Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Confessions of a Writer: Nearly Six Years into the Journey

This past Sunday, our Pastor preached a sermon entitled, Confessions of a Disciple: Nearly 40 years into the Journey. Highly recommend listening. Here’s the audio link.
Wow, these confessions were so real, and raw. His transparency was like a gift. We as Christians live messy lives as we work to live out real faith in real life. Sometimes others like Pastors or Best-Selling Authors seem to have arrived—got it all together, but that’s not the case. 

So, as a gift to fellow writers starting out, here are my confessions nearly six years into the journey as a writer.

1: If I wrote when I was inspired, the project would never get finished. 

Most, if not a great majority of things in life require discipline—an intentional action repeated on a consistent basis. 

I make a writing schedule and stick with it until one of the kiddos gets sick, or the back porch roof starts to cave in, or an after school practice or program takes precedence. I’m learning to apply an Army Wife Motto to my writing life: roll with it. If my schedule gets out of whack, I find the time I can write. 

Oh how I wish I had 4 or 5 hours of sheer uninterrupted time to write when I wasn’t exhausted from a day of adult-ing, but then again, I may be prone to wonder from the page and end up sucked into Pinterest or Facebook, or something else equally and wonderfully distracting. 

The point is, I’m learning to set writing goals to keep me on track.  Even going as far as to set a timer for 90 minutes, 4 times a week, and bust my chops to get in 1,500 words each session…which leads me to the next confession:

2: Embrace grace when goals go unmet.

There are some days when I don’t get a single word written. Ugh, that’s another confession that stands on its own. 

Sometimes life happens in the strangest of ways and sucks up your day. The oddest, most unpredictable things can occur...quite peculiar, really.

And then there's just the day to day conflicts. I work part time, take care of my kiddos, juggle their schedules with mine and my hubby’s, volunteer, teach Sunday school, lead a writers group, cook, clean, market, blog…yikes, I need some chocolate just thinking about it all. 

But God reminds me of who I am. I’m His. And I can plan and schedule all I want, but each novel is His, and He will give me the grace, and strength to finish…even if there’s a day or a week when I haven’t typed a single word.

And that leads me to my next confession: 

3: Prioritizing time is a challenge but a necessity.

Yes, I set writing goals. Yes, I carve out and prioritize that writing time, but my first priority, even before family, is God.  Perhaps strange for some to hear, but it’s a way of life that works well for our family, and a multitude of other followers of Christ.

It’s almost become routine to wake up before the family and spend that time reading the Bible, praying, and listening. It’s a routine I like, and crave. It’s become a priority. 

That priority extends into the way I live, how I treat others, how I spend my money, and how I spend my time.  And I need daily reminders, helpful nudges from God to keep Him first. Family second. Friends third. Writing fourth. 

It’s a struggle, not gonna lie, but I remember that writing is just a part of my life, a good part, but not the whole. 

4: There’s more fear involved in the writing process than what I ever imagined. 

It hangs out beside my desk, in the corner, sometimes on my shoulder. It takes me a bit to acknowledge the fear…that my first draft is going to be probably the worst thing I’ve ever written…that I will probably get some bad reviews…that some people may never like a single thing I write…that I don’t have what it takes to be a writer. 

Fear acknowledged, then swallowed, because I know that fear doesn’t come from God. So, I press forward and write anyway, because I’m writing for another reason, and that reason is more powerful than a bit of fear hanging around.

And the last confession:

5: The first draft is gonna be terrible.

Ugh, I can’t stand this confession because I don’t want to embrace it. I want to write the perfect novel the first time. 

To help assuage my little writer heart, I asked MANY, MANY, MA NY other authors light years ahead of me in experience about their first drafts. Every single one of them either laughed, rolled their eyes, or grimaced, each stating there’s was terrible. Good news for the rest of us writers! 

But, after guidance, input, rewrites, and edits, that raw rough copy becomes a polished novel worth the struggles. Even better news!

So keep going, fellow writer! I pray these confessions help encourage you in your writing journey.

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