I like to tell people that they already know much more than they think they know. God has gifted us already with so much wisdom and creativity; the challenge is learning to tap those gifts. Writing can help us discover what is within us waiting to emerge.
Prepare to Write
- Set a time to do this writing. Plan a half hour sometime today and put it on your schedule as an appointment you must keep.
- Choose a place to write. It should be free of distractions; you know the conditions that work best for you, whether a home office or the corner of a bedroom or a table tucked away in a local coffee shop.
- Make the space conducive to writing. Disconnect from the Internet; turn off your phone. Get rid of clutter, such as books, calendars, or projects. Enhance the environment with what helps you: background music, a lit candle, an image or object that calms or inspires you.
- Give yourself five minutes to settle in and get ready to write. Sip your coffee or tea, if that helps. It’s probably better not to have food around because eating can become a distraction. Find a good position for sitting. Close your eyes or find a visual point of focus. Take several deep breaths.
- Consecrate the time, space, and your efforts. Accept this writing time as God’s gift to you. Offer your time, energy, and work back to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to clear the way for writing that will benefit you. Expect good work to happen.
Do the Work
Most of the time, it’s best to write quickly and not think too much about what you’re writing. This allows the flow of material to come forth. Choose one or both of the following exercises.
Today, you’re going to build a room for yourself. You’re going to imagine the perfect room you would create if you had all the resources you needed. You get to design every aspect of it: its location and size; its outer construction and its interior furnishing. You can put in this room whatever treasures and possessions are important to you. If you need to, do this exercise in phases—maybe just a sketch or a few ideas at first, or perhaps you collect images from magazines to inspire you. Describe with words exactly what you’re looking for. Then, at another time of day, go back to it and continue the work. As you build this fantasy room, you are likely to discover what is truly important to you and what you desire when your imagination is not obstructed. Note: this will be a combination of writing and drawing, but the process will tap that creative part of you that is truthful and life-giving.
Write the story of the season during which you became an adult. It might be your college years or when you first moved away and supported yourself, or when you became a parent. Try to describe what happened within you during those months and years of shifting from adolescence and dependence to adulthood and autonomy. Try to write quickly, and don’t worry about telling every detail in this sequence of events. Hit the highlights, and pay attention to what most interests you and pulls at you while remembering and writing about this time in your life.
Reflect on the Work
- Read what you have written during this time.
- Highlight or underline a word, phrase, or paragraph that has the most emotional pull for you as you read it now.
- Ask these questions: How did it feel to do this writing today? Was there a free flow to it? Was there resistance? Did I feel relieved to do this writing, or was the experience unsettling or negative in some way? What one bit of wisdom can I glean from today’s writing? What outcome from this exercise am I most thankful for?
- If there is some action you need to take, as indicated by this writing experience, make a note of it. If you can, plan how you will take action.
- You can take this a step further and talk to God [Jesus, Holy Spirit] or Mary or your favorite saint about this experience.
If you feel so inclined, share with the DDF community a sentence or two about this experience. I’d like to collect sentences from as many people who are willing.
I wrote the material this week especially for this online retreat—these are not book excerpts! However, if you find this material helpful and would like to pursue your writing further, you will probably enjoy my book: The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers. Use code 4535 to purchase your copy at 30% off through 10/05/14. Shipping and handling are additional.