The most important move in my writing adventure was instilled in my heart by my dad when I was a child. My dad's an award-winning Christian children's musician, Rob Evans, "The Donut Man," and he's the inspiration for my pen name, Robsdottir (Note: I'm not from Iceland; rather, I am 'Rob's daughter').
I grew up watching my dad pray earnestly before he did just about anything, but he always put his songwriting time especially in the hands of Jesus -- so much that when he was convicted early on in his career that his own ego had grown too large, he gave up music completely for three whole years.
My father so completely shaped my outlook on my writing endeavors that I knew very early on I would never be published or find success in any way unless I had my priorities in order: God first, my family second, and writing somewhere well below that.
One thing that's helped me accomplish this goal is to always pray before sitting down to type. Sometimes I use my own words, but often I recite this great prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas: (1225-1274)
Prayer Before Writing or Preaching
O Creator of the universe,
who has set the stars in the heavens
and causes the sun to rise and set,
shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind.
Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you,
that I may bring your light to others.
Just as you can make even babies speak your truth,
instruct my tongue and guide my pen
to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel.
Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear,
and my words eloquent,
so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed.
Prayer and keeping my priorities in order was key in writing my debut novel Brave Water -- an award-winning tale about two east African teens who battle a human trafficking ring to save their best friend. [Be sure to sign up for a chance to win your own free copy in this month's giveaway!]
I wrote the book during what will certainly prove to be the most intense years of my life: when my seven sons were under the age of 13; I even worked on the book in the hospital after delivering my last two kids!
In short, I had very little time to actually sit and type. So, it was key to have an active prayer life, seeking God's help and the intercession of Saints in order to make the best of my very limited writing time. Often, I'd think about what I wanted to write all morning, but only scratch out a wildly interrupted hour each afternoon to actually put pen to paper. Regardless, I always sensed that God blessed the work, especially because it was being done in His honor and after I spent time with Him and my family.
Just for fun . . . here is how a few other Catholic Teen Books authors prepare before writing (and even how some of their characters prepare for things):
Carolyn Astfalk says, "I set out to pray the prayer to the Holy Spirit when writing, but even in these years when I’ve had little time to write, I pray it every morning, asking God to inspire my creativity."
Corinna Turner's reply: "I pray before writing: 'Prosper for us the works of our hands, O Lord, all for the honor and glory of God, and for the salvation of souls' and then ask the intercession of my personal saints, the patron saints of the book, Our Lady, and the Holy Spirit. My characters often pray before big decisions but there are so many of them I'm not really sure how to elaborate on that."
Leslea Wahl says, "I pray that my writing will reach those who may be inspired by it. I also pray for CTB and that we continue to grow and bless families. All my characters pray when they face challenges."
Theresa Linden's answer: "Before writing or editing, I make the Sign of the Cross and offer my work to Jesus. I pray to be guided by the Holy Spirit and that my work may give glory to God. When faced with writer's block, I complain to Jesus in my Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament."
Marie Keiser says of the main character in her book, Heaven's Hunter, "I imagine Randall would pray before important decisions post conversion, but it takes the whole book to get him there. 😁"
Sarah Robsdottir is a Catholic convert, a homeschooling mom to seven boys and a regular contributor to Aleteia and National Catholic Register. When a pamphlet arrived in her mailbox describing the grave dangers water gatherers in developing nations face daily, Sarah locked eyes with the girl on the front cover and knew she had to tell her story -- a challenging, multi-year endeavor that would result in her 2023 Catholic Media Association Award-winning debut novel Brave Water.