Sunday, 18 October 2015

Read, respond, write by Joy Lenton

Do you have a tendency to get involved with things you never intended to? I do.

And I'm not talking about gazing out the window while munching chocolate biscuits instead of pressing on with the 'work in progress'.

Unless that is, window gazing people watching, coffee drinking and biscuit eating are your necessary research aids, in which case please carry on.

No, this is when you see an idea on-line, seize it by the throat and run with it.

Your mind full of 'why don't I do that?' - why not, indeed. Impulsive, moi?

It happened to me recently as I read the given prompts for 31 days of five-minute-free-writing (helpfully provided well in advance) while linking up a five-minute-friday post.

I paused, pondered and prayed. So far, so good.

Ideas flowed. Inspiration came, and I began to put aside a few posts in draft form ready for the writing month to come.

It began with a 'here's-one-I-made-earlier' poem, then new ones appeared alongside prayer whispers, prayers and reflections. 

Before long, I was reading (the prompts), responding (the thinking stage) and writing like a seasoned 31 day pro, although my only prior experience was in writing '31 days of poetry for the soul'. With no pre-planning then, I found myself nearly drifting into Advent in my drive to produce new poems.

This time, a warm happy glow came over me after the first two weeks, as if I'd completed a marathon, and in a way I had, even while missing some days.

As a non-fiction writer, I haven't yet participated in the NANOWRIMO writing marathon, and would have great difficulty in achieving the daily word count.

Because I type slowly and have uncooperative arthritic hands and joints which seize up if too much is required of them. Not to mention brain fog and chronic fatigue problems.

But scribbling fast into a notepad for 5 (ish) minutes is doable, even if it takes much longer to decipher my scrawl, type it up, edit and add images. 

Sometimes a blank screen/piece of paper can be daunting. And that's why this daily prompt has been such a gift, as well as a huge act of faith that words will come.

Our minds can often falter plucking words out of the ether but give them a word to chew on and the creative juices start flowing. At least, that's how mine seems to be wired after a few years of joining in with word prompts on a regular basis.

This year I didn't announce my intentions beforehand on the blog, just dived straight in with a splash. No promises or heavy expectations. No fancy theme button.

If you're liking the sound of the 31 day writing challenge, then you could always join in now (who's counting?) on an occasional basis as I am, or carefully and prayerfully consider what to write and plan ahead for next year. 

The joy of it is the flexibility because you get to choose your main theme, style and length of posts to suit you.

And I love the supportive community too. I'm actively trying to read and respond to some writing friends' posts and others do the same for me.

Hope this taster has whet your appetite. 

Click here to find out more about 31 days of five-minute-free-writes and how to link up your blog there. 

Or to discover how it all began and how to officially link up in community, click here. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a notepad and pen. Happy writing, friends! 

Joy is a grateful grace dweller who finds community among the weak and the broken, the edge-dwellers and truth-tellers.

She enjoys having fellowship with poets, writers, mystics and contemplatives as she seeks after God's heart.

You can find her raking for beauty out of ashes at and where she writes to encourage others on their journey of life and faith.

She would love to connect with you on her blogs, or on Twitter, Facebook or Google +


  1. That sounds like a really good idea Joy. It sounds like you can stretch your creative juices in different ways

    1. Thanks, Wendy. Yes, it definitely helps to ignite the flow and stretch the creative juices in different ways! It's a challenge which can help to fine-tune our reactions and inspire our writing processes. :)

  2. I'm glad you are enjoying the 5 minute challenge, Joy.
    I jumped in without preparation when I discovered the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge in 2013. I have now taken part three times and am planning for 2016. The A to Z community is also very supportive and it is one of the biggest communities of bloggers with over 1000 taking part. Short posts are preferred and there is a list of suggested categories, although the choice of theme is left open. Indeed, there is no need to have a theme at all. Sue

    1. Oh I like the sound of that, Sue! I think I will check it out for 2016. It seems as doable as the five-minute-free-writes is proving to be. And I guess there is grace for missing a letter or two along the way? Now I think about it, I read the A-Z series on Lucy Mills' blog and she also suffers from M.E. The forward planning part would be essential for me too. Thank you for giving me a new writing idea and goal! October isn't a particularly easy time of year for me, so I quite fancy the idea of doing a series in April. :)

    2. Some of the minions have been a little over-officious deleting participants blogs from the linky if they got behind. Preparing in advance and scheduling posts is one way around this. I took part one year in spite of being away from the internet for part of April. I hope you enjoy this, Joy, if you decide to join in. Sue

    3. That sounds a bit unfair, Sue. But maybe there are participant rules to abide by? Yes, it would be far preferable to plan and prepare posts in advance, scheduling them as necessary. Maybe I'll see you there next April! Blessings. :)

  3. I'm afraid I often get involved in doing things I didn't intend to do, all good things in their own right, but not THE THING I SET OUT TO DO THIS MORNING. Your thing you didn't set out to do sounds much better.

    1. That's the key thing for us to decipher some days as we ponder whether we are taking on the good, better or the best that God desires us to do. Not an easy task by any means. Life renders us eminently distractable. Yet I've also discovered how often God meets with me in the unanticipated events. Sometimes it pays for us to be interruptible so that we don't miss golden moments of grace. Thank you, Charlie, for taking time out to read this post!

  4. Oh, Joy, this is wonderful. I've been stuck for months now, and reading your post has made me realise that maybe a prompt and a short (very short) post might be the way forward. I've noted that Sue mentioned the A-Z idea as well - I wonder if something like this might help me get back into feeling like a writer again.
    Thank you. xxx

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks, Helen. I'm glad this has inspired you and ignited a fresh desire to share your own wonderful words. I can highly recommend joining in with five-minute-friday because it's such a liberating activity within a loving and supportive community. Perfectionism goes out the window. Word prompts are a great way to unleash our creativity and spark ideas.
      You may like to check this out if you have a Kindle:
      You definitely ARE a writer, my friend! Please don't let life's temporary setbacks derail you. Although you may have been in a waiting season for a while, when the time is ripe it is sure to bring forth fruit for you. May God bless you abundantly as you surrender your words to Him. Xox <3

  5. Great post Joy.Perhaps we try to bite off too much to chew a lot of the time. This one sounds do-able. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Deborah! I'm always apt "to bite off too much to chew." It helps to have some goals which are more easily accessible and achievable so that we can gain confidence in small things. Hope you can join in with this next year. It certainly helps to keep the writing mojo exercised! :) x