I’ve been reading this book about being a writer. The funny thing is it’s hardly about writing at all. At least not the 67% I’ve so far read. It’s about knowing what you want to do and doing it. It’s about being proactive with your intentions; stop dreaming about things and start doing them. After the pep talk, the author offers solid steps to get you started. It’s been a real kick in the pants for me.
You see, I don’t often seek opportunities. I wait for them to find me. We’ve all heard stories of the random woman walking down the street who just happens to bump into Ralph Lauren or Steven Spielberg and is instantly plucked from anonymity. Within a year she’s an A-list actress or an international cover model. That’s secretly been my hope. A ridiculous hope, I admit.
I am keenly aware of my limited knowledge. Often trailing that is insecurity. It’s not that I don’t think I can do this; it’s that I’m rarely fully convinced of what God wants me to do. (I mean, I have been wrong before. I’m not too proud to claim I will be wrong again.) If it’s not what God wants me to do, then I’ll never succeed anyway. (He is, after all, immeasurably more powerful than I.) Without an email from God or some pretty specific skywriting, I too easily waffle and then pitter out. Every little rejection seems, to me, to be a sign that I’m headed down the wrong path. Every obstacle an invitation to doubt what I thought I understood. If God really wants me to do this gig, He’ll make it inescapably clear – right? Like the model.
It’s a rather pathetic, passive philosophy. Nowhere does it account for faith or obedience. I must have faith in what I believe God is telling me. Then I need to act in obedience on that faith.
And those challenges? They may indicate a need to evaluate my direction, realign it with His, but they may also be excellent opportunities to strengthen my skills, my resolve. At the very least they’ll give me fodder for future projects.
Last week I wrote about not getting off the train. We all have trains that we want to be on, but fear where it’s going. Maybe we fear failure. Maybe success. Maybe we simply aren’t ready for change. Whatever it is that you really want, start acting like it.
If you want to learn to play golf, go buy some clubs and start learning.
If you want to be an artist, start painting.
If you want to be healthier, stop eating junk and start working out.
If you want a more intimate relationship with God, spend time with Him. Read His Word, pray, listen to worship music, hang out with other people who have tight relationships with Him.
My point (and the point of the book I’m reading) is this: don’t just talk about it; do something about it. Do what you say you want to do.
It’s not easy. Overcoming complacency is uncomfortable. Changing habits and routines is difficult. Clearly I’m skilled at finding neat escape routes. I don’t want to do that this time. That’s why I’m strapping myself in. I’m taking steps to keep me on the train. Here are a few:
- I joined the Bestseller Society. This “writer’s conference in a box” not only offers me training and mentorship, but also networking with other writers and publishing professionals. I’ve joined similar groups in the past, but always free ones. This one requires a paid subscription. In other words, it’s an investment I can feel, a commitment made with my wallet.
- I launched a professional writer page on facebook. If you “like” my page, you’ll receive updates from my website, notes about our Big Word Bible Studies and bits specific to my journey as a writer and editor. I also post links to interesting articles about Christianity and publishing. Click HERE to go there.
- I had new headshots taken. Most of the photos I currently use are more than two years old and usually feature my kids. They’re cute, but none of them scream “professional.” The new ones do. They’ll be used to promote online recognition, but also for book proposals (of which I have three in the works!), published articles and interactions with editors and agents. You can view these and vote for your favorite on my facebook page. (Please vote! I can’t decide which I like best!)
- I’m toying with a new web platform. Wordpress has been great, but I think it’s time I switch back to a self-hosted website. That means more creative control for me and, hopefully, more user-friendly and useful stuff for you. I’ll keep you posted on this. If all goes well, the new site will launch toward the end of summer.
- I’ve set deadlines. It’s very easy to start a book. It’s much more difficult to finish one. I have set concrete deadlines to finish at least two of my projects and to have proposals in circulation before the end of this calendar year.
Your Turn: Are you living your dreams or still waiting for them to start? What steps can you take to stay on that train?