Seasons of Writing

I used to really love summer: 4th of July, barbeques, fireworks, my birthday, swimming, and relaxing with family and friends. However, now that I am older (and no longer get summers off–soak it up while you can, kids!), I have really come to appreciate fall. My husband watching football on Saturdays while I read or work, pumpkin spiced lattes, baking, crunching through leaves, Thanksgiving, and the upcoming excitement of Christmas all make me smile.

Just as each year has seasons and each time in our lives has seasons so, too, should our writing have seasons. Your writing seasons may not look the same as someone else’s writing seasons; however, everyone should be purposeful about their seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” (The Message).

When I was in graduate school, a professor told me that summer should be for reading (fiction, nonfiction, and craft books) and writing. The last month of summer should be set aside for editing, but most of your writing should be new. Read, create, write, exercise. Refresh yourself. Lucille Zimmerman’s book Renewed offers some wonderful ideas for how you might employ those breaks that are so necessary for our creative spirits. Consider going on a writing retreat. Summer is the time to allow yourself to be as creative as possible with your writing.

Fall, then, should be about “the offensive.” In other words, submit, submit, submit. What you wrote during the summer is probably not read yet, so consider sending out a previously edited manuscript. You want to make sure that your manuscripts are ready to be seen by an agent or an editor. Don’t forget to track all of your submissions and responses. You can also edit what you wrote during the summer and attend a few writing classes or a conference or two.

During the winter months, you might take a short reading break again and follow up on your submissions. During the winter, especially, you should concentrate on editing. Allow yourself time to work through your manuscript at least two, if not three or four, different times. Consider hiring an outside editor. If you cannot afford a professional editor, you might want to look into hiring a college student who would be happy to read through your manuscript for a few hundred dollars and a letter of recommendation.

In the spring, start something new and begin lining up the books that you are going to read over the summer. You might also use this time to take care of the business side of writing: double check editor/agent contact information, complete your taxes, and straighten up your paper and digital filing system.

Again, while everyone’s seasons will look different, determining what your seasons will look like allows you to be prepared and to have an intentionally-focused writing life.

Have you ever thought about having writing seasons? If so, what do they look like? If not, how might you fashion your writing seasons? Also, what’s your favorite season?

Eat, Think, Praise!

Eat, Think, Praise!

The busyness of the season tends to breathe a cold chill on us until we remember who’s in charge of our hearts’ thermostats.

We are!

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Eat Jesus & Turn up the Heat!

“You are what you eat.”

Sometimes this saying echoes in my mind when I devour God’s Word, but mostly, I think of it when I’m reading one of a hundred Kindle books, and the Spirit calls for my attention.

Why is it so easy, so tempting, to fill up on Twinkie books at the expense of reading the Bible?

Satan reaches into his arsenal of distractions ~ even good ones ~ to keep us away from the gold mine.

The busier we are, the more we need a sweet retreat with Jesus. He warms our souls with the washing of His Word. He renews our minds and teaches us how to think, how to conform to His image ~ so we can reflect His love and maximize our impact on the world.

Think Jesus & Turn Down the Cold!

No thanks to television news, my imagination, and my neighbor’s yappy chihuahua, it takes effort to focus on the character of Jesus. But bless my heart when I do!  Because there’s no better thought in the world…

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

When I trudged into church with a bad mood one day, my pastor played a video by S. M. Lockridge, and my blahs didn’t stand a chance! Because when you feast on God’s goodness, He fans the flames of your passion. Your problems, worries, and fears shrink in the light of His flaming love. See for yourself how your perspective changes.

“He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes…”

Praise Jesus & Keep it on Auto!

King David pulled off all stops on praise when he sang, danced, and worshipped with all his might. People thought he was out of his mind, but he was too focused on God to care!  Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to be out of our minds ~ especially if they’re dragging us down.

David knew praise begins with an attitude of thankfulness.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4

During the rocky early years of my marriage, I didn’t feel like thanking God for my husband, but decided to thank Him anyway. I thanked God in my heart and I thanked him aloud to my husband. “Dwight, I’m thankful God gave you to me.” Sometimes I found it difficult to see something I was thankful for; but when I honestly started to look and I opened the eyes of my heart, I could always find something positive.

Inch by inch, my husband and I breathed God-praises into our marriage and watched God honor the fruit of our lips with restoration.

Perhaps we can start this praise habit by thanking God that we don’t need to settle for cold wintery hearts?

Thank you, God, that we can adjust our hearts’ thermostats by putting You first, and meditating on Your greatness! Thank you that we can place our highest expectations where they belong ~ on You, not on fallible people and circumstances.  And thank you that in Your presence, there is fullness of joy. When we break into praise, You allow us to gift ourselves (and the world) with happier, hot-for-Jesus hearts!

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Merry Christmas!

Have you ever praised Jesus when you didn’t feel like it? What happened?

When it comes to eating, thinking, and praising Jesus, which of these will you do more of this Christmas season?