I went to a writing conference recently. Yes, I realize that may sound boring if you don’t like writing, but for someone who’s always enjoyed the act of putting words on paper, it was a lot of fun. Being surrounded by people who have a similar passion to your own is always a neat experience.
However, I found myself stumbling a little when I was asked a particular question over and over.
How long have you been a writer?
It seems like a simple enough question on the surface. Sort of like, how long have you been playing volleyball, how long have you lived in your town, how long have you been married? Questions that would have a pretty definite start and end time and so should be easy to answer.
The truth is, though, while I have always liked to write, I never really thought of myself as a writer. That’s a title. A profession. Something more important than just filling up journal pages with ink no one will ever see but me.
When I was a young girl I had a dream of becoming a novelist. I wanted to write amazing stories that people would love and get lost in.
When I was a young woman I had a dream of being a journalist. I wanted to write important, informative pieces that exposed the truth to a public that needed to know.
Then I got married. I had kids. I loved those kids so much, and I stopped writing so I could lose myself in the care of them.
12 years later, I found myself watching my children climb the school bus steps, and I realized that the words that had been missing from my head for so long had started to come back. They were pushing at the edges of my mind, just waiting for me to put them on paper.
It was incredibly difficult to start again. I had been out of the writing game for over a decade. I’d missed the birth of blogging and barely understood social media.
So, as any good writer does, I lost myself in research. Should I polish my dusty resume and try to get a part-time job at a magazine? Should I freelance? Should I write the Great American Novel? I still wanted to be home for my kids after school, and I had a one-year-old still home all day, so I knew that whatever I chose it would have to accommodate their schedules.
After much thought, I decided to write a blog. I didn’t have much current experience outside the home, so I started writing about what I knew – marriage, family, children, my faith. Nothing earth-shattering or especially profound, but each post personal, meaningful or fun.
I won’t share how long those first posts sat hiding in a folder on my laptop, with no one to read them but myself (*cough* six weeks *cough*).
I just couldn’t work up the courage to hit publish. My finger hovered over that button for days. I felt old, rusty and uninteresting. I worried that no one would want to read what I wrote, or worse, that they would read it out of pity. I felt afraid that if I did this, I could never take it back. I knew in my head that God calls us to step out in faith when there’s no other safety net but Him, but in my heart, I was still unsure.
I let fear, uncertainty, and a fair amount of self-consciousness win.
What a waste of time that was.
Since I finally took that leap and hit publish two years ago, so many things have changed. I’ve made new friends in the writing community. I’ve made closer connections to people already in my life who could relate to things I had written. I’ve been offered opportunities to try new things based on things someone had read on my blog. I’ve published pieces in a few different magazines, and am working on getting a children’s book and a Christian book published.
Nothing profound or earth-shattering, but things I couldn’t have imagined while I was letting fear win.
So today I want to encourage you to try that thing you may be too scared to do. For me it was claiming I was a writer – maybe for you it’s being a teacher, running a program or event, or starting a big project. Maybe it’s trying a new job, taking a chance on a relationship or going on a trip.
Maybe it’s something I’ve never even thought of, but that you’ve thought of for years.
I believe God sometimes puts things on our hearts, sends people and opportunities into our lives, and places things in our paths that guide us into things He is calling us to do – perhaps before we’re even aware of them.
I won’t claim that every opportunity that comes our way, or thought that pops into our heads, is a calling from God, but if there’s something that you know He’s calling you to do and you’re resisting out of fear…
Don’t think any more about should you or could you. Just do it. Try it. Take the leap and trust His safety net.
Then close your eyes, and hit publish.