In light of the state of our country and our current political climate, this text from my morning devotions seems particularly appropriate:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4, ESV).
How does a writer fuel the creative muse? What role could poetry or music play? Could sermons or scripture generate creativity?
For years, I’ve believed poetry–or at least being familiar with good poetry–elevated prose. The instructor for my first creative writing course (more than 20 years ago) taught a unit on poetry before teaching prose, saying, “If you know how to write poetry, you’ll write better prose.” He was right.
Being able to recognize assonance, consonance, simile, metaphor, and a host of other literary techniques makes you a better reader. And being able to judiciously implement technique enlivens any writing. I’m not advocating going through your manuscript and thinking, “How can insert a literary technique here?” Rather, a literary mindset leads to fresh ways of expressing thoughts and techniques that tumble into the manuscript unsought.
My Word Weavers meeting this week discussed the place of poetry in prose writing. One of my fellow Weavers recalled advice to begin each day or work session by writing a poem. This reminded me of poets John Piper and Edward Taylor. Oh, you thought those guys were ministers? Yep.
Piper is a contemporary Christian minister of Desiring God fame, the ministry name drawn from his bestselling book. He often prepares for writing sermons by crafting poetry. His poems can be found on the ministry website. He gives some great advice for how to begin writing poetry here, recommending Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manualand Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbookfor beginning poets. I’m not familiar with Ted Kooser, but the title intrigues me. And I’m very familiar with Mary Oliver’s poems, some of which are among my favorites, especially this one with its beautiful conclusion: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”
Edward Taylor may not be as familiar. He was a Puritan minister and poet and “one of the finest literary artists of Colonial America,” according to this biography. He became my friend many years ago, when I discovered him in this collection.
When I hear a vivid sermon by a passionate preacher, I often feel moved by my personal muse. Some of my best poems have been inspired by sermons. Reflecting on Scripture or other devotional material before beginning my work day can trigger creative energy.
My most creative thoughts arise from my daily early morning quiet time, lying in bed and communing with God in what I call “the votive silence” (you can read my 2006 reflections on how I came to adopt that phrase here). My joke, based on something a fellow participant said at a writer’s mentoring retreat several years ago, is referring to this morning time as being “sack-religious.”
Until this morning, I hadn’t considered music instrumental in fueling creativity. In fact, I thought it too distracting, believing I could accomplish more without jarring notes or someone else’s words drawing me out of my creative process. I even commented about this recently on a Facebook thread. Today I found this post on “Finding Your Way To ‘Other Time'” by Doug McKelvey over at The Rabbit Room website. McKelvey is a songwriter who also writes juvenile fiction, such as The Angel Knew Papa and the Dog(another intriguing title).
And the music clips he links into his post definitely intrigue me. I haven’t taken time to check all of them out, but I’ve listened to enough that I believe I may have to adjust my thinking about music fueling muse.
What do you think? What fuels contribute to your creativity?
On Friday I wrote about how I’ve been “doubling time” lately. Even though many regular readers of this blog frequently express their appreciation for the meditations, my doubling time schedule has kept me from posting a new one for several weeks. Some major life events are past, but I still have some huge concerns and big deadlines.
If that sounds like an excuse for not writing a new meditation to post today, it is. I’m working on a devotional manuscript that takes priority over blogging meditations for right now.
But this Meditation Monday provides a good opportunity for me to share one of my favorite websites: Bible Gateway. This wonderful site provides text or keyword searches as well as a host of supporting resources. I especially appreciate the variety of Bible Reading Plans the site offers. If you go to the previous link, you can choose from eleven different plans, one of which should suit your schedule and preference.
For over six months, I’ve benefited from the Book of Common Prayer reading plan. The scripture texts usually seem to be grouped around a common theme, and I can’t tell you how many times the daily reading has spoken directly to something weighing on my mind.
Today’s reading seems perfectly appropriate for some of the things going in my life and the lives of those I love.
Check out Bible Gateway! Be encouraged by the Verse of the Day or explore the variety of resources. You may even want to subscribe to one of the terrific Bible reading plans.