When You’re Lost For Words…

 

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I considered whether to write today, unsure if I would have anything worthwhile to say.

It’s not for a lack of thoughts.  If anything I have too many flying through my mind at all moments of the day, but I’ve been thinking about some complicated things lately, and they refuse to be pinned down into anything coherent or helpful.

Lots of thoughts, but lost for words…

So why do I write?  And what do I write?  Should I even write at all?

As I was pondering this, a story came to mind- one that inspired me as I began blogging, one that continues to inspire me now as I remember it, so I write in the hope that maybe it will inspire you too.*

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A group of students gathered for a pottery class and, after splitting them into two groups, the tutor explained how it was going to work- how the course would be structured and how they were going to be assessed.

There was a key difference in the explanation that was given to each of the groups though.

One group was told that their grade would be based on the quality of pot they could produce by the end of the course.  To get an A they would have to produce a pot of the finest quality.

The other group was told that their grade would be based simply on the quantity of pots they could produce.  The more pots they produced, the higher their grade, no matter how good they were!

The first group spent their time carefully forming their pots, striving for perfection, working slowly, doing everything they possibly could to make their pots the best they could be.

The second group worked at speed to produce pot after pot, racing to make as many as they possibly could.

It may be a surprise to hear that, at the end of the course, the best pots that had been produced came not from the quality group but from the quantity group!

It seems that as they gained experience in producing pots they learned from their mistakes, they developed their technique and, free from the pressure of perfection which the other group had to contend with, they were able to produce their best work!

When I felt God leading me to begin writing, this story inspired me to blog.  I realised I could spend years painstakingly working on a manuscript before I ever let it see the light of day, or I could write and I could keep writing, and I could put it out there to however small an audience, and I could see what would happen.

I’m happy with the path I’ve chosen.

Many of my blog posts have been far from perfect.  There are several posts from my early days of blogging where I look back and cringe (and delete some of them!) because the writing is so bad, or I’ve shared something I should probably have kept to myself.

As I look back though I’m also encouraged because I see real progress.  I’ve churned out 356 posts now over the last two and a half years, and I’m learning.  There are some posts I even quite like!

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take time to edit our work to improve the quality.  I definitely see the benefits of that, and there are certain pieces I have worked very hard on and devoted considerable time to.  There is something extremely satisfying about feeling that a piece has been refined to the best of your ability.

But I doubt that I would have made as much progress if I had worked for two and a half years on one piece of writing, polishing it and seeking to make it perfect.

This encourages me to keep writing, even when I wonder if I have anything to say.

It’s one of the reasons why I love Five Minute Friday!  If you haven’t discovered it yet, I encourage you to check it out and consider joining in.  Each Friday a one-word prompt is posted and the idea is to write for five minutes on that prompt without editing or overthinking.  I confess I sometimes edit a little, and I sometimes take more than five minutes, but it has been a very helpful discipline.

Many weeks I see the prompt and think I have nothing to say.  I often mull it over for a few hours as I go about my day.  Sometimes an idea comes to me and I know what I want to write.  Other times I sit down to write with no idea what, if anything, will come out!

Usually I’m pleasantly surprised.  There has been the occasional post that hasn’t worked at all, but there have also been a few of those Five Minute Friday posts where I was stuck for words that have turned out in the end to be some of my favourite posts!

So let me encourage you today- keep writing, even when you feel you have nothing to say!  It might turn out better than you think!

william faulkner quote    h jackson brown jr quote

*I heard this story told so I have no idea of the source or if it is actually true.

 


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44 thoughts on “When You’re Lost For Words…

  1. I needed to see this just at this very moment. Thank you so much for sharing! Sometimes I feel like all I am doing is writing for one dear blogger friend who is my biggest cheerleader. Of late, I’m not getting as many views on a single post as I used to, but then I remember, if even one person is being richly edified and pointed to Jesus that is all that matters.

    I also loved your perspective about quantity. I must say I was surprised that was the answer when it came to the pottery, but it does make perfect sense!

    Like you I cringe at some of my earlier work, but praise God that I can see how far I’ve come in just over three years now.

    I leave you blog greatly encouraged! Thank you so much!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Karen! I’m so glad it encouraged you. As you say, those times when we see that God has used our words to encourage one person are worth so much more than lots of views. Thanks for letting me know!

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  2. Wow! I would have thought the quality group would have done better! But it makes perfect sense that those who practice actually get better. I should know this! I needed this encouragement today–some days I wonder if anyone reads or listens and whether my efforts are in vain. My efforts matter because I am improving. I am preparing myself for what God has in mind. And that’s enough to make me happy!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m so glad you keep creating posts! That is a beautiful story and reminds me why grace is so important…. I’d be so worried about getting my life right, I wouldn’t be doing much living or loving, just striving to reach a standard for a good grade! Fascinating story! Blessings and you begin again and again and again!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Lesley, oh, this is a keeper! I, too, look back over some of my earlier posts and wonder, “What was I thinking?” Meanwhile, my manuscript is hanging out over at Christian Manuscript Submissions, sigh. Thanks and blessings for the great story, and the encouragement to just keep writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I was surprised by this story! So much truth to it though. Thank you for this encouragement and wisdom, Lesley! Such a joy to grow along side you and see the fruit of your finding the words over and over again!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Bethany! It was a surprise to me when I heard it too- I think that’s why it stuck with me! I’m so glad we’ve connected on this journey too!

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  6. So true. We never learn by only doing something carefully a few time. It takes multiple times. Your post reminded me of my own pottery class I took. The instructor would show us how to make a piece, say a cup. Then we had a few weeks to make 75 cups. At the end of the few weeks, we had to lay all 75 cups out and show the instructor and talk about our cups and choose our best 5. We also had to critique our peers’ cups. It seemed like a waste of clay at first, but it was the only way that at the end we could produce a decent cup. It was also so much fun. Then it was on to mastering the next piece, a vase. By the end of the semester we had hundreds of pieces. But had also vastly improved. Yup, we need to write and keep writing. 356 posts, vey impressive!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Theresa! And thanks for sharing your experience of the pottery class. It must have been really interesting to see how you progressed from the first pot to the 75th.

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  7. Thank you for sharing what inspired you to begin blogging. You have produced many amazing posts from my perspective and it is always a treat to come here to read your words.

    It is interesting to learn the quantity group produced the best pots. Isn’t it just like God to ask us to step out whether we are ready or not? He is perfection and that is all we need. Blessings on your week!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mary! Yes, I was surprised that the best pots came from the quantity group but it is amazing what we can produce sometimes if we just keep working at it and let go of striving for perfection! Hope you have a great week too!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Seems the thought of having nothing else to say comes to my mind at least once a week. I can see a clear improvement in your writing, Lesley. It’s always good to recognize growth in someone. You have heard God’s call to write and he’s met you in each word. Keep on, even when the words seem hard to find.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Whether the story is true or not it’s still a great story to learn from! And I agree about five minute Friday. I loved doing that, just not all the extra work that goes into putting a post together. That’s why I stoppe whether the story is true or not it’s still a great story to learn from! And I agree about five minute Friday. Loved doing that, just not all the extra work that goes into putting a post together. That’s why I cut back to only occasionally. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I had never heard that story before, but it makes sense and it is inspiring. I know what you mean about the Five Minute Friday words. Sometimes I mull over them lot and just can’t think of anything or I’m afraid it won’t be good at all and I don’t write. You inspire me to try to write anyway even if I don’t end up sharing it. The practice would be worth it. 🙂 Blessings to you! Thank you for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. As a former high school counsellor and principal I really appreciated your story about the students in the art class. It is great encouragement to continue to write frequently, because like anything, practice helps hone the craft. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I had never heard that story before, but I like the surprise ending! How true that practice, making and learning from mistakes, makes for better products in the end – writing or pottery-making, and, I am sure, for many other endeavors. Visiting from the #LMM link-up.

    Liked by 1 person

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