I don’t like lunchtime. In fact, a writer-mom friend of mine recently posted a question about lunch and I replied with how much I HATE IT! It interrupts my day, makes me have to THINK about something else, my kids often whine about what I or my husband are cobbling together for them. But mostly, I know what I SHOULD eat. I know what my body was designed for. And I usually have those nutrients around the house. But those are not what I WANT If I’m going to interrupt the MIDDLE of my day, I want it to be for something salty, deep fried, or chocolate, that is ALL. But I ALSO want to have the energy to return to what I was doing, refreshed, full of energy, and ready to do great work.
As you can probably see where this is going, great work comes from great fuel, and we usually can’t have one without the other.
Writing has often felt like trying to finish a project at 12:30 in the afternoon. I want to just get it done. If I actually feel like writing, I’m ready to let my imagination go flying. If I don’t feel like writing, I want to just knuckle down and get it over with. I don’t want anything to disrupt forward motion.
But like any machine, a writing mind requires the right fuel. Yes, that means I usually do need to grab lunch or at least a banana before putting pen to paper, and good blood-sugar levels will help produce words on a page. But writing consistently, writing well, and fully enjoying the process only come with a very specific food group.
When I say I wrote this book with God, I don’t mean it was divinely inspired. If you’re curious about how God partners with me in exploring ideas, I’ve written about that before. But what I’m talking about now is execution, a daily process and habit building.
For this story, I started EVRY DAY, whether I wanted to or not, forcing myself to take the time to connect with the life-force that makes anything worth doing.
Here are some snippets from my pre-writing-prayer-journal this spring:
“I don’t want to do this today. This is really hard, but I want to get it done!”
The next day:
“I’m sad again today, but so excited for how yesterday went well. You told me just to write without the plan, and I got a clear path when I started. Thank you.”
“I’ll probably write garbage today. No idea what’s for Instagram. So F****** tired! This is too much. I feel worthless. But this is your strength, and I need it. Make these words the right ones.”
“Getting to that point where I have to read before I keep going. I don’t want to. And today, I don’t want to write. But I will.”
“This is just a formality. I’m pretty sure the next four pages will flow pretty well—maybe more! But I want you with me. Let’s do this.”
More than having a plan for what comes next or even just forcing myself to sit and not get up before adding 1k, this journal and these mini-prayers, swearing and all, were what propelled this story forward and made it possible to complete, even while nothing else around me was slowing down or making room to fit writing into my life or my bandwidth.
200ish hand-written pages and 60,000ish first-draft words later, I’m actually EXCITED, for the first time in my life, to work on the second draft. Not because I’m under any illusion that it will be easy or I will have fun the whole time. I know it’s going to be hard work. I have a lot of content to add, a map to draw, names and nationalities to finalize. It’s a whole mess of details that I avoid in the drafting stage saying, “That’s future me’s problem.” Oh hello, guess I’m future me!
It’s going to be a lot of work. But I LOVE this story. I LOVE where it moves from the first book, I LOVE the feeling at the end of a writing session where I look at what I’ve made and know I did it−and didn’t do it alone!
What’s even better, I’m learning to apply this same habit to other areas, asking for God’s partnership before I get my kids in the morning, before starting a new art project or texting a friend.
We weren’t meant to eat only Flaming Hot Cheetos and chocolate pastries. And we were never meant to do any of our work on our own steam. For years I’ve heard the extolments of the virtues of beat sheets, brain dumping, and the butt-in-chair method. This is what works for me. And knowing who created me and why, it just makes sense.