How do you find time to write?

That’s one of the most common questions I get from family, friends, and fans of The Black Lens. It’s a crucial question, especially since my wife and I are both working from home full time with three children under the age of six in a small Ohio home.

Each day, we must somehow balance our own jobs while home schooling, changing dirty diapers, and trying to keep our house at least somewhat clean. I don’t have time to write, at least on paper. Between working and parenting, no extra hours exist during the day. As I write this blog post, I’m holding my 11-month old daughter on my lap while scarfing down a late lunch and trying to help my wife calm down our two other children who are screaming.

But I must write. I can’t help it. Writing helps me survive each day, and that’s what gives me the passion I need to find the time.

British author C.S. Lewis once said that “Art … has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Writing is a form of art, so it too has no survival value. But it gives value to my survival—especially during an unprecedented year like 2020. Between a global pandemic, economic recession, racial injustices, extreme weather patterns, and my own personal struggles, I have never felt so anxious in my life.

I’m not alone. A third of Americans were showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression by May of this year, according to a profound and almost poetic article I just read in The Washington Post. I am one of those statistics. I’ve never shared this before publicly, but I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. While counselors have taught me some helpful techniques for managing my symptoms over the years, writing is one of the few constants in my life that has helped me survive.

As The Post article states: “Everybody’s truth is shattered right now. It’s like the ground has been taken away from you. Where do you find refuge?”

Writing is a refuge for me. I love it, long for it, and look forward to it. When I write, I feel alive. As Eric Liddell says in Chariots of Fire: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Like my family or my faith, my writing is not perfect. I struggle to get up at 5 or 6 a.m. every day to put pen to paper while sipping a strong cup of steaming coffee. Some days I don’t get up early. Some days I only write a few hundred words. But like my family and my faith, writing keeps beckoning me back because she gives value to my survival. In a world that constantly feels out of control, writing is the one of the few aspects of my life that I can control, at least on some level.

I can’t control whether an agent or publisher will want to read my work. But I can choose to get up before the kids awake—that one precious hour or so during the day when it’s still dark and quiet in our little house—to write.

And when that sun finally rises, the story I am writing gives value to the story I am living.