Put Your Feet on the Desk

ACFW Advice, Authors and writing, creativity, Encouragement, Friends of ACFW, tips, writing 18 Comments

By Terri Gillespie

“. . . and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:12, NKJV

I have a friend who was a vice-president of a major financial institution in Manhattan. He’s an incredible idea person—a real visionary. While overseeing operations for a ministry, I tapped my friend’s brain frequently for various business insights.

One bit of advice he regularly gave me was, “Terri, you need to shut your office’s door, then put your feet up on the desk and let your mind go.” He said that investing in the creative side of our brain is important because that is where innovation is birthed. And that required stillness.

At that time, I was working 50-60 hours a week, so I thought he was crazy. Over the years, I have learned the man was spot on.

Inspiration roots in a quiet mind.

Allowing ourselves to pause or stop is critical to the creative wellbeing of the writer. We need the opportunities to connect with our Creator and listen.

Like a tree shedding its leaves for autumn, ideas can cascade in our minds. A few of those ideas might resonate. Once an idea clicks, and the seed is planted in our imagination, write it down. Whatever you have available, an envelope, gum wrapper, a check, write it down before it blows away.

Like everyone else, our lives can be chaotic. Planning for those moments don’t have to be complicated, but we need to be purposeful.

To get you started, here are three ways I put my feet on the desk:

  1. Retreats
  2. Writing Exercises
  3. Painting, Coloring, Drawing

Retreats: Getting away from the laundry, mowing the lawn, caring for the kids helps us get into the space to hear. These retreats do not have to be long—it can even be for a day—but it is important to get away. It’s amazing how much we can accomplish when the everyday distractions are removed.

Including other authors in the retreat is fine, provided there are scheduled times away from each other. There are great benefits to having feedback and brainstorming sessions, too.

Writing Exercises: I am a big fan of these. Writing exercises can unblock writer’s block and remind us of the joy of creative writing, in just a few minutes. Using a visual prompt—a word, a photo, a drawing, or a brief set of instructions—set the timer for five, ten, or fifteen minutes and write whatever comes into our mind.

My favorite book of writing prompts is, The Playful Way to Serious Writing. Last I looked the book is out of print, but I found copies on eBay and even Amazon. There are other books out there including Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises That Are Not Personal, Not Introspective, Not Boring!

Painting, Coloring, Drawing: Meditating on God’s word with art has helped stir those creative juices or trained many in being quiet in His presence. There are several devotionals with graphics suitable for coloring and painting, as well as downloadable coloring pages (check Pinterest). Or next walk you take, bring a pad and pencil, find a rock or curb and sketch whatever catches your eye.

All these feet-on-the-desk activities are meant to open our hearts and minds to those wonderous seeds of inspiration. It’s healthy to give ourselves permission to listen in the quiet, to write for no reason except God gives us a sweet revelation. To capture a thought in color.

Like Elijah, it is possible to hear our Heavenly Father’s still small voice. How do you put your feet on the desk?

Put your feet up on your desk and listen. @TerriGMavens #ACFWBlogs #writetips #ChristianFiction #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Terri Gillespie is VP of the NWGA ACFW chapter and regularly “puts her feet on her desk.” Her first traditionally published book was Making Eye Contact with God—A Weekly Women’s Devotional. She’s won various fiction awards and, by faith, appreciates the publishing process. Member: ACFW, CAN, AWSA



Comments 18

  1. Great advice, Terri. I put my feet on the path. Being outside, walking alone is my “putting my feet on the desk.”

  2. For me, nature calms my soul and opens my mind. Changes in seasons, chance encounters with animals, listening to the voices of birds…are some of my best times with God. Thank you for this post.

  3. Good advice. “Inspiration roots in a quiet mind.” That statement will stick with me. I needed to be reminded how important the discipline of stillness is in life and writing.

  4. Thanks for the inspiration, Terri.

    You’re right, those quiet moments, when you hear that “still small voice” are essential for creatives. I love shower time. Many ideas are generated there! I have also found that quiet voice while working on jigsaw puzzles, or in morning meditation time. I may try your suggestion of incorporating a little art to the mix!

    I appreciate the reminder that we must schedule that quiet time so we can, as a result, be more productive in our busy times. It’s so important!

  5. This is excellent advice…although working in my flower beds is often a source of inspiration for me! The main thing is seeking that quiet solace where you can hear that “still small voice”! Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Hi Terri, Thank you for the thoughtful blog. How do I take a break to put my feet on the desk? Sometimes, it’s short like lunch with a friend back when we weren’t sheltered in. A really great break is taking a trip to the beach or visiting my daughter. Shopping was a nice break too and I’m looking forward to all of these breaks again soon.

  7. “Be Still…” – that is one of my favorite pieces of advice in scripture, yet even in retirement it is the hardest to accomplish. As I become less physically mobile, I find I can accomplish this as easily as just closing my eyes wherever I may be sitting and tuning out the world around me. Always love to catch a blog of yours, Terri!

  8. Terri, I am always blessed by your unique posts. Thank you for this latest one.

    I “put my feet on the desk” by regularly visiting the inner oasis where Jesus dwells. When the world closes in on me, I retreat to this special place in my spirit and sit at the feet of the Master to listen.

    I picture myself sitting there with Him by His well of living water. He offers me a drink and I am refreshed and satisfied, ready to return to sharing the living water with others.

  9. Hi, Clyde! What a gift. Being able to just close our eyes and be in His presence. You’ve brought up a great point, that even in times of healing or sickness or being less physically mobile, it doesn’t interfere with those sweet moments. Thanks for stopping by for the read! God bless.

  10. Putting up our feet is also just plain good for our bodies and souls. Life is hard! I’m working on better self care. The other day, after Daryl got home from work, I went outside and sat in the sun and sipped a glass of wine before starting dinner. Sometimes the little things give as much refreshment as big ones.

    As the parent of a special needs adult daughter, I’ve learned if I don’t take better care of myself, I won’t be able to continue to take care of Anna.

  11. Hi Pam, I could just picture you with the sun warming your face and the sweet refreshment of wine with God’s love. We all admire your dedication to your family–it is a great testimony to us. Thanks for stopping by. God bless!

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