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Is creativity always this hard?



It’s easy to get sucked into the web. I start out googling some piece of information I want to know more about, move on to another site, and another, and end up hours later with not a whole lot to show for my efforts. Goodness, but there’s a lot of junk out there!

But there’s also some brilliant stuff. Don’t you just love Amazon’s “look inside” function that allows you to pore over book excerpts? Last week I managed to read a few tidbits from several great books, then I found myself reading the authors’ blogs, and I ended up by watching videos they had posted about their work. By then it was time for a coffee break!

Now what?

What I read was interesting and inspiring and exciting, but in some ways, also just a little bit discouraging.

It’s funny that, how other people’s artistry can bring you pleasure and yet dishearten you at the same time. Perhaps it’s how a musician feels when he hears a beautifully-composed piece of music for the first time… appreciating its masterly creation but wishing he could produce something equally meaningful.

But despite the twinges of envy, I can sense God turning over and over in my mind and heart some of the fragments I’ve read. Somehow I know they’re important, and that He wants to use them in my life in some way, and change something in my heart because of them. But what?

These thoughts and senses have been filling my head for weeks. But it’s difficult to understand where God’s going with it all, and what He’s doing.

Slosh, slosh, slosh

When I was little and my mum bought her first frontloading washing machine, I would sit in front of it, watching the water fill up – agonisingly slowly – and the clothes sloshing around and around till all the frothy soapsuds pressing up against the glass door obscured the view.

And that’s how it feels right now. Everything seems mixed up and tumbled together, and the foam so thick I can’t see what’s going on inside. The process feels long and confusing, and I can’t help wondering if it’s going to come to something, or nothing.

I’m hoping – really hoping – that if I keep listening, God is going to end the cycle, pop open the door, and bring out something beautiful and fresh and clean, and that I’ll know exactly what to do with it!


How do you make sense of the creative ideas God gives you? What process works for you?


Why bother blogging?


A few weeks ago Swallows on the Stoep celebrated its first birthday! And the clever guys at WordPress, who figure out exactly what all their bloggers are up to, furnished me with a few interesting tidbits in my first annual report.

In the last year:

  • I wrote 23 posts
  • My blog had 1,365 views
  • Visitors came from 36 different countries (though mostly the UK, South Africa and the US)
  • I gained 17 followers – yippee! – people who have subscribed to my blog (a mixture of friends, family, acquaintances and complete strangers!)
  • 58 people came to the blog via Facebook
  • My most-viewed pages were ‘About Me’, followed by ‘A Psalm of Waiting’ and ‘Take the Positivity Challenge’.

These statistics (and others) are useful and interesting because they can help me improve the blog in various, tiny ways that will ultimately hopefully increase my number of followers and commenters… the holy grail of blogging!

But they’re actually much more than that. To me, the stats are evidence of a step of faith in obedience to God.

A Godly nudge

At the beginning of last year I felt God prompting me to set up the blog, but there were lots of reasons not to. I don’t know how, I argued. It’ll take serious time and effort. What will I write about? What if people read it and judge me? And worst, what if no one shows any interest in reading it! To crown it, someone had commented that blogging was now “very passé”.

And yet, there it was. That deep-down nudge of the Holy Spirit prodding me to learn what I could and get stuck in, without knowing where it would lead, if anywhere. Eventually I reasoned that even if no one else found it beneficial or encouraging or even vaguely thought-provoking, it would probably aid me.

It will help me think more deeply and clearly about what’s going on around me and in me. It’ll rejuvenate writing skills going rusty through lack of use. It might connect me to similar, like-minded people ‘out there’. It will bring me pleasure and a sense of achievement, grow my knowledge and teach me new skills.

Learning new stuff

A year on, Swallows on the Stoep has indeed fulfilled all these goals. And yet, in some ways, I’m still at the beginning. In setting it up I’ve made some mistakes I simply have to live with. It also requires constant tweaking and promoting (in addition to the posts), and I haven’t quite got the knack of time management (timely posts) and consistency (regular, once-a-week posts) yet! But I am now expanding my knowledge base to include social networking and other digital media, and I’m growing all the time.

It’s also been an exercise in increasing dependence on my loving heavenly Father, and He has been so faithful. When I ask Him to give me ideas for posts, to develop the thoughts He’s prompting in me, and for the words to say what I should, the posts are always so much better than when I attempt to churn something out with my own ability and wisdom!

Global chit-chat

In my first-ever post I explained the origin of the blog’s name, Swallows on the Stoep, recalling the beautiful little birds that would return each Spring to our stoep (patio) in South Africa, confidentially chattering to one another.

This blog is a place of conversation for me, and it’s a thrill when others take time to engage in the nattering that’s going on in my head and airing on my blog. It’s exciting and encouraging to read the posts of fellow bloggers – particularly Christians – who are having similar chats with themselves. That’s one massive chin-wag going on around the world!

Are you a blogger? What drives you to put fingertips to keyboard? And what encourages you to keep writing?