By Yaasha Hepperle
I had to call him. When I finally heard my husband's voice on the phone, the words came out in a rush, fighting through tears.
"Paul! I was doing my morning prayer journaling and telling God how deeply I want to write again and to not have this burnout strangling my words. It's like being a leper. You can't truly interact with the world around you because your senses are gone. You know? Or it's like a burning inside me that I can't stop and nothing but writing will make it go away. It doesn't matter how many other good things I do for my family or in ministry. If I can't write, I feel like something important is missing. It's been years since I could truly write and it's been strangling me."
Then I laughed. "But this morning when I was praying and telling God all of this... I got it. I got the ending to the crossover series. I saw it all in a flash of incredible clarity. And Paul..." My voice hitched. "God gave me my words back."
I wanted to share this moment because it's the high point, but it's not the beginning of the story and it certainly isn't the ending. Let me tell you a little about the other chapters in this story.
If you read my last post, you know that I've had an eventful life, especially in the last five years, so it won't be a surprise to you that I burnt out. But for some reason, it was a surprise to me, and for a lot of us, that's the case.
"But I have the time to write! Why can't I write?"
"But I have all the ideas I need! Why can't I write them down?"
Writing pulls from the well of emotional energy, but so do a lot of other things.
When I was drawing from my well to buoy me up during the process of moving, getting married, battling a life-changing disorder, growing and then raising a baby, I couldn't reasonably expect myself to just keep up the same output creatively. (Even though I did, because I'm stubborn like that.)
My emotional well was depleted.
How could I fill it again?
Somewhere in all the craziness, as I pushed even harder to get through this "writer's block" (actually burnout), the Lord kept nudging me with a very specific command.
Like a good Father, the Lord reinforced His message in many ways.
We studied prayer in my women's group with A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller (probably the single most practical guide on prayer I've ever read). My neurological disorder led my husband and I to pray more, out of sheer desperation. We prayed through my pregnancy for the safety of myself and our daughter, especially with a high-risk delivery. We prayed when coronavirus changed our world, when unrest and pain exploded throughout our nation, when political upheaval became front-and-center on the news. We prayed with friends who were desperate for strength, answers, and hope.
Somewhere in there, my online writing group asked the question: "Do you ever pray for your writing?"
Some writers had never thought of it or felt that it was too "fluffy" to pray about. Other writers chimed in: "Of course! If God has given a gift of words, why would He not also have a vested interest in equipping us to use them well and winsomely? Why would we not pray?"
I recalled that, in my childhood, I had always prayed a simple prayer when I sat down to write: "Lord, help me write this well and to Your glory."
(Yes, even if I was writing a high fantasy adventure without any direct Christian allegories.)
Somewhere in this Christian mom writer life, I'd forgotten an important piece of the triad: the Christian part. I knew, deep down, that I could do all the "right things" with my platform and my writing process, and still miss out on success. Success wasn't just about my efforts, but about God's guidance and blessing. "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." (Psalm 127:1)
I couldn't afford to do this on my own. I needed my Master Author to illuminate my imagination.
I began to pray specifically for my writing. I prayed on and off (usually in direct relation to my level of frustration with my writing) for weeks... months... I kept praying, because I didn't know what else to do. It wasn't perseverance or even faith. It was just exhausted desperation. I needed to write again and I had run out of my own ability.
I found myself whispering these words more often: "If You will go with me..."
If You will go with me... then I can do it. I can write. I can dream. I can imagine.
So it was that, many months after I began to pray more specifically and desperately for my writing, I sat myself down at my desk to sip my coffee and write out my morning prayers. It was hardly uninterrupted time--my newly-mobile daughter's perilous adventures sometimes required parental intervention--but it was time I endeavored to spend in prayer every day. (Even if that only translated to two or three times a week in reality.)
I was half-way through writing a sentence when a scene flashed across my mind. My imagination exploded. Scene after scene, concept after concept, burst into light like a universe being born. I suddenly knew the end of the most important story of my story universe. I began to write down concepts and make connections.
I picked up my phone and dialed my husband. No one deserved to hear this more than he did, that incredibly patient man who would listen to an hour of backstory to help me unknot a single detail.
"God gave me my words back!"
I wish I could say that this meant I wrote 10,000 words in the next 24 hours and never had another hitch in my writing process. But that's not how this marvelous Christian writer mom journey goes. It's a series of adventures and misadventures, of procrastination and perseverance, of diligence and desperation. Not every day is a mountaintop experience, but I believe those mountaintop moments are meant to remind us that mountains do still exist and that the view is worth the climb.
If I could encourage you, dear Christian writer mom, to do one thing for your writing today, it would be this:
Pray for your writing. Pray like it matters--because it does.
Yaasha Hepperle is a Christian writer mom with a mission to share the unexpected good—that is, those gifts from God that are different than the desires we’ve prayed for and yet so, so much better. She writes general-market YA/adult speculative fiction as Yaasha Moriah (YaashaMoriah.com) and Christian encouragement for women as Yaasha Hepperle (theunexpectedgood.com). She lives in Virginia with her husband Paul and her daughter Keziah, and loves good coffee, all things purple, and outdoor adventures.
Contributing author to the anthology Faith in Fiction: Divergents, Tributes, Games, and Sandworms
Flash fiction “Forest of Fear” appears in the Havok Season 3 Bingeworthy anthology
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