In the same way we don’t always know what wisdom we have, we can remain unaware of our deepest desires and dreams. So much can get in the way: daily work and relationships; emergencies and urgencies; our own hurts and doubts. It can help to spend time in the creative, more free-flowing regions of our minds and hearts, and the appropriate writing exercise can get us there.
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.
You’re going to write a movie synopsis today. It’s a movie about the best work you will ever achieve. It hasn’t happened yet, but you can describe it, imagining how it will happen. Try to play it out like a movie in your head. In this synopsis is the main character—you—and a minor character or two. There’s the goal you have, the desire you want to fulfill. And, of course, there are obstacles to it, a main conflict that drives the action. You will have to make a commitment, come to some difficult decisions, and risk failure. But in the end, the dream is made possible, and you finish your course.
Describe what your neighborhood/city/county would look like if God’s will were done on earth as it is in heaven. Use these prompts. You might finish the statements but feel the need to write more—go ahead and do that.
- When earth becomes like heaven, people will value [blank] more than [blank].
- When earth becomes like heaven, I will stop [blank] and instead [blank].
- When earth becomes like heaven, this is what my neighborhood streets will look like…
- When earth becomes like heaven, children will spend more time doing [blank] than [blank].
- When earth becomes more like heaven, conflict between people will be handled like this…
- When earth becomes more like heaven, this is how decisions will be made in our community…
- When earth becomes more like heaven, we’ll have much more [blank] and much less [blank].
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.