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Help for the Time-Starved Writer

By Joanna Davidson Politano

“How on earth do you find time to write a book?” This question came from my local librarian when I told her my debut was releasing soon. I had a baby in one arm and held my toddler’s hand with the other hand. I was a naptime novelist, I said, and we made it work. In fact, with the strategy I’d adopted, it worked quite well.

There’s lots of advice out there on carving out extra minutes, maximizing productivity, and rearranging your schedule to fit more in. That isn’t what I’m about here—I want to explain a different approach entirely. My strategy is called “one thing.” I read a book once that emphasized the importance of choosing exactly one thing that must get done each day, rather than losing yourself in a host of varying priorities interrupted by urgent matters. Center your day around accomplishing that one thing no matter what, and you’d make progress with what is important to you.

So I said, ok, the lynchpin of my day is not writing, but God. My “one thing” will be connecting with God every day. I’d get up early or stay up late, whatever it took. Despite deadlines and a desire to write, despite tiredness and minimal free time, I prioritized spending substantial time in God’s presence every single day.

It changed my writing and my life.

Am I trying to talk you into doing daily “devotions?” Well, sort of. What I’m suggesting is to intentionally connect with God every day in a meaningful, unhurried way no matter what else doesn’t get done. Sit like Mary at Jesus’s feet and bask in who he is. Mull over his traits, his names, his acts at large and specifically in your life and then just converse with Him. Create for yourself a deep well of intimacy with God that you will draw from throughout your day so that His presence floods every moment. You won’t run dry, you won’t fall short, you won’t come up empty. You’ll be living well, and writing even better.

The truth is, you don’t need more time to write—you need a deeper reserve of creativity and strength and ideas that can only be found in intimate relationship with the Father. You can spend a few desperate hours eking out some words you don’t like, rewriting, fiddling, and agonizing, striving… or you can go about your day full of God, drenched in intimacy with Him, then sit down when He tells you it’s time to write and have ideas pouring out of you.

I’m asking you wholeheartedly to try this. It may seem counterintuitive to give time to something that is not getting words on the page, but don’t miss out on what God can do with your life and your writing if you work closely with Him. Pursue a conversational, authentic, me-and-you relationship with Him, and the rest will come in amazing, surprising, wonderful ways. Writing time will appear when you need it like objects out of Mary Poppins’s bag, and ideas will be plentiful and powerful.

You can keep striving, keep pouring yourself out until you’re empty, but why not try something different? Leaving God out of the equation because you don’t have time is like putting the cart before the horse—and if you do that, trust me, you’ll be pulling that cart yourself. Instead, I urge you to live and write well with the strength, creativity, and support of a powerful God and see what you can do together.


Joanna Davidson Politano spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, releases October 3 from Revell. She lives with her husband and two babies near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.

 

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3 Responses to Help for the Time-Starved Writer

  1. Barbara Fox says:

    Joanna,
    This is such good advice. Time with God is the best part of the day. I wouldn’t want to live without it.

  2. Amen and Amen! Jesu said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – (John 15: 5)

    Thank you for your post, Joanna. You are a wise young woman.

    Blessings,

    MaryAnn
    ________________________________
    MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
    Author & Writing Coach
    http://www.maryanndiorio.com

  3. Katie Powner says:

    I love this, Joanna, thank you. I have three young kids myself, and homeschool one of them, and I agree with your words: “…you don’t need more time to write.” My life is very full, but I don’t need more time, I need better time. And that can only come when I am walking in step with my Father.