Today’s guest post is by Courtney Ellis, author of the recently released Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit.
There’s no cliché for a cheerful writer. We all know the unhappy writer tropes—the moody misanthrope, the coffee-addicted insomniac, the introverted naval-gazer. Steinbeck sharpened dozens of pencils before he began his work each day. Emily Dickinson rarely left her home. Hemingway drank heavily. (This is not recommended.)
For the Christian writer there is the tension between the hard work of craft—writing isn’t just inspiration, after all, it is also sweat and toil and ruthless editing—and the scriptural call to “Rejoice always!” (Phil. 4:4). Can we truly do both?
My latest book explores God’s gift of playfulness as a vital source of fuel for our joy, connection, and creativity. It is nearly impossible to stay sad while engaging in play! The universal lessons contained in Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit apply to the writerly life too.
First, we are invited to rest well. The importance of the call and command to practice Sabbath rest is as important for authors as it is for anyone. A frazzled, exhausted writer will struggle to find happiness. As we engage in “praying and playing,” as Eugene Peterson once put it, God renews us for the work ahead through the joy of the Sabbath. Write with all your heart, then rest, relax, recreate. Read widely and not only (or even mainly!) in your genre.
Secondly, we are given permission to do useless things. Perhaps you love jigsaw puzzles or baking French macarons or racing BMX bikes, but you rarely allow yourself the opportunity because there is work to do. What if I told you that engaging in a bit of play—just for the pure fun of it—could help refill your tank for the work ahead? Play provides a wonderful source of energy.
When all our writing is driven toward a goal—that hoped-for book deal, perhaps, or a blog we keep faithfully, or maybe a publication we pitch to faithfully year after year—we can begin to forget what first drew us into the world of words in the first place. Sometimes, write only for fun. Create a whimsical Christmas card, write and illustrate your own children’s book with a Sharpie and a handful of crayons, or give a few minutes to that passion project that no one else will ever see.
There are eight more writerly invitations into play contained within the pages of Happy Now. I could share them all with you here, but … where’s the fun in that?