The Spirituality Behind Writers' Block

Monday, January 12, 2015

via pinterest
One of the hardest parts about being a student writer is staying inspired. I'm not regularly reading about dragons, battles and epiphanies in my Physics textbook, and because I'm regularly filling up on things that don't necessary fuel the work I'm writing (currently, this is Psithurism) I find that when I sit down to write, I'm stuck - plain and simple. It takes a decent struggle to get back into the proverbial "flow," and there is so much time in between my available writing periods that more often than not, creative writing has become pulling teeth, struggling to get past the first hundred words which I almost inevitably delete.

A lot of times, to combat this, I will attempt to "store up" my inspiration: whether books, photos, little phrases and lines that come to me in the middle of other activies (this part of the process, at least, has never slowed!) for those times when the inspiration is patchy and dry. This method, however, does not always work: sometimes, what I've stored away for later has gone stale, or the thought will be there, but the strings attached to it will have wandered off somewhere else, lost.

I was flipping through Exodus the other day, looking for a verse, and got caught up reading the chapter about manna, and it occured to me that writing - specifically inspiration - could be very much like the food God provided in the desert, the "nothing" that for a short time was something, but when stored away became sour and unusable.

It's not to say writing your inspiration down, shorthand, is poor method. On the contrary, it's one of the most important parts of writing, gathering those threads of writing that run through your thoughts, weaving them all together into a cohesive story. It's just that sometimes, we cannot store everything; some memories will elude us, and ultimately, we must come again before our Savior and pray for inspiration. It sounds a little strange, doesn't it? Praying for inspiration? I only know what I have learned by experience. All life, all beauty and creativity comes from the Creator; the best way to fill up on inspiration, to write what needs to be written, is to pray for manna, and use it when it's there. You may not be able to save it for later; still, dependency is the greatest beauty of the human condition.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." -Proverbs 6:13

Sometimes, you have to write with the unknown and leave your pocket guidebook in your pocket. 

10 comments

  1. Hi Carmel! I've been wandering in and out of your blog for the past few weeks. :) You make a good point here. I hadn't thought of inspiration being like manna before. I myself keep a notebook of ideas, plots, characters, names, etc., but like you said, sometimes I return to an idea and find it's no longer inspirational. Still, I write it all down because sometimes those seeds spring up elsewhere later down the road. And yes, praying for inspiration and creativity is a daily must! :)

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    1. Keeping written things down is still an important part of the process - of course! I know I need to keep basic things like plot ideas written down to keep me grounded. :)

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the post!

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  2. This post makes me happy for all sorts of reasons, and one of them is that Christian authors throughout history have done the same thing. To them, the Holy Spirit was their Muse. E. G. Tasso, in the Jerusalem Delivered:

    O heavenly Muse, that not with fading bays
    Deckest thy brow by the Heliconian spring,
    But sittest crowned with stars' immortal rays
    In Heaven, where legions of bright angels sing;
    Inspire life in my wit, my thoughts upraise,
    My verse ennoble, and forgive the thing,
    If fictions light I mix with truth divine,
    And fill these lines with other praise than thine.

    Thither thou know'st the world is best inclined
    Where luring Parnass most his sweet imparts,
    And truth conveyed in verse of gentle kind
    To read perhaps will move the dullest hearts.

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    1. Suzannah,
      I love the description of the Holy Spirit as a Muse; it seems most accurately to express his work in our hearts and minds as we work. Beautiful!

      I have not read Jerusalem Delivered, but perhaps I should take a closer look at it after this snippet. Thank you for sharing. :)

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  3. I was just thinking of that a while back, how inspiration is a gift from God, but it rarely lasts long, like the manna. Wonderful post! Also, I really like your new blog design. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Hanna! It's always inspiring to hear when people connect with what I've written. <3

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  4. Beautiful post, Carmel. I have just come through writer's block, and am eating of the manna again. It's all God's good gift. :)

    ~Schuyler

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  5. Oh yes, I know this feeling, Carmel! I am still in school still too, so I definitely know this feeling :P.
    I really need to pray for this manna "Give us this day our daily bread"! Thank you for sharing.

    I just realized I hadn't followed your new blog. Just. . . WHAT? Well, within a jiffy of finding out, I've fixed that up now, I think! :D

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