writing together, growing together

When I first started writing, I felt like Jo March up in the garret scribbling furiously–but never showing my words to anyone. When I first started blogging, no one knew about RSS feeds or email subscriptions. I was literally sending my posts out into the nameless void.

After a few years virtually offline, I reentered the blogging world. And I discovered community.

It was then I learned that the people who write together, grow together. (Click to Tweet)

The team of writers at Kindred Grace has taught me what fellowship and grace look like together. The bloggers in my mastermind group have kept me aiming high while teaching me the importance of going deeper. And the local writers who meet me for coffee have taught me how life and faith intersect with writing and how to balance them all.

Together we preview each other’s posts that we’re scared to publish. Sometimes all we need is a fresh set of eyes, the keen insight of someone who knows what we really meant to say and how we could say it better.

Together we cheer when someone publishes an eBook or has a post that goes viral. And then we share our secrets and the lessons we’ve learned.

Together we commit to crazy dares like blogging for 31 Days about one topic. And then we keep each other accountable to see it through.

Alone we might give in to fear and give up. But together we press on, learning and growing together. (Click to Tweet)

{Inspired by the Five Minute Friday Prompt “Together”}

#amwriting

The lunch dishes are still on the counter, unwashed. And I remember dinner when I smell it burning.

I’m writing.

Not because the words obey me. No, in fact, the words are more unruly than my children. I can’t make them stop and I never know which way they are going to take me.

I’m writing.

Not because this is one area of my life over which I have complete control. No, I can’t even keep my blog neat and tidy: there’s always one more broken link to fix or one more post to categorize.

I’m writing.

Because when I write, I can make sense of my confusion.

I’m writing.

Because when I write, I see the meaning in the mundane.

I’m writing.

Because when I write, I get a brief glimpse of eternity.

I’m writing.

Because when I write, I feel His pleasure.

Five Minute Friday Prompt: “write”

the story of a generation

Throughout the generations, civilization’s story has been passed on verbally, carved in stone, and scratched in pen and ink. Sometimes it is the layers of earth that uncover the record; sometimes it is within the covers of a book that the story is found.

But my generation’s story is being recorded in pixels and in posts. We send text messages instead of telegrams. Our pictures are quick cell phone shots that we never print instead of carefully posed portraits that take hours to develop. We record our private thoughts in public, “live” journals instead of diaries protected by lock and key. Our masterpieces are sold in electronic file formats rather than in hardbound books.

And sometimes I wonder: if the Lord tarries, what will be left to show for our generation when it has past? Will our grandchildren have any pictures of us to search for resemblance to their own faces? Will computer crashes and technology changes make our works of art obsolete?

As a friend of Annie Downs once told her, “Just remember, if the internet dies, so does AnnieBlogs. Better make sure Annie Downs has a real life.”

And I ask myself, is what I’m creating here online worth printing and binding for the next generation? Is my generation leaving a legacy that will outlast the internet?

 

{Inspired by a conversation with Suzanne Kuchynka and her husband, and the Five-Minute Friday prompt “story”. And ironically, I got distracted by a phone call after the third paragraph only to come back and find out that a whole host of internet hosts were down this morning, including mine.}

of Five Minute Friday and rules that were made to be broken

Five-Minute FridaySome rules were made to be broken. Especially when it comes to writing prompts and blog link-ups like Five Minute Friday.

Each week I participate in a link-up hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. The idea is to write for five minutes flat about the prompt of the week. But the very idea of writing for only five minutes is enough to scare some people away. “There is no way in the whole wide world I can write in five minutes,” admitted one beautiful and talented blogger I know.

But Five Minute Friday isn’t about timed writing—it’s not a contest. Five Minute Friday is about not letting perfectionism get in the way of getting our words on paper or on screen. Five Minute Friday is a time to “just write, without worrying about whether it’s just right or not.”

I like to check the word prompt before I go to bed Thursday night, then mull it over and let the words tumble out Friday morning. Some people write the moment the word is announced at the #FMFParty Twitter party or Lisa-Jo’s post shows up in their feed reader.

I’ve found that God often has a real message for me in the Five Minute Friday word for the week. Sometimes it takes a lot longer than five minutes to get that lesson into words. I’ve even written a post on one aspect of the word, just to get it linked up on Friday, only to realize the next week that it was another area He wanted to speak to me about.

I know that some of my friends find that the word often probes so deep into their story that their Five Minute Friday posts never see the light of their blog. But we’re not writing for the rest of the web; we’re writing for that audience of One, and often to process the lesson or healing He is leading us through. Don’t let the fact that you may not publish your post keep you from writing it.

The only hard and fast, “no ifs ands or buts” rule of Five Minute Friday is to leave some comment love for the person who linked up before you. But if I’m honest, I’m sure there’s been a time or two I’ve completely forgotten to do that. That’s the beauty of the Five Minute Friday community, though—there’s always more than one visitor from the link-up, and there are faithful commenters like Denise who comment on every single post they visit (and she visits a lot!). The Five Minute Friday community isn’t built on rules: it is about grace and freedom and throwing caution to the wind to write, whether it’s for five minutes or fifty.

Some people use a timer or stop watch. I glance at my computer’s clock for a rough estimation of how long I’ve been writing. Some weeks it turns into a Ten Minute Tuesday post. Other weeks, it takes about an hour to get five minutes of actual writing in, between the phone calls and the diaper changes and the fact that the little farmer dropped his tractor out of his bed when he was supposed to be napping.

Don’t let a timer keep you from one of the best writing prompts on the web. There is no wrong way to do Five Minute Friday; the right way to do it is to write.

 

P.S. This week’s prompt is “broken”, because Lisa-Jo’s blog has been just that this week, so we’re linking up on Facebook instead. If you’ve never joined in Five Minute Friday before, perhaps you’ll join the rest of us imperfect and broken writers as we write for the fun of it and for what God is teaching us through it? Don’t worry about how long it takes you: just write!

of writers and being present

There’s a lot of talk these days about being fully present in every situation. Put away the smart phone, just enjoy the moment. Or as Jim Elliot put it (long before cell phones, let alone smart phones): “Wherever you are, be all there.”

But I’m not sure if it is possible for writers to ever be “all there” in any situation.

Whatever we’re doing, we’re already forming the words to describe it in past tense. Whoever we see, they become a character study for a novel. Whatever we hear, it becomes a potential form of illustration for some future project.

And the older I get, the more I’m realizing that embracing how God made me as a writer is one more way to (in Jim Elliot’s words again) “live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Throughout my teens and young adulthood, I went through each moment of my day thinking about how I would describe it in a letter to Merritt that night. Once I was married, I learned to gather the anecdotes of the day — the customers, the kitties — to share with Merritt that night. And now, it’s the stories of the children that I want to remember, to pass on to the grandparents, to preserve for my children’s own children.

Perhaps in reality, we writers are even more present in the moment when we are tucking away the words to relive it.

{Five-Minute Friday Writing Prompt: “Present“}