Hands and Knees Navigation

“Perhaps the greatest achievement of writing is to become less sure of oneself.”
~ Brian Doyle

The aged rarely hurry. Time and use and strain deplete muscle and bone and marrow of youth’s vigor, suffusing the void with a dichotomy of uncertainty and wisdom which beg measured steps.

Writing likewise begs an unhurried pace. My fingers manage about 70 words per minute when I transcribe the exact words of someone else. My own thoughts might read in my mind with equal clarity and run toward a clear destination, but they’ll crowd over one another and onto a page at a somewhat slower WPM.

What’s more likely is a meeting between a sheet of white before my eyes, strands of understanding and feelings in my mind and heart, and a gripping compulsion in my soul to bring concrete shape to the altogether abstract. My fingers then wander and grasp for each word as they crawl across the page.

For fiction and non-fiction alike, whether my outline and components are defined with precise or rough edges, the navigation of crawling requires the use of both hands and knees. Whatever gift I have, however developed my writing craft, no amount of raw talent and polished skill can bridge the spiritual and mortal without divine empowerment.

“I am like a little pencil in God’s hand. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.”
~ Mother Teresa

Do I believe I can present some worthy work that originates with me? Or do I simply offer myself to God, asking Him to use me for His work?

If our writing is His means of conveying stories and ideas and a purpose bigger than the entertainment or information transfer we’d otherwise compose, then allowance must be made for God to be actively engaged in our writing.

The suggestion to pray throughout the process of writing may be stating the obvious to you, or it may be a great new idea. Either way, this reminder comes with a few practical pointers:

• Before sitting down to write, check with the Lord for other priorities.
• If writer’s block strikes, be still and wait for the Lord’s leading.
• Allow God to take an idea in another direction than you had in mind.
• Edit with a spiritual eye, asking God’s Spirit what is pleasing to Him.
• Work toward deadlines with intentional room for chats with the Lord.
• Seek God to resolve conflict (with schedule, editor, outline, etc.).
• Prioritize time with God’s Word to sharpen your power with words.
• Shelve preconceived ideas of God’s intent and timing for the end product.
• Recognize, thank, and praise the Lord for every blessing along the way.
• Before considering a work complete, ask God if you missed anything.

[May God] make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Amen.
~ Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)

What other specific elements bring the Lord into your writing?
Do you have a testimony of God at work through your words?

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15 thoughts on “Hands and Knees Navigation

  1. Being a Christian writer, you’d think it would have been natural for me to consult with the Lord before every writing session. I’m rather embarrassed to say, that wasn’t the case. But, as I’ve grown, I have learned the value of consulting and communing with Him before I even attempt to write now. Like you stated above, He’s led me in a totally different direction in a scene than I normally would have taken. Sound advice ~ thank you for sharing it. And thank you for the reminder!

    • Yes, Amanda, and after God taking my writing in a different direction than I’d anticipated, you’d think I wouldn’t be surprised by it anymore. Even though those surprises can make the writing far more challenging, I’ve yet to be disappointed by the results. It’s nice to hear someone else echo the experience! : )

    • Thank you, Shellie, for the word “treasure”! How you’ve blessed me! 😀

  2. One thing that really helped me is learning that writing and editing use two different sides of the brain. When you write you are being creative, so don’t try to edit at the same time. Go back later and do it.

    • True enough, Lucille. But this seat-of-the-pants writer needs God all the way for both sides of the brain, LOL.

  3. Anne, thanks for reminding us that we need to invite the Lord into every phase of our writing journey. Even agents need this advice. Yesterday, I had so many tasks before me, but I couldn’t decide what should have priority. My anxiety level escalated. Then the Holy Spirit whispered a name in my ear, and I knew I was to work on a specific proposal and send it out yesterday. I was amazed at how smoothly the rest of the day went. Everything else fell away. I’m glad God is an expert in time management! 🙂

    • I love your hot-off-the-press testimony, Barbara! I SO wish I could learn to live by the belief that we never have too little time, only too much time wasted on what God didn’t intend for us to do. Writing this post was a good reminder for me, too, to keep practicing at the things I already know to do and get distracted from.

  4. I am writing a novel based on a Biblical character with the intent of being true to not only the events as they are written, but using the nuances that are there as well to develop the character and fictionalized events. Our church has a 4-story Light House, a place reserved for prayer and interaction with God. When I work in this spot designated for communion with God, I am reminded to take my thoughts and words to him regularly throughout the day.

    • You make an important point, Kathie. Having those special places to meet with God can help create the atmosphere where we stay closely in touch with Him as we work. Thanks for adding this one!

  5. What a great post Anne, and so timely for me. Currently, I’m attempting to hold down a very busy day-job and finish writing my first book by deadline. There’s no way I can juggle all of this without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I need God’s supernatural touch to provide inspiration and energy for perspiration. It also helps to remember He’s the Creator of Time, so He can redeem and add more when I ask. The trick is remembering to ask, instead of trying to force things in my own steam. 😀

    • Anita, isn’t it funny how God can stretch the minutes or shrink them, depending on how we cooperate with Him? And He doesn’t even have to make the sun stand still again! YES. The trick is definitely remembering to ask and knock, rather than trying to force the door open.

  6. Hello miss Anne! It’s been a long time since I’ve read your words out here on the interwebs. I am so glad to find your writerly advice here. Thank you for this piece, and especially for that list at the bottom.

    Blessings,
    SimplyDarlene
    (aka A Simple Country Girl)

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