Writing Resolutions: Be Gentler!



I believe that writing, like the spiritual life, has seasons. And perhaps the time away from writing—which I have both regretted and worried over—has been a good thing. (God makes all things work for the good!) After all, God is the One in charge of the seasons of my life, and God has taught me so much in the intervening years! It would be such a blessing to bring those lessons into my writing—both how I write and what I write. So I’ll share here some very personal writing resolutions, as I begin writing again.

I would like…

  • to be kinder and gentler to myself as a writer: letting go of perfectionism when I’m writing rough drafts, letting go of worrying about others’ judgments, and focusing more on listening to God’s voice, to God’s invitations to express what I feel called to say, to be true to myself. (Author and writing coach K. M. Weiland, who produces one of my very favorite writing podcasts, recently released a wonderful episode/blogpost on how judgment and creativity don’t fit together.)
  • to write in a way so that communication is always more “circular”—so that readers can “talk” to me before, after, and while I write for them. I would love for our conversations to become part of each book, even before it is finished! I started trying this years ago, but now I will have the opportunity to pick up that project and complete it!
  • to forge a new relationship with writing: letting go of any guilt when important commitments prevent me from writing, but also not being afraid or apologetic to set writing as a priority. For almost five years, I set writing aside for other (important) matters. Now, I am able to make it one priority among many. I don’t want to feel guilty either for writing (which I used to) or for not writing (which I have also been carrying).
  • to simply enjoy the gift that writing is—to me, and I hope through me, to others. Mother Paula, the sister who brought our congregation here in North America in 1932, used to talk about the new titles we published as being “babies.” And I really feel that way about the books that I write. Every book is an intense labor of love, but each book truly comes to life only when it enters into the lives of its readers…and makes a difference in those lives. I believe that the Lord has a plan for each book, each article, and from now on, I intend to simply follow where the Lord leads.

I’ll start back here blogging very simply, sharing favorite authors, blogposts, and articles about writing, spirituality, artistic practice and the spiritual life. The first resource I’d like to mention is from Sister Nancy Michael Usselmann, FSP, who just published her first book, A Sacred Look: Becoming Cultural Mystics—Theology of Popular Culture, in which she encourages us to become pop culture mystics. I’ll review it soon, and perhaps interview her here. If you have any questions for her, send them in and I’ll ask her!

Do you have a topic that you’d like me to write about on Windows to the Soul? Please post something in the comments below, send me an email, or respond on Facebook. (I am gradually organizing the various social media platforms that I am on so that I can respond in a timely (!) fashion to Facebook and others, and I look forward to many fruitful conversations!)

Above all, know that I keep you—every reader—in my prayers, carrying you in my heart to Jesus in the tabernacle during my daily Hour of Adoration. God bless you!

Writing Resolutions for 2012

Especially when I’ve been away from my writing for a while–and it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote–I will grab a writing prompt from a favorite resource. Lately when I’ve been traveling, I usually pack a couple of writing cards from The Writer’s Retreat by Judy Reeves. Each large card offers a series of writing prompts according to its theme. On the theme “Wanderlust,” one of the prompts encourages me to ask myself: Where have I been and where am I going?


Where am I coming from? That’s a good question for me, coming back to writing a book and a screenplay after three weeks of class preparation and teaching. I hope that the break (from writing) will allow me to re-enter both projects with new, fresh insights. One of the points that I emphasized with my students was to make the audience, or the people I am writing for, the “starting point” of the project. Every decision I make about the script or the book, I want to reference to the future viewer or reader. Telling them about this has been a good reminder for me–I’ve already realized one change I need to make in the book I am writing on the Eucharist.


But where am I going? I hope the break will allow me to enter my writing with less of a focus on deadlines and more of a sense of freedom. Even though it’s mid-January, it’s not too late for some writing resolutions for 2012. (Actually, I find that it’s helpful to renew my writing process regularly.) Here are my five chosen writing resolutions:


1. Recommit to my writing–both the projects and the process. This may be obvious, but it’s something I need to do often to keep my doubts and misgivings at bay. In the midst of writing, I tend to worry too much about the end results, instead of simply respecting my own process and writing rhythms. I want to take time not just to be productive, but also to develop my writing: to learn, to try new things, to spend more time observing. My writing process often includes my prayer, so I want to continue paying attention to the connection between my prayer life and my writing life.

2. When I can’t write, don’t worry about it. There are times in all of our lives when writing can’t take priority or may even need to be put on hold. Since these are usually busy times, carrying around that unnecessary guilt can be a heavy burden. Instead, I plan to try to take five minutes a day to simply reconnect to my writing life–browsing a writing article, or brainstorming one aspect of my project.

3. Stop pushing so hard. When I’m relaxed, I write so much better. When I simply immerse myself in my writing and commit to the project, then the whole process is not only easier, it’s so much more enjoyable. Deadlines are a reality of the writing life, but there’s a place and a time for focusing on them. Always worrying about deadlines is not only panic-inducing, it actually deadens my creativity.

4. Divide up my time better between various projects, so that those that are close to completion or that I’ve been dreaming about for several years, can become a reality. I’m especially thinking of a podcast for See Yourself Through God’s Eyes, which I’ve wanted to do for two years, but I keep putting off until I “have time.” I also want to put together an author website–to offer additional resources to my readers, and to have an easy way for people to get in touch with me about a specific book.

5. Offer critiquing services to other Catholic and Christian writers. I first discovered my love of giving feedback on others’ writing as a member of the various writing groups I belonged to. I’ve read a lot of books about writing, but critiquing seems to be more of a natural talent for me, as I feel I’m able to see a project’s strengths and needs. I have professional experience evaluating screenplays and books which have Christian themes or elements, specifically: screenplays, fiction in certain genres, nonfiction spirituality. I haven’t actually put myself out there to help beginning Catholic and Christian writers, and I’d like to do that this year.


These are some very substantial resolutions, and I’m not sure I’ll successfully keep all of them, but the first four are absolutely essential if I want to grow in my writing. I’d love it if you share your most important writing or communication resolutions for 2012.