The Bends, the Shouting, the Real Work

By Posted in - Writing on September 17th, 2014 25 Comments

photo 4Good morning! I’m a couple weeks into writing a new book, and at the same time, stealing hours from the new book writing to finish up another project. That means I’m living at both ends of the book process, right at the same time: the wild, scrawling, expansive beginning, and the change-a-word, delete-a-comma very ending part, too. Both are immensely enjoyable, but in my experience, they both require a lot—a lot of brain, a lot of soul, a lot of time.

These last couple weeks have felt like scuba diving for the first time in a long time—you love it, it’s sort of familiar, but yikes! it’s easy to get the bends those first few times back in the water—too far down too quickly, ears exploding, lungs adjusting. I’m relearning rhythms, rebuilding muscles, diving deeper and deeper each day. It’s been wonderful…and I’ve had to work hard to show myself kindness and grace as I fumble back into it.

As ever, the writing process is as spiritual as you want it to be, as you’ll allow it to be. For me, writing is a lot like prayer, a lot like running, a lot like meditation: you trust that in doing it you will be transformed into the kind of person who does it better with each week, with each month, with each year. You trust that the work changes you into the kind of person who can more easily and deeply and wholeheartedly do that work.

One of the super weird parts about being a writer for me is that I’m a full-on, 1000% extrovert. Not a great fit for a writer, it seems. Much of my internal struggle at the beginning of a writing project is re-learning to be alone again, re-learning the silence. It’s good for me, but it’s hard for me.

I do think it’s sort of an advantage for writers and makers of any kind to be introverts, but somehow I’ve found my extrovert self here. I choose to believe it’s possible, in the same way it’s totally possible for introverts to be very effective team leaders, even though it requires less alone time than they might prefer. But it’s tricky, and sometimes I feel like a puppy who wants to play, stuck inside all day long.

These past few weeks I’ve been reminded again that the real work is not the typing. For me the real work sometimes is closing your ears to too many other voices. This is often the hardest part for me. I think I’m a little more…permeable than the average bear.

Some of this is what makes me a decent writer, I think—I feel what other people feel, I pick up on things many of us perceive and see, and then when you read something, you feel like maybe you’ve felt that same thing. That’s a good thing.

But yesterday was one of those days when everyone else’s strong opinions felt like they landed on my heart with a thud—do this differently, care more about this, come to my thing, you did this wrong, my email is urgent-er than the rest. I felt like my computer was shouting at me.

It’s hard to get work done when that happens, but this is what I’m learning: a lot of the work isn’t the typing. It’s the mental discipline to not be driven by other people’s voices and expectations. You will never do great writing when you’re being driven by other people’s voices and expectations.

Essentially, in addition to being an extrovert, I’ve got a serious people-pleasing thing, and that makes good writing a challenge: because the nature of it is being unavailable, at least for little stretches. The nature of it is having to say, I hear you, but I’m actually practicing not hearing you for just a little while. People love this…

Not true. People will only yell more loudly, and part of the work is learning to let them yell, and keep typing. If you decide to make things–books, blogs, paintings, photographs, albums, sculptures, you will have to learn to create silence. This is hard for me. This is good for me.

Other people’s opinions and expectations matter. But they don’t drive everything. And making things means building up a little wall, for a short time, when you say, essentially: I will be with you later. I hear you, I love you, I will be with you later. Because I’m creating silence right now. I’m making stuff.

Every time I write about writing, I’m reminded how deeply I love this work, how thankful I am to do it, how grateful I am for the work it does in me. Back to it. Love & coffee. XO–S

SIMPLIFY Giveaway Winners!

By Posted in - General on August 21st, 2014 4 Comments

Congratulations to these twenty lucky people! The publishing team will send you an email soon to get your mailing address & then your book will be on its way…

1. Nancy Smith
2. Rhonda Roberts
3. Maggie Broderick
4. …

Read More →


By Posted in - General on May 20th, 2014 45 Comments

I just loaded up more than twenty bags and boxes for a garage sale this weekend—not mine, of course, because of all the things in the world I’m terrible at, running a garage sale …

Read More →

On Finding Your Passion

By Posted in - General on May 13th, 2014 29 Comments

Lately I’ve been speaking quite often on the topics of calling and passion, specifically as those topics relate to marriage and parenting and family—what it looks like to build space into a marriage and a …

Read More →

Mother’s Day video

By Posted in - Family on May 11th, 2014 3 Comments

Happy, happy, happy Mother’s Day! My very talented brother-in-law Eric made this short film to honor moms and all the women who nurture and influence and shape us. Isn’t it beautiful?

It’s been a full-to-bursting weekend …

Read More →

A Mother’s Day Book List

By Posted in - General on May 7th, 2014 40 Comments

Mother’s Day always makes me think of books—maybe because of all the things that are so very different about my mother and I, one way we’re absolutely one thousand percent the same is that …

Read More →

On Laundry & Love Stories

By Posted in - General on April 29th, 2014 38 Comments

If I have learned anything at all this year, it’s that marriages never get better on accident, and they never get better on leftovers.

I chatted with a new friend in Nashville last week. She …

Read More →

On Vulnerability & Cats

By Posted in - General on April 16th, 2014 32 Comments

So I asked Twitter & Facebook friends for a blog topic that was non-boring, and the very first response was VULNERABILITY.

Done. Everyone, it seems, is talking about vulnerability right now, which is fantastic. I credit …

Read More →

Why I Love Thursday Nights

By Posted in - General on March 19th, 2014 47 Comments


You know I believe friendship is God’s greatest evidence of himself here on earth.  You know I believe everyone needs a home team: a go-to, show-up, middle of the night, come-in-without-knocking tribe …

Read More →

All the Things

By Posted in - General on January 16th, 2014 36 Comments

I know, I know. It’s January 16th. We’re well into a brand spanking new 2014, but I’m still catching up. Nothing about the end of December and the beginning of January went according to plan–although …

Read More →

Merry Christmas!

By Posted in - General on December 24th, 2013 11 Comments

Merry Merry Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

This year was a feast: full to bursting with moments and experiences and conversations that I’ll keep in my heart …

Read More →