Friday, June 20, 2014

Buckle up to write!

By Niki Turner

Whenever I get in a car with someone my brain is programmed to ask: "Are you buckled?"

I used to be a random buckler, but when my three sons and their friend were in a roll-over accident and walked away without a scratch, I attributed their protection to their guardian angels (who are very tired, I think) and the fact all the boys were wearing their seatbelts.

Over the last few decades we've learned that wearing a seatbelt provides invaluable protection to accident victims. And yet, as writers, hurtling through the highways of our stories, we rarely think to "buckle up" when we sit down at our desks, even though the risk of "crashing" is just as great as it is on our modern freeways. 

Have you ever crashed? I have. The after-effects of a crash can manifest as writer's block, as prolonged periods of procrastination, as fear (ever been afraid to open your WIP?), as incessant and futile fiddling with a story, as the inability to "launch" a manuscript via submission to an agent or editor. If you've been writing for any length of time, you've probably crashed at least once. 

What causes a crash? Poor visibility (lack of plotting/planning). Obstacles (unforeseen developments in the storyline). Road conditions (confusion, excess elements). Operator error (author fatigue, lack of experience, etc.). The possible causes are endless, and unique to the individual author and even the individual project. A writer might breeze through one story, only to "choke up" in the middle of the next project. In short, crashes are a risk we all take, every time we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

And so, are we buckled up to prevent serious injury in the event of a writing crash?

The Bible makes frequent mention of something called "a buckler," usually in reference to a shield. The KJV Dictionary defines it like this:
buckler, n. A kind of shield, or piece of defensive armor, anciently used in war. It was composed of wood, or wickers woven together, covered with skin or leather, fortified with plates of brass or other metal, and worn on the left arm. On the middle was an umbo, boss or prominence, very useful in causing stones and darts to glance off. The buckler often was four feet long, and covered the whole body.
The buckler, like the shell of a turtle, provided full body defense against any attack of the enemy. Various sources say the buckler was routinely soaked in oil (the Holy Spirit) and water (the Word of God) in order to swiftly dispel flaming arrows. The "turtle-back" formation of the Roman army involved hooking these body-sized shields together and raising them overhead, then marching forward under the shelter provided.
2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
 Ps 18:2 KJV
If, as a writer, you've suffered a "crash," whether in the form of severe procrastination, or avoidance, or frustration, or fear, it's time to pull up your buckler—the Lord—to cover and defend the work of your hands. 

You may have been beating yourself up for a lack of discipline, or an inability to concentrate, or a failure to focus... but as one who is called of the Lord to write, it's entirely possible that the resistance you're encountering is spiritual in nature, and requires a spiritual response. 

We wouldn't think of teaching a Bible study, or speaking at a conference, or leading a small group, or preaching a sermon, without "covering" ourselves spiritually. Why do we continue to put ourselves "out there" as we write (definitely a spiritual exercise as much as a cognitive one) without benefit of His covering?

So, whether you've crashed or not, here's a challenge: before you begin writing, or even when you THINK about writing, call on the Lord as your buckler, acknowledge His protection and covering, create in your mind a safe place wherein you can write as the Lord intended you to write. Actively pull that buckler up over your writing space the same way you buckle your seatbelt when you get in the car. Your writing gift is valuable. Guard it.

(Original post: ACFW Western Slope Prologue Chapter)


  1. I love it, Niki! Great idea and analogy. And so very true.

    1. I have to give credit for the idea to one of my ACFW group pals. She brought it up at a meeting when we were discussing writer's block. It's helped me immensely!

  2. I haven't quite named my procrastination (I just named it I guess...). Burn out is more appropriate but I have been praying that it will be clear where to go next. thanks


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