This summer was the first in several that I did not have a writing deadline. The book was finished, published in fact. Outside of one book review due in June, I had no other commitments.
Instead of feeling a sense of freedom and anticipation, I felt lost and overwhelmed. I didn’t write nearly as much as I wanted.
One goal I had for the summer was to promote my book. After a Google search on “how to market your book,” I quickly felt like the biggest failure. No, I haven’t joined Facebook groups or commented on other’s blogs nearly enough. No, I haven’t done a podcast. No, I don’t have pinnable links. No, I don’t use social media enough. Discouragement moved in at my desk.
Suddenly, I felt stuck—no ideas for writing and no motivation to do something, anything in regards to promoting my book.
And then a couple of weeks ago, a fortuitous walk with a fellow writer gave me the necessary clarity I desperately needed. Alicia, what kind of writer do you want to be? Which writers inspire you? Be like them.
Like many writers, I have a day job, a very full one. I have to grab snatches of time to write and I often fail due to the demands of my job. I don’t have hours to spend on the internet following current trends and tweeting about them in real time. Often I feel like I read an article and think, “that was the article I wanted to write.” Rather than be bitter that I didn’t think of the pithy 140-character tweet or write the article first, I need to plug away at the work of writing, developing my craft.
So this got me thinking about the kind of writer I want to be. Because I never met a list that I didn’t like, I decided to write down my claims. Maybe I’ll even post them on my refrigerator.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. I want to be a writer whose pieces are thoughtful and insightful. This means I will produce less work. I can’t crank out a piece in a couple of hours. I’m still developing and honing my writer’s voice. I spend a lot of time rewriting and revising. That’s okay because I want to write solid pieces that say something true, good, and beautiful, even if it takes me more time.
2. I want to be a writer whose pieces are honest and humorous. Some of the writers I most admire have this amazing ability to articulate real life in words that make me want to shout, “Yes! Me too!” They also make me laugh at myself in the process. You mean you’re just as neurotic as I am? I want to be that kind of writer.
3. I want to be a writer whose pieces reflect faith intersecting with all parts of life. I will be forever grateful to Edith Schaeffer for opening this door for me. As I wrote in my introduction to Everywhere God, “She wrote about eating, gardening, walking, cooking, talking, and God all in the same mix.” This means I can write a blog post about the latest fall fashion trends without feeling like my writing is trite or superficial.
4. I want to be a writer who cares less about stats, likes, retweets, you name it, and instead cares more about improving and growing as a writer. This is a hard one for me. I can’t imagine posting an image to Instagram and having, oh, I don’t know, 5,000 people like it! My writing may never meet with the success that attracts the attention of large publishing houses and prestigious agents. But I know at my deepest level, that I don’t want to write a single word that I don’t believe is true or is written merely to impress others. My calling as a believer and as a writer is to be faithful in the everyday matters of life. To this end, I will write, trusting God with any results that may come my way.
This piece is about writing, but I think the truths apply to other parts of life too. At different points, I’ve found that I’ve had to make a list—literally and figuratively—regarding other areas. What kind of wife, mother, teacher, woman, do I want to be? This exercise is particularly helpful when I fall into the “compare and despair” mentality. It helps me see more clearly the person God has called me to be and who he has not called me to be.
Grace and peace, friends, as you begin a new week.