Could you share what you have found helpful as you write each piece? What do you do in order to make sure you continually produce creatively?

jillcarattini
writers-block

(RZIM Connect Member) #1

Hi Jill,

I am continually blessed and encouraged by your Slice of Infinity articles! I so appreciate the time and effort that must go into crafting each thing you write. I know that many of us here are writers, and I think everyone probably has something to learn about deliberate reflection and discipline no matter what crafts we aspire to. Could you share a few practical things that you have found helpful as you pray for, prepare, and write each piece? What kinds of things do you do in order to make sure you continually produce creatively, on time, in a righteous way?


(Jill Carattini) #2

Thanks for this question!

For those who might not be familiar, A Slice of Infinity is a global, creative writing resource at RZIM whose vision is to reach those on the fringes of faith and belief with the truth and beauty of Jesus Christ. It is intended to be a gentle apologetic and is often in conversation with cultural happenings, stories from history, theology, literature or the arts and so forth. The contributing writers come from our worldwide team, which I love both for the unique voices and the reminder that Christ invites us into a kingdom so much greater than what is happening in my own church or country. I am particularly excited when team members build an article around cultural festivals or insights unique to their settings, offering beautiful illustrations in which to consider Christ at work in the world in ways I couldn’t otherwise. Tejdor did this in his article “Human Like Us” with the story of the Jarawas and the Observer’s coverage of that story which incited outcry and Cyril Georgeson (a former colleague) once wrote about the festival Kumbh Mela, which remains one of my favorite contributions from the Itinerant team worldwide! We know that the majority of our subscribers are likely Christian, but we see this as an opportunity to partner with them in reaching their neighbors and friends who might be searching for something more or need an encouraging thought and image for the day. C.S. Lewis once described the inviting power of the imagination in the lives of those opposed to religion as the Spirit’s way of “sneaking past the watchful dragons.” Whether by a gentle question, an international story, a beautiful turn of phrase, or creative image, the vision of A Slice of Infinity is that it invites people to encounter Christ and explore the divine life in which God longs for us to participate.

I have been the managing editor and principal writer for 15 years and in that time I have to admit I have gone through every sort of writer’s block one can imagine! Writing never comes easy for me; I labor over my words. I wish that were not the case, and yet, when I sit down to write I find God in the discipline. I am the sort of writer who comes to a blank page not always knowing what I want to say or sometimes even what I think about a particular subject. So I see the discipline of writing something like the discipline of prayer. I come to prayer with my feeble words and intentions and I meet God whose words are bigger, who approaches as the Word, the Word of God as Christ. I discover more of what I think when I write because I discover God as I write. So first, learn to see your writing as a spiritual discipline whether you are writing spiritually or not. God loves words; Christ is the Word of God in a body. Writing is a gift that explores these amazing mysteries whether we are conscious of it or not. The difficult part is crafting time to write in between 25 other deadlines and getting a 5 year old ready for school and making dinner and caring for parents and so on. Here, I know I am not alone and we can all share similar stories.

But this brings me to my second practical tip. Writing is a gift best shared in community. I love writing as a solitary, spiritual exercise. But it is also an exercise sharpened and deepened in community. A great book on this explores the aspect of community in the lives and in the writing of the Inklings is Diana Pavlac Glyer’s The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. Find a trusted friend and share your work and shape your work and your ideas together. I love this about Margaret Manning Shull and many of my teammates who are willing to read what I’m writing and tell me when I’m missing something or where I have gone down a rabbit trail that isn’t what the piece wants to be about. Sometimes we are hard on ourselves in ways that aren’t helpful. A fellow writer can get through and help bring about clarity where we aren’t willing or able to go. A lot of times for me its a sentence that I love for some reason and refuse to see that it is causing the essay harm. Flannery O’Connor used to say that editors are great because they are willing to “kill the little darlings” that we refuse to let die.

And now I need to go home and make dinner!


(Kay Kalra) #3