How do you grow as a writer? To be honest, this question has always scared me a little bit. I’m usually very disorganized, but when it comes to my writing, I’m a perfectionist. I don’t want to grow as a writer; I want to be the best writer possible. I love editing when I’m editing things for other people. The moment I look at my writing, however, I want to claw my eyes out. It’s difficult to read something that seemed so good at the time I wrote it, only to realize that it’s a mess. It might have potential, but it is still a giant mess. Lately, I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch dealing with writer’s block. Or, editors block, I guess I should say.
My biggest revelation happened two days ago when I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere. Staring at my computer screen was doing absolutely nothing to help me. I had bits and pieces done, but honestly, I wasn’t making any progress. I also realized that I had so much more to write. Yes, I have written a book, and I want to publish it. But one book doesn’t make a series, and I need to write if I want to be a published author one day. Despite my perfectionist anxiety, I opened a word document and allowed the ideas to flow. I was surprised by how easily the words came. Suddenly, it was as if I had never stopped writing. Before I knew it, I had a full chapter (9 pages) written!
One of the things I credit for helping me write was a technique my seventh grade English teacher taught me. I was annoyed with her at the time of the exercise, but I think she would be happy to know how much it has helped me with my writing. First, I start with the dialogue and add a few short descriptions in between each set of dialogue. The first time around, I never worry about describing a room, or what my characters are wearing. After this, I will go back and tweak the dialogue, and then take a few passes to add new descriptions each time. Eventually, I’ll have a full story.
Part of this exercise is accepting that nothing will ever be perfect. I cannot tell the perfect story, no matter how hard I will try. My stories will always need editing, they will always have plot holes, and I will always cringe as I reread them. But somewhere along the line, I can grow and adapt my writing. I can’t just edit, and I can’t just write. I need a balance of the two to bring my stories to life. Editing helps further my writing, and writing helps further my editing. I have to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and let myself grow. This is the only way an author can learn to grow.
But for those of you who had the opportunity to read my book, published under the title, Ephesus, you will be happy to know that Lex is starting off on another adventure right now. And I hope that one day, my series will be published for you to read. I just need more time to grow and learn so that I might do this story justice.
“Now this is what the LORD says to the family of Israel: Come back to me and live!” – Amos 5:4
Amos is quite possibly one of my favorite books in the Old Testament, and not just because it contains my favorite biblical insult (Amos 4:1, in case you were wondering). Amos was a prophet in Israel during Jeroboam II’s reign before the Assyrian exile and influenced a lot of Isaiah’s teachings later in Judah.
Personally, I love Amos’ sassy attitude, but I also love his desire to preach the truth. Israel wanted nothing to do with their God during his ministry. According to 2 Kings 14:24, Jeroboam II did “what was evil in the Lord’s sight.” Jeroboam II allowed Israel to continue in their sin and did nothing to stop the idolatry that ran rampant throughout Israel. The whole book of Amos is a judgment against Israel. But right there, in the middle of the judgment, there is this small flicker of hope. It’s a simple plea; go back to the Lord of Israel and find life again. Reading through Amos for class, I was a little bit skeptic of the harsh judgment that God had put on the people of Israel. If you read it, and I highly suggest you do, it’s uncomfortable. God is so upset with His people, and rightfully so. But hidden in the judgment is this grace and mercy. If the Israelites would only stop, and recognize their God, they could find their life again. But if they didn’t, God would allow them to be handed over to their enemies just as He allowed in the book of Judges.
Both Israel and Judah are eventually handed over to their enemies; Israel to Assyria, and Judah to Babylonia. But that isn’t the end all be all of their stories. Eventually, Babylon is conquered, and Cyrus the Great allows the dispersed Jews to return to their cities. He allows them to rebuild Solomon’s temple and gives them the freedom to worship again. And, eventually, a baby is born that will change the world for eternity. It’s ironic, in many ways, that God gave the Israelites everything they wanted and they choose to forsake Him, But when He takes it all away, they turn back to Him.
I firmly believe that the exiles were intended as a period of growth for the Israelites and Judahites. Yes, it was judgment. But that judgment wasn’t final. The death and destruction happened so that growth could take place. God didn’t just exile His people because he wanted to do it. He would have preferred they turn to Him because of the warnings He gave through the prophets. But they didn’t.
Sometimes, growth happens when we least expect it to. For me, I expected to grow from college, and from writing. In many ways, I did. But I never expected to grow from something like EDS. God uses our tribulations to help us grow. I have grown more from having writer’s block than I have grown from actually writing. Growth is a process, and it is essential to becoming the person God created us to be. It can be hard, but in the end, it is worth it.
Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
“I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly.
I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky.
And I’ll make a wish,
Take a chance,
Make a change,
Out of the darkness, and into the sun,