I am a practicing Catholic, and therefore I try to write stories which give God glory and do not controvert His teachings. This does not mean the characters in my stories are sinless saints – they are yet of earth, and therefore subject to the same temptations and failings as we all are. You are going to run into characters in my books that break more than one of the Ten Commandments several times, readers, don’t worry about that.
The reason I bring up my Faith here and now is that, for several years, I heard other Catholic Christian authors talk about saying prayers before they sat down to write. In an example of the human frailty you will see in my characters, hearing this advice usually upset me; when I started writing for publishing markets, I didn’t take time to say a prayer before settling down in front of my computer. In fact, I thought saying a prayer would take up too much of the time I would need to get some writing in before my daily activities started.
After a while, though, God poked my conscience enough that I became truly uncomfortable with not saying a prayer before beginning to write. I eventually started to say a prayer I had found on the Catholic Writer’s Guild website before settling down to work.
I wasn’t exactly exemplary in keeping up with this prayer at first; some days I would forget to say it, or I would not say it in a meaningful way. Over time, however, I got into the habit of pulling up the file with this prayer immediately after turning on my computer. Now I read the prayer silently to myself every day before I write. I usually add a few personal requests of my own once I finish reading it, then close the file and jump into whatever project is foremost on my plate.
By now I can tell that, if I do not say this prayer before I start writing, getting words out on digital paper will be much harder for me than it will be if I take the time to say my prayer. I still have days where getting even five hundred words down is grinding, mind-numbing work. I still have days where I have to grit my teeth and make myself fill that quota rather than run off to adjust my notes for a future series or a new novel idea. The prayer doesn’t make all my problems and temptations disappear.
What it does, though, is make me realize that I am not the ultimate authority in my career. God has given me this gift, and He helps me use it. He helps me keep my teeth gritted and my fingers typing out five hundred grueling words I would rather put aside for another day/week/future point. He helps me start an article/project which terrifies me or tempers my enthusiasm for what I am writing so that I am thinking as I work. And He does it because I take the one or two minutes necessary to ask Him for that aid in prayer before I get writing.
So if, like me, you are a Christian writer who thinks, “I don’t have time to say a prayer before I start writing!” trust me when I say that you do and you should. It might seem time consuming at first, but after a while, you could no more start writing without saying a prayer than you could if you left the computer turned off.
Prayer helps authors. Don’t be afraid to ask God to give you an idea for a story, to help you through a rough patch in your writing, or to make you a better author. He created you and He loves you; He is interested in whatever interests you. If you want to be a writer – any kind of writer – so badly that the idea of not writing makes your life seem dim and dull, then odds are good He put that desire in your heart. And if He did that, then He wants you to succeed at this business more than you do.
So take the time to say a prayer before you settle in to write. Keep your mind’s and heart’s eyes and ears open so you can hear Him when He sends you a suggestion or offers you some comfort. He’ll be there every time, even when you feel like He’s not present and you just want to quit writing this stupid thing and go write something fun RIGHT NOW!
Here is the prayer the Catholic Writer’s Guild presented and which I say every time I sit down to write. If you aren’t Catholic and feel uncomfortable saying this particular prayer, find a different one or make up your own. You won’t regret it, I promise.
Catholic Writer’s Guild Prayer
Guide our minds, our hearts, our hands,
as we write, speak, illustrate –
help our words to live in union with the Word.
Teach us discipline and skill
to use the talents God gives us.
Give us also insight and courage
to convey God’s love through our craft,
and humility to be open
to His divine will, shaping our lives,
in loving loyalty to His Church.
In Christ’s name,
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