The past two days I have set my alarm for 5:30am (though to be honest I snoozed ’till 6) and got up to write for 20 minutes. It’s still dark outside, and no one else in the house is awake. I take our laptop to our office and plug in the charger, as our computer’s battery hardly holds a charge anymore. I open a blank Google doc and begin to write. I’m not writing about anything specific – just writing to write. Writing to learn. Writing to listen.
This early morning practice of writing each day is a recommendation by Janice Elsheimer in her book, The Creative Call. She calls it having an “artist’s daybook.” The term “artist” does not have to imply art in the traditional sense of painting or sculpting – creating in any avenue allows us to call ourselves artists. Here’s why Elsheimer says we should journal in our daybook every morning:
- To force yourself to have quiet time to hear what God has to say to you
- To be receptive to God’s guidance in nurturing the artist within us
- To tap into our unconscious source of creativity
- To track our growth as an artist, to note what works or doesn’t work
There is a lot of creativity in me that has been sitting dormant for a while. Having a baby, working full-time and going back to graduate school have pressed me for time. (At least, that’s my excuse.) When I’m not having my time taken up by those things, it’s usually a game of catching up on things like laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and all the other day-to-day kinds of things. I had convinced myself that creative tasks like writing, reading for fun, crocheting, painting, or playing music were activities that I could reward myself with once all the urgent tasks had been completed. The thing is, those “urgent” tasks just never all get done. There always seems to be at least one more dish I could clean, one more room I could vacuum, or one more load of laundry I could do.
Since starting The Creative Call, I have had a shift in my mindset. Elsheimer makes the claim that God created all of us with skills and talents to be creative, and we can use these skills and talents for the work of God. The parts of me that want to be creative and desire to write, read, and paint are God-given.
This shift in paradigm was a game changer for me. I no longer look at my creative projects as silly time-wasters or things that I can only do once the “important” tasks are done. Devoting time to creativity can allow God to work through me; it can even allow God to speak to me. I experienced this the first day I wrote in my daybook. It started out as just a stream of consciousness, no real direction or agenda. But by the end, as I reread my own writing, I felt like God had a message for me that day.
I have been thinking lately a lot about the Holy Spirit, and how it guides us and “speaks” to us. I have never literally heard the voice of God speak to me, but I am trying to listen. I try to pay attention to the thoughts that pop in my head out of nowhere, for the songs that suddenly come out of my mouth, and for the words that appear on the page at 5:30 in the morning. Just as each of us have different strengths and personalities, the Spirit can speak to us in all different ways.
Even though I’m only on day 2 of this practice, I’m looking forward to keeping it up. I’m excited to be able to use my creative gifts to connect to God and not bury them inside me anymore. I’m excited to give myself permission to be creative and to know that the “I don’t have time” excuse is really just that: an excuse. It’s still extremely hard to do, don’t get me wrong. As a friend of mine recently wrote on her Facebook page: it takes discipline, not motivation – motivation might not always be there, but you can decide to have self-discipline every day (shout-out to Katelyn!).
I would encourage everyone to check out the book The Creative Call, or at the very least, maybe start getting up 20 minutes earlier to write each day. I hope this post will remind you that your creative gifts are important and should be nurtured. They are a part of your identity and are God-given. Carve out some space in your day, even if it’s only a few minutes, and see where your creativity takes you.