Today I met someone who oozed passion to write and had ideas for books nearly tumbling out of her. Like so many other fresh bloggers, she was nervous to hit that publish button on her blog for a variety of reasons.
I left that conversation feeling like there are many writers out there who need to be encouraged to write out their souls for such a time as this. If you’re trying to create or continue a blog, write a book, or simply start putting pen on paper…may you find courage to continue with these 3 things I’ve learned as a writer.
1: WHAT YOU PUBLISH TODAY IS WHO YOU ARE TODAY
There’s nothing more frightening when you publish a blog or book than wondering whether you’re wrong, immature/imperfect, or (for me) missing God’s heart somewhere. That fear can do two things: Make us too afraid to publish our work at all, or make us constantly second guess the writing we have published.
Over two years ago I published my first book, Gray Faith. As excited as I was immediately after publishing, I became nervous as the months went on that maybe I should have changed something. Maybe parts weren’t so perfect. Maybe I shared a little too much a little too harshly in places.
It’s like realizing you’ve left all your unmentionables out on the clothes line right as a crowd of people shows up for your child’s birthday party. (Umm…err…oops…those red ones aren’t mine…I mean….avert your eyes!!…this is awkward.)
And to be honest, that fear has caused me to feel ashamed of that precious work I poured my soul into.
Guess what? It’s not perfect. And some of the things I believed then have probably changed since publication. But that was who and where I was then, and it is no less a valid part of my life for that reason. Paul says we know in part on this earth, not fully. That’s OK…write anyway.
People need to hear your honest account of where you are now, because someone else is exactly in that place. They need to see some of your immaturity or brokenness so they know they’re not the only one. They need to see you wrestle through tough issues without having the answers yet because chances are they’re in the middle of a crisis they don’t have answers for either. Bottom line: you are human and every time you write it is where you are on your journey TODAY. Today is real, it’s raw, and it’s important. Don’t let fear keep you from putting your today self out there.
2: READERS DON’T MAKE WRITERS
You’ll be tempted as a writer to constantly try to validate who you are by how many people are reading your content. How many blog subscribers? How many books sold? How many shares on facebook? How many comments did you get from people who aren’t related to you?
Guess what? Readers don’t make writers….writing makes you so.
My four year old is a dancer. Has he taken lessons? No. Does he dance in public? Well…yes, but not on a stage. Does he occasionally get a little over-zealous and remove clothing articles mid-dance? Yes. Regardless, the boy is a dancer because when the music starts playing his body has to move. He can’t help it. It’s his expression of joy, rhythm, soul. And seriously…it’s inspirational to watch.
Writing is the same. If you write for no other reason, do it because you’re soul can’t contain the words and thoughts in your mind. Do it because writing helps you process the rhythm of who you are and where you’re going. Write your true self (although unlike my 4 year old, maybe keep your pants on). Sure, do it because you believe even one other person might need to be inspired by those words. But do it first because God made you that way and He wants to create with you.
3: YOU ALWAYS HAVE ROOM TO GROW
When I first started blogging over five years ago, I had an awkward and slightly self-centered blog title, (“The Carrye Chronicles”…not even joking) no vision for who I would connect with, no writer’s conference under my belt, and the naive confidence to write my little heart out anyway. Had I tried to disqualify myself early on, I easily could have. But I would have missed out on something that fills my soul, and others would have missed out on sharing life with me this way.
We all start somewhere. The baby steps of writing you take today, even if they feel awkward or clumsy, are helping you build up your writer strength and find your voice.
There’s a story I heard once (that I’m probably going to butcher) about a man around 60 who wanted a talented musician to teach him to play an instrument. The musician said, “Sure, I’ll teach you. You’ll be able to play well in five years.” The would-be musician gasped, “Five years! But that’s far too long to wait!” And the gifted musician said, “In five years you can play well or in five years you can still not know how to play. Either way, you’ll be five years older.”
The same is true of you: You can start now knowing nothing and grow your craft through practice, asking friends to lend an editor’s eye, going to writer’s conferences or workshops, and meeting up with other writer’s for inspiration and motivation. Or you can wait and five years from now still be waiting.
Never believe that you’ve come to a place where you’ve got nothing left to learn and no more room to grow.
But don’t strangle the beautiful gift of your writing for yourself and others by believing it’s not worth taking that first step. Because there’s no time like now to start writing, and no one but you with your story.
If YOU are a new writer or trying to get your feet wet, I invite you to reach out and submit a guest post to my blog! Sometimes just the step of putting yourself out there can give you courage to create a blog or book of your own.