Saturday, May 30, 2015

Free Writing as the Solution To Writer's Block: An Exersise

Writer’s block. We all have had it at one point or another. In fact, I have it right now, and thought it might be fun if I kind of walk you through my manner in which I step over the blockage that causes words to get stuck in my mind, and press forward into the land of thoughts being translated through my fingers and onto my word processing program’s white page.

It all starts with me going back to a sure fire way to get my mind lubricated to free the stuck words from their cerebral prison. This method was first brought to my attention by my high school online writing teacher (I was homeschooled) who had us do exercises where our Mom’s would set a timer for a pre-decided upon set of minutes and hand us a blank page of notebook paper, with simply one rule: the moment that timer began to tick away we had to put our pencil to the paper and write. Write about anything. Write about not having anything to write about. Write about the first thing that came to mind, even if was the Indians’ awesome win the previous evening or the family cat’s latest attempt to escape to the outdoors. There were no wrong ways to complete this activity, as long as you wrote something, until that timer went off, and then you were allowed to stop.

See so often we become concerned with trying to sound smart, or witty or creative that we forget the importance of simply putting our words on paper and communicating what we would say if we were talking to someone about whatever it is that we are writing about. A succinct set of words can be equally valuable as a flowery set of descriptive jargon can be, to a reader. Direct and to the point writing has extreme value for instance to the person who is reading an instruction manual who has very little knowledge of carpentry but has set himself to the task of assembling a wooden bookcase he bought from Wal-Mart.

Ultimately when dealt the frustrating sight of a blank, empty page, and words caught in the transition of mind to finger to page, I recommend the advice I gave a friend of mine who recently told me she was struggling to write down exactly what she wanted to say because she had so much to say. I told her that the best thing for her to do is to sit down and write until all of those thoughts had made it out of her head and onto the page. Once she had done that, all she wanted to say was on the page or pages in front of her, she just now needed to read over those thoughts, cut out the ones that didn’t express what she was trying to say, and leave only the solid gems of what she was trying to communicate.

Starting is always step one, and step one sometimes really is the hardest one to take! Opening up the mysterious and awesome portal of thoughts transitioning into written words is truly one of the great miracles of how God designed our brains to function through communication. Words are awesome! Ideas rock! Communicating with words about those ideas is where the breakdown often happens. The key is to not become so overwhelmed by the blockage that you cease to write at all, the key is to write whatever comes to mind first, and follow the rabbit trail from there! I do this all the time. I just did it now. I had no idea what I was going to write when I sat down, so I wrote about writers block!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Technolgy Advancement Aversion: Quirk? Or Is There More To The Story?.... (A Self-Examination)

Change; deep down, none of us like it. Moreover, we all deal with, and process it in numerous ways. Often in dealing with it, we do bizarre and strange things.

Take me for instance. I realized that for nearly two years now I have been reeling and rebelling against new technology, rationalizing that because it is different than what was around back when I was in high school, I can’t possibly understand how to use it, or even more emphatically feel safe and happy about trying to learn how to use it. I recently remembered that I wasn’t always this way. In fact in the years since I had finished college I had become much more open to new concepts, ideas, and ways to use our ever evolving technology. However, two years ago I moved out of my parent’s house, taking on a new challenge of total independence for the first time in my life. Because that was very subtly too overwhelming to take it on all at once, I retreated into the safety net of not being open to new things once again, because I can’t be certain new things are safe and profitable for me to engage my time, talent and treasure.

Upon having God reveal this to me this past week, I have begun to try to go back to that four year period of being open to new things, reminding myself that in those four years, I grew a lot in my relationship not only with Jesus, but with others in my community around me. You see, like I said to one of my good friends as I was beginning to process this, I am 28, not 56. That means that I am at a ripe age for being able to learn how to use new apps, online streaming, an iPhone game, and any other photo editing or computer program that I may desire to explore. These things are good, and not to viewed as my enemy.

However, I should still try and be careful how much time I devote to using them. Due to our culture’s obsession with constantly being connected on social media, and constantly entertained via online streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, I need to moderate how much of each of these I let myself imbibe. Moderation in a technology driven society is of the utmost importance for our spiritual souls and physical bodies. Throwing that aside now would be a very dangerous attitude to allow myself to adopt. However, if I cautiously begin to open myself up to new things again, I think it could be very good for me. I will still be a weirdo, but a little less of one. I also will likely come across less judgmental of others who use new technology in their respective lives. God allows technological advancements to happen all the time, and they are never bad or sinful in and of themselves, but they can become sinful if we turn them into idols and allow too much of time to be consumed by binge watching TV shows, or repeated marathon games of Trivia Crack.

So first steps, well, watching a movie on Netflix, listening to the new Mumford & Sons album with an objective view, instead of being negatively biased immediately since they changed their sound, and downloading new apps such as Seat Geek and Stub Hub have been my slow but steady advancements so far. Keeping in mind God did create all things good before sin entered the picture (Genesis 2-3) and asking my close friends to hold me accountable so I don’t overindulge myself are two more components of this journey that has my summer off to an exciting start! Excited to see how God continues to shape and change me in the weeks, months and years to come!