March 22, 2017

Loving Acceptance of Unfinished Projects

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:6.

I have been spending some time contemplating the questions of the writing prompt for this month. I have read the posts of our writer friends who have written about “unfinished projects.” I appreciate their take on things so much.

I like Brenda Leyland’s, view that “A half-done project is much like starting a race and then dropping out before you get to the finish line…” This is what came to my mind after reading Brenda’s comment. What if a project is not even half-done and has only made it to a quarter-done? All the words get excited that they are coming together then the brakes are applied. Things come to a halt and the words are like, “huh, what happened? How come we stopped?” Perhaps, even sadder, is when a project is maybe three-quarters on the way and runs out of steam. The poor words can almost see  the final chapter. They all now sit waiting for the writer, yes you or me, to carry on to finish.

My friends, here is my take on our unfinished projects. The poor babies! Oh my, how sad these projects must be being cast aside for another season! I understand too they may be just waiting with eager anticipation to get going again. There is hope my friends!

One of the questions the writing prompt asks is, Do you struggle with unfinished projects? Nope, I don’t struggle with it! I accept it. I accept that perhaps it isn’t time for these particular little beauties I have done some work on. I accept that this story or poem is maturing within my creative mind. It just isn’t ready yet. That is so freeing!

Another question from the writing prompt is, Do you wish to resurrect unfinished stories or blog posts and breathe new life into them? The thing is my “unfinished” projects are not dead or even comatose so I don’t have to resurrect them. No, my stories are just chillin! They are patient with me and I am patient with them. Their day will come!

How do you stay on task until your project is completed? That is a good question. Once I set my mind to get back to a project I block out a time frame and go at it. I still work to make a living and am involved in a full life. With this in mind I block out a couple hours or so on Fri. and Sat. This is my answer and I’m sticking to it!

How is God prompting you to finish the unfinished? Right now God is prompting me to work more on my next book project. It is one that has been percolating for a while. The project started out as Facebook posts. The story and I are getting reacquainted. I trust that when I retire from my profession I will have more time to write. My projects that are chillin out right now will be so happy to work together.

This all reminds me of God’s promise to me. He has begun a good work in me and by His grace I will be completed. In some small way I am also confident that my stories will be complete. While not as important as my relationship with God I love my relationship with my stories. I love my stories including my “unfinished projects.”

PS: I couldn't resist sharing a photograph of me and a recent finished project. I was was honoured to be asked to contribute to a book called Good Grief People. Thank you Barb, Glynis, Donna, Ruth, Carolyn and Amanda!


March 19, 2017

Watch "Days" or Write by Eunice Matchett

I’ll do it tomorrow. I cannot stop watching this movie or toss my bowl of popcorn. Doing so would be wasting.

In these words, finding time to sit and write is over-the-top obvious, but in reality, it isn’t. Time has no boundaries. Yes, we have timepieces that inform us as each hour, minute, or second passes, but responsibilities and commitments do not adhere to a timeline.

Before I enter my writing sanctuary in the morning, I have routine chores needing to be completed. On a normal day, my domestic engineering duties eat up the better part of an hour. Sounds good. Lots of time left. Well, not quite. When I started, I didn’t notice a honking big hair ball stuck to the hardwood floor in the corner of the living room. Twenty minutes later, it’s cleaned up and disinfected, but I’m well over my assigned time.

Then, the phone rings. That wonderful piece of technology that keeps us all connected. What would we do without it? I could ignore it, but that grating voice coming through some part of the contraption is telling me the caller is my daughter, whom I can’t ignore. She’s in a talkative mood, and my last glance at my watch told me she’d been talkative for the last sixty-five minutes. When we finally said our goodbyes, my morning was spent.

I’m left with two options. My procrastinating personality screams turn on the television and watch “Days of your lives.” Your day is messed up already. You’re never going to climb into your writing frame of mind.  

I reach for the remote and my responsible personality whispers you need to write.

And the battle is on. Days or write? Days or write? My head doubles in size as my opposing personalities duke it out. Slowly, my responsible side wins, and I head for my desk.  

Before I do anything, I ask God for help me calm my scattered brains. Once peace settles over me, I open the document needing my attention and read what I’ve written. If it’s a novel, I read the latest chapter. Before I’m half way through, I’m pulled into my thought stream and my fingers itch to hit the keyboard. Most of the time.

Those times my brain remains stubborn, if it is summer, I leave my desk and work in a flower bed. Something in handling the soil brings my wayward thoughts back into focus. In winter, a brisk walk through snow-covered trees and bushes have the same effect.  

Temptation to procrastinate is a daily battle but it doesn’t have to win. Recognizing it and making positive steps is the beginning of defeating procrastination. If writing is a priority, there is always ways to outsmart the pesky time gobblers. They just need to be found.

March 18, 2017

Bein' Green - by Gloria Guest

Unfinished projects. They make me feel defeated, unsatisfied with who I am. I so often find myself frustrated with who I am.  I have always related to a song sung by a frog (aka Jim Henson) called, “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green.” I get it Kermit. I really do. I don’t find it easy being me (green) either.

Just as Kermit wished to be a more vibrant color that didn’t just blend in, after reading the accomplishments of my fellow Inscribers I often feel a little ‘green with envy’ and ‘green’ as in newbie, unaccomplished one, wishing to be one of the organized, disciplined ones; the ones that have projects on the go and manage to even complete some of them; the ones who actually publish their work instead of storing it in some poorly organized, forgotten file on their computer.

I do those things. I’ve spent some of my valuable time wondering why; but then, I still do them. As Paul laments in Romans, the things I know to do I don’t do….

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25 NIV

I suspect there are many underlying reasons to my problem or to be more blunt as the apostle Paul, evil within. Because yes, any form of sin, including procrastination or anything that keeps us from doing what God asks of us, is in fact evil. I could blame it on a lack of praise for completed projects as a child by my parents, undervalued and unnoticed at school by teachers, and the list goes on. Somewhere I bought into the lie that my words should be kept to myself; perhaps even hoarded?

 A ghastly thought. I’m a hoarder of words. I picture my brain as an overstuffed house filled with crumpled paper, trashed words lying around in heaps. Not pretty. It causes me to want to get out the mental/spiritual broom and start sweeping. Perhaps some of those articles I’ve stored away were never meant for other eyes. Perhaps they simply helped me through a rough patch. Perhaps some of those crumpled papers need to be rescued. Maybe they weren’t as bad as I thought. But if so, then they need to be treated with the dignity that they deserve; that I deserved as a child. They need to be noticed, to be polished up and submitted somewhere.

None of this is easy for me. Honestly I find life in general challenging Every. Single. Day.  I am an incomplete project; which in fact we all are on the scale of life. However I know I am not meant to languish there. So what is my plan? I need to start by uncrumpling even just one piece of paper to share with others. One of my favorite verses about Jesus, the true author and finisher of all, points the way.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 KJV

I love that verse. It’s so complete. I hope it’s not sacra-religious to also add that I like how Kermit’s song ends; with a decision to be who he was meant to be. I may not ever be the most prolific author, the great novel writer or even simply the most organized, but with the help of Jesus, the one true author and finisher, I can be successful as me.

March 17, 2017

Respect the Idea by Rohadi

In "Big Magic", Elizabeth Gilbert tells a story about a new book idea she had complete with tantalizing details. She toyed with the idea for a while, but ultimately never followed through from idea to completed project.  She reveals later that the 'idea' quite literally left her for another author, whom two years later published a book with same details, characters, and plot....

For Elizabeth, ideas are living things, and if you don't respect the idea when it lands on you, it might opt to move to greener pastures without you.

There's no shortage of ideas. It's why we keep pens and notepads in our coat pockets (just in case). Blogging for me as has been a useful process to get ideas out (and done). Posts are generally short, some mere vignettes or musings, others a bit more substantial, but rarely are my posts over 2000 words. I may have a card stack of blog post ideas, but because they're short, they seem insignificant.

But what happens when the ideas are bigger?

One of the frightening things for a writer is starting a significant project and having the idea leave you before completion. The professional writer may have mastered the art of overcoming resistance to 'close the deal' on ideas as they come. For me, who lacks the discipline, I'm terrified of starting something I can't finish, not because of my ability, but because the idea left me for someone else.

I'm in that situation right now, to be honest.

70-80 thousand words in and I left a project for what I thought was going to be a brief pause (I was waiting for a publisher to 'pick it up').

"I'll be back soon!" I promised myself.

That was 2015.

Two years ago I started my non-fiction book, "Adventures to Save a Dying Church", (title pending), only to leave it for a year.

A YEAR. Don't leave a project for a year!

As I came back into the rhythm of writing in January, it was evident I was about to pay a price for acting too casual with the idea. I'm stuck on Chapter 1 (or is it Chapter 2 now?), where my writing days are becoming a never ending merry-go-round of Chapter 1, Chapter 1, Chapter 1, Chapter 1, Chapter 1....

Am I even going to make it? Or will I have to let this one go?

Today, I think I'm making process, but it's slow, and I can't quite get it out of my head that I may have left this one dormant for too long. I disrespected the idea.

Thankfully, God's patient beyond measure with any ideas sent our way. I may just yet emerge from this extended intermission scathed but completed.


You can visit Rohadi on his blog, and you can check out the book he completed while abandoning his first writing project, a Christian coloring book called, "Soul Coats".

March 16, 2017

Do You Have Commitment Issues? by Nina Faye Morey

Do you struggle with unfinished writing projects? A survey by a popular writing blog revealed that 72% of writers answered “yes” to this question I can certainly count myself among them. Several unfinished Works in Progress (WIP) patiently wait in my computer files for me to return to them and revive our once loyal and loving relationship.

I start out with the best of intentions when our relationship is fresh and uncomplicated. I make a solemn promise to stick with my current WIP through thick and thin. In spite of my strong commitment, it doesn’t take long before things go wrong. The WIP begins to display its faults and no longer looks as attractive to me as it did when we were first courting. Once our relationship starts to fall apart, I begin to have doubts about whether this WIP is the right one for me.

Before I know it, our relationship has slid further downhill as my WIP grows stubborn and irritating. I find myself becoming more negative and critical towards it with each passing day. Soon I’m easily tempted to stray whenever other appealing ideas whisper seductively in my ear. It becomes increasingly difficult for me to resist the urge to throw myself into these promising new relationships. After all, if I tie myself down to this WIP, I’ll be passing up the chance to take advantage of all these other wonderful opportunities.

However, by now I’ve started to feel rather guilty about breaking up with my current WIP. Perhaps I should shoulder some of the blame. So what do I need to do to avoid this temptation to stray and stay faithful to my current WIP? Well, perhaps I need an attitude adjustment. Maybe it’s my behaviour that needs to change if we are to be successful in sustaining our relationship. So I decided to do some research to discover what was at the root of my commitment problem and develop some strategies to deal with it.

My research helped me recognize that my tendency to flirt with seductive new ideas was the result rather than the cause of my commitment phobia. Two particularly persistent troublemakers were those evil twins, procrastination and perfectionism. Together they conspired to keep me from remaining faithful to my current WIP. Their bullying behaviour was disruptive and dispiriting. It distracted me from my WIP and deterred me from achieving my goals. Fortunately, two of my oldest and dearest friends, patience and persistence, showed up to rescue me from their clutches and set me back on the “write” path.

In addition, I discovered it would take a lot of dedication, determination, and discipline on my part to maintain and nurture my relationship with my current WIP. However, there’s no need for me to struggle with all of these commitment issues on my own. Fortunately, I know that I can pray to God and ask Him for help and direction. If I listen for His voice and trust in Him, He will guide me along the “write” path so I can fulfill my commitment to the WIP He originally chose for me.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
“This is the way; walk in it.”

~Isaiah 30:21(NIV)

So now when those tempting new ideas come calling, I politely take note of them. However, I keep my promise to stay faithful and ensure that my heart and calendar remain open to fulfill my commitment to my current WIP.