Perseverance in Writing

Last year I decided to draft a poem a day during Lent. A bit into my state’s covid lockdown I stopped altogether and haven’t written much since. I was disgusted with my writing. Yesterday I flipped through the poems I’d drafted and was astonished to discover I liked what I’d written – not every phrase or poem is a keeper, but I saw things I liked, things I can edit down, sharpen, or carve out.

I’ve never been good at putting my work aside to let it ‘age’ before editing or putting it in front of people and I’ve often been derailed by self-doubt. Yesterday’s experience has me wanting to try something, a new process. I want to stick my poems in envelopes and set them aside – maybe for a whole year since I’m slow to separate myself from my work – before returning to edit them. And in the meantime, I want to try and write regularly again, and really, really try not to judge my writing as I go. (Maybe I can use the days I’m feeling especially discouraged as editing days, with the hope that I’ll be pleasantly surprised by words I’ve forgotten.)

Part of the encouragement to return to regular writing, no matter what, was realizing a little prose piece I really liked happened in that poem-a-day season. They say regular practice prepares the soil, and that prose piece seems like an example of that to me.

I also feel like the Lord has been working on me, nudging me to create. It feels like He’s saying “I want your music & your poems. I made you this way, to make music & poetry like this. I don’t care if it pleases anyone else. It pleases me.” It reminds me of the quote by Eric Liddell, an Olympic runner, who said “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Even though I by no means consider myself the writing-equivalent of an Olympic athlete, I think I’m finally getting a taste of what he was describing.

If you’re like me and you are or have been tempted, yet again, to give up writing, I hope you’ll find these musings encouraging.