How do I find more time to pray?
How can I improve as a writer?
What if you could grow in both prayer and writing at the same time? What if the time you invested in writing could help you pray, and the time you invested in prayer could help you write?
In Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together, Ed Cyzewski shows that prayer and writing intersect and grow together because they use many of the same disciplines, practices, and virtues.
What we pray about often provides something to write about, and what we write about often provides something to pray about. They create a self-sustaining circle.
This book offers life-giving practices that will help you grow in both prayer and writing, including:
– Praying and writing with the Examen.
– Making space for prayer and writing each day.
– Learning to be silent and present.
– Facing our wounds and fears so that we can heal and offer healing.
You can now order Pray, Write, Grow on Amazon.
A Quickstart Guide to Writing
While I’m personally not a huge fan of writing tips or prompts, there are a few simple practices that can help you cut through the challenges you face. Here are some common tips I share with authors in coaching calls and emails:
- Learn to recognize when you are stressed, tired, or distracted. Pay attention to what drains your creative energy. For instance, do online arguments or news reports rob you of creative energy? Avoid social media when its time to be mentally present for a writing project.
- Work with scraps, half-baked ideas, and outlines in a journal. Be prepared to jot something down at all times. You’ll only use some of these scraps. That’s OK.
- A free write in a single journal page or a small blog project can provide a “small win” at the start of your writing time. It may be easier to begin a big project after you’ve hit a small goal.
- When working on a larger book project, I often begin a new day by reviewing at least part of the previous day’s work. It helps me get into the mindset required for the project and helps me write with better continuity from day to day.
- Embrace the process. Outline, draft, delete, edit, marinate, and edit again. Every writer needs several drafts before writing something good.
- Face the big questions, deep struggles, and biggest fears in your life when you journal. You don’t have to share what you write. This kind of writing can lead you to your best prayers and your best work.
- Waking up early to write is essential for me. The afternoon is where good writing goes to die.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
The Art of Keeping a Journal via The Art of Simple blog
20 Rules for Writing from Famous Writers in Writers Digest
Why Walking Helps Us Think in The New Yorker
Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays in Creativity by Ray Bradbury
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Learning to Walk without an Agenda by Emily Freeman
A Quickstart Guide to Prayer
If you aren’t sure where to begin with prayer, try one or several of the prayer practices listed below.
- Rituals and schedules help us pray. The monks were onto something! Try setting aside one period of time every day as your prayer time. Even if it’s five minutes each morning, you’ll soon miss it if you start skipping it.
- Use The Divine Hours for Daily scripture reading. Block out short pieces of time and let the readings guide your prayers.
- Look into the practice of Lectio Divina that slowly reads through a small passage of scripture as a means of entering into prayer. I often use a reading from the Hours to meditate on scripture.
- Set aside short blocks of time for silent prayer. The “Examine” app for iOS is ideal for reflection on the negative and positive elements of each day. It also prompts you to take five minutes for meditation. You can also find Examen guides online (Note that the two spellings sometimes interchange).
- Practice awareness of your mind and body throughout the day. What are you dwelling on while washing the dishes, driving, etc. Can you create space for your mind to be still, such as turning off the radio or television? What is your body telling you about your mental or spiritual state? Is your body communicating through pain, especially in your neck and shoulders?
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self by Richard Rohr
Daily Meditations from Richard Rohr (Mostly book excerpts)
Richard Rohr on Super Soul Sunday
Examen questions from IVP
Ignatian Spirituality page on the examen
The Divine Hours at Ann Arbor Vineyard’s website
On Prayer by Thomas Keating (An introduction to centering prayer)
The Jesus Prayer (An Orthodox guide)
An Introduction to Lectio Divina