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Art & Soul: Lauren Winner (Day 2)

This post will complete my series of articles on the Art & Soul conference from last weekend.

Last Saturday morning at the Art & Soul conference Lauren Winner presented On Writing and Prayer. Some more excerpts from her lecture (Part 2 of 2):

Easier Said than Done
Winner said:

It is easier to write about or talk about prayer or writing than to actually do them.

Winner then read the children’s story Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book. This was extremely funny. It pointed out how easy it is to procrastinate when trying to write.

Lauren Winner sets up a multi-media ‘Mr. Putter and Tabby’ presentation

The Discipline of Writing
Winner said that both writing and prayer are disciplines, but both can be fetishized to the point of failure. Like New Year’s resolutions, we can commit to write every day and pray every day.

Winner said:

Writing every day is probably a good thing. I don’t know; I’ve never done it!

We begin to think there is one right system to writing, but this is not the case.

Students ask her, “What is your writing routine?” Winner admits she too is guilty of festishizing other writer’s routines, but says we must find our way into our own disciplines.

Writing & Prayer Both Community Undertakings
Of all her points, this was the most counter-intuitive.

All prayer is praying corporately. Winner said:

Even when we pray alone in our closet we are entering the Triune life, and the Triune life is about the community of God. When I go to prayer I am not merely having a conversation with God, the prayer IS God. Prayer is about entering the ongoing community with God.

She said if you want to commit to write on a regular basis, tell your family you are going to do it. Writing in this sense is a communal undertaking in the absence of other people. Your family commits with you to give you the space and time to devote to the writing craft.

Some Writing Advice
Natalie Goldberg says in her book Wild Mind : Living the Writer’s Life (available here):

When you’re done writing for the day, stop in the middle of a sentence.

Winner found this works, though you might not think so till you’ve tried it.

This seems odd, but Winner finds when you pick up writing the next day, you don’t suffer from the perils of feeling stumped by a blank page. The momentum of an unfinished sentence allows you to more readily pick up and begin writing again.

Winner also recommends Rita Mae Brown’s book on writing Starting from Scratch (available here).

Two Pieces of advice from this book:

1) You’re a better writer if you exercise

Not sure if it’s the endorphins or the downtime to let your creative juices flow, but Winner finds this to be very true.

2) You can only have two of these three things

  • Have a job that pays your mortgage.
  • Write.
  • Have a life.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can have all three.

On Writing A Dissertation
Winner is struggling to complete her dissertation. She said:

I keep waiting for the dissertation elves to show up.

I suppose we all need such elves from time to time!

1 Comment

  1. Eddie Smith

    Agreed. As a writer and a prayer leader, I’ve often said, “When it’s all said and done, when it comes to prayer, there’s usually more said than done.” And I’ve never thought about the similarities of the disciplines of prayer and writing. Very good!!

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