This post is being submitted to the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer.
I love learning new things about writing. I love taking writing classes and reading books about writing. And, recently, I’ve started listening to some podcasts focusing on writing.
But sometimes learning about writing comes from everyday experiences. Recently, I had one such experience.
Out of Your Comfort Zone…That’s Where You Need to Be
About a month before our church’s Vacation Bible School started this past summer, the director asked me if I would be interested in leading the music. This is a pretty high-profile, high-pressure role, and I wasn’t at all sure I was ready for it. But she assured me everything would be fine. I prayed and asked God for help and determined that since this was one way I could serve Him I was going to do it.
Writing can sometimes be like that – especially if we’re writing for the Lord. He’s going to take us out of our comfort zones. That’s when He can display His power the most – when we’re out of our element and depending on Him to get us through.
Nothing Really Goes As Planned…Change the Plan
Before I started the VBS music journey, I was assured that I would not be responsible for any of the disciplining of the children–their main teachers would take care of that.
I soon found out that was not the case at all. Kids were running and jumping around, while their teachers sat back and watched. No one was paying attention to the music, and certainly no one was paying attention to me. I had to raise my voice to be heard over the noise, and then I was accused of “being angry” with the kids. I was not angry; I was trying to be firm to get something accomplished.
No one understood that…and no one liked it.
Sometimes our writing doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes our stories go off their carefully charted courses. Sometimes our books have a hard time finding readers that appreciate them. Sometimes they have a hard time finding readers at all.
When that happens, you have to adjust your plans–adjust your way of doing things. Change the plot. Change your marketing. Ignore the bad reviews and focus on the good ones.
In the VBS case, I found new ways to reach the kids and relaxed in some areas while maintaining firm boundaries in others. Things went a lot smoother for the rest of the week.
Some People Are Going to Always Compare Things to the Way They Used to Be…Keep Doing It Your Way, as Long as That’s the Way You Feel God Leading You
I can’t even tell you how many times my method of leading the music was compared (mostly unfavorably) to the way past music leaders had done things. It was so often, I honestly lost count. I had to…I would’ve lost my mind if I hadn’t.
And those comments hurt–a lot. But then I realized I’m not those people. I do not have to do things the same way they did. It doesn’t matter how many people didn’t like the way things were going. I knew I was leading the music because I felt God calling me to do it. He was the only one I had to worry about pleasing. I focused on that, and my attitude improved almost miraculously.
When you’re writing (especially if you’re writing in a heavily read genre like romance or mysteries), you’re going to be following in someone else’s footsteps, whether you mean to be or not. Your readers may compare your writing to that of their favorite authors … and you may not measure up. But if you know you’re doing the best you can (especially if you’re doing it for the Lord and have asked Him to help you), keep doing it.
Remember your “why,” and don’t let the negative voices stop you.
Ministry is hard. Writing is hard (after all, it is a form of ministry). But you can absolutely be successful with it if you keep your eyes on the One who called you to it. He will help you stay up above the waters of defeat, doubt, and discouragement.
And that’s the most important thing I learned about writing from Vacation Bible School. I’m ready for next year, whatever it may bring. And I’m ready to keep pushing my writing through to the next level.
What about you?