[Tipster] Your Writing Needs More Sacred Time

tipster post Jan 16, 2023

I grew up on the dry, windy prairies of the Dakotas.

My first pair of real shoes were a pair of cowboy boots. My first pet was a Shetland pony named "Topsy."

I am rural in the deepest parts of my soul. I am proud of that.

I attended a small private high school in South Dakota, thirteen miles from the nearest town (of 2,500 people).

There were 16 students in my high school class.

So I know rural. And I know well the rural mindset.

Yet, for most of my adult life, I've lived in the suburbs of Chicago. I am a suburbanite through and through.

I've discovered that the rural mindset and the suburban (and maybe even the urban) mindset are the same:

Life is consumed with the secular.

And that makes it really hard to be a writer.

Only the Secular Matters to Your Family and Friends

In rural America, for the most part, only the secular really has lasting value to the community. And what I mean by secular is this:

The secular is working hard.

The secular is producing children and doting on them in school and sports.

The secular is making a home. And keeping it clean.

The secular is being a good church or synagogue person.

The secular is volunteering for the volunteer fire department or the homeless shelter.

The secular is providing meals to your neighbor when she has hip surgery.

Of course, this secular mindset is not limited to rural folk.

It's how your friends think, too.

It's how your family thinks. It's how your neighbors think.

Frankly, it's how you think. It is how I think.

And that's why there is never time to write. To be creative. To imagine. To initiate something new.

The Opposite of Secular Is Sacred

In the fourteenth century, the word "secular" meant something like:

    ".... living in the world, not belonging to a religious order..."

The idea was this:

There are spiritual people (the clergy), and then there are the rest of us (the hoi polloi) who live in the real world.

The real word is secular, the religious people (monks, pastors, priests, nuns, et al) are non-secular.

They are, uh, sacred.

Or holy. Or, "set apart."

The word "sacred" really means "to set apart."

If we fast forward to 2023, the word "secular" means "the grind." Secular is our day-to-day lives.

It's the hustle and bustle.

And it's the secular that squeezes out the Sacred.

And if you want to write, you need more of the Sacred time in your life.

What Is the Sacred?

The Sacred is the 45 minutes that you've stolen to write in the early morning before your kids awake.

The Sacred is the argument that you needed to have with your spouse about carving out time for you to write.

He can't figure out what writing has to do with real life. He has no categories for the Sacred.

The Sacred is the Saturday that you spent in the quiet library in your community, researching an idea for your book.

The Sacred is the money you spent for a writer's conference.

The Sacred is the two days away from your family, focused only on you - and the words that you want to birth into the world.

Discover Your Non-Secular

Melissa, my partner in Journey Sixty6, found this quote from Toni Morrison, the great American novelist:

"I always get up and make a pot of coffee while it is still dark - it must be dark - and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come ... And I realized that for me this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call 'non-secular'."

Another word for non-secular is "Sacred," set apart.

You will need to fight for the Sacred.

You will need to be scrappy.

You will need to say no to others (especially the kids), and that is never easy.

I challenge you in 2023 to say more yeses to the Sacred and a few more nos to the secular.

Now, buckle up and make space for the Sacred.



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