Welcome back to Friday Favorites, a weekly round-up of finds related to prayer and writing. If I think something could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.


The Blessing of the In-Between Space via Leah Abraham (on the in-between spaces in the journey of life) #WOCwithpens

Joy & My Writing Tribe via Jasminne Mendez (finding joy even when someone tries to rob you of it) #WOCwithpens

God’s Greening Work via Laura M. Fabrycky (let the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen and the Latin concept of viriditas help you welcome in the season of spring) #Lent

Why Many Evangelicals Struggle with Prayer (TLDR: We’re Winging It) via Ed Cyzewski (why it’s good to join with the community of saints when you pray)

How Far Will You Walk to Get to Jerusalem via Lisa Deam (listen in as I’m interviewed on KFUO radio about medieval pilgrimage and our own journey of faith) #Lent

Literature as a Gospel Forerunner: Finding Hope in A Wrinkle in Time via Tatyana Claytor (a great post about climbing the rungs of stories to reach the Gospel)

The Secret to Being Fully Present via Ann Patchett (Ann Patchett, an author I love, talks about reading as an antidote to fragmentation and distraction. I think writing is also a wonderful way to be more fully present, don’t you?)

We All Need Time To Dream

One day, my daughter was frustrated because she was trying to write some song lyrics and could not make the words come. I suggested she go do something else for awhile. Later, when she was bopping down the hallway and thinking about other things—things related to but not directly about her song—she found the words she was looking for. When she wasn’t being “productive,” productivity came.

This phenomenon is addressed in an article in Collaborative Fund: The Advantage Of Being A Little Underemployed. I was put off by the title (that’s a story for another time), but I resonated strongly with the author’s main idea: if you’re in a “thought job,” you need unstructured time to wander, think, be curious, and dream. Sitting at a desk for hours on end isn’t always the best road to getting things done.

The article mostly addresses office jobs that have scheduled hours, but I think it also applies to my own non-office, writerly kind of work. If I force myself to churn out articles, blog posts, or book chapters, I often get stuck. If I give myself time to step back and wander off, I can see my way through. In fact, the the best part of my day or week is when I don’t make progress on a particular writing project but spend some time dreaming about the big questions I’m trying to answer or about new projects I want to tackle. Is it the same with you?

The Collaborative Fund article begins with some history of the current 40-hour work week and concludes:

Since the constraints of physically exhausting jobs are visible, we took decisive action when things weren’t working, like the Adamson Act. But the limits of mentally exhausting jobs are nuanced and less visible, so we get trapped in a spot where most of us work a schedule that doesn’t maximize our productivity, yet we do nothing about it.


Then we hear the research and theory behind time-away-from-work or less structured work days:

Not all jobs require creativity or critical thinking. But those that do function better with time devoted to wandering and being curious, in ways that are removed from scheduled work but actually help tackle some of your biggest work problems.


The “larger questions” often can’t be tackled at work, because creativity and critical thinking require uninterrupted focus – like going for a walk or sitting quietly on a couch by yourself. Or a bike ride. Or talking to someone outside your field.


Since the butt-in-chair kind of productivity is so ingrained in our culture, we have to be intentional about building unstructured time into our day.

How do you work when you’re not actually working?

Read the article here.

Featured Article: How to Face Digital Addiction

This week’s featured article discusses the possibility of a digital addictions disorder (DAD) that could impact roughly 5% of Americans and could impact as many as 30% of people in countries with frequent internet use.

Heavy internet gaming and social media use can distract us from work, interrupt our relationships, and ultimately change the ways that our brains function and seek pleasure or rewards. While most of us need to be online for one reason or another, we all need to recognize the signs of a problem.

Here are a few key quotes to consider from the article:


“A digital addiction is comparable to addictions such as food or drugs in its obsessive nature. As is the case with all addictions, they influence the brain – both in the connections between the cells and in the brain areas that control attention, executive control and emotional processing. It triggers the release of dopamine, providing a temporary “high” on which addicts become dependent.”


“Being stressed out or suffering from anxiety and depression can be a contributing factor in the development of addictions. In addition, people who suffer from DAD are often no strangers to other addictions such as alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling. People who have relationship issues also seem to be at a higher risk of developing an internet addiction. They use digital “connections” to boost their spirits and to escape from their problems.”


Read more…

Featured Article: Understanding What It Means to Be Busy

There’s a good chance you’ve said that you’re “busy” in the past week, and definitely within the past month. However, what exactly are we saying when we are busy? And what is the true cause of this way of living?

In an interview with Zen Habits, author Jonathan Fields shares a number of reflections on what it means to be “busy”:


“Being busy, alone, need not be a bad thing. What makes it good or bad is why we’re busy, what we’re busy with, and what we’re giving up along the way.

Being busy as a reaction to the compounding agendas others, to what they’ve chosen to heap into our lives, without considering whether any of it matters to us, that’s a problem. It drops us into a state of mindless autopilot busyness, reacting rather than responding.”


“Did you choose, “I will begin checking my email first thing before I get out of bed, and then respond to what everyone else says is important today?” Was there a moment where you said to yourself, “I will respond immediately, in real time to every email that hits my inbox, every to-do I’m tasked with and every status update on Facebook?”

Not likely, you just started doing it, and the technology that supports this behavior is the perfect intermittent reinforcement machine. In short order, it becomes habit.”


Read the rest here…



Friday Favorites–How to Pray and Write More

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, then I’ll include it below. Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@edcyzewski) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

Productivity 101: A Primer on the Pomodoro Technique via LifeHacker

Why You Should Walk More if You’re a Writer via The Publication Coach

You Were Never Made to Be Productive via Christianity Today

7 Essential Thomas Merton Books via Carl McColman

Lessons from Weakness: Elizabeth Maxon Interview via Scott Savage


Looking for more recommendations? Check out our Prayer Resources page.