This is a guest post by Leslie Newman. I met her at the Tribe Conference after following her work this year. In that time she went from a total newbie to a writer with a list of over 1900 subscribers, 1300 Social Media followers, and over 2 million monthly views on Pinterest. Her top 4 posts have received over 180,000 social shares. See now what she did to go from desire to accomplishment!
Where it All Began
Writing comes to us in all sorts of ways, but for me, it was something unexpected, a compelling thing I felt I needed to do. I had thoughts about what writing would be like, but I quickly realized I had picked up my pen without any idea of all that would be involved. Everything is easy until you try to do it yourself.
Little did I know what I was in for. Hard work. And lots of it. But there was an even bigger problem than that. You see, I didn’t feel like a writer.
I had no experience, and I found myself floundering around in a sea of self-doubt. Writing was nothing like I expected. I had no idea of the thought that was involved nor the depth of what it would take to pull the words out from inside me. The study time. The uncomfortableness of it. It seemed that almost every week I had to push through a dark wall of water to come up with a new article meant to encourage and help others when I couldn’t even help myself. I was barely staying afloat.
If I was going to keep at it, I was going to have to find something to hold on to because writing was wrecking me. Literally. And I never expected that.
So I did what a drowning person does. I began to grab hold of anything I could find to keep me above the water.
Everything is easy until you try to do it yourself. Click To Tweet
Something to Believe In
The first thing that came floating by was belief. I began to realize that if I was going to keep writing, I was going to have to hold tightly to the things I believed in. There’s a whole lot of beliefs I hold onto in rough waters, but as a writer, I learned it was absolutely essential to believe in what I was doing.
Our writing is with us for a reason, and that reason is often not just about ourselves. Is your writing is meant to help and encourage someone else? That’s good because someone out there needs you. Is it meant to entertain and give someone a reprieve from the pressures of life? That’s rest for a weary soul. Does your writing meet an emotional need? We all need that kind of connection. Do you give helpful information that will make someone’s job easier? Who wouldn’t benefit from that? Determine your key mission and focus on it. In holding tightly to your mission, and in not giving up, you’ll find that in the long run, it’s going to become easier to keep going because you begin to understand that you are doing something worthwhile.
Someone to Help You
When you are drowning, you can bet you’ll be reaching out for the hand beside you. Writing can be one of the loneliest places you will ever be in, and you are going to need the support of other writers. This aspect is often overlooked because so many of us are introverted. We go it alone for a lot of things, and the time we spend in solitude never really bothers us. But taking the writing journey alone can leave you treading water and getting nowhere.
Where could you go to find support? I tended to lean on my faith. And you know what? Every time I went there, I was reminded that we were not created to do life alone. So I began to seek out groups of writers who were writing about similar topics. When I happened upon them, I found friends who understood the issues I was writing about. And even better, they understood the ups and downs of a writer’s life. They were my lifelines and pulled me back into the boat many times. If you reach out to the ones that can help you, it will make all the difference in the world.
A Gift to Give
Some days as I was trying to hold my head up out of the water, I’d see a pretty package floating by. It was full of words, written and waiting for the taking. Even as I felt like I was about to go under from all the self-doubt and frustration, I realized that words are a gift we can give. If we quit before we ever get started someone out there goes away empty handed. I wonder if it’s not our responsibility to give the gift? We’ll never know if we don’t try.
Words are a gift we can give. Click To Tweet
Every gift takes time, right? We have to think about what we want to give. We roll those ideas around in our minds for days, even weeks. Then we have to go places to find the gift we want to give. This can take no small amount of effort in some cases. We have to wrap it up nicely and then we have to make an effort to meet up with the one to whom we are giving the gift. But all this takes time.
We have to be patient as we give ourselves time to practice and learn. I’ll be the first to tell you that I was terrified to post my articles in the beginning. Every time I hit the publish button I would cringe. I wanted to run and hide, especially from the people that really knew me because what in the world would they think? But in my research about writing, I learned that I needed to practice in public. We can’t wait for our writing to be perfect. We have to face that fear and move forward.
It’s a learning curve that we never really get to the end of, isn’t it? We’ve got to be willing to ride that wave all the way to shore and then back out again as it repeats itself in timeless daily rhythms. Time is one of our most valuable assets, and we should slow down and take advantage of it. The work we do over time will hone our craft and whittle away at the rough edges. Let the waves you are riding help you tumble and smooth the words you create. Don’t rush it. And most importantly, don’t give up before time has had a chance to do its work.
Every ocean has its boundaries. They were set into place for a reason. Without boundaries, the waters would overflow the land. As writers we need limits, too. One if the writing boundaries I set in place for myself in the beginning was the limit of a set period of time.
When I first became determined to call myself a writer, I decided I would act like a writer for one year. Although I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I did know that there would have to be some hefty determination to keep going, although at the beginning I had no idea of the depth of it. Somehow though, I was wise enough to set that one year time limit. If, after that amount of time, it wasn’t working out for me I would feel free to step away, chalk it up to a great learning experience and move on. Because I was only looking at the time frame of one year, I was able to keep going when the going got tough. I knew I had an “out” so to speak. The fact that I was only going to have to be determined for that one year made it doable for me.
What boundaries could you set for yourself? We need them, friends. Otherwise, the strong current of our intense desire to write will interfere with other things in life that are even more important. Set up some limits and make sure to keep them. They will give you time frames you can manage and in the long run, also serve to benefit those around you.
We can’t wait for our writing to be perfect. Click To Tweet
A Boat Called Perseverance
Little by little, Belief, Community, Responsibility, Time and Boundaries all assembled themselves together in such a way as to become a lifeboat for me. I made it to the end of that year from one September to the next. And I didn’t walk away from writing. In faithfully sticking with the process and in persisting when times were tough, I found myself in the midst of one of the most fulfilling things I had ever done, sailing over the high waves of fear and doubt in a boat called Perseverance.
Perhaps you’d like to hop in the boat with me. What kinds of things have helped you persevere through your writing journey?
Leslie Newman is a wife, mother, writer, teacher and friend. Currently, she spends her days home educating, reading, writing, and being a full time household manager. Drop by and visit her at her blog, www.journeytoimperfect.com, where she’d love for you to join her in conversations about faith, prayer, and letting go of perfect.
Connect With Leslie
Do This Now
- If you’re not part of a writer’s group, join one like the Tribe Builder’s Network on Facebook. If you’re in a group already, get more active. You’ll make friends who will sharpen you and make you a better writer.
- Set a time every day to write – and always stick to it.
- Share your work before you’re ready. It will never be perfect, so just do your best and let it go.
Are you inspired by Leslie’s success? Tell her in the comments. Have a question for her? She’s here to give you answers. Please share this with your friends so they’ll be inspired to make their creative dreams come true!