A Less Digital Life {Intro}


I saw it all in the matter of a week, a woman walking her Yorkie, a teen with his boxers hanging out as he pedaled his bike through town, a business man racing his Porsche through a roundabout…and every one of them looking down, each enlisting at least one hand and both eyes to rattle out some kind of message on smart phone while the real world blurred around them. Thankfully, no one crashed into anything in the process.

On my birthday this summer, I made a quick list of the happy things that make up my everyday dream life. I jotted down things like daily writing and reflection, reading with my husband, a clean house, a flourishing edible garden, farmers’ markets, being kind, patient, playful and generally attentive with the kids, daily family devotions and Scripture memory, making music, taking in art, rubbing shoulders with mover/shaker creatives, vulnerable and honest friendships, hiking, cycling and exploring outdoors…and hot tea for good measure. Somehow “more time on electronic devices” didn’t make the list.

When I laid my eyes on the three ring circus of dog walker, bike rider and Porsche driver, I saw our culture in its underpants, the absurdity of it all. But then there’s me acting a slave to the gadgets myself, frittering away precious moments and potential productivity that could be put toward daily tasks and creative projects when I instead go on autopilot checking texts, emails, newsfeeds, and getting lost in the Internet. My commitment to media leaves so little room for the things that make up my dream life.

I’d like to spend the next month thinking on this, exploring the benefits and drawbacks of the digital life and finding ways to live more authentically and tangibly in this virtual age.

I’ll be writing shorter posts to allow both of us, reader and writer, to spend more time with the real people and things around us. Scratch that–I can’t seem to write a post under 900 words. ;) In each post, I hope to offer a creative idea for something to do instead of plugging into the matrix that moment. This isn’t to say that we won’t plug in at all. Technology offers us many wonderful ways to expand our thinking and our relationships (even here!) but I hope that together we can become more observant of our own habits and of the world around us so that we end up using the technology without it abusing us.

What’s your biggest challenge with technology and social media? What elements of your dream life is it clouding?

{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}

Thirty-Thousand Words Later {Preserve Your Story Wrap-Up}

We started out October with “Preserve Your Story” at the top of the to-do list. Two months and some thirty-thousand words later, we’re looking back on what we’ve learned together, from the inspirational to the practical. Thank you for all who followed faithfully through the blog move and other challenges, and especially to those of you who shared your insights in the comments, proving once again that “writing doesn’t have to be a solitary activity.” Here are some of my favorite comments:

“Brilliant advice and so encouraging to know age and experience are my friend as a writer. I’m a late bloomer, confident in writing creative non-fiction, but I have the urge to try my hand at fiction. I don’t know where to begin, but your advice give me hope that even us late comers might give it a (successful?) go.” ~Kimberly

“I am loving this series so much that I actually wrote something yesterday.” ~Barbara, aka “Darcy’s mom” ;)

“Thanks for the encouragement. I just had the opportunity to speak at our first women’s retreat for our church. I’m beginning to embrace all of this as God’s calling on my life. To be honest, it’s a little scary to actually reach for the dream rather than just leave it out there untouched. Your blog is stirring the dream in my heart.” ~Tristi

“I always need to hear this, about starting somewhere, starting messy.” ~Tammy

“I am loving this series and feverishly taking notes as I attempt to apply the content to my own writing. (Yes, I am a closet writer!) ….My struggles, both past and present, ARE the foundation for much of my writing. While some are masked for privacy, they truly are what drove me to my knees and allowed the Lord to write His Story through me.” ~Barbara D.

“Sometimes it is easy to think that with all the good writers, why create? But you are right, there is no one exactly like each other. We need all the voices.” ~Amber

“I’m just realizing that this is the stuff that pours out when I write it and I shouldn’t bottle it up when I think it’s all too much, because there’s a reason it needs to come out and God uses it all.” ~Alia Joy

“I never realized this until you put words to it. My best blogging has truly come from those things that have brought me to tears or that really mean something to me. As I write my tears often flow and healing takes place or I am renewed.” ~Ali

As we close out the series, I hope you’ll take some time to go back through the posts that you missed, or re-read ones that were especially motivating for you. And please keep me posted on your efforts at preserving your story.

~Preserve Your Story: Table of Contents~

Reasons to Preserve Your Story:
1. Preserve Your Story Intro
2. Ink Spill: God’s Story Surfacing in the Midst of Chaos
3. Spotlights, Spider Silk and Self-Reflection
4. Words Between Generations
5. Astonishing Discovery: Writing to Know We’re Not Alone
6. Comforting, Never Comfortable: A Message to Share
7. Flowing Well: Writing to Keep from Going Stagnant

What to Preserve:
8. Write What Makes You Cry
9. Accidental Collage: Writing What’s Before Your Eyes
10. Fresh Language, Quotable Kids
11. Writing Butterflies and Brokenness
12. Seeing the World Right-Side-Up: Writing Answered Prayer
13. A Tale of Teaming Up: Writing Someone Else’s Story

Preparing Your Ingredients:
14. The Truth about Voice
15. Don’t Lose the Sweets: Keeping Track of Good Writing Material
16. The Mess Behind Picasso’s Genius: Drafting and Free-Writing
17. A Well-Punctuated Writing Life: Taking Time to Rest from our Words
18. A Creative Compost: Synergy in the Life of the Writer
19. Sidestep the Poet’s Pitfall: Discipline and Organization as Tools of the Writer
20. Create a Habitat and a Habit: A Place to Write
21. A Recipe for Revision: Refining Content
22. The Story Circle: Finding a Writer’s Group
23. A Feast of Grammar and Grace: The Editing Phase

Good Containers and Techniques for Preserving Your Story:
24. A Blog that Blossoms: Creating a Platform through Blogs and eBooks
25. The Right Container: Exploring Your Writing Type
26. The Dish on Articles
27. Drafting with the Pack: The Benefits of Writing for an Anthology
28. A Mini Readership: Children’s Publishing
29. Friends of the Fiction Writer
30. On Paper, Real Life: Writing a Good Non-Fiction Proposal
31. Sealed with a Book: An Overview of the Traditional Publishing Process

{Which post most inspired or motivated you? Which one best equipped you with information or tools to help you take the next step in your writing life? Share below…and if a particular post or the series as a whole resonated with you, would you think about sharing it with friends on social media to spread the word about Message in a Mason Jar?}

This is the wrap-up of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.


31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story

Chances are today you’ve been scattering bits of your life’s setting and scene out for friends to read in the form of status updates and tweets. You are writing, and sharing, but soon after you do, the pieces slip to the bottom of the newsfeed, like scraps of dinner funneled into the disposal.

Behind those snippets and snapshots, though, there is a story worth preserving. And to capture it in full flavor and substance, you’ve got to write on.

This October, I’m inviting you to join me for my series Preserving Your Story, part of The Nester’s annual 31 Days link-up. In my 31 posts, we will cover:

  1. Reasons to preserve: everything from writing in an attitude of self-reflection that nourishes your everyday life to penning down unforgettables for future generations
  2. What to preserve: pulling out a story from scribbles, snippets and snapshots of your everyday mercies and the rarer moments of wide-eyed wonder
  3. How to prepare: methods you can use in taking notes on the story unfolding around you
  4. Proper preserving: good techniques, tools and containers for bringing your story from first draft to publishable blog post, magazine article or even printed book

Even while we’re talking about preserving YOUR story, it’s a joy to know that writing doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. We get creative sparks as we observe and interact with the people around us. We carve out some time alone to write our thoughts. Then, we find opportunity to share the beginnings of a work with an inner circle of friends, hearing their feedback and relishing their stories as they respond and share. Finally, when the work is ready for a wider audience, new friends surface and find themselves all the more brave to share their story because you shared yours first. I hope you’ll join in the community here during this series and spur one another on in preserving worthy stories.

This is Day 1. See all posts in the series here.

{How are you doing with preserving your story? In what areas do you need the most help/encouragement?}

P.S. Thanks for bearing with me as I get going on my 31 Days series. My computer went kaput on October 1 and I’m coming in a little later than I expected. :)