One of the first times I became self-conscious of my desire to write was in high school. My 11th grade English teacher asked if anyone wanted to write a book one day. I was about to raise my hand but quickly scanned the classroom first. All the other students stared blankly at my teacher, so I did too. I was surprised that no one else wanted to. It wasn’t until college that I considered being a writer for a living. But even then people asked me what I really wanted to do with my English major. You want to be a teacher, right? The last year of college I picked up a minor in education because I sort of freaked out. I had guessed the critics were right. That was the only path for me. I took a couple tests to be a teacher and was even an elementary school TA for a quarter but it just wasn’t for me. My heart wasn’t in it.
In the beginning of the year, while tapping away on Instagram hashtags and scrolling through pictures, I found myself on a blog that mentioned an online writing course with Ann Swindell, a writer whose articles I had read on various sites I follow. Here was a woman who was writing for all the publications I would one day like to write for. There shouldn’t have been any questions. But before I signed up, I did have my doubts. Would this course be helpful? What if I didn’t have the time for all the classes? What if I didn’t finish? What if, what if, what if… That’s when I had to ask myself how much I really wanted to write. For years I had pushed writing aside because I felt like God would open up the doors when it was the right timing. I pushed it aside because no one else was raising their hands. I pushed it aside because I was scared, tired, busy, critical, lazy, prideful, distracted, unfocused and/or overwhelmed at different points of my life.
Here are some takeaways and things I’ve been reflecting on after taking the online course (not in order of importance):
- Writing is a gift. God has allowed me to have this desire and gift to write. To not write would be a waste. I often thought that I wasn’t doing meaningful work with my writing when I wasn’t doing anything creative with it, but now I see that all the things that I had done in ministry while using my editing/writing skills were still being used for His purposes. I need to steward my gifts well, whether it be writing or something else.
- I am more than one talent. I thought there was only one thing I should seek from God regarding my career path or talents/strengths but I’ve realized I’ve been thinking too small. God has given me so much and each of those things can be used to serve others.
- Living in reality. The reality is that I will get rejected by magazines, publishers, websites. Writing is hard work, but most things in life that are worth it take hard work. Writing should be a priority. Sitting down to type on my computer or write in my journal is not only good for my soul, but it’s the only way I will actually accomplish something. I’ve always admired artists and creative people who get paid to do what they do. I may not be one of those people, but that’s okay. And that leads me to my next point.
- I am a Christian. My identity is not in my writing. It’s because I am God’s child that I can write with confidence. This is why I can rejoice with others when they are advancing in their careers or publishing articles. My first calling is to God, not in what I do.
- Creative community. No one will truly know how passionate you are about your passion, unless you’re with others who love the same thing. I felt very alone in the Christian writing world because I had never met others who had shared the same heart to use writing as a ministry. The past several weeks I listened to Ann and (cyber) met others with the same passion. It was both incredible and humbling.
Today I’m raising my hand.