Every weekday when my kids go down for their afternoon nap, I head down to my office in hopes of writing. Sometimes my schedule is too clogged to get beyond email and various other business aspects of being a novelist, and I don't get to write on that particular day. On those days, when my husband gets home from work, he'll say to me, "How was your work time?" I'll groan and say, "Horrible. I got nothing done."
It's possible I sent 20 work related emails, wrote 3 blog posts, did a couple interviews, and packed up a couple books to go in the mail. But it will still feel like I accomplished nothing because I didn't get to write.
Then there are days like last Friday, when I put my kids down for their nap, and then spent my alone time getting ready for a party we were throwing that night. While I shuffled chairs and worked on the spinach and artichoke dip, you want to know what was going on in my head? I could be writing ... I could be writing ... I could be writing.
In some ways, this burning desire to write has served me well. It's what helped me write 3 novels - from concept to completion - in the first year of my daughter's life and get them turned into my publisher before deadline.
The burning desire to write has helped me overcome obstacles like rejection and sluggish sales. It's helped me sit at my desk and work even on days I'd rather take a nap. It's helped me get out of bed early or stay up late or turn off a good TV show.
But the desire to write has also done something dangerous inside me - on days when writing goes well, I feel good about myself. I feel like I'm fulfilling the tasks God has given me, and like I'm being a good steward of my time. But on days I don't get to write, or when it goes poorly, I am a failure.
Not, "My day was good, except I only got to write 50 words."
Not, "There wasn't time for writing today, but I got a bunch of other necessary stuff done."
No. My mentality is I fail when I don't write.
But something occurred to me on Friday between shuffling chairs and the spinach and artichoke dip. As I was cooking, I wondered how women got everything done in the days before dishwashers and washing machines and grocery stores? And as I thought about it more, I was struck by the reality of life not so long ago when day-to-day life was consumed by the essentials. Food, shelter, and clothing. That's what you spent your time on. Finding, preserving, and preparing food for your family. Maintaining your house. Making clothes for your family.
And as dumb and basic as this may sound, this thought meant peace of mind to me - God loved them every bit as much as he loves me. Because they were His creation. And they were good. (Genesis 1:31)
I don't mean to diminish the importance of how we choose to spend the free time we're so blessed with. God cares deeply about how you choose to spend your time. And He has plans for you and has asked you to be a good steward of the talents He's blessed you with.
But God delights in you simply because you are. Because He called you into existence. He doesn't love me more on days that I write than days that I spend my time making goofy faces at my kids so they'll laugh. My value in His eyes doesn't fluctuate with my word count, so why do I let it in mine?
This is a new concept to me, that God loves me just because I exist. I mean, it's something about which I would have said, "Yeah, that's true," but it isn't something I knew how to apply to me. I'm working to get better and trusting God to help me on that. And I trust He'll help me not because I'm being faithful in my writing or because I'm striving to be a Proverbs 31 wife, but because He made me and He loves me.
Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.