Translating Your Thoughts Into Words on the Page

As writers, we tend to have a lot of thoughts swirling around in our hearts and heads, but we don’t always get around to turning them into a meaningful article or devotion. Look no further, friends, because Brenda provides just the encouragement and advice we need to untangle our thoughts and turn them into something beautiful to help others!

Light a candle, organize the desk, answer emails, make a grocery list, walk to the
mailbox and pull the weeds … anything but stare at a blank screen! Sound familiar?

When people ask me what I do, I sometimes want to say: I’m a professional starer … I
stare off into space for hours on end.

That’s what writing feels like a lot of times — staring into space, out a window, at a
screen; pondering and processing, waiting for words to join the meeting already in progress in our minds.

As writers, we can sometimes spend years with meaningful messages wandering the
halls of our hearts, not finding life on the page. Yet it’s rarely a simple task to sit with the tension of translating these hazy ideas into a language of words. In fact, this can be so uncomfortable that we often distract ourselves with anything other than wrestling with words.

But the reality is: Breakthrough comes when we leave the door open long enough for
clarity to walk through.

Clarity enters when instead of feeling intimidated by the tension, we stare it in the face
and untangle the threads of thoughts, fragments of memories and abstract ideas that
clutter our minds. With every strand we unravel, we gain perspective for the purpose of
the message on our hearts.

When we tolerate the tension and seek the Lord for insight, we do the hard and holy
work of making a difference in the world through our words.

Solomon instructs: “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry
out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek
them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lᴏʀᴅ,
and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lᴏʀᴅ grants wisdom! From his mouth
come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:2-6, NLT).

No one who searches for hidden treasure casually walks straight to the X on a treasure
map as soon as their search begins. Searching for hidden treasure takes energy and
resolve. Yet the treasure is worth the work.

As you seek the treasure hidden within the tangled threads of your thoughts, ask the
Lord for insight. All understanding belongs to Him; He knows the value of your story and
the purpose for your words. Together with God, begin to finally make progress on those
projects that have felt too tough to tackle.

For this is worthy work, my friend. It’s worth the poured-out energy you invest in this
Kingdom calling, as you sit with the tension and scribble one messy draft after another
until the words of your soul find life on the page and make a difference in the world.

Brenda Bradford Ottinger

Do you sometimes have trouble getting your thoughts down on paper? What tips do you have?

This is your year to take the next steps in sharing the story God has given you … and COMPEL Writers Training is here to help! Registration for COMPEL Training is open for a limited time. With your membership, you’ll get access to guided courses that will help you grow in every area of your craft regardless of where you start, one-of-a-kind publishing opportunities throughout the year, and a tight-knit community that will cheer you on and remind you of why you are pursuing this calling. Don’t delay … Sign up today!


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  1. Good morning, I read this, today and it struck a chord in my heart and mind. So much so, I just re- read this to my husband. Besides glancing over to watch his reaction, I noticed his familiar tears and choking back emotions. For he knows and has heard the desire of my heart. Through the years the Lord has said “ Go get a pen “. Well after filling countless notebooks of stories, devotions, humorous and heartbreaking accounts of thought, so many words. Well , this brand new season has left me no choice but to dive in!

    • Brenda Ottinger: January 18, 2024 at 3:25 pm

      This warms my heart, Virginia. 💗 Wishing you all the best as you “dive in” and write. Prayers for you, sister. May the messages God places on your heart grow into difference-making words on a page. 🙏

  2. This was so valuable to me today! Sometimes, I can sit down and the words pour out. But other times, I sit and there is nothing – so my reaction was to think, “I have nothing to say today.” I didn’t take the time to pray about it, then sit with it. Seriously, you can’t imagine what a mindshift this is for me! Thank you!

    • Brenda Ottinger: January 17, 2024 at 2:08 pm

      So thankful to hear, Vickie. Praying for you, sister, as you sit with the tension and process the depth of God’s message on your heart. Oh, that many may be blessed through these words you prayerfully ponder and pen. 💗