by Charis Joy Jackson
My dream holiday, as a writer, is finding a cabin in the middle of the wilderness where I can sit and write for days.
So at the end of last year, when I knew I was coming home for the holidays, the land considered the "Last Frontier", I thought I'd found the perfect place and I day-dreamed of days and days of writing.
But it hasn’t happened.
In fact, I've spent very little of my holiday writing. At first I felt guilty. Why was the idea of writing my novel so overwhelming? Why was I procrastinating? I love to write. I love my story, so what in the world was wrong?
And then the self-doubt started… If I'm not committed to writing every day, does that mean I'm not a writer? Has all the love and passion gone? Will I ever get my novel published? Am I really a writer? Or am I just a fake?
I needed a broader perspective - the cold hard facts and I knew I wasn’t the only one who wrestles with doubts so I made a short list of facts to hold on to in the “dry” moments.
Fact 1 - We need rest
When I came home for my holiday I was sick. I spent the first two and a half weeks lying on my blue fainting couch, barely taking in the tv shows and conversation going on around me. I couldn’t even form coherent sentences, let alone try to write from one of my characters povs.
Sometimes we need to rest from the work and creativity to replenish our supply. In my case, I literally needed to recuperate and get well, but sometimes it may mean taking a day off from my computer.
It’s good to give ourselves a break from the world of our characters, because it allows us to see things differently when we pick up the story again and maybe we’ll suddenly have solutions to story questions that our over tired brains couldn’t find before.
Fact 2 - Being an author doesn’t mean you just write
The truth is, even when I was feeling better I wasn't writing my novel, but I was spending a lot of time building my author platform. Taking part in a blog tour and promoting Glimpses of Light, an anthology recently published with one of my short stories.
There’s a tremendous amount of other things an author needs to do, so many ways we build our audience.
Writing blogs, updating our author pages on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Wordpress, website, etc. These platforms are not just busy work, but valid, important sites to keep updated so we can continue reaching new readers.
Fact 3 - Reading more, makes you a better story-teller
One thing I’ve been doing a lot on this holiday is reading. Re-reading old favourites I knew would wake the “something” in me that seemed lost. Reading new novels that were recommended to me, reading my own copy of Glimpses of Light and being blown away by all the talented story-tellers I get to share the pages with and even branching out to other genres I don’t normally have a desire to read.
The best writing resource for any budding author is to read more.
I remember someone telling me to read everything I could in the genre I wanted to write in - the good, the bad and the ugly. When I asked why I should read the bad, I was told, "Even the bad ones teach us what not to do."
Fact 4 - Spending time with God is the secret weapon of the creative
One of the reasons I haven’t been writing much is because I’m hanging out with God. Reading devotionals, journaling, spending time in worship and prayer.
I’ve discovered that after times of deep immersion with the ultimate Creator, my own creativity and love for story takes on a fresh new life. Every word becomes richer and more profound.
In order to grow in a specific thing, you must learn from those who know it better. Well, who's better to learn from, than the One who created my story and yours?
Fact 5 - Don’t become a critic, keep your wonder
I recently finished reading Frank Peretti’s Illusion and one of the themes that stood out to me was the importance of keeping your wonder. In the case of Peretti’s story it was keeping their wonder as magicians, but I think it can apply to any creative - especially the author.
I like what Robert Frost says on the subject. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
In other words, be in awe of the stories and characters you dream up.
And more importantly, be in awe of the God who wants to see you make up these worlds of adventure, daring sword fights and great romances. It’s what He created you for and the more time we spend in self-doubt the less we live out the truth of what He put in us.
The other day my mom and I were walking to the car, we'd just finished doing some shopping. It was cold and the sky was blanketed with a thick mist, blocking the majestic mountains that surrounded us. I was just about to hop into the car and get away from the dreary weather when I glanced up.
The mist had broken in some places and revealed the hidden glory there. I snapped a picture on my phone and even though it wasn't the best photo, it soothed something within me. Reminding me that even the darkest days are filled with glory if only we take the time to look.
So, what about you? What are some facts you’ve found helpful to keep doubt away and hold on to the truth?
Here's to a life lived in awe & wonder.
Welcome to the adventure.