinion of how my work matches up others really gets confusing. So, unless you specifically work with music or media that enhances YOUR creative voice,

Consider turning off the outside noise for a time and letting yourself run wild with your creativity.

You might find a thought no one else has presented yet; a pattern that’s not on Pinterest, or a riff that’s never been recorded.

Was any of that helpful? Encouraging? I hope so. You’re all amazing, uniquely knit-together images of our Creator, infused with His creativity. I’ve seen the art and skill and finesse you put into the things you do, and it inspires me. Any expression we give is for His glory; so don’t be intimidated to express the exclusive voice He gave you. There’s no authority that usurps His, after all.

And now, I’m going to go brainstorm a time block to plop somewhere on my planner.

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