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Over and Over

I'm currently suffering a wave of writer's block. (I can't say for sure, but it's probably buried under a pile of snow somewhere.) All week I've sat with my laptop and a pile of good ideas, but my fingers freeze on the keys. I get scared.

by Shannan Martin

We interviewed Shannan on The Today's Mama Podcast. We talked about "Radical Hospitality", the meaning of the word "Hygge", and making our family circles bigger. LISTEN HERE!

Over and Over

Writer's Block (2)
Writer's Block (5)

I'm currently suffering a wave of writer's block. (I can't say for sure, but it's probably buried under a pile of snow somewhere.) All week I've sat with my laptop and a pile of good ideas, but my fingers freeze on the keys. I get scared.

So, I wash all the dishes, even the pans, even the dutch oven with its blackened bottom. I move from room to room while snow falls outside my windows, the confetti of the forgotten, in early March.

Writer's Block (1)

I try again, only managing to squeeze two lines onto the screen, one of which I immediately delete.

And I pull sausage from the freezer. I mince shallots. I dice potatoes. My good ideas sift like baking sugar through my fingers. "There's a difference between having good ideas and being a writer," I say to Cory late that night. "I used to be a writer and now I'm just an idea girl."

Writer's Block

The next morning, I huddle up in my bedroom, where it's warmer. I remember last winter, the hours I clocked in here pounding out a proposal for my book, terrified in the end that I'd accidentally made it too strong. The book itself won't ever measure up. I tricked everyone, mostly myself. Those were the lies that piled up in cold heaps around me back then. But I wrote that book, and I'm proud of it. So maybe I can find my way out of this darkened place...

I fold two loads of laundry.

I fry the best pork chops of my life, with a pan sauce of balsamic, white wine, oranges, and herbs. I slice Brussels sprouts on the bias.

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My word count burns in the pan. I scrub it clean.


The counter is wiped down, my laptop sits lonely while I pour the last three cups of whole milk, whisk it into cornstarch and chop up a chocolate bar. As it cools, we whip cream into magic, pure as the driven snow.

I've trained my kids to love dark chocolate, and I wonder if it'll keep them up at night.

Crowded together on one wing of our sofa, we huddle around Cory's tiny Chromebook. The internet's misbehaving and for whatever reason, it's the only thing that works.

For the third year running, Calvin wants Adam for his coach, Ruby thinks Christina looks just like Gwen and would take either one, and I sit and stare at Pharrell with his infant skin and his heart that, I swear, reminds me of Jesus.

I wonder if any of my kids will ever be singers. I'd buy that album.

Our spoons clink against our single-serving bowls and I don't give a rip if it's too late for dark chocolate.

I ruffle my fingers through Siley's hair, over and over and over again.

We are a miracle.

God fixed us, and he never stops. He pieced us together with a sturdy top-stitch, six wounded humans who needed to believe. He climbed into our boat, and maybe it took longer than I'd have liked, and maybe this lull won't last forever, but he calmed our seas.

God, in your mercy, restore and heal.

Writer's Block (4)
Writer's Block (3)

My job isn't to crank out words or shape meaning into my wild ideas. I wasn't created to be an endless supply of inspiration or to collect praise from other people.

I was made to notice God's goodness and reflect His glory.

Sometimes, that happens at my keyboard.

Right now, it happens in my kitchen, in the soul-quiet endless hours when I claw for something that isn't yet mine to hold and instead discover I'm already enough, even when I come up empty.

It's only Thursday, but I know the most important thing I'll do all week is sit with my child on my lap and run my fingers through his hair, over and over and over again. 

About Shannan Martin

This post originally ran on

Shannan Martin, author of The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You and Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted, is a speaker and writer who found her voice in the country and her story in the city. Shannan, her jail-chaplain husband, Cory, and their kids, live as grateful neighbors in Goshen, Indiana.

You can listen to our interview with Shannan on The Today's Mama Podcast HERE!  



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