writer’s block is, more accurately, “writer’s redirection”

 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.

 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. – 1 Samuel 3:10-11, 19

I often meet with people who want to talk about writing. Of course, that means we share about life, about faith, about philosophy – and about what we feel called to communicate via the process of setting down words.

My “go-to” advice – especially for those struggling to find their voice as a writer – is, simply, to write. Write what you are experiencing, write what you are thinking. Just write. Get the ball rolling and see where the words lead you.

Most conversations about so-called writer’s block get back to my conviction that writers should write anyway (like I am this morning!). Write about the fact that you’re stuck; write about whatever it is that pulls your attention away from writing; write about what you see on the desk… the keyboard in front of me is grubby with the accumulated dirt of a full year’s typing; but the number pad on the right is pristine, causing me to wonder if the extra cost of the expanded keypad was a wise investment…

IMG_1502REAL LIFE! Really? Grubby keyboard? This is obviously not working. So I turn my attention elsewhere. There’s a small grouping of random stuff right in front of me. My prescription lenses; a tattered “une gourde” bill from Haiti with a picture of François Papa Doc Duvalier, President of Haiti from 1957 to 1971; a mug doubling as a pencil holder; a to-do list; a notepad, a favorite photograph of Rebekah and Scout; and a recent picture of David and Beks. All this framed by my St. Francis figurine from Assisi and my travel Bible from the mid 1970’s.

Then, spreading to the left and to the right, a bunch of overlapping papers. Bills, receipts, ideas, notes, unopened mail, a cricket ball, the old iPhone that I’m not sure what to do with, several coffee mugs and teacups, coasters….

I often tell myself that my writing is better when my desk is clean. But then – right there in front of me – is all this evidence of life. Life happens, and I don’t write around the mess, or with my eyes diverted, I write because of the mess and confusion, because of life.

This is where I am, right here; and if my faith doesn’t make a home here too, then what good am I up to? and what on earth is it that I think I’m doing?

So this morning, wondering if I have anything to say to the world today, I find that I have a lot to say to myself. I am called to pay attention, to “stay awake,” to take in the reality of this moment – of every moment, and to listen for God’s voice.

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I pray that the Lord remains with me, and that God will let none of his words fall to the ground… – DEREK


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