Monday, March 15, 2010

Lighten the Load!

I'll never forget the summer than I stayed with my brother and his wife in Michigan. For a kid from the farm, it was quite an adventure. I rode home with them after they had come for a visit and then spent about two weeks at their house. I took everything with me in an enormous hard gold suitcase, a carry over from the 70's when that kind of thing was actually popular. I even packed my roller skates (remember those?) because my brother lived not too far from a rink and I had high hopes of skating while I was there.

The only bad thing about that suitcase is that once I got everything in it, it weighed a ton. This didn't matter until I was on the way home and had to change trains in Chicago, where I'd never been before. Also our train was running late. Really late. So it was a dash to make the switch in Chicago or be left behind. I do not recommend carrying an enormous gold suitcase when trying to sprint for a connection. At that point, I regretted the roller skates. I was scared I wouldn't make it and I'd be stranded in Chicago. Fortunately, in spite of my baggage, I made it.

Writing can be challenging under good circumstances, which rarely exist. Normal distractions take the form of kids yelling, babies crying, the Fed Ex man delivering, and guests dropping by. Most of these can be written through. They only interrupt the stream of thought of the moment. They're annoying, but they can be shut out eventually. For half of them, I can just plug in the headphones and make them go away.

Not so when the disturbance is on the inside. It's like a heavy suitcase that I'm dragging around. It weighs me down and makes me feel like I'll never get a word down on paper. In order to write, I have to do something about the baggage that is weighing me down.

So what's the solution? Unpack your bag.

1. Deal with anxieties. Perspective is everything. Most things are not as bad as they first appear, but if you change your vantage point, they will look even smaller. If you're looking at things from God's perspective rather than your own, problems will diminish.

2. Decide not to be stressed or anxious. Your brain does not function on cruise-control. You have a choice whether or not to take those thoughts captive and direct your thought life elsewhere.

3. Stir up some happiness. This may sound hard, but sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Stir up that joy, and it will naturally overcome the glummies.

4. Make writing a matter of habit. Don't wait until you feel anything to get to work. For example, I don't wait until my hand feels like holding a toothbrush to brush my teeth. I do it when it's time to brush. Regularly. I never consult my feelings on the matter. I can't be led around by my emotions. They are selfish critters and do not have my best interests at heart.

When it comes to writing, lightening the load will benefit you in the long run. Without that baggage, you'll actually be able to go the distance.


  1. My favorite is #3. Stir up some happiness. That makes any task brighter. :)

  2. Great post - great motivation. Thank you for being so practical, but able to nudge us forward!

    But, I think I'll have to read this again next week....and the next...and the next....