(Quick note from Wayne: Hi everyone, this is GeekPastor.com’s for ever GUEST BLOGGER! You’ve already heard from Sabrena Klausman, author of Zombie Christian: the sacred undead on The Geek Pastor Podcast, episode 002 but now she’s contributed a GREAT piece on productivity and writing. Check it out and let us know what you think. – W)
People often ask me how I wrote an entire book, while juggling a full-time job, a thriving ministry, and a full family life. When I was first asked this question, I was stumped. Writing Zombie Christian, the sacred undead, was difficult, but I just did it. Sensing somehow that this response would not be overly helpful, I spent some time reflecting on the last two years of my life. My goal was to acknowledge any intentional, or non-intentional, patterns or behaviors that may have contributed to my completion of this book, when so many others I had started were still half-finished. As I thought about it, one word came to mind.
Really revolutionary, huh? I bet at this point you are really glad you wasted the last two minutes reading this blog. Hang with me, and if I don’t convince you that this blog is prime bathroom reading material, then I’ll give you your money back. I promise.
As a creative person, balance is a tricky concept. Here are some simple daily habits I used to maintain equilibrium:
I know! It is the opposite of what you expect. I bet you anticipated that I would suggest that to succeed you need to multi-task. Nope. Multi-tasking for me merely means that I do everything sub-par. To compartmentalize means that I segment off parts of my life with boundaries. For example, early mornings and early evenings were my family time. Work hours were a firm eight to five. I didn’t allow myself to write during those times, even if inspiration struck. I designated that I could only write between nine and twelve every night. This is so much harder to accomplish than it sounds. I would be cooking and an epiphany would explode in my head. The temptation to stop what I was doing and dive into writing was overwhelming. I learned the hard way on this one-burning way too many dinner rolls-that inspiration will keep, and only gets better as it marinates.
News Flash: Writing a book provides zero income. Zip. Zilch, Nada. If I stopped working every time an idea struck I would never work, hence never eat. I like eating, so I developed a system that worked for me; I would keep an idea notepad nearby, to jot down inspiration as they hit me, that way I could come back to them later during my designated writing time.
2. Write every day, no matter what.
When you start writing your first book, you have a lot of misconceptions of the writing process. I naively believed that I could write the book from start to finish, riding this tidal wave of free-flowing brilliance. Yeah, about that. What I didn’t realize was that I would go weeks without any good ideas, or that writer’s block feels like the death, and that writing during dry times was awkward, wrought with self-doubt. In the process, I instituted this rule: I will write a minimum of fifteen minutes every day, no matter how I feel.
Some days I would labor through these fifteen minutes, painfully producing one inept and sloppy paragraph; however, more often than not, I would begin writing and the words would start to flow like a waterfall over the obstacles in my mind. When I glanced up, two hours would have passed, while I was lost in my creative haze.
3. Seek out inspiration daily.
Finding a muse to fuel your creativity means different things to different people. Some people find revelation in reading books, meditating on the beauty of nature, or going for a run. For me, I unearth the origin of my creativity in my heavenly father’s voice.
The prophet Elijah felt the same way about his ministry. During a particularly trying time in his ministry, Elijah sought out God. God suggested a place for them to convene. Elijah traveled to the mountain where God told him to go and he waited.
After a time, a blustering wind raged, leaving damage in its wake. In the midst of such a fierce display, Elijah may have been tempted to jump out and say, “Hi, God! Glad you could join me.” But he didn’t. Elijah stayed put, realizing that, despite the potency of the wind, the Lord was not in it. As he lingered, an earthquake juddered the ground beneath him; again, neither the violence of the earthquake, nor the hot fire that followed, resonated with the power of his God. After the hubbub, a thick silence sank into the humid and acrid air. In the hush, Elijah heard God; not in a grand clamor, but in a gentle whisper. Then, and only then, did he act.
When I create, I must first inhale the artistic breath of my Creator, not in the sweeping emotions of fiery inspiration or earthquake ideas; rather, his greatness is often perceived in the poverty of silence.
Inspirational winds, earth-shaking ideas, and wild emotional fires can destroy balance. Only when I listen for his intimate voice can I find the strength to keep going in the direction he indicates. Looking back, I was intentional in pursing these three areas of balance. As a result, Zombie Christian, the sacred undead, catapulted into reality, one obedient, fifteen-minute segment after another.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
I Kings 19:11
Follow Sabrena Klausman at:
Zombie Christian: The Sacred Undead – tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781632682277
Sabrena’s Blog – sabrenaklausman.wordpress.com
Sabrena’s Website – sabrenaklausman.com
Zombie Christian Resistance – facebook.com/thechristianzombieresistance