by Emily Conrad

I fell behind on the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes! Can I be honest? I felt pretty uninspired the last few days, but the thing about writing is that I often don’t know where it’ll take me until I sit down and tackle it.

Is the result perfect? Um, no. Did I adhere to the five minute rule or the free write rule? Um, no…

But once you read the first of the three, I think you’ll see why I chose to leave them as they are, post, and move forward. Here’s to showing up and trusting God with the rest.


Though testing is valuable, retaking the same test doesn’t necessarily lead to progress.

In the case of my writing, when I get bogged down in a manuscript, some of my revisions end up adding to the problems. I have to stop trying to retake the test (write the perfect piece) and hand it over to an expert with fresh eyes. Then, I’ll see improvement.

I wonder in how many areas of my life I’ve done the same thing, holding myself back and testing and retesting myself, lingering in my pursuit of perfection. After working this long toward getting it right, I’m surprised to find myself failing. Shouldn’t I have this down by now?

No. I will never pass the test until I hand my life over (once again) to the expert: my Savior.

I must repent, accept grace, and move on with my Savior, who alone can redeem me and my performance.

If instead, I obsess over my failures, it’s like sitting in an uncomfortable school desk with a no. 2 pencil clenched in my hand, begging to retake a test though I haven’t reviewed my notes in ages.

And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does this.

But if we get a glimpse of our paper, we’ll see that God has crossed out our failing score. He’s written a new score in red, not using the ink of a pen, but that of perfect blood spilled on a cross.

Instead of leaving us to puzzle over the old mistakes, He invites us along on a new field trip. There, yes, we’ll probably encounter tests much like that failed one, but we won’t face them alone, and our score still won’t depend on us because He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it.


God is in the muddle of my life.

In the middle of it, too, but most definitely in the muddle. When I don’t really know what I’m working for anymore or what my life is all about. When I’m putting one foot in front of the other and walking, blind in the fog, He is there. I muddle. He guides. Sometimes not as clearly as I’d like. I mean, always clear in His Word, but not necessarily the specifics I’d need to feel like I wasn’t muddling.

The nice thing about muddling is it teaches me dependence. It teaches me that I’m not everything I thought I was. I’m a child, knee-deep in who-knows-what, and I need, need, need.

If Jesus can walk on water, he can walk on mud, too. And not only can He walk on it, but He has footing sure enough to guide me here, to reach down and pull me up or through or whatever direction it is that I need to be.


Is love of paper products a prerequisite to being a writer? Is that how Post-It ended up being a prompt for this challenge?

In a day when, rather than write, we usually type at a keyboard (many of which no longer have keys, but rather pictures of letters), why do pens and paper and Post-Its attract us so?

Our computers accomplish a lot more for us than good old pen and paper. They’ll remind us of things using noise and light. Paper? That waits quietly to be seen. Paper contains stories, leaves a record of mistakes, captures scribbles of thought we’d soon delete off a screen.

That must be the draw of ink and blank sheets: the record. We can destroy it, but we can’t backspace over it. We can discard it, but the sheets beneath will still bear the imprint of our thoughts. The stories we tell there must be more deliberate. They will be more honest. They may or may not pass the test of time, but they will never be completely malleable to our whims, never revisable without hinting at what they’ve been.

The test I won’t retake, when Jesus walks on mud, and a writer’s ode to paper #Write31Days #5MFW @novelwritergirl