My grandma added more flour to the rolling pin and demonstrated her technique. Once the dough reached the appropriate thickness, I chose cookie cutters shaped like a star, a tree, an angel, and a gingerbread man, and cut them out. The smell of butter, sugar, vanilla, almond, and cookies baking in the oven tickled my nose and made my mouth water.
The tradition continued long after grandma died. Mom and I tried new recipes. The numbers grew from 100 to over 1,000 cookies each Christmas. Days were set aside for baking. Somewhere along the line, we forgot why we baked. The joy of working together and making a few special treats turned into an exhausting chore.
Yes, I had it: the dreaded BAKING BURNOUT. It took years before I'd even consider digging my cookie sheets, cutters, and rolling pin out of the cabinet where they'd gathered dust.
When publication becomes the driving force in our lives, the exhileration of writing can get lost in the shuffle. The time we spent writing a note to a sick friend, putting together a skit for the youth group, or encouraging someone going through a problem turns into a treadmill of write, re-write, and submit.
How do we maintain our creativity and joy while traveling toward publication? What's the secret ingredient? I went back to baking not as an obligation, but as an act of love. Seeing my family gobble up hunks of pumpkin pie or dunking homemade cookies in a tall glass of milk made a difference in my attitude. I slowed down, released the have-to-do-this thinking, and started remembering my purpose.
The same principle applies to writing. When we write as an act of worship to the Lord and love toward others, joy peeks around the corner and sits down next to our computer. Instead of being self-focused, our efforts are geared to bless. The striving, stress, and frustration give way to love, joy, and peace.