Step Ten – Continue to examine ourselves, our writing and our writing gift daily and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.
By now we have asked God to reveal all the mistakes and sins of our past. We have made amends to those we have hurt in our writing and writing career. We have turned our work over to God. But where do we go from here? We are called to live a life examined.
“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Plato
We are now living in the life of the Holy Spirit. How do we grow and continue in the wonderful sense of peace and love that this life offers? How do we use our gift of words to heal and teach the wounded world? We need to give our writing to God – recognizing that it was His all along.
Each morning we need to offer the day, ourselves and our work to God. Taking the time to go into the humility of prayer centers us. Asking God to give us the inspiration and knowledge we need to reach the hearts of the lost is essential. Let Him lead you gently into the day He has planned for you. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer, but it is not something you can skip. We writers tend to rush to our work, trying not to lose a moment of our precious writing time. Don’t skip this morning dedication. It will make the writing better, more focused and easier.
Now that we know ourselves it will be easier to catch ourselves when we fall into that sin pattern that we have developed as writers. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to guide us away from jealousy, greed, gossip, resentment and fear. Pray that He will instead lead our writing and our hearts into a writing life of love and caring. When we are aware of our motives in our work it is easy to follow His Will. Now if we fall, we recognize and admit it and make restitution immediately.
This way of living and writing is so peaceful. There is no unbridled ambition or hurt because we know that we have turned over our writing and its purpose to the Lord. We need not worry about it anymore. We only need to listen as He whispers inspiration and guidance to our hearts. It is a gift after all and when we turn it over to Him, His way is so much larger than ours. With all the ambition, jealousy and resentment gone we can concentrate on the words and tales of our craft. What joy I have found in just loving and developing my skills.
The Church calls us to examine our conscience each day. In reviewing our day, we are guided by the Holy Spirit to see the wrongs we have done in order to make changes and amends. It is the same in our writing life.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
1430 Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.23
1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).
Each night we need to examine the day we have just lived. Not only our personal life but also in our writing and marketing. The Catholic Church has long taught that a nightly examination of conscience is critical in living a life in the Spirit. That is also true for our writing life. The Church has provided us with many guides to our nightly examination of conscience. Here is my take on a daily examination for a writer. It is a list of questions to ask daily about what we wrote that day:
- Did I respect the life and dignity of my readers?
- Did I look for the face and teachings of Christ in my characters, prose and stories?
- Did I protect the privacy and dignity of those I write about?
- Am I using my words to promote protection of life from cradle to grave?
- Is my work positive for my readers?
- Does my work strengthen or undermine the institution of marriage and family?
- Do I touch on the problems of society with answers that are compatible with Church teachings and the Gospel?
- Does my work reflect the dignity of the poor, the working and the marginalized?
- Are my words healing or divisive? Kind or judgmental?
- Was I generous to my family, friends and other writers?
- Did my work or my marketing fall into jealousy, greed or fear?
- Did I teach the dignity of life for people, animals and the good earth that God created?
If all is well I can go to sleep in peace. If not, I can plan to make it better tomorrow and change any harm I may have caused. A daily examination will fill your dreams with inspiration and possibly even exiting new plots. Our God is so generous when we follow His Way. And as we sense the flow of the Holy Spirit in our life we will share it in our work!
Karen Kelly Boyce is a mother of two and grandmother of two who lives on a farm in N.J. with her retired husband. She and her husband love to camp and take ‘road trips’ around the country. She has published four novels and three children’s books. Her website is www.karenkellyboyce.com