Not Just Another Thing I Have To Do




I think writer Brenda Ueland had it right.

She said, “The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”

It’s all about play and slowing down.

Writing is enjoyable. Even during a long dry spell. Even when the words feel heavy and meaningless.  Even during these times, it is important to remember that I do like to write. 

When I don’t rush.  When I slow down like I do for any mindful activity like walking or meditating. When I slow down to let the words fall good or bad on my page. 

Writing is joyful.

In my Developing a Writing Habit class, I tell students to think of writing as not just one more thing you have to do. It’s what you choose to do. It’s what you want to do.

Writing is about exploring, expressing and playing.  Writing is about making discoveries, solving problems, creating new worlds, and feeling a whole spectrum of emotions.

Never make it seem like it’s just a chore that you need to do or you’ll never do it.

Yes, there will be times when it’s frustrating and difficult and you won’t feel like doing it.

 But hang in there just a little longer and things will change.

They always do.  

And when it does the magic of writing will return.

As Sherlock Holmes once said to Watson, “The game is afoot.”

More or Less




On this last weekend of 2017, the Minnesota meteorologists on the news are telling me to look forward to 90 continuous hours of subzero weather. Too cold to go out, I have this glorious weekend of “unplanned time” ahead of me.

I plan on using this indoor time for creativity.

Writer, Brenda Ueland,  in her classic book,  If You Want to Write, said, “…So you see, imagination needs moodling —long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering.”

The words moodling, dawdling, puttering  all make me happy.  They are fun words. Words that we are not encouraged to really think about doing today.

“Idling! How dare you be idle!  There are groceries to buy, floors to mop, clothes to wash!”

For imagination to strike or allow to surface, puttering is a necessary technique.

I know time is not wasted when I dawdle.  When I start going through my piles, drawers, boxes. I know I will find things I had forgotten about. And I know I will strike gold.  Ideas, stories, and words will start appearing.  New connections will be made.

And I will wonder, “Why haven’t I done this more?”

But that answer is way too easy.  Busyness is a product of our culture.

Perhaps in 2018, I will declare more days to puttering without having an excuse like the weather.

Writing is Always Worth It


When leading a class on Creating a Writing Habit recently, I was once again reminded about how when you are writing, the creative imagination may not always be there when you want it, but that in the end, by keeping at it (writing), it will always be worth it,

Even during our driest days, writing is always worth it. Because if you stick to it, if you are persistent, inspiration peeks its shy face out and gives you the best beaming smile you could ever imagine.

It reminds me of Brenda Ueland’s classic book, If You Want to Write. In it she writes, “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” Her words are just as encouraging to any writer today as they were when she wrote them in 1938.

Those words are what I try to tell writers in my class.

So in that same writing class, a woman shared her own words about our class. — the atmosphere, the people and the community that formed in just a brief six weeks.

She graciously agreed to let me share her words here.

Thanks Mellany for capturing the mood of what a writers workshop does for all of us as we strive to continue to write and to develop a writer’s habit.

And thank you class for a wonderful experience!

What really made that night special was that they understood.

Writing is worth it.


My Writing Class

by Mellany Zepelak

It could almost begin like a joke: a Rabbi, a Kenyan, and a Christian walked into a writing class… Yet it’s not a joke. It’s fact. Add to that a lady from Argentina, a lady who is a professional class taker, a pilot, an artist, a lady who’s taken this class before, and an open, encouraging instructor; and that sums up the remnant of class since the first day.
This has been a blessed experience. I’ve found extensive creativity – What is ever going to happen to that guy at the bar? Discovery – knowing where we’re from and reflecting on those we won’t see in this life again. Raw honesty – how hurtful people can be. There has been mystery – Who took the candy bars? And fear – X marks the spot. There’s also been humor along the way.

All the while each for their own vision and purpose seeking to create and sustain a habit of writing. Where will these writings go? What will become of their practiced habits? Who will the writers themselves become as a result of their writing? Future time and the consistency (or lack thereof) of the habit will answer these questions.
In the midst of it all I’ve learned the beauty of listening to and encouraging others in what is important to them.

I’ve learned about the Shivah and the beauty of grief and reflection. I’ve learned about Kenya and how it can still be home to an American. I’ve learned about bravery from a lady writing in her second language. I’ve learned about word play, repetition, and fun. I’ve learned the great gift of doing something for myself in a season when most of my day consists of doing something for others. I’ve learned writing is an adventure, a gift, an opportunity, and a responsibility.
I’ve learned that gathering in a room with many different than me in age, talent, preferences and more, can teach me, humble me, and bring forth growth within me. I’ve learned that God has a time for everything and the time to grow in writing is now. And I’ve learned that He’ll use many around me to hone the craft. Like perhaps a Rabbi, an American Kenyan, a lady from Argentina, a professional class taker, a pilot, an artist, a lady with an established habit who has taken the class before, and an encouraging instructor.