Trying to keep up with my writing goals and aspirations while being a graduate student is difficult. I learned that very quickly last semester. Yet halfway through the second semester of my program, I’m still frustrated with my lack of progress.
My frustration, I think, is partly because writing is a deep part of who I am. God created me and called me to be a writer. When I don’t have the time or energy to invest in my stories, I feel off.
For the entire month of February, I tried to stick to working on my writing once a week on Saturdays. I ran into a problem though—I wasn’t disciplined. I shafted writing for the sake of other tasks or responsibilities. I chose to watch TV shows or read, and while both of those things do technically help me hone my craft (by studying other stories), it wasn’t the same as actually writing. It doesn’t feed my soul as much as working on my own stories.
I realized I needed to make a change to focus more on my writing. So, for the last week of February (after another weekend of not actually working on my own stories), I wrote in my calendar to read through a chapter of the draft I plan to revise. I didn’t have the time to accomplish this task on Monday or Tuesday, but I promised myself I would catch up. Wednesday came, and I read through a week’s worth of chapters (and maybe a couple extra). It was the most progress I had made over the entire month, and it was so refreshing.
The moral of the story is that I need to be disciplined to protect my writing time, because working on my stories rejuvenates me.
As a Christian, though, I want to clarify something. My time spent in God’s Word and in prayer is the most restful, fulfilling part of my daily rhythm. My fiction writing, though, provides me with a secondary rest, particularly when I am worshipping Christ through working on my stories.
My writing is one of God’s gifts to me. It is a part of who He created me to be. It is something I deeply believe He has called me to pursue. He has definitely revealed Himself to me and shaped me through the stories He’s given me to write. And I honestly believe my writing is only truly refreshing to my spirit and my soul when I approach it from the perspective of Christ. When I am prayerful about my writing time, when I see my stories through the lens of Gospel Truth, when I acknowledge that my writing is a blessing from Him, that Christ-centered approach prompts me to delight in my work because of Him and His gift to me. I worship Christ through practicing my craft, creating stories that point to Him, and fulfilling part of His call on my life. Writing in of itself is not what sustains me in the stress and strain of graduate school; it is always Christ, even through taking the time to work on my stories.
As I head into Spring Break, I am determined to fight for writing time. I don’t think it should be an optional part of my week. By diminishing it to that status, I am diminishing what I believe is a significant part of who God created me to be and do in the world. That’s not good. I added something new to my calendar: an hour block of writing time. To remind me that I need to preserve some time to work on my calling as a writer.
Over Spring Break, too, since I will be staying in town for work, I have also set aside extended blocks of time. My dad asked me what I would do for fun over break. In my mind, few things are more enjoyable to me than working on my stories. Time to do that is extremely precious in this stage of my life. So I hope and pray to take advantage of it, to the glory of God.
Protect your writing time, friends. Seek God in fulfilling the callings He’s given to you, whether you are a fellow artist or not. Worship Him and honor Him in pursuing the gifts He’s given to you.