HABIT 7.4: Sharpen The Spiritual Saw

I’ve been spending some time considering how to approach this post without making it sound like a come-to-Jesus meeting. Or something.

Not that there’s anything WRONG with come-to-Jesus meetings. I’ve been to a few. The potlucks were lovely. Ahem.

But the point to this, the final Big Rock of the Franklin Covey system, is to find spiritual motivation and inspiration. To mean that doesn’t necessarily giving the ol’ soul a weekly spit and polish, though it can if that’s where you find peace of mind and heart. The idea to is clear yourself, however temprorarily, of the usual pile up of stress, anxiety, and general broo-ha-ha of finding balance between being a writer and a general human being.

To me, sharpening the spiritual saw means clearing the decks. It’s a time for focus on the inner writer, the story-telling heart. I’ve found some of my best moments, some of my most startling “click” connections, during this time. It’s also a time to refresh yourself, a mini stay-cation for mind and body. It’s a renewal. Otherwise writing ceases to be a creative-high inducing gig of Awesome, and starts being a chore, right up there with mucking out the bathrooms.

I read a really great interview recently with one of my favorite writers, Joss Whedon (pauses for sea of overwhelming SQUEE!). Apparently he nearly killed himself with exhuastion filming Avengers. The idea of filming Avengers 2 and other assorted comic bookery for Marvel sounded rather like having his toenails removed one by one. Or being forced to listen to Angel sing a Manilow medley.

He did two things. Between filming and post production, he filmed Much Ado About Nothing, a project deep, abiding love and unadulterated fun. As soon as he started filming on location at his home, all the stress of Avengers just poured out of him. The other thing he did, before agreeing to an extended deal with Marvel, was sit in a quiet pub with a notebook (see? Real Writers have notebooks!) and wrote down everything he wanted to accomplish with a sequel. Once he filled the page, he called his agent and agreed to a deal. By taking those moments of inner, honest evaluation he found his center again, and his renewal.

Read the full Co.Create article here.

Here are Franklin Covey’s suggestions for filling the spiritual well:

  • Watch, listen, and enjoy the world of nature.
  • Read inspirational literature, in particular, biographies of people who inspire you.
  • Commit to a life of total integrity to your priorities.
  • Listen to inspirational, uplifting music.
  • Commit to serve your community. Give of your time, money, and self.
  • Practice spiritual worship that edifies.

Here are some of the things I do:

  • Being a Vile Northerner-turned-Floridian, I can take notebook to the pool in my condo complex, or to the beach. On days cooler than 80 degrees I pretty much have the pool to myself if I want peace and quiet. The beaches around here of tons of tiki huts on the sand, and are a great place to people watch. You never know if the beach bum on the bench next to you is an artist or a six-figure lawyer, and both are super fun to talk to. There’s something centering about being near water.
  • I listen that supports what I’m writing. For Brighid’s Cross it was a combination of rock and industrial influences. For Brighid’s Mark is was jazz and blues. There’s a musical core to everything I write, because it’s so much of my core.
  • On Sunday mornings when I do my weekly planning with Franklin Covey, I use a journal to re-commit myself to writing by writing down everything I want to accomplish that week. What milestones do I want to hit? What are my concerns? What is the spine of story I’m working on and my feelings regarding same? Do I need to a break to write something else until I figure out what I’m doing wrong in the current project?
  • My community is one of writers, and readers. So here am I, grateful and giving my time. Wanting to help anyone else travelling this crazy road called Writing. Word Wrangling is a difficult and dangerous biz, yo. There’s safety in numbers. This is why I do first chapter critiques over at Online Writing Workship for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Not only does this give me the chance to give back, but it affords me the chance to go back to my own writing with a fresh eye.

Aaaaaaaaand that concludes this series on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers. I hope you’ve found it edifying, and possibly vaguely amusing.

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