For me there is nothing more frightening than an open word-processing window that's blank except for a blinking cursor. Whether it's a sermon, blog post, essay, or letter, I take extreme measures to avoid the pixellated haunted house of creative writing. It's not the act of writing that haunts me as much as the act of starting to write. Even when I know what I want to say, I find creative ways to dodge the perilous blinking cursor that taunts me with suggestions that my thoughts are not good enough to immortalize by assigning them real words. Favorite tactics include organizing folders (digital and manilla), carefully selecting a new desktop wallpaper, curating an appropriate playlist, and cleaning my glasses. Each of these is done with a measure of seriousness that might appear to others as maniacal. I dodge as if being meticulous while dodging can justify my procrastination. Not all pastors blog or write sermon manuscripts, but I think the blinking cursor is still an appropriate metaphor for our work. There are an infinite number of things that I can do with my time, my energy, and my gifts. Each of these things rests in front of the blinking cursor - still to be written, yet to be seen, and incapable of coming alive until I start. But sometimes instead of starting, I find something else to do that's productive but not essential, alive but not life-giving. If someone walked in while I was dodging the blinking cursor they'd apologize for interrupting what looked like important work.
Not all of us are pastors, but I think each of us knows how scary the blinking cursor can be. When Jesus called the first disciples his instruction was simple: "Follow me." In life and in writing, the first step of starting seems less clumsy and cumbersome when we remember that there are footsteps to follow.