Faith

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Once in awhile I get into a slump. It’s a period of time in which my creativity runs dry; exhaustion seems to seep out of me at every side; and my general energy and inspiration is nowhere to be found. I’ve been having one of those as of late (which would explain my absence) and I decided I’d try to sit down and write about it.

A slump can be caused by any number of things. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’re going through a slow season, where God has you waiting on Him for some promises. Maybe you’re overwhelmed at a task you’ve been given or responsibilities you may have. Maybe your inspiration is low and you don’t know where to go next. For me, the reasons vary, but I guess you could say it’s some combination of these.

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Sometimes I just have to wait the slump out. Other times, a good conversation with my mom can spark me back to life; most of the time, sitting down to journal for a bit proves to be an excellent help.

But where I find true freedom and deliverance is in quiet, consistent time spent in my secret closet with the Lord.

There, my energy is renewed. My eyes are refocused on what truly matters. I am strengthened and I walk away feeling that I have rediscovered my purpose.

But what about the daily grind, the times in-between our projects, the wearying routines of life that sap us of our inspiration?

Back in October, I decided I needed a good, purpose-driven project to keep me busy and give me back some of the pep in my step. I decided to start a fitness regimen. I’m really happy at how it’s been going so far and it’s definitely given me a little bit of something to look forward to. I think we all need some of that in our lives. Whether its fitness or some other worthy project, we all need something to work towards, a worthy occupation, a reason to keep going and to stay focused. Right now, fitness is doing that for me – in times past, finishing my book or working on a writing project produced a similar effect.

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Writing my second book hasn’t been that project for me, unfortunately. My family is at a place right now where working on it just proves to be just a little bit too painful. It’s regrettable, because it was my goal to work on it this year, but 2016 threw me for a loop. That’s okay. I know it will happen someday; maybe I just need to buckle down and work through the pain aspect. I’m not really sure. Either way, I rely on the Lord to lead me.

If you’re like me and you too go through these recurrent seasons of fatigue and weariness, know that you’re not alone. First of all, Jesus is the source of our joy and strength and He will renew it. He is also faithful to ensure that we are about His business, full to the brim with the calling He has placed on our lives. But in those in-between seasons, where we feel a little bit like sitting ducks, we need to be faithful stewards of the time given to us and keep ourselves from growing stagnant or complacent.

Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity, inspiration, and/or give you back some energy!

  • Take up a worthy hobby (gardening, fitness, writing, etc.)
  • Learn a new skill (cooking, knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, an instrument, a language, etc.)
  • Get outside often and/or go for long walks.
  • If you’re a writer like me, try doing some creative pieces or poetry.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Spend (a lot of) time with the Lord. Make it a goal of yours to grow closer to Him, to learn more about Him, to spend more time in His Word. The benefits are endless!

One last thing: remember that slumps are temporary. “For every time there is a season,” and seasons, praise the Lord, do pass. In the end, you and me are going to be just fine ♥

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Life

inspiration quotes

I’ve been having a series of uninspired days. I don’t feel like doing much of anything. If you’re having one of those days (or weeks) too, then this post is for you! Enjoy.

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“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”

Langston Hughes

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“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.”

Mulan

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“If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.”

Chad Sugg

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“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou

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“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”

Lance Armstrong

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“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Jane Goodall

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“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Philippians 4:13

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“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”

Vincent Van Gogh

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“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

Psalm 126:5

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“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Jack London

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“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.”

C. Joybell C.

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“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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“Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”

Suzanne Weyn

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“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Thomas Merton

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I hope these quotes inspired you like they did me. Feel free to share!

Writing

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Last week, I wrote a post on my search for inspiration for writing. Since that day, I have been puzzling over its absence, wondering where on earth it could have gone and why I can’t seem to grab hold of it now.

In my puzzlement, I stumbled upon this reality:

I stopped reading.

It was the love of reading that drove me to begin writing. It was the desire to create and evoke that led me to put my pen to paper. Because reading is so deeply ingrained in me, I hardly noticed it when I began reading less and less, a natural consequence to reading all the books you own (multiple times) and finding yourself stumped for new ones. I read online occasionally, but not much.

At the beginning of the month, I posted that I wanted to read more this month – and I have been. Dutifully, I read some books my friend lent me, A Countess Below Stairs (meh) and Forever in Blue (interesting + well-written). The former suffered from lack of character development, amongst its other issues; the latter made me look up its author, wondering what else she had written. Discovering that Ann Brashares is actually, like, a really good writer, I read Sisterhood Everlasting (totally jumping on the Sisterhood parade fourteen years late: go me!) and I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and, interestingly enough, inspiration.

It’d been so long since I read a good book.

I found myself suddenly itching to write. Write anything. Something moving, intriguing, insightful. Something that managed to evoke the same yearning, understanding, resonance, and that this book did in me.

And then I realized this is what used to inspire me. This is why I started writing in the first place.

Incidentally, I also realized, in the same token, that I’ve become something of a book snob. I started one book a couple nights ago, a novel my sister won in a giveaway, and snorted over it in snobbish superiority (my, what a pretty picture I give thee). It seemed like it could be interesting enough, in a fifteen-year-old-me-would-gasp-and-giggle-over-this kind of way, but alas, I’ve matured past the point of being able to enjoy the type. I kept pointing out its errors: where is the character development? What a Mary Sue. Oh, please, three seconds in her presence and he’s in love – bah! No back story. Let me guess – poor, sweet, innocent creature, the victim of lecherous eyes and abusive parents, sob! 

(Really, by this point, I was sick of my inner critic. What a highbrow she is!)

I skipped ahead, chanced upon the big climactic scene of the book, read it, found it could have been more intriguing if better executed, and laid the book aside. Not a bad book for fifteen year old me, I might add. Just a bit too young for great, old twenty year old me.

Anyway! I ramble. The point of this blog was to announce that I have found the fountain of inspiration and I plan to tend it well. Here’s a list of books that I personally found well-written, moving, well-plotted (is that a word?), and/or ultimately inspiring, in no particular order.

  1. downloadTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Gahh. Must I even? Can I even? I am not qualified to verbalize how much I love this book. How purely genius it is. The skill of the writing, the authenticity, the characters – oh the characters!, the themes and morality it presents… Honestly. It deserves pages and pages worth of enraptured, meticulously detailed impressions of its worth, but I’ll leave you with this: there’s a reason it’s a classic. That is all.
  2.  76847 Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier: This book is one of my favorites. I first read it as a twelve year old when it had somehow wandered into my house in a stack of used books which twenty year old me is horrified I dared to read (always so desperate for a new book, I usually grabbed at whatever my itching fingers could find, oblivious as to the effects of its contents). While it’s true that this book’s themes are a tad too mature for a twelve year old, it’s nonetheless a book I can appreciate now: it has a subtle quality to it, an understated approach that is somehow genius in its execution. The characterization is my favorite: Griet’s shrewdness, her quickness, and understanding. How quiet and demure she must have seemed on the outside: how many thoughts on the inside; how much she perceived with her keen, calculating eyes. This book is another one of those that I could go on and on about.
  3. jane-eyre-cover-image Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: Another classic that has earned its title. The passion, the prose, the characters… this is a book I go back to over and over again as the years go on. The writing is genius, the building suspense in its pages is fully realized in the most gratifying manner, and again, the passion! It’s a passion only found in the best of literature. My favorite scene in the book, as terrible as this may sound, is the scene after the botched fail of a wedding, after Jane realizes Mr. Rochester’s secret, when she tells him that she must leave, that she will not be his mistress. It’s like the most epic break-up scene of all time, and I love it ardently.
  4. Sisterhoodeverlasting Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares: this is the kind of book I may only read once. If I read it again, it will be in a year or so when I can experience all the pathos and anguish afresh. I found this novel to be somewhat brilliant. Incredibly insightful, deeply resonant, I was swept away in the grief and loss these characters experience, amazed at the skill of the author, and knee-deep in introspective musings. I want to read everything this woman has ever written. Seriously.
  5. the-agony-and-the-ecstasy-400x400-imadg35cqfffcyp3 The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone: Thick, wordy, intoxicating. Written with the hand of a painter: I found it to be a masterpiece, as thrilling and intense and interesting as it’s protagonist. I fell in love with Michelangelo, Florence, and Irving Stone through this book.

I must sign off in a rush, I’m afraid. I’m on the hunt for more books like the aforementioned: any recommendations? Leave me a comment, and tell me what inspires you! 

Memoir, Writing

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Now that the outlines are out of the way, I have turned to working on the final chapter of my book. It seems a little ridiculous, even to me, that it has taken so long. I’ve already had a few people read my manuscript and I’ve had to embarrassingly inform them all that the last chapter is still in the works. Today I sat down to work on it and I was surprised, yet again, by the total lack of inspiration that I found myself confronted with.

I think it’s a combination of the fact that somewhere in between announcing to my family that I had finished my book and present time, my brain has switched off writing. Not writing in general, but writing, specifically, related to producing new content for this book. I feel like my inner writing genius is kicking back somewhere in the figurative Bahamas, sipping on a piña colada, while I roam empty beaches, shouting desperately for help.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and it’s that hard.”

Neil Gaiman

Now that I know what my direction is in terms of publishing, I’m more keen than ever to make sure that my book says what I want it to say, in the way that I want to say it. And that pressure only intensifies when I think about the ending and having it hit all those marks that I want it to.

But the inspiration just isn’t flowing.

It’s sitting like a stagnant pond instead of gushing like a river.

I have several pages worth of unfinished sentences, broken statements, and randomly placed paragraphs, and it all seems so unrelated. I know what I’m trying to say… I think. But it’s not meshing. It’s not coming together. I’m a little perplexed even as I write this.

I want to find that niche of inspiration, that little burning fire within that puts the wind in the fingers, the words on the paper, but I’m stuck.

I’m reading this article on overcoming writer’s block and it’s super helpful, but anyone else have any tips for me? I feel like I just need to get in the right mindset and it will just come together perfectly, but that mindset is being annoyingly elusive.

Abjgkrnlgbrfehgbvlkh perfectly sums up my current mood. I think it’s fitting that this isn’t a word.

Any tips on finding inspiration? What works for you, fellow friend?