Imagine sending a message that you‘ve crossed the finish line of a marathon race. Imagine the photo you post to invite family and friends into your celebration.
Or perhaps it’s celebrating the final stitch of a huge sewing or crafting project. I recall celebrating the last box of diapers I bought for my youngest daughter and making a big deal about donating her changing table. Organizing and cleaning out a junk drawer? Sure, I’d celebrate that.
Graduations, DIY projects, long trips and what about that last round of chemo? Yes, we need to work at finishing even those things we didn’t choose to start. Finishing invites us into celebration more often than beginning.
Is there something you are close to finishing? Is there something you regret having never finished?
I’ve had a novel in my head, and written in my computer for nearly five years. I made a promise. I signed a contract, but I don’t see the finish line yet. I’d love to see the day I can put the words “I’m finished” together, add the exclamation point, post a photo and celebrate.
But . . . and there is nearly always a “but . . .”
Now this is where, if I’m not careful, I could start whining. I could easily point a finger at where others failed or got in the way of having my first novel published, but I won’t bore you with those details. Truth is, I let discouragement slow me down. Worry and anger over things I can’t change threatened to stop me from the hard work of rewriting and self-editing.
The “glamorous” life of a novelist proved to be elusive. As a follower of Christ, I told my friends, “It must not be part of God’s plan for me.” Woe is me, and the pity party began. I cried out, “I’m finished!”
Those two words took on an entirely negative meaning in the context of my frustration. Writers call it writer’s block, but whatever name I gave it, in the moments after I uttered those two words my dream for seeing that story published was at risk of sudden death.
I prayed, and then got up from my temper tantrum. I sat my bottom in front of my computer and started over. Prayer had been a good decision. The final version of my novel will be better than the original. The enemy doesn’t know it yet, but the words I thought had harmed me had saved me from a devastating embarrassment.
Is there a project or ministry you need to finish? Something that must finish well? I couldn’t list all the possibilities on my own to-do list, so I won’t stick my nose into your business, except to say that you must have a similar list.
I’ve collected some thoughts from other writers about how to break through writer’s block. Pick and choose from this list. Even if it’s not writing, I believe these practical things can help you finish the job God has called you to do, and finish it well:
- Step outdoors and take a long breath of fresh air.
- “Write” yourself out of the problem and insert yourself into the solution.
- Call a friend—especially one who knows when to walk alongside you and when to give you a healthy push.
- Sleep on it. That means to pray at bedtime and to listen for the answer in the morning.
- Plan. Make a list, if that’s your thing. Track your progress.
- Keep the face of the person you want to bless with your work close, if not in a frame nearby.
- Prepare your workspace to accommodate its purpose.
- Start with an outline if that’s all you’ve got, but start. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill in the details. His ideas are always better than ours.
- Start with small bits or in the middle if the beginning seems overwhelming.
- Honor the Sabbath and care for your body with short breaks on work days.
- It typically takes forty days to create a good habit, and only three to pick up a bad one.
- Use visual prompts and cues or special treats that lead you into your workspace. Phone alarms are helpful. I like the musical ones, but I can tune them out if I don’t change them often.
- Put perfection on notice!
- Read about how others do what God has called you to do. If God has called you to be a teacher, work on being a great student. If God has called you to lead a group of women, practice being a great follower. If God has called you to perform, sit in the audience as often as possible.
- Know that some of the hardest days come when we are close to crossing the finish line.
- And this last one is important. Not all books (and good works) are meant to be published, but they all have purpose. Few are meant to be on display. In fact, God intended most to be hidden in our hearts and used as the foundation for a better work.
“So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.” (2 Corinthians 8:11, ESV.)
I’ll be watching for the invite to your celebration.
Written by Rita Klundt. Author and speaker, Rita Klundt’s, all-time favorite read is a true and transparent story with an only-God-could’ve-done-that ending. If something happens, good, tragic or funny, Klundt encourages women, not only to tell it, but to write it. Her memoir, “Goliath’s Mountain,” is a poignant and tragic love story that deals with mental illness and suicide. Klundt compiled and published stories from other Christian women, all with ties to Illinois. That award winning book, “Real Life. Real Ladies: Short Stories from the Pew” is about to become the first in a series. Rita and her husband live in Pekin, Illinois. You can find her online on her website and on Facebook.