on writing: a call to excellence

I’m a spill-writer. That’s my style. I’m writing that way now, as I always have. Get everything out on the page, quick, before I forget it. Then go back and tweak. Doesn’t matter how many times I use the same word. I’ll return, reread, change what needs to be changed. I just need to get it out.

I really, deeply want to be a great writer. The more I blog, the more I realize that while I love food, the process of making it, and the gathering it brings, it’s the writing that grounds me. It’s the artful process of stringing together words to explain a feeling, a thought, a belief that grabs the attention of both my head and my soul. 

Despite the discipline of sitting still and focusing, writing papers was always one of my favorite parts of college. Long or short, daunting or simple, the process was a thrill for me. The title, the introduction, the paragraph after paragraph of progressive thought. Everything but the conclusion, really (come on, who was good at those?). What would I discover? What would I learn from the styles of painting I was comparing? What would I grow to love about this architect, whose creativity works so gloriously? Every paper was unique. It was practice. Each time I tried to use new words, think more richly, write more precisely.

One of the sole reasons for playing the writing game was the constant, ever-living wonder at what could come out of my head, through my fingers, and onto paper. It’s often a marvel, sitting down to write a piece, and discovering what art that can emerge from the intertwining of your brain and your heart. It’s beautiful to me, and that is why every writer’s work is different. Generally, we all use the same alphabet, the same dictionary, the same grammatical rules. Yet our words are composed very uniquely. Our tones reveal our outlooks; our stories tell our experiences. This is the beauty of our wonderfully crafted selves.

The hard parts? I know very well the pit of repetition. Words, phrases, themes, ideas. It’s easy to find your linguistic rut. But that’s why I want to challenge myself again. Without the demanding deadlines of assignments, it’s all too easy to put aside the practice, to join the ranks of an unfrequented hobby. But I want to dig into the greatness of this art form. I believe that we are called to excellence, and that as children of our Creator, we ought to exercise our creative brains to find the richest parts of them, because that process and the gold bits we find along the way are mirrors of His creativity. This ability to reflect as wildly as the moon is one of the purest forms of our roles as glory-givers. I believe that He rejoices when we grow, He delights when we stretch our creativity, He dances when we learn something new. I believe that the challenge is worth it.

So, friends, help me out. I am going to develop a discipline, maybe a couple, that will help me exercise my creativity. First, I will set a schedule for myself. Right now, the most reasonable goal sounds like once a week. Secondly, I need to stretch my vocabulary! Any strategies or tools that I could use to do so? Rather than absentmindedly flipping through the dictionary, of course. Chime in, please. Leave me a comment or send me an email. Let’s challenge ourselves, people. For the ability to explain things beyond ourselves. For the story-telling of others. For the projection of a voice louder than our own.