In seminary, I took a course that focused on the great devotional writings of Christian history. Some were from giants of Christian theology, such as Augustine. Others were written by people that I had never heard of before, nonetheless had never read. Having been raised in a Protestant tradition in the southern USA, Saint John of the Cross’ The Dark Night of the Soul was one such work. So I was surprised to see this helpful metaphor of transformation through the midst of trial. Here are some thoughts that can help you get through writers block and other dark times of your writing.
View tough times as a blessing.
Are you experiencing writers’ block? Are you just not motivated? Are you running up against a deadline? Sometimes those tough moments mean a breakthrough is just around the corner. But the point of going through difficulty may mean that you find a new thought, process, or discipline that you will develop in your writing or personal life. This change in perspective can help you embrace the hard times and look expectantly to how it will change you for the better.
Tough times take you back to the basics.
St. John of the Cross wrote of the basics of Christian disciplines, such as sacraments, daily Bible study, and prayer. For a writer, this is putting in the time to write daily. Make time on the calendar. Put it in your daily schedule. Write something, even if painful, until the words flow again. And perhaps you will find a brand new discipline that will inspire you. Start reading again. Read in your field but in other fields too. Allow yourself to read something purely fun and see if that inspires you toward writing again in your areas of study.
Trials bring purification.
Hopefully coming out the other side of a dark night means that your writing is more focused, more real, and more relevant to your reader. Especially if you are writing to inspire or encourage through sharing your personal story, the trials of your writing process will help your readers identify with you and learn from your experience.
Live with hope and expectancy in difficult times.
Christians live with the ultimate promise of being brought through the trial because of one’s remembering the person and work of Christ. For the writer, there is hope in the experience of having pulled through a time of writers block or low point in the writing process before. There is knowledge that the season of difficulty will pass and the newness of creativity will return. Living with that expectancy that better days are ahead will help you reach those better days faster.
Seek a relationship with those who are willing to mentor and guide you.
Jesus is the ultimate example for the Christian. Because of Jesus’ pain and suffering, he is called brother, a companion in life’s journey. There is no greater help for the writer perhaps than to find the companionship of another writer for brotherhood, insight, and encouragement during a dark time. Someone who has been there before can help in ways that no well meaning other could help. Plus, remember to help others in their time of need when you are on the other side!