When Words Fail…

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When words fail…

It’s been the story of my life over the last few months.  After blogging at least once a week for almost five years (!) I feel like my words have run dry.

It’s not that I have nothing to say – I just don’t know how to say it any more.  As usual, the way that my brain works is that a song comes to mind.  This time it’s from Shrek the Musical.  In a song appropriately named “When words fail,” Shrek tries to rehearse what he will say to the Princess to tell her how he feels about her, but the harder he tries the more awkward and clumsy his attempts become.

That’s how I feel right now.

I don’t want to stop blogging.  In fact I’ve begun several posts over the last few weeks, fully intending to publish them, but something has held me back.

So, why am I lost for words?

I think I’ve identified four reasons:

First of all, as I’ve mentioned and have been aware of all through lockdown, having to adapt to working from home and spending so much time on Zoom has left me exhausted and unable to face any more time in front of a screen.

Secondly, I’ve realised how much of my writing has been inspired by the little day-to-day interactions that have been lacking over the last few months.

Several years ago, I took part in an interview for a local radio station and I was unprepared for how awkward it would be.  I was used to speaking in front of people, but I hadn’t realised until that point how much I bounced off people’s reactions and responses.  I wasn’t used to speaking into the silence.

The longer the interview went, the more I felt myself wilting until the interviewer asked the final question and I froze.  I must have paused for at least 90 seconds before I could say anything at all and it wasn’t even a particularly hard question!  (I was just grateful that it wasn’t broadcast live and that the massive pause could be edited out!)

I feel that my experience of trying to write has been similar over the last few months – I hadn’t realised how much the little, normal, everyday interactions had fueled my writing.

Thirdly, I’ve been anxious, more anxious than I realised.  I think that’s been the case for a lot of us over the last few months, and I may have a post on that coming soon if I can manage to make myself finish it.

The final reason is probably the most significant one right now, and I think it is the main reason behind all the unfinished drafts.  It relates to comments I’ve received about my writing.

The comments are nothing to do with my writing on this blog, they have been given in a kind and loving way, and I know they are well-intentioned, but for some reason they are absolutely stifling my words right now.  The person making the comments comes from a very different theological perspective to me, but they have raised issues about statements I didn’t think for a moment were controversial, and it has got me overthinking everything.

Whenever I write anything now, I read it over and over and filter it and worry about what people will think to the extent that I can’t seem to get the words out to finish the post.

But the longer I am silent, the easier it is to stay silent, so I suppose this is my attempt to fight against it.

Over the last month I have had the joy of attending a few writing seminars online and I have been truly inspired and blessed by them despite the fact that I’m struggling so much with writing just now.  One piece of advice that stood out to me was that it takes much more effort and energy to get going than to keep going once we’ve started.

So this is my attempt to get going and I really hope it will make it easier to keep going.  I’m making no promises about returning to blogging more regularly, but it is definitely my aim and my desire to do so as soon as I can.

What about you?  What helps you to get going when you’re stuck in writing?  I’d love to learn from your advice and your experiences.

    Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up          Tell-His-Story-button-newest-200x200  purposefulfaith.com     

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40 thoughts on “When Words Fail…

  1. I have been reading your blog posts for years. I’m always excited when I see I have an email from “life in the spacious place.” I know I am going to receive spiritual food when I read what is written. Please be encouraged. Your writing is wonderful and I always read something that stays with me. Thank you for being faithful.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your honesty in this post is refreshing.

    In this season, I decided to write about whatever I want to write about. I decided to write my way through COVID which means I’m not writing around the usual theme of my blog: Living Single, Dating, and Marriage. That in and of itself has been freeing and has produced a lot more posts. So write about whatever you want to write about and don’t focus on the length and all the other technical things. Just write. There are at least 3 future blog posts in this one post.

    Regarding comments, my blog is not for the faint of heart because I shoot straight from the hip and I say it like I mean it. I’ve read comments on my blog that weren’t kind yet I still write. I don’t care what people think because I’m not writing for them. I’m writing for me…for my soul…for my heart…to get the words out of my soul and into the world. I hope this helps. When all is said and done, write on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Yvonne! I do love the freedom that blogging gives us to write what we want to write. That’s a big part of the meaning behind my blog name “Life In The Spacious Place” so I really want to recapture that.
      The challenge is that for the other context I’m referring to it does matter what people think, and, as I say, the person was perfectly kind in the way they commented.
      I think I just need to learn to have a different attitude with different kinds of writing and keep the difference clear in my mind. The problem is not really with the comments themselves so much as the impact they’ve been having on my blogging.

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  3. I know when I click on one of your posts that I will find encouragement. I am sorry for any comments made which have hindered your writing. My prayer is that you will write as the Lord leads, permitting His Words to flow through and keep delivering encouraging to your readers. I read these words this morning from the devotional Awaken by Priscilla Shirer: “God intends to birth in you dreams and potential that will be marked by the Holy Spirit. They will stretch you beyond your own natural limitations and will be a spectacular display of His power at work in your life.” Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good morning, Leslie, I confess. It has been awhile since I have visited your blog. God had plans for me to visit today. I celebrate the freshness of your honesty. For it is in this baring, God meets us … and others can relate. I am sorry there have been voices into your writing that have stirred up doubts. I can relate to that, perhaps not in my writing, but in speaking, leading … there are doubters, grumblers, pride-full enemy presence which casts shadows over the shine of Christ in me. This moment, I am lifting you to the One who has called you forth to give Him glory. I celebrate Christ in you and how He has given you so many words to encourage us in Him. Love in Christ, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Julie, I was just thinking about you the other day and thinking that I should visit your blog. I will do that now!
      Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. The problem is not really with the comments themselves but with the impact they’re having. It’s a reminder that the enemy can use even things that are well-intentioned to play into our doubts and insecurities, and that we need to fight against that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Lesley, Thank you for today’s blog which oozes sincerely and integrity. What struck me was that your words could have been my own. I am not a blogger but a life long writer and have not written more than a few lines for over a year now. Sitting in the silence and living the questions in a liminal space. It feels like walking in the hills when the fog comes down but God is my rock or in this image a dry stone wall that will surely lead me forwards. Wishing you every blessing. Jill

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jill. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling with writing too, but it’s always good to know that others face similar struggles. Blessings to you too – praying that you know God with you even in the midst of the fog and that you manage to find the way forward.

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  6. Lesley,
    These have been trying times for writers. A good post is often story driven and well…there just haven’t been that many stories (or interactions for that matter). I’m finding that I am getting more of my inspiration from diving deeper into scripture. I don’t know what the comments were that were made to you, but now more than ever, people need truth straight from scripture. Be wary that the enemy is not trying to hold you back from writing because you are second guessing everything you say?? Praying that God and His word will breathe fresh ideas into your heart. And, if you are struggling with anxiety (I sure have been), writing on this subject would be met with open arms as many of us are in the same boat.
    Blessings friend,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Bev! I really appreciate your encouragement and prayers. And I think you’re right about not letting it hold me back. Blessings to you too! xx

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  7. So brave of you to be honest about your struggle at the moment – and sometimes writing is therapeutic. I hope you have in part answered your own questions – too much screen time is difficult but when you’ve been online a lot with work could you hand write some posts, or speak/record some thoughts? A lot of my thinking is done out walking and I speak/record on my phone…
    As to comments from a different theological perspective, I think you have to be true to yourself – there will be people who need to hear your voice and your perspective. I understand your ‘fear’ because that is part of my blog experience, that God is pushing me out, to be visible, and when you are visible there will always be people who don’t agree with you – keep your eyes fixed on the Lord, and follow where He leads you – God’s richest blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sharon! I definitely find writing easier on a computer but I think I’m going to have to try using pen and paper more if I want to get going again.
      And I agree, we can only share from our own perspectives on our blogs and if people don’t like it they don’t have to read. In almost five years of blogging I can only remember receiving two mean comments so I know I can be myself here – maybe I just need to remind myself of that. Blessings to you too!

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  8. Dear Lesley! What a fabulous, insightful musing. I’m guessing so many of your readers are going to resonate with what you’re discovering in this difficult season.

    It makes my eyes glaze over that someone would lend a critical spirit over your well thought out words and cause you to question yourself. Please write for that audience of One … He loves you and treasures you.

    And do the rest of your fans!
    xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your support and encouragement, Linda!
      And I genuinely don’t think the person was responding from a critical spirit. I think they just see things very differently, and it was absolutely fine for them to comment as they did in that context. Just as you were saying in your post we can only be responsible for ourselves and I’m not holding them responsible for my reaction. I just need to find a way to move past it. xx

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  9. Hi Lesley. Thanks so much for sharing so honestly here. I think it will resonate with many. I think many of us deal with screen exhaustion from so many Zoom meetings and doing so much online now. And anxiety has been a big factor the last several months.

    I can especially resonate with the last one. I was thinking recently that there should be a Murphy’s-type law that if there’s any way to take something wrong, someone will find it. These days, there are so many conflicting opinions, even among believers. I’ve been amazed on Facebook and Twitter at all the ways people can take something differently from how we meant it, or take an opposite stance because they see things differently. All we can do is pray and seek the Lord and do our best, by His grace, to share what He’s laid on our hearts. Even then, that won’t guarantee we won’t face criticism or differing views–Jesus certainly did, as did Paul and others. We want our words to be true, but also kind and winsome. But still, not everyone will like them. One former pastor once said that was one reason why so many of the OT prophets were contemporaries–because they had different personalities and styles, and some would listen to one, yet not be moved by another. He’ll use each of us to reach some of those He places in our path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Barbara! It is hard when we see things differently, even as Christians, and obviously there are some areas where it’s ok to disagree. I think in the other situation it was important to find something we could all agree on and it led to every word being over-analysed.
      I think the main thing I’m being reminded of by everyone’s comments here is that blogging is different – that here I can seek God and share as I feel he is leading and it doesn’t matter so much if people don’t agree.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ahhh, Lesley, I always, always appreciate your honesty. I love your words, your quiet wisdom, the ways you use words to feed life to your readers’ spirits. Receiving criticism or comments that cause us to question aspects of our writing can freeze us, or they can (with a little time) free us. Not everyone who reads your blog is “your” reader. And that’s okay. God has given you a message to share and it will resonate with those who need to read it each week.

    I know you are seeking the Lord over all of this, and I trust He’s speaking truth to your soul and to your sweet, creative heart. When you come through this, remember so many of us value your unique way of sharing God’s truths.

    Sending you a hug, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My dear Lesley, I cannot add anything that hasn’t already been said. You know that I have gained much from your writing and I have missed it. I pray that you’ll be freed from all that hinders you and will soon be gifting us with your words once again! This was an excellent start!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi, Lesley, I know you write for an audience of One, so just keep laying down word after word. He will meet you there. I know how you feel–so often I come to him desperate, and he loves to prove himself able!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh Lesley, I’m so sorry for the criticism someone gave you. I can understand how it makes one overthink. Thanks so much for your honesty here. I’m so glad you wrote. Just keep shining the light God has given you. God has blessed me so much through your genuine love, compassion, and understanding. Love and blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Lesley … I echo what everyone else is saying … that your writing encourages me and I also totally understand what it’s like when the words go away. As I think back to seasons when it was harder to keep posting each week (for various reasons), what I recall is that my posts took on different forms back then. Sometimes I’d post a prayer from my journal, a collection of verses that were helping me at the time, a series of pictures from my flowerbeds, or several quotes from a meaningful book. For me, writing flows best when I envision myself having an actual conversation with someone. Your post today feels very much like that, and I’m so glad you hit “publish.” (Also, I hope you’re keeping the partially written rough drafts … if you’re anything like me, someday you may find that you actually want to finish them!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lois! I like the idea of imagining it as an actual conversation with someone and also like your ideas for different kinds of posts. I do still have all the drafts, so I may come back to them. There is one in particular that I think I do want to finish!

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  15. Lesley, thank you for having the courage to post this. I have been having many of the same feelings as you about writing and I have been writing less and less. While I don’t have a critic (except my own inner one) who makes me question my writing, I think many people can relate to the increased anxiety that accompanies the pandemic along with the decrease in daily interactions that can spur ideas for posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Laurie! I’m sorry you’ve been struggling with writing too but in a way it’s good to know it’s not just me. I think a lot of us thought we could be more productive during the lockdown due to having more time but as you say there are other factors that have been more of a hindrance.

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  16. Hi, Lesley.

    I’ve been struggling to write, as well. It just seems as though the well has dried up in some ways. I pray God fills us with Holy Spirit messages to share faithfully with those who read our words.

    Blessings to you,
    Tammy

    Liked by 1 person

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