My inability to write regularly has been a personal issue I’ve struggled with over the past couple of years. Whether it is just working too much or worrying about issues impacting me or others, my writing has taken a backseat. While the writing nudge nags me every now and then, I’ve just ignored it and worked on other things.
The one important take away from high school English class was the encouragement by Mrs. Stein to write. She always said that like anything else in life, if you don’t write regularly, you lose how to do it well. Sad to say, but I’ve become the one who has lost the ability to write well.
OK. I do write sermons each week that require me to put together sentences on a computer screen. However, my type of sermon writing has evolved over the years where I am not crafting paragraphs of tightly-knit ideas that flow one after another. Today, I write in thematic blocks.
This type of writing can be described as putting together two or three points and writing an outline for each position, eliminating sentence structure and grammar, and hoping that in the end, it all makes sense during worship.
Other than that, my writing has been hit and miss.
One day I have the motivation to write all day long. The next day, I hate the keyboard and wonder why in the world I ever purchased a Windows computer.
I can blame my lack of motivation on working too hard, worrying too much, and being sick for a while. All of those excuses mask the actual reality of why I haven’t written as much: I am not writing for myself.
See, when I was writing regularly, no matter where I wrote – in a paper journal, online, or in church publications – I wasn’t doing it for anyone but me. It was the craft of writing that motivated me, driving me every day to a tell a story. Writing this way was fun. It made me want to write more and more. As I wrote, I learned ways of putting sentences together that were more impactful. My tendency to write passively was overcome. I focused more on the how I wrote to make it mean something to people who would read it.
Somewhere along the way, the need to write about the church began draining me of my motivation to write. I wanted to make my blog posts about the needs of the Christian Church or of St. Matthew’s. And when that happened, I started worrying about the state of my church, the LCMS, and the entirety of Christendom. When all the news about the Church is sad, why in the world would I want to write about that all the time? Even when good things happened, the writing became a chore.
And when writing becomes a ‘chore,’ it is not fun anymore.
So I stopped writing regularly. I had starts and stops during the past couple of years, even once being super-motivated to start writing over the course of a week. But the chore-ness became evident. I was writing not for me and the craft, but so others could read it.
When I am writing for me, what I type is more hopeful and joyous. I have a better outlook on just about everything. When I force myself to write for others, it pains my fingers as I type.
And thus, I prayed.
I prayed over and over to the Lord above, asking with tears in my heart for the love of writing to come back with a direction to help the people of St. Matthew’s see that hope in life through the words I type. For a while, I thought that God’s answer was “No” since I haven’t wanted to write. And then last Monday, Memorial Day, came and I sat down and described my day – from serving with the New Milford Fire Department at their Memorial Services in town to the Veggie Bullet a friend gave me because she hates vegetables. While my writing that day was kind of terrible, I smiled because I wrote and felt good.
I wrote for myself again.
As the week went by, I found myself writing more, cleaning up my lack-of-sentence structure to where sentences were crafted that would make Mrs. Stein happy. OK, maybe they wouldn’t make my late-English teacher ‘happy, but she wouldn’t laugh at me. They would probably make my first-year college professor happy, but he was a terrible professor who mailed it in that year because he was going on sabbatical the coming summer.
Can I guarantee I’ll write every day on the blog? No. But I can say that I have a kind of wanting to write again in my mind. And maybe in my heart.
It’s Monday. It’s cloudy and damp outside. But the light of Christ always shines through the darkness!