Ministry Writer’s Block: How to Recognize It, Move Past It, and Not Stub Your Toe in the Process
As I write this, I’m suffering through a bad case of writer’s block. No, seriously . . . it’s been like a bad cold hanging on for about three weeks now. I haven’t been able to shake it. I look and feel downright pitiful.
But it’s nothing I haven’t faced head-on before . . . and conquered.
I have thoughts all the time. Many of them. Some are straight crazy. Some are stupid. Some are nearly brilliant. And sometimes I’ll have a string of these well-thought-out ideas that I’m positive could potentially be formulated into the next best-seller, but I can’t get to the computer or a pen and paper fast enough to get it down before the whole lot of them vanish into thin air.
Since I’ve been writing, I’ve concocted a medicine cabinet full of home remedies. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. Just being honest.
I’m all about taking advice from people when it comes to finding cures for what ails me. I’ve even gone so far as to hold my breath for one minute while patting my head, rubbing my tummy, and hopping on one leg just to get rid of hiccups. That was stupid advice. It didn’t work. But I’ll try anything once.
Maybe my home remedies for writer’s block will help you—and keep you from stubbing your toe and looking like an idiot in the process:
- Keep pen and paper handy at ALL TIMES. Don’t just let those thoughts float around in that pretty little head of yours. Get it down on paper. Don’t even try to formulate beforehand. Just write it down. You can come back to it later and be all the creative genius you’re destined to be.
- Go to cool places with cool people. Try it—go to places that make you feel artsy, creative, rogue, debonair (and the likes). When I “feel” like I’m in a cool place (even though I’m so not), I start to think differently. You may start with American culture’s current trendiest hang-out spot—your local coffee shop. Then go from there. Splurge on that $8 vanilla latte. Take your laptop with you. People watch. Do what you need to do to get some inspiration.
- Schedule a brainstorming session with a friend (or two or three). They may not be writers like you are. Heck—they may have failed every English class they ever took and would rather get four teeth extracted (without Novocain) than write a complete sentence, but they have something you don’t right now—a unique perspective. Run your scribbled-out thoughts past them. I’ll bet you a cup of coffee from that cool, trendy coffee shop of yours that you’ll walk away with some new material.
- Get alone and talk to God. Don’t close yourself up in your office at work after hours. Don’t lock yourself away in your closet at home while your family stands right outside. I’m talking about retreating to a cabin in the woods for a weekend or taking a three-hour Sunday afternoon drive through the country with your windows rolled down. Get away! Talk to God openly and out loud. You think I’m crazy right now, but trust me, it works.
- I really don’t think I can say this enough, so I’m going to say it again—GET IN THE WORD, people. The Holy Spirit has a fantastic way of plunging that double-edged sword into your soul over and over again. It cuts going in and coming out. Ouch. But it hurts so good, doesn’t it? Sit back and let him do the talking for once. Let him smack you around and finally beat the snot out of you every now and then. Take it like a man. You’ll learn a good lesson and walk away with a fresh word.
Moving past writer’s block in your church or ministry seems like a long, frustrating process, and sometimes it is. But don’t be scared of wrestling with your own creativity and God to get to the next leg of your journey. It’s not “writer’s cushion” we’re dealing with. It’s “writer’s block.” The soul-searching, life-evaluating detours in writing can’t be avoided—in fact, we should welcome them—but stubbing your big, fat toe can.
Go do it.
Right now, I’m going to practice a writer’s cocktail of steps 1, 2, and 5 to hurdle over this little obstacle myself—and maybe try that hold-your-breath thing again (just in case).
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