General Jewish Spirituality shabbat spirituality

Shabbat and NaNoWriMo

As I’m working feverishly on my novel for National Novel Writing Month (18,000 words, thanks for asking), I’m approaching the first Saturday of the month. Which raises a question for me. Do I work on the novel on the sabbath?

On the one hand, I try not to use a computer on Shabbat, because it’s too work like. And in some ways, this writing really is work, in the sense of productive labor.

On the other hand, I’m having a lot of fun writing, and it’s a spiritual activity, especially given the spiritual themes of the novel. And, after all, I’ve got 50,000 words to get done before a deadline.

I really don’t know where I’m going to come out. There is work I’m willing to do on Shabbat (like lead services, for instance). But without boundaries, Shabbat ceases to have true meaning. Studying spiritual text is very traditional as a Shabbat activity. But writing it isn’t. I’m balancing, weighing the questions, trying to find a comfortable result.

I’m trying hard not to let the target of 50k words drive my decision. That’s not what Shabbat is about, and frankly, that drive is the most compelling reason to me NOT to write on Shabbat: the goal oriented nature of 50,000 words is very much not shabbastik (doesn’t feel like shabbat).

A more traditional Jew doesn’t wrestle with these questions. There are clear boundaries that one adheres to. For those of us who seek to live by finding our own path through the tradition, creating meaningful ways of celebrating and observing, the questions are tougher. Competing values come into play, and the decisions are up to us, not the rabbi we ask for a ruling.

For now, I remain undecided, but leaning towards writing. But tune in next week for the answer.


2 replies on “Shabbat and NaNoWriMo”

i struggle with this one all the time.
First of all, it’s after sundown on the East coast and I still haven’t logged off. But that’s because I have to work till 5 regardless of the sundown, so Shabbat starts later, after sundown in the winter for me.

But re: writing – I decided awhile back that writing for school or assignment is strictly prohibited for me on Shabbat. I held to that all throughout Reed. And writing/editing my work for the purposes of publishing, that also is prohibited for me.

But creative journaling I allow myself (either writing or drawing) because it feels like meditation, like a spiritual practice, not like work.

Needless to say, given the spiritual theme of the novel, Iím really looking forward to be reading your writing when itís done! One of the reasons why I enjoyed your journal is because it tackles both the theme of spirituality and, at the same time, finding oneís own path through it.

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