the final piece of the promise

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

I feel like this blog should start with some kind of dignified processional music, or some kind of crazy happy dance or something.  Maybe this would be a good occasion for you to stop and check out a bit of this 24-hour long music video that makes me grin every time I peek in on it (and if you can watch for 10 minutes and then not find yourself dancing in your chair, I don’t understand you at all.)  You know what today is?  THE LAST DAY!!!  The very last day of my promise to write every single day in 2013!!!  Baby, we are here!!! Image 

Mission accomplished.  I didn’t miss a single day.  A lot of days, I wrote more than once.  I am not going back this afternoon to count how many times I wrote in 2013.  But I already know this for sure:  I wrote more times this year than I have in any other year of my life.  Some of it was good, some of it was meh, some of it was Holy Spirit inspired, some of it was self absorbed and vain, some of it was pointless and boring, some of it was extremely compelling, and most of it was way too unedited. 

Last month I was discussing this promise with a writer I know.  She was slightly incredulous of the experiment.  What was the point of it?  Why write just to be writing?  I don’t think she approved, but then in her defense, I wasn’t articulating very well what the whole thing was about. 

What got me started was simply that some of my favorite bloggers and other published authors have so heavily emphasized that if one wants to make it in the writing world, the most important thing is to develop the discipline of regular writing.  Many of my most trusted writing voices have stated strongly:  don’t focus so much on getting it perfect.  Don’t wait until you feel inspired.  WRITE.  Write messily, write pointlessly, write pages just to delete them, but WRITE, if you ever want to have hope of honing your craft.  So this year was not about getting it perfect.  This year was about me learning to suit up and show up.  It was about me letting go of my need to proofread perfectly on the first round, so that I can let go and create (and, in theory, go back later on cleanup detail).  It was about proving to myself that it is absolutely possible to step out in faith, that there are words in me every day or that where I have no words, Holy Spirit will step in and blow my tiny little mind. 

Do I want to keep an endless promise to just keep on writing daily forever?  Nope.  It was an experiment, a training exercise, a discipline builder, a learning activity.  I want to write consistently, going forward.  But I will give myself permission to miss some days along the way now. 

What I’d like to do in the coming year is work the proofreading process back in a little more.  My proofing has been a nightmare all year. and I just about start twitching when I reread blogs from the year and see SO MANY ERRORS.  (Prideful Karen would like to point out to you that on this test I easily got 100% first time around – I KNOW GRAMMAR – it just gets away from me when I am hurrying and multi-tasking and sleepy and distracted etc!)

I am still working out what my writing goal needs to be for 2014.  I don’t know.  Maybe it will come to me tomorrow.  In the meantime, what did I learn from writing every single day of this year?  I think there are basically two big lessons, along with endless little ones.

It Will Come – Showing up and not giving up is the single most important thing I can do for my writing.  Sometimes I come to the keyboard with the words practically already written in my head – I’ve already gotten key sentences together, I already know the intro story and the punch points.  Sometimes, I just have a vague subject matter and a lot of excitement.  But a whole lot of the time, I don’t have a flippin’ clue what I’m going to write about.  I keep notes in my iPhone to use as writing prompts.  These notes come mostly from church, but they also include quotes I come across along the way, things I saw that made me think, stuff I remembered differently and keenly, and more.  On the “what shall I write” days I have often opened those notes and scrolled and scrolled, praying, listening, desperate for an idea.  Sometimes one has jumped out at me.  Often, none has struck me in any special way.  Often, I have sat staring into space and thinking, “This time, it’s not gonna happen.  Nothing is gonna come to me.  Today is going to be the day that I won’t be able to write a word.” 

On those days, I have refused to believe that thought, regardless of how absolutely on-target and completely true it seemed to be.  I have continued staring, continued praying, continued listening, and waited until:  something came.  I learned this year that something WILL come, if I will insist on not leaving until it does.  If I learned nothing else all year, the experiment was worth it just for that alone.

Doubting is a Good Sign – Quite often when I am writing, I doubt.  I think what I am writing is boring.  Or that it sounds pompous and presumptuous  That it seems old and tired.  That I seem like a huge windbag and someone should stick a pin in me.  That what I am sharing is silly or sounds like something only a crazy person would relate to.  That I am overstepping my expertise, authority, or general right to be heard.  That people are going to hate me for it, or maybe worse, not like me anymore because of it.  That some wise person is going to come and comment scoffingly and show me that I’m just a self-absorbed idiot, and I’ll be publicly embarrassed as they are right.  That anything I might have had to share of value has already been shared 142 times and no one wants to hear it anymore.  What I have found is that the stronger my apprehension is, the more likely I am to get a comment afterward or a private email from someone who will say something along the lines of, “That was exactly what I needed to hear, precisely when I needed to hear it,” or, “You taught me something today,” or, “I am so inspired by your words,” or, “I never saw it like this, and seeing it like this is freedom,” or, “You made me know I am not alone.”  The year has taught me to ignore the little voices – they are bullies and they are generally full of shit.

Those two lessons alone are worth the time I put in to really grasp them.  The little stuff was great too, and I’m sure it will continue dribbling out as I share whatever is next in the coming year.  Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to some more forward-looking writing  Until then, I am signing off and wishing you a very Happy New Year! 


  1. […] myself. I was scared to do it though, scared I might fail. However as I read her last post today, The Final Piece of the Promise, I was reminded of what Jon Acuff said in […]

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