By JPC Allen
When my family and I went on vacation last summer to the coast of North Carolina, we decided to look for sea shells on Shackleford Banks, an undeveloped barrier island claiming to be the best place along that stretch of the cost to find large, complete shells.
At low tide, wearing masks, we floated near the shore, and when we saw a shell with possibilities, we reached for it. We never knew what we might find, including shells that still had owners. In the end, we brought home several whole shells six inches long and many smaller ones also intact.
For me it was the perfect summer activity, enjoying the sea and sun with the people I love and anticipating the thrill of discovery with each shell we pulled from the water. Even now, whenever I remember that time, a smile comes to my lips without effort. It was a delight.
Life doesn’t seem to have enough of these delightful moments. Or, maybe, I don’t make room for them in my usual routine. So many activities seem imperative that I find it hard to set aside time to do something for the pure pleasure of it.
Sometimes, I lose the delight in my writing. Keeping up with my blog and forging ahead with editing my manuscript, day after day, turns what used to be a pleasure into a chore, even a burden. God gave me a love for the written word, and He certainly doesn’t expect me to write with gritted teeth as I grind out my required pieces. How do I get my delight back?
The techniques below are ones that have worked for me.
Take a break
I minimize my writing to what only must be written and use the freed time to do something completely different. Baking often provides me with a break because I am using a very different part of my brain. I haven’t ridden in years, but riding horses once accomplished the same thing since the only characteristic riding and writing share is you do both from a seated position. A break of just a few days is often all I need to find writing a wonder again.
Read what delights
I will reread stories I love and marvel at the skill or ingenuity or beauty of the authors’ words. I become inspired to write the best I can in the hopes of touching my readers in the same way.
Write what delights
I make time to write things that are just fun. I am not a poet, but I do get an idea for a poem every once in a while, and it’s fun to play with it. I also love to make up names for characters. In my YA novel, I have a family of crooks named after the weather and nature. Those names were a pleasure to create.
Our God-given talents are too precious to let grow stale or become a trial. So if your delight has gone AWOL, do whatever ever you can to track it down and bring it home.
If you need delightful writing ideas, check out “Monday Sparks” at JPCAllenWrites.com or at facebook.com/JPCAllenWrites. JPC Allen is a 2016 Genesis semi-finalist in the YA category for her contemporary novel The Truth and Other Strangers. She is a life-long Midwesterner with deep roots in the Mountain State.