I am writing this morning.
I made sure everything was done in advance. I showered, shaved, dressed. I spent an hour with my Father-God. Then I ate. All this before my preset writing time which begins and 8AM and runs until 11-12. I even had Scrivener opened to the book I am working on and my Ideas binder opened as well. Then it started–as always! Distraction!!
Of course, it wasn’t the usual distraction. It never is. No, I saw a moth. Naturally, I could not allow it to keep fluttering around the window. So I grabbed my electronic insect swatter and zapped him into oblivion. Then I was getting ready to put the swatter back when it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked the batteries since last year (I don’t use the swatter during the winters in NH; I specify the state only because if you’re from Florida, you might consider it odd that I don’t use the swatter in the winter. NH bugs hide or come to you in the summer.). Anyhow.
I checked the battery compartment and all seemed well. No leakage. So I put the electronic swatter back where I keep it close under my computer desk. Then I realized I needed to relieve myself of some of my morning coffee. So it was off to the loo. When I returned, I thought I was ready to begin. So I sharpened two pencils that didn’t need sharpening. And now I’m writing. And if you’ve gotten this far . . . You’re reading.
What’s with that? Why do we procrastinate? Fluff the nest? Circle around like a dog, five times to finally give in to the need, then plop down? I don’t have answers to this question. I hope you do because I expect you to comment and give us your best shot at what’s really going on.
Is it our natural curiosity? If it were just me that experienced this pre-writing distraction, I wouldn’t be writing this to ask you about it. I’d simply assume I’m weird, keep it to myself (except at readings), and that’s the end of the matter. But, I’ve read enough in the craft to know that this is a universal, systemic behavior. No, a plague.
I’m not alone. Others have spoken or written about this. But I’ve not really been satisfied with an answer that hits the bullseye. Why do writers/authors have to balance the checkbook, sort through old work, sharpen pencils, adjust the chair or organize the desktop before they begin to put words to paper/screen?
Is it fear? Are we afraid that when we finally do sit to face the blank sheet/screen, we won’t have anything to write? Are we afraid to get into the flow. I LOVE being in the flow . . . So it can’t be that. So what is it? Once we know its source, we can either get past it (or as CK writes–Work it).
QUESTION: What is writers’ distraction?
© 2013, David C. Alves
- The Keys to Worry Free Writing (thewritersadvice.com)
- How it happens (bechereremily.wordpress.com)
- Confession: I’m a distracted writer (mimosamorningswriters.wordpress.com)
- Distractions- Work Your Distractions (catherinekanewrites.wordpress.com)
- Cloud-Based Environment Reduces Distractions For Aspiring Writers (psfk.com)
- ✎ 15 Wallpapers for Writers (plottingbunnies.wordpress.com)
From my Writing Journal:
The following is a quote from the book Seasons of the Soul: Stages of Spiritual Development, by Bruce Demarest:
“The challenge facing young Christians is to live from the heart more intentionally, more reflectively, and more prayerfully.”
Many of us Advent Christian pastors are retiring. We long to see young leaders step forward and take the baton. Unfortunately, the very values that they need to succeed, we have not modeled well.
We need to be willing to risk. Stepping outside the box is not high on the priority list for pastors who are playing it safe and preserving ineffective (and often unbiblical) expressions of church life. And truth be known, we have all done this. We need to be more deliberate about escaping busyness, spending alone time with the Lord, being Marys not Marthas, and valuing solitude and quiet.
The values and actions of the previous paragraph are counter-cultural qualities that are absolutely necessary to effective ministry as we continue to move into the 21st century. We must fear the staus quo and traditionalism more than we fear change or we will become irrelevant and our churches will continue to close. Unless we embrace what God is trying to work into the church, we will become irrelevant after all these years of ministry. I do not want to stand before the Lord and hear: “Safely done, my fearful and faithless servant.” I’d prefer the “Well done . . . “
We still have time.
Before we older pastors pass the baton, we need to recognize and oppose our religious enculturation. Get quiet. Get alone. Be with him much. Deaccumulate, simplify, “live from the heart more intentionally, more reflectively, and more prayerfully”. Prioritize these values and disciplines, allow younger men to see us doing it, and we will leave a Kingdom legacy.
What a great day! What a beautiful morning. I slept until 9:15. Got up. Showered and shaved. Groomed my beard and hair. And dressed. Then went into the Cave and began a Custom Scan of my Cave computer. After that, I carried the laundry down for Marcy, greeted the ladies in my household, and went to my office downstairs. I made some coffee (haven’t had any yet, turned on the computer, scanned through my emails and answered a couple, then set up for my morning of writing to follow my first cup of coffee and prayer. So far . . . A wonderful, and joyful start to the day.
I love spending quiet, alone time with my Father. That comes with my first cup of coffee. I have a little sitting area, where I light my candle (inviting the Holy Spirit to make me aware of his presence and considering the flame as the ever burning love between me and Jesus). Then I sit with him in quiet for a season, mainly to still my mind. Sometimes I read a text of Scripture with that theme of quieting myself and being still before Him.
Once I’m quieted in his love and presence, I become spiritually Alert, sensitive, listening, waiting. I usually have a devotional reading and a book that I will go to if I don’t feel too much push toward it. I say “Push” because I’m always alert to anything that feels like a “push” to have to accomplish something. That is usually a sign that something in me is opposing the quiet and leading of the Spirit.
The Lord never pushes me . . . He LEADS me. He is in front, not behind. Sometimes he’s along side. But He has NEVER pushed me. He Draws. He leads. He sends. He walks beside. He walks ahead. He abides in one place with me. But He never rides me nor leads from behind.
That is one of the ways I recognize the voice of my Shepherd. “My sheep know my voice . . . And they will not FOLLOW another,” Jesus said in John 10. Are you one of his sheep? If you have been drawn by him and if you have the high privilege of being one of his sheep, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, then you have something to look forward to. And you will find Him when you search for Him with all your heart. You will find it when you are willing to give everything for the remarkable, wonderful joy of knowing Him–the Shepherd of your soul–Jesus of Nazareth . . . Risen from the dead. Alive and looking for you.
So I guess my day is going to be another adventure. Whether good things or bad things happen (for there is no guarantee that we will not suffer) He is with me and I am with Him. My day is in his hands. And as he takes my hand with his, He will lead me through whatever lies ahead. All in all . . . I’d say that’s a great day!
©2013, David C Alves
You know, I was sitting here wondering why I persist to type words into a OneNote 2010 page, when it struck me that writing is a true act of faith.
Who knows whether or not anyone will read them? I mean, most of us write because we want to connect with others. But honestly, my book did not sell anything like I thought it would when I dreamt of its release. For years I had ideas of what it would be like to be a published author. Not because I wanted fame or fortune. The realities are much different than movies. But because I wanted to serve and impact readers. Wow! Where was my head?
WRITING FOR CHANGE
No, I believe that my first book and my blog have taught me a lot. I still want to connect, but now whether I do or not I realize that I write because I have something to say and I love saying it. I believe that God has given me a perspective that combines with a gift of encouragement, to help others to be all that they can be in Christ.
I also know how much I love a helpful book. I’m changed by the reading and applying of what I read to my life. When a good book mentors me, I’m a better man for that. I want to pass that gift along to those who read my books. I want my books to mentor, coach along the journey to Christ’s Kingdom reign.
Truly, faith is keeping at something, even when you don’t see the results you expected. It’s believing what cannot be seen but being assured that it’s the right thing to believe.
Before I completed and published my first book, I had breakfast with Gordon MacDonald at Friendlies. I wanted him to mentor me as a writer. He asked me to tell him my story. I talked. He listened graciously. I realized even while I was talking that I wasn’t communicating my passion for writing. Instead, I was telling him something else. It was as though God was allowing him to see something in me that needed addressing.
After breakfast, he recommended that I read a book. “This is not a Christian book I’m recommending, but it will be helpful for you to read it,” he said.
The title was In the Shadow of Fame: A Memoir by the Daughter of Erik H. Erikson by Susan Erikson Bloland, the daughter of famed child psychologist, Erik Erickson. As a sidenote, I’m just finishing a memoir of a woman who separated from her husband for a year and met Joan Erickson while walking along the beach. They became close friends. That book is entitled A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, by Joan Anderson.
In retrospect, I realized that my reasons for publishing were mixed. Shortly after I read Bloland’s book, I completed my book. I sought the Lord to purify my motives. Then I released the book at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and for Kindle and Nook. Sales were mainly to family, friends, and fellow pastors. Of course my church family and fellow associational leaders encouraged me as well. But that was about it. For the first year, I continued to write. But then I stopped.
I went into a depression which, I later found out, was a “dark night of the soul.” I withdrew from people and things I usually enjoyed. I felt exhausted all the time. Because I was a busy pastor and associational leader as well, I began to question my calling.
Everything lost is taste and savor. Fortunately for me, I had praying friends and ministry partners. Some wise counsel helped me recognize God at work, not the enemy. He was taking everything but Him. Funny, because I thought I had given him everything already–many times. But He sees deeper than we ever could.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
I’m on the other side of all that now. It took two and a half more years to slowly let go of everything but Him. It was truly a spiritual winter. But the great thing about tracking through the winter with the Lord is that spring is the next season to follow. Spring is a time for sowing and planting, digging around and preparation.
Now I’m settled in a great peace, waiting only on Him. I am also searching out a coach on the road ahead of me in spiritual formation, while at the same time coaching those whom God has sent my way. But I’m no longer an expert–Dr. Alves. I’m merely a witness, testifying to whatever the Lord shows or entrusts to me.
And . . . I’m writing again. Writing by faith. My one prayer is that the Lord will use the process of writing by faith in my life first . . . And if He so chooses, in the lives of those who may be drawn by His Spirit to read.
QUESTION: Have you ever experienced what I’m talking about?
A reader wrote last week and asked me if I use OneNote 2010 for journaling or jotting down writing ideas. He is planning to leave a set of journals for his daughter and wondered how I did my journals.
Here’s my response …………………………..
Thanks for writing.
Everyone has his or her own way of doing things like this. I think as long as you’re asking, it means you’re open. And as long as you’re open, you’ll learn and you’ll be able to find a way that best suits you.
I like to record and date my journals. I keep several: A Reading Journal; A Travel Journal; A Spiritual Journal; and a Writing Notebook. Any one of these can be password protected if you need that kind of security. I mainly use PW protection only on my list of passwords. That way only my wife and I can access our passwords.
As far as your question about printing the journals, every once in awhile, I print a journal and make punch holes in the pages. Then I mount them in a 1.5 inch white 3-ring binder. A different binder for every 5 years. My spiritual journals are the largest, so I put them in a 2″ binder. Then I place them in my bookshelves.
But primarily I use and access them in OneNote itself. Use OneNote as your electronic index to the printed notebooks. That way if you need to see the larger context, you can simply find a topic or keyword in OneNote, then go to your printed edition and open to it. The less paper I use though, the better I like it. I enjoy the speed with which I can retrieve an idea that would otherwise be lost in the pages of my ink journals.
I still enjoy taking a book journal and pen with me when I’m in a park or on the beach, but I’m always thinking about how this will be accessed once I get back home and enter it into OneNote. I also like to scan things into one note or send photos to myself that I can print to OneNote.
EVERYTHING I need to retrieve or search is in OneNote. I never have to wonder where to find a special quote, because all of my Kindle highlights and notes have been saved to OneNote. I’m retaining a lot more of my reading that way. I can enter any keyword that I can remember from the quote or from my editing keywording of that quote when I chopped out some of the junk. I can recall that so-and-so said something about Joy. Control +E . . . BANG! I’m on it. Copy. Paste into Word. Move on.
Hope this is helpful. Hey, maybe I should post this answer to your question for others who have journals and are thinking about moving them to OneNote. Or beginning a journal on OneNote. What do you think?
He wrote back: “You should. Great answer and great process.”
- First look: OneNote 2013 (arstechnica.com)
- The Office 365 secret organiser – OneNote 2010 Part 1 (itproportal.com)
- How To Plan More Fun Into Your Summer With OneNote (5minutesformom.com)
Wanted to give all my friends and readers a heads-up.
I want to give you the best and easiest reading experience possible. I’ll be changing the look of my blog-site within the next couple of weeks (perhaps sooner). Don’t want you to be surprised when I do.
I hope you’ll like the new look and feel. Please take the time to comment once the change is made. Love to know what you think.
In addition, I thought it might be good to tell you about my focus here. I know that I’ve somewhat covered it in my ABOUT page, but not many people go to a blogger’s about page.
As someone on a spiritual journey to know God better, I write posts that I would like to read. Sometimes they’re on writing, or perhaps a review of a good book. Sometimes I simply need a laugh and post something humorous. I also post cultural warning signs so that fellow travelers will not be hurt along the path. Because foster care and adoption played a part in my childhood, I also write about that. And occasionally I post a devotional thought or journal entry from my various journals. My “How-to’s” seem to draw the most readers. Well . . . you get it. I intentionally mix it up–writing what I like reading.
Posting on a multiplicity of topics can prove frustrating for someone who’s looking for “a brand.” If you need a brand to subscribe to and follow my blog, check “categories” to filter my posts OR let it be this:
LOVE, LIFE, & ENCOURAGEMENT ALONG THE JOURNEY
I suppose that would be the sum of the parts.
If anything in that brand appeals to you, then please follow my blog by either the follow button (if you’re on WordPress, signing up for email notifications, or subscribing to my post on Kindle.
Though it’s not a requirement to read here. I would really appreciate it too if you would take the time to comment too so that we can develop a community. I know you’re busy, but it’s really great when I go to a site and follow discussions. They sometimes enlarge or enhance the author’s post. I’ve been helped by them as well.
Well that’s about it. Thanks SO MUCH that you’ve read this far. And thanks for being a valued reader here at “David’s Place.” I appreciate your time and consider it a treasure.