In yesterday’s By All Means, Try to Stop ThruWay Christians, I referred to God writing “through” me. I got a couple of emails and comments to the effect that saying that sort of officially makes me crazy.
A couple of years back I wrote a post called, “How to Write in Tandem with the Holy Spirit.” It was part of a series of blog posts I eventually collected into How to Make a Living Writing. Though it has more to do with creative writing generally than specifically with channeling God, or whatever, it says enough on the subject to, I thought, warrant reprinting here. So here it is:
I get a fair amount of questions/input around the dynamic of writing in conjunction with God. So I thought I’d burble out a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about that particular phenomenon.
If you’re trying to do any sort of creative work, do you have any choice but to access and stay with the divine within you? All creativity is born of the Great Power, however you personally understand or conceive of that. Being Christian, I say that in order to do my best creative work I must tap into and let flow through me the Holy Spirit; I assume if I were a Muslim I’d say the same thing about the spirit of Allah. However you personally understand The Great Being or Divine Power Within, you’d better connect to it, and let it work through you, if you hope to write anything more interesting or substantial than whatever you could scrape together with your normal, everyday brain.
Your everyday brain is great for doing taxes, returning DVD’s on time, and remembering why you shouldn’t attack your boss in an elevator with a stapler. It’s generally useless, though, when it comes to creative work. For creative work, you’ve got to get down and give it up for the source of all creativity.
The key to successfully doing that — to truly divesting yourself of what really does amount to all control over your writing — is trust. You have to trust in the quality of whatever God produces through you. The thing that most often causes writers to choke is thinking too much about the end result of their work: they wonder if it will be good enough, smart enough, clever enough, engaging enough. But thinking about all that sort of stuff is like taking a boat out into the water and then shooting a hole through its floor. You’re sunk before any of the fun can even begin.
Writing has to be about the process of writing, not its end result. And the key to experiencing a truly rewarding writing process is not worrying at all. You can’t create if you’re worrying about being creative. You aren’t creative. God is creative. The creative spirit residing within you is creative. You aren’t: You can barely tie your shoes without accidentally snagging your thumb in a tourniquet. So let God/The Great Creative Power use you to do his/her/its thing. All you have to do is ride the train of that blessed phenomenon to wherever in the heck it takes you.
The key is to trust that train will take you somewhere new, good, and exciting. Do not worry about the “quality” of what you’re writing: that kind of concern is for pursed-lipped Church Lady types. Worrying about the quality of creative work is the mortal enemy of creative work. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t do it to the creative spirit within you. It can’t be anything but a waste of time.
When you want to write, poise yourself with your pen in hand (or keyboard beneath your fingers), close your eyes, open your heart, and wait.
Pretty soon you’ll hear that distant train whistle blow. Then you’ll hear the train coming closer.
Then it will be upon you. Hop aboard.
See where it takes you!