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“}

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18 Comments

  1. I just received my first weekly update and chanced upon reading this post. God must have known I needed it, even though I may not have the many distractions a young wife and mom may have while trying to write. Still, I find it difficult as a writer to “be all there” in every moment. Thanks for the reminders here and in the linked post. You are a beautiful writer. God has blessed you well.

  2. Oh, I love this! I think you nailed it with that last sentence 馃槈 I also know that seeing my moments from “the outside” makes me see them for all they’re worth. When I hold my sleeping baby and my arm is starting to ache, I find it hard to think about anything but that ache. But when I allow myself to write the letter in my head, to tell him how much I loved those times, how much I love him, to tell his daddy later how incredibly cute his son is when giggling in his sleep, THEN I am more present than if I just sat…

    (Smartphones of course being very different, even when I THINK I’m writing 馃槈 )

    1. So true–looking at the situations we’re in as a writer rather than as the person there is sometimes the difference between laughing and crying, not to mention treasuring moments or passing them by.

  3. Visiting from FMF. I have found that as I embraced being a writer I have been more present in my life. It may have something to do with getting older too- now that life seems to pass by so much faster as the years go by my desire to grab on and hold the days and memories is much stronger. Thank you- this was beautiful!

  4. Hopping over from FMF!

    You are so right–we writers are always thinking about the words to write next, in whatever capacity. I think sometimes I get overwhelmed with it and I have to take a step back to just regroup and relax.

  5. Ah, how often I have felt guilty for writing in my head all the things that happen in a day, thinking I should quiet my mind and be present without thinking about how to describe it. I never thought of it as a God-given gift to embrace! Thank you so much.

    1. Aww, I’m so glad it was encouraging, Bethany. Yes, it is truly a gift. And I am never so happy and content with the rest of my life as when I embrace my writing as a gift.

      Thank you for commenting.

  6. I think you nailed it here: “Perhaps in reality, we writers are even more present in the moment when we are tucking away the words to relive it.” Writing makes me more attentive and more hungry to live aware in all the moments. (The smartphone is another story…)!