Georgia Shaffer here from Pennsylvania where the fall foliage is beautiful.
I never yearned to be a writer. I never wanted to write a book. But life’s experiences have a way of changing you, your dreams, and your desires.
After experiencing the loss of my health, job and marriage, I had an irresistible urge to write a book sharing practical information about how to restore our lives after unwanted change. There was one major problem. I couldn’t write. At least in a way that anyone would choose to read.
I have four college degrees, full of A’s. But I have two lonely C’s on my college transcripts—in English and writing. And I worked hours upon hours just to get those C’s. During my freshman year in college, I spent my Christmas vacation, writing one paper to improve my English grade.
After my instructor read what I had written, she called me into her office and threatened to fail me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s quite obvious to me that someone else wrote this paper for you,” she said. “This is so much better than anything you ever did.”
Somehow I managed to convince her it was my work, but the experience was demoralizing and left me with yet another wound on my writer’s soul. The incident only confirmed what some of my high school teachers and friends had already told me—I couldn’t write.
Finally, one day, in spite of my doubts and discouragement, I jotted some ideas for my book in a journal. And that was the day the dragon-like voices within came to life.
“What do you think you’re doing?” they taunted. “You’ll never write a book. Who will ever read what you have written?”
Tears filled my eyes as I put down my pen and journal. It was true. Whatever gave me the idea I might be able to communicate with words?
Like a seed concealed in the dark ground, I kept my book idea and my desire to write hidden. Eventually, the seed germinated until I thought I would explode if I didn’t share my book idea with my dearest friends. With their love and encouragement, I began the slow, painstaking project of learning how to write. The voices kept shouting, “Give up. You’ll never succeed.” But I learned how to continue writing in spite of them.
Although I still have moments when I am paralyzed by fear when writing, I will always treasure the call from an editor for my first book contract. “I have good news,” she said. “Your proposal has been approved by the committee, and we’ll be sending you a contract.”
I said nothing.
“Aren’t you excited?” she asked.
“I can’t believe this is happening” was all I could say.
How could I explain all the rewrites and tears of frustrations? How could I explain my fears borne of the many negative comments I received about my writing in years past?
Today, years later, I have five published books and have learned many things about facing our fears and doubts. Here are four ideas to help you confront your nagging doubts:
1. Focus on your motivations more than your fears.
While I could not quiet all the voices telling me to give up on writing, the desire to help others became a greater motivator than fear. It would have been so easy to give up, but I always had a strong sense of being called to write. When I shared my writing with others and saw how people were visibly touched, I knew I had to keep plugging away.
2. Surround yourself with people who will encourage the writer in you.
I joined a writing critique group, which not only helped me improve my writing but cheered me on when I was certain I had nothing to say. Their words like, “I have several friends who need to read your book” inspired me for weeks.
3. Attend writer’s conferences.
Workshops and conferences for writers enabled me to learn the skills and techniques of professionals. Meeting editors of various publishing houses helped me to gain knowledge about the business of publishing. These experiences boosted my confidence and reminded me that even though writing is hard work at times, it was a skill I could learn and develop.
4. Understand writing is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting.
For some reason I thought that if the first or second draft wasn’t great then that meant I was not a writer. I now realize that writing is rewriting, and it can take many rewrites before the message is clear and concise. Unknowingly, that is what I did with my college paper. All the rewriting I did made my paper so good my professor thought someone else had written it.
I want to encourage you to take the risk and write—and keep writing. Refuse to listen to those negative voices that say you can’t do it. Do what terrifies you and write that blog, article or book. You won’t regret it! I know I never did.
About Georgia Shaffer:
Georgia is an author, Christian life coach, and licensed Psychologist in Pennsylvania. Her books include Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make, Taking Out Your Emotional Trash, and A Gift of Mourning Glories: Restoring Your Life after Loss. For more information on Georgia or on her coaching of authors and speakers visit www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.