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In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard writes about how important it is for authors to keep a schedule. I’ve heard other writers speak to this, which seems counter-intuitive. We non-writers tend to think creative types are at their best in moments of spontaneity, but Dillard and other authors argue that those moments of spontaneity show up most often when they are hard at work in pursuit of the writing life.
“How we spend our days,” Dillard writes, “is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”
In other words, if you never schedule time to write, you never will. But if you are disciplined and follow a schedule of writing, you will, little by little, become a writer. How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives.
Too many of us fritter away our days on trivial pursuits. We know all about the latest celebrity gossip and have the high score on the latest video game, but our deepest desires remain beyond our grasp. Dillard has captured a basic truth of life, not just the writing life. We don’t become anything worthwhile by accident. We must work at becoming those things we wish to be.
Want to end this life as a person of prayer? You must schedule time for prayer and then stick to your schedule. Want to be a person who is giving? You must plan on being a giver and then follow through. Want to be a person who knows the Scriptures? Have a plan for reading the Bible every day. There are lots of reading plans out there. Pick one and pursue it.
Sure there will be starts and stops. You will mess up. That’s not fatal, so long as you don’t give up.
Those who have been saved by God’s remarkable grace have been saved not simply from our sins, but for his divine purposes. Some of us have been called to be writers, others artists, some teachers and others prophets. All of us have been called to be good friends, faithful servants, and eager students of our Lord. Let us not waste our lives on trivial pursuits. Let us cast our nets for the catching of our days. For how we spend this hour and that one, isn’t just what we’re doing, it’s who we are becoming.
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Grace and peace,