03 Apr 2014

Five Minute Friday: Writer

I steal the time I need to write.

Maybe you do too.


Maybe you have young kids and a house to run and a job and writing has to happen in the fringe hours. Maybe you’re an accidental writer. Who can’t seem to quit. Me too.

But here’s the thing – if you love to write, if you need to write, if you have to write – you will.

When I had this book growing in my belly but no time to deliver it onto paper, I called my mother in law. Prayer partner, built in encourager, she committed to be with me in spirit every 5 a.m. when I was dragging myself out from under the warm covers and into the quiet playroom to tap out my story, before I thought anyone would ever read it. I do not like early mornings. But I knew she would be up too, getting ready for school, waiting to hear from me about how the writing went.

So I’d pull my crazed hair into a ponytail, slip on my glasses, and sit for a few uninterrupted hours of remembering the days I thought I never wanted to be anybody’s mother.
-excerpted from Surprised by Motherhood.

If you’ve only got one hour in the day to write, don’t spend it defeated. Spend it writing.— tweet it.

If you've only got 1 hour in the day to write

 Books are written one paragraph, one blog post length page, one stolen hour at a time.

No one runs off to mountain cabins to write. We carve out time to write right there between the dirty dishes and the undone laundry. We write at our kitchen tables, hidden in Panera back booths, sometimes in the front seat of a crazy messy minivan.

And our kids keep on whining and crying and needing diapers changed and book reports prepared and school lunches made and wrestling matches celebrated all the way through.

There is no perfect time or place to write. There’s just the time and place you’ve got.




Grab onto it with both hands. Write your heart out – write what you know – write your chaos and mess and the story you’re actually living. And it will beat out the hearts of your readers because they will look deep into your actual story and say, “Yes, me too.”

Writer isn’t a job title or a degree or a noun reserved only for names we already recognize. It’s what you do.

It took me almost an entire year to write this book – but every, single, stolen minute was worth it. I loved the writing more than everything else I was missing out on – including TV, cooking real meals, deep cleaning or time spent doing anything in the fringe hours other than writing.

Be encouraged, writers. You are not alone in your exhausted, stolen, writing moments.

Write on.

Sometimes just five stolen minutes at a time.

Now, it’s time to write.

We call it Five Minute Friday. Where everyone writes for five, unedited minutes all on the same prompt. This week, that prompt is the challenge itself, the dare, the calling, the passion.

This week’s prompt is “WRITER.”

And if you’re anywhere near Northern Virginia area on Saturday – come join us for the book launch party we’re throwing to celebrate all the stolen hours that turned into a book. There will be a candy bar. Need I say more? Details over here.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I’ve NEVER been first. Lisa – love your words, your pics, and your heart. The word today was perfect. It’s a word I’ve been contemplating over lately. And you put it beautifully — “Writer isn’t a job title or a degree or a noun reserved only for names we already recognize. It’s what you do.” Thank you!

  2. 2

    It is late here. After 11 p.m. I have a sick four-year-old little girl who is sleeping fitfully. Her six-year-old sister had her turn just two nights ago.

    I sit here, in the dark, with my laptop, writing.


    Your words made my heart beat a little faster and tears prick the rims of my eyes.

    It’s hard, this balancing act of me as mama and me as writer.

    Your words resonate deeply and encourage greatly and inspire mightily.

    Thank you.

    • 3
      Felista says:

      Keep writing Judith! And may you find a place of refuge as you pour out your heart through your words.

  3. 4

    I love this… the truth of it here – how it is part of who we ARE not just what we do! So Much Amen! I love you friend! And actually – I am thankful that Amazon is slow in getting me my pre-ordered copy because… I get to hear your South African sneak out on all those words with A’s in them! #Swoon

  4. 5

    Love this! Sometimes it is in those stolen moments that God shows up and turns the words I’m unsure of into something He wants them to be. It’s been hard for me to appropriate the title of writer, even as much as I’ve wanted to. Thanks for your encouragement to do and be what I am. Much love to you!

  5. 6

    Beautiful Encouragement! Thank you!

  6. 7

    Loved this post. What I needed to hear. Having just finished a long post, I can’t participate in your link-up today but want to another time. Thanks for writing!

  7. 8
    Felista says:

    Been looking forward to this all week!
    Start: 12:15pm Kenyan time
    For as long as I can remember, I have always loved two things; reading and writing. I love reading stories of people and their wonderful adventures. I love getting lost in the world that writers create; of losing sleep, eating less and sometimes being totally engrossed in a book that you’d have to literally tear me away from it. I also loved creating stories, writing them on pen and paper or (lately) typing them out. In my teenage years, writing was a source of refuge. I began keeping a journal and it was the place to pour my heart out to a God I couldn’t see but felt. I wrote my prayers, joys, sorrows, hurts and tears in those volumes. And even though I lost the desire to write a couple of years ago, God is restoring it to me, one step at a time. A few minutes, a paragraph, a page, a thought and a prayer at a time. Writing is still a place of refuge; only now I don’t write to escape the problems of life but to face them.
    Stop: 12:20pm
    Thank you Lisa for the words; the grace felt, the tears shed, the hope shared, the frustration vented. It’s so relieving to see you and other like-minded women being willing to bare their hearts in their journeys of marriage and motherhood. To show the good, the bad and the downright ugly in a world that screams at us to be perfect as women. Thank you for going against the grain. You’re inspiring the next generation of women to embrace themselves and their lives in the many faces they come in. God bless you!

  8. 9

    I read your posts every week though I do not comment. First off I would like to congratulate you on the publication of your book. The fact that you wrote it little by little is an inspiration and encouragement.

  9. 10

    I SO needed to read this post. I think it was meant especially for me! ;) I spent the weekend writing on a riverbank, scurrying from rock to rock as I watched my children fish. It was a great time!

    Thanks so much. Can’t wait to read your book!

  10. 11

    Congratulations on your fourth child :). Thank you for the encouragement to not waste the ‘fringe moments’ and to pursue my dreams.

  11. 12

    I just want to say thank you, Lisa-Jo. You encourage in so many big and little ways. Thank you.

  12. 13

    Being a writer is a gift, a treat, a calling. It’s as close to God as I can be, since He is the Author of everything and I can be the author of something. I love how God created the world with His words. Ahhh…the power of words. They help me to share my thoughts, my ideas, my hopes, my heart.

    Lisa-Jo Baker mentioned in her post today that no one goes to a cabin to write. Guess what, I do. Once a year I experience the most indulgent weekend of my life by participating in a writing “retreat.” Yup, the kind of retreat where a few of us gather at a mountain cabin. I smile just to think of it. We are pampered and guided by our host each of the weekend days. We get the chance to find our muse in the abundance of whispering trees, the glistening lake and the cool mountain air. It’s overwhelmingly indulgent to have time handed to me assigned to my writing project. Every year I write something. Now how about that?

    On the other hand, I am so filled up with inspiration at the cabin that I commit to bringing a piece of the experience home. How do I make sure to write during the rest of the year? Lisa-Jo Baker’s suggestion to steal an hour is a tangible way to bring that writing world home. Perhaps I’ll print a blown-up copy of my favorite photo from the cabin, so that I can visualize being there, even in my home, at my laptop, in my world of being a mom. As a writer, it’s my job to write, whether I’m at the cabin or not.

  13. 14

    Lisa-Jo, thank you for this! My heart needed every word of your post this morning, every confirmation, each reminder and loving nudge. After some reading, praying, and yoga this morning, while it was still quiet before anyone else had joined the day, wondering if I had time to write today, I thought, “I wonder what Lisa-Jo’s writing prompt is today…” And here I am. And here you are, encouraging us on, 5 minutes at a time. Soooo…thanks!

    Have a blessed weekend and I’m excited to get my copy of “Surprised by Motherhood” soon! Congratulations and way to go! Woooooohooooo!

  14. 15
    Jennifer McLarty says:

    Oh, Wow! I love your words here and they really speak to me. Exactly what I needed to hear and said so much more effectively than what I tried to say! :)

  15. 16

    Stopping by as a blog-less writer who loves and has done FMF for years on her own but is learning to be brave and share her writing with others :)

    I’ve had a journal for as long as I can remember. For years, its dark blue flowery cover protected perfectly blank pages that I treasured and saved even as I burned with the desire to fill them with words. And on January 1, 2000, with all the bravery of a 13-year old stepping into a new millennium, I resolved to pick up a pen and write my story, a daily record of my life. I listed how I spent my time, where I went, what I ate, who said what – trying to capture and save the briefest impression of the individual grains of sand slipping through the neck of life’s hourglass. As I wrote each day, my words veered from the factual to the reflective, becoming more introspective and yet more an outpouring of the vast and tumultuous thoughts of my teenage self. Writing soon became a way to process my life with my Heavenly Father. And in my Father’s presence over the years, I have written pages upon pages sharing my life intimately with Him. He, too, has written pages and pages sharing himself and his love with me. When, in my no longer emptily cowering journals, His Word and my words combine in truth that connects my daily reality with His eternal reality, then I am my truest self as a writer – made in the image of a God who is a writer.

    • 17
      Wendy Nowak says:

      Katy, I’m so glad you shared this. You are clearly fluent in sharing your thoughts in a meaningful way! I had a similar thought today — how God used His own writing through more than 40 men to record His beautiful, dramatic, tumultuous, alarming, world-turned-upside-down story of redemption. He wrote to us. We can write about Him. We have the privilege of reflecting his creative writing (and great responsibility). I love in John’s gospel when he writes and reveals his ponderings about recording Christ’s life on earth for us:
      “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:24-25 ESV
      Write on!

      • 18
        Wendy Nowak says:

        P.S. Katy. I, too, am blog-less. Sometimes it seems that there is no one else in the world who doesn’t have a blog. Makes me question if that’s where God wants me to put my time when the world is full of authors, bloggers, tweeters, commentators, etc.

        • 19

          Wendy, I totally feel you! Makes you wonder if you’re not doing something meaningful with your writing if you don’t have a blog.
          Katy, I’m a blogless #FMF fan too! Glad to see I’m not alone. Hope to read more from you!

  16. 20

    Lisa-Jo, these words of yours this morning are exactly what my heart needed. Thank you.

  17. 21
    Amanda h says:

    Is there a writer hidden somewhere inside of me?

    Do thoughts and stories lie in my head, just waiting to jump onto the page? Stories of real life or imagination ready to be shared, ready to make someone’s day by taking them far away…

    Or am I a reader of writers who take me away, build me up and help me each day?

    I’m not sure, but as I think of the words that jump out of my mind and on to the page. I know that writing helps me be me and of that is all that writing ever does for me then that’s okay with me.

  18. 22

    Dear Lisa-Jo
    Thank you for this today, it was perfect with what I’ve been thinking/praying about. I love writing but often feel like it is a luxury I cannot own or give time to. Not while I am a mother of young children.
    But in reading your blog and your book (Which is FANTASTIC!) I see that there can be a way. If it is done for HIM and for OTHERS.
    Thank you for inspiring me and encouraging me through your words.
    God bless you abundantly!

  19. 23

    Lovely post–such encouraging words. I so often find time–or make time–for everything and everyone else. It seems I simply don’t value what I have to say enough to make writing a priority, yet I was a teacher for decades and taught writing! I look forward to FMF and the interaction. Thanks!

  20. 24
    Wendy Nowak says:

    So here I am again in the comments, typing away wondering how on earth to say something of meaning. When I read some writing, it moves me to an immediate heaving gasp, a stifled sob, a chuckle, an all-out cackle, a thoughtful “hmmm..”, a trickling tear. There is such great power in words. Power to change thinking, to smooth and polish scuffed-up souls, to lead others toward the love of Jesus, to connect hearts to one another. I have a fear of writing a blog — knowing myself — knowing my desire for affirmation, knowing that I would fear what others think. Not wanting to create an addiction to acceptance, encouragement. My Audience of One, my Father needs to confirm in me that I should write for His glory. For His fame. Because he knows my oh-so-common failings. So, I wait on Him. Active waiting that prays, practices, seeks and ponders. He’s writing His story in me for sure. We’ll just see what He wants to record for the world.

    • 25

      Wendy, Thanks for the encouraging words above. I had never thought of the John 21 passage in this light before! Maybe some of my own hesitation to write has to do with fear that my writing could never adequately express all that Jesus has done in my life. And WOW! Your words here articulate even further what I’m thinking/feeling/praying about with regards to writing/blogging. I do believe that my identity as a writer must come from the safe place of writing to and for God alone; however, gifts are given for the building up of the body. So I resonated with the way you describe active, expectant waiting. As I read your words, I felt such freedom and release–knowing that God has given gifts and he will show us how and when to use them, whether it’s a blog or not. Blessings to you and may you be filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding…in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work… (Colossians 1:9-10)

      • 26

        What a beautiful prayer, Katy. Thank you for that! Yes, yes, yes! He gives us gifts for use in the body — what a privilege! I want to be sure I’m focusing on the gifts He’s called me to use right now. I have full-time work leading a lot of kids/parents/volunteers/leaders in kids ministry, and, so when someone says, “you should write! you need a blog! you need a sitcom!”, I always have to gauge if that’s the Lord prompting me to do more, or if everyone thinks everyone should have a blog or book about everything, you know? So I ask Him to clarify it, and His voice to be the One I hear. And while people may be the instruments to confirm His leading through the word and prayers, I don’t want to be distracted from my priority call into something that pulls me into myself potentially, and affects my family and the work that He already has confirmed. Maybe writing is part of the work (and has proved to be at times). Anyway, those verses are excellent for these days. Thank you!!

  21. 27

    Love this. I just happened to find you from someone I follow who joins up with Five Minute Friday. I am close, waiting on the final edits to finally publish my first book. It’s been a year long process as well. It became my therapy, my outlet, and like you it was done in the stolen time between work and home or chores. Writing was a part of me since childhood and coming back to it this past year has been like spiritually coming home. Going to start following you now and looking forward to checking out the book.
    Angela @ Time with A & N

  22. 28

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I have only been reading your words for a couple of months now – and part of the Five Minute Friday community even less – but I so appreciate your honesty about how hard and scary it is to write. You seem to feel the same things I feel – other people are writing, do I really have something new to say? Are my words worth something? Is it worth it to write?

    Well, that meme you posted is going on my desktop background, because I need to reject my feelings of discouragement and follow the desire to write. Thank you for being a voice of encouragement to me.

  23. 29

    I want to congratulate you! I hope that one day I can have this same end result- a book! You did great to write a book with three kids!! I wish you all the best!

  24. 30

    Writer….what is a writer? It’s quite a profound activity when I really think about it. It is thanks to writers through the ages that we have a lot of our history and knowledge of what has been before. It teaches us about the past, guides us in our future and gives us hope when it seems all is lost in a broken, confused and often times disturbing world. I don’t think of myself as a writer. I do engage in it as part of my job but not in any real sense in as much as it’s capturing my thoughts, feelings, dreams or concerns. For a time I remember I was writing quite often. I would just open the book and get started with no particular plan of what I was going to write of. It felt almost as the words came to me without my brain being engaged. My hand just moved but my mind was not active. At least that was how it seemed to me. After I was done, I’d read back over what I’d written and it felt like it came from another. Some might think this sounds strange but I felt that this was how God was talking to me. It felt quite special and wonderful and I miss those times. Perhaps the Five Minute Fridays will get me finding moments to start engaging in some writing again. I hope so because it seems rewarding, comforting and somehow makes me feel happy.

  25. 31

    I enjoyed reading your post. I always do.

    I am having a problem with commenting on the blog of the blogger that linked up before me. I cannot find the comment button on her blog. Leigh Dusek is her name and her link-up number is 240. So, just in case she is reading here, I enjoyed your post, Leigh!

    Have a blessed weekend, all of you!

  26. 32

    Thank you for the encouragement, Lisa. I guess a part of me really did think that “real” writers ran off to secluded cabins and wrote their books. I know I’ve always wanted to be able to do that, lol! Love the pictures of your family – they are absolutely adorable!

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