Wrote these two points for a Google Group of Jewish writers. The present title (crowdsourced writing) was named after the second entry from today:
I find the more I think about what to write before writing, the clearer the initial outcome. As the thoughts belong to Hashem (God), there’s no need to rush to jot them down the second they come. This is my approach at least. If Hashem wanted them to come the first time, then when it is the time to actually sit down and write, then it will come down again.
And the post today:
Since an encouraging comment was sent to me after the “all thoughts belong to Hashem” post, while I didn’t enter into the discussion at the time, this perspective also relates to two other recent topics: 1) How long it takes to write? and 2) What settings one finds it most conducive to write in?
I am writing this because the lesson did not come easy to me. After looking forward to writing an article the entire day, a difficult bedtime was met with frustration. But time and again, after staying up despite being tired, etc… the articles always turned out much better.
I joked to my rabbi recently that I should travel the buses just so that I could write. Since traveling is uncomfortable for me, it becomes much easier to set my ego aside in search of the ideas that need to be written and shared with others that day.
Incidentally the “joke” happened recently while traveling with my daughter to attend that night’s Rabbi Ginsburgh class. While the bus was nearing Jerusalem, I found out that the driver for the second part of the trip didn’t have space for both me and my daughter. So we bought some chips, and headed right back home. I told my daughter after hearing the news that we should do this more often as an article was written on my laptop during the trip there and back.
The first thing to keep in mind is what was said last time. That when we appreciate that our writing thoughts are not for us, but from Hashem in order to benefit others, then the search for the perfect solitude, or time of day, room of the house, etc… dissipates in the face of the task at hand. When viewed as a responsibility, then we can write anywhere … literally.
The above picture was snipped from a video at a recent Rabbi Ginsburgh class in Jerusalem. It’s not so easy to see, but behind the person in the left foreground leaning down to talk on his cellphone, is a computer in the background. That’s me typing away an article during one of the dancing/singing intermissions. I wrote about half the article before the class began, then during the intermissions and after the class. Appropriately enough the article was about disruptive journalism, and can be read here: http://communityofreaders.org/2014/02/14/the-new-world-of-disruptive-journalism/
How is writing like this possible? There is no MLA Handbook required, only emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust). Both the belief that people stand to benefit from what you have to say, and that you have the trust that Hashem will help you to find the write words.
There is a very famous story in Chabad told about the time that Rabbi DovBer’s infant son was crying, but only his grandfather, Rabbi Schneur Zalman, heard the cries (even though both he and his son were both engrossed in deep Torah study).
If you read the story, originally Rabbi Schneur Zalman’s words to his son seem like words of mussar. Even though gently spoken, he said: “No matter how engrossed one may be in the loftiest occupation, one must never remain insensitive to the cry of a child.”
As explained in the quote above, being sensitive to the “cry of the child” is to be sensitive to the cry of Jewish youth today. When viewed in this way, like a photographer who takes his camera along always ready to take the perfect picture, whenever the opportunity presents itself, it is worthwhile to think about, and even start writing, those thoughts that stand to benefit another.
To be sensitive to the cries or noise around us doesn’t need to be a distraction. As in the story, it can serve as a reminder that there is a world out there waiting to eagerly benefit from what you have to say.