Thursday, December 31, 2009

Away with those writing fears!

This is my New Year's letter of encouragement for those of you who have always wanted to write, but are afraid.

When I first started writing for a living, many doubts held me back, including:

  • Inadequacy -- I felt I wasn't good enough; there were so many writers who were much better than me. This is true; someone will always be better. So what?
  • Education -- I looked at the writers who had Masters of Fine Arts, who sold best-sellers, who made at least $20,000 for speaking engagements. I don't know about you, but $20,000 is a ton of money. With that amount, I could help my husband build his dream workshop, replace our worn carpet and finally buy a new couch. But while I looked at those writers, I remembered that life experiences count for something! And God wouldn't give them to me unless they counted. Yours count, too.
  • Fear -- How could I start writing for publications? Who'd want to read my words? New York editors take seconds to scan a query letter; how could mine be worth reading? Then I realized that fear held me back from personal growth. Someone could be encouraged by reading my words, written from my heart. As for editors, they're people, too. Each day they commute to work, they're hoping to do the best they can at their job. They have photos of their families on their desks, dreams for their future. Plus, they, too have fears. They're human, for crying out loud. They're approachable, I've discovered. And I've found, so far, they're very nice to work with.

The biggest obstacle that held me back from writing for publication was, simply, fear. And fear is hurtful.

I prayed about my work, knowing God would help me to write just what I needed to say. It has helped me in my grief over losing Dad, through walking with my precious mom in her journey with Alzheimer's and in helping readers know they're not alone in their own similar journeys. I've also been able to sing the praises in black and white of my dear friends and family; what other job allows one to do that?

Once those fears were brushed aside, I was able to get my column out to several papers -- which run from Alaska all the way south to the Lone Star State. The lack of fear has also given me precious opportunities to build relationships with the public through my features reporting. I also speak on facing our inadequacies with the best friend and writing partner in the world, author Pamela Johnson. And now, together, our huge writing project is underway. Are we excited? Heck, yeah. Are we afraid? Nope.

For each of you who want to write, I encourage you: don't be afraid to use your voice. Speak to your readers. Ignore the naysayers.

You can do it in 2010. Let me know how it goes for you.

A little pencil in the big hands of a writing God,