There are a lot of people out there who want to be writers. A whole lot. Spend 10 minutes on social media and you will want to quit because of the vast amount of other people who also want to be writers.
You know what can make you different from many of those people? That you actually write.
Like that there are words on paper (or on the Internet) that were crafted uniquely by you. When you fill a journal, hit the word "publish" on your blog, or "print" on your document, you friend, become a writer.
A few months ago when people asked what I did I finally added to the "I'm a mom" response with, "I write Bible studies and I run a ministry called Sacred Holidays that helps women connect with God in the chaos of all the holidays."
I write and I run a business. Those were hard words for me to own. Honestly they are still hard to say. I think for those of us in ministry or non-profit work we've been so trained to be humble that we forget to be confident. We've been so conditioned to trust God that we forget to move forward with courage.
So for those of you who are one of the brave ones and you really want to make something of this passion you have for writing, here are a few tips I've learned along the way the past couple of years:
Forget about every other writer
They are not your competition. You are your competition. You not writing, that is your biggest competition.
Just be you. Find your voice. Say what you are supposed to say.
Maybe you should unfollow all of them on social media if you find it brings you down. Or that nightstand full of books to read, maybe just clear it off for a little while. And remember that at one point they were all you-- waiting for the world to read their words.
Write wherever you can
Have a blog that's been neglected? Revamp it. Have a journal that is blank? Fill it.
Search out other people that have blogs, or even better, find niche blogs that accept guest bloggers, and ask if you could submit a guest post (make sure you know that what you'd write would be a good match).
Know you will have to write a lot for free. Be OK with that. If you aren't OK with that, maybe consider another passion.
Be OK with rejection
To be a writer of words that others will read means you will meet a lot of rejection. This is the hardest part for me-- the perceived rejection and the actual rejection.
You will post blogs that you think will go viral and it will be one of your least read blogs. You will post links to guest blogs thinking (and really hoping) they get record shares on Facebook and you get lots of new follower from this other outlet, and nothing happens. This is hard even though the rejection is just perceived.
For example, I wrote a blog about What Not to Say to Young Moms a couple of years ago and got over 10,000 views within a day (a large number for me). I was on a high and thought this was my big break! It did gain me quite a few new followers, but for the most part things steadied off again (didn't help that I didn't post regularly then to keep moment going, thank you PPD). When I started blogging more regularly again, I re-shared that blog post thinking will would give me a nice boost in momentum. I had maybe 100 extra readers that day and a handful of shares. I was so disappointed.
There will be actual rejection though too, and it ain't fun. You will ask to guest post and you'll get ignored or denied. You will post a blog that you passionately believe in and you will get some nasty emails of people who feel passionately the opposite way as you. You will submit things to publishers and agents and you will hear no a whole lot.
But you know what, you are writing. Lots of others quit or never even make it to this place.
Learn from every other writer
I know I just said to forget your competition, but don't forget them forever. Learn from them! What a gift we have with social media that we can actually learn from them without ever really knowing them (creepy at times, but super helpful). Find other writers in similar genre and follow them. Learn from their success. Cheer on their success.
The other great thing about looking at the competition, for lack of a better word, is it allows you to write better in two ways-- you don't say the same thing that's already being said, but instead join in on the conversation already happening. What I mean is no one wants to read the same book twice. There are about a billion books out right now encouraging women to be bold and brave and do their thing. So if you want to write one like that too, think of something really creative to add to the conversation. I'm not saying you don't have a really good book or blog post in you, I'm just saying that make sure it adds value to what your readers have already heard. We do this because we respect our readers enough to not waste their time.
Remember that others are not your competition. You not writing is your biggest competition.
Do it for just one
With social media before us, we know exactly how many likes we could have or followers that could be listed beside our name because we see it next to theirs.
When I was going through the excitements and fears and struggles of the first Bible study I published and I would want to quit, Chris would tell me, "Becky, would you still do this if you knew just one lady would buy this?" Yes, I totally would. I would do it even if no one bought it because I HAD to write it.
For those of you that have to write, you get that. You don't just like the idea of writing, you have to write. You know you've been given words and they need to be shared.
Give yourself grace in the journey
I am a horrible technical writer. Horrible. For those that aren't, it's a miracle you can even read my blogs. Thank you for ignoring the mess of a writer that I am. I still don't fully understand the role of a comma and semicolon (private school education at work, ha!). I'm also a very casual/conversational writer. When I was in public relations, I would get in trouble with on of the VPs often for my press release drafts for my stuffy clients because it was too casual. I hadn't learned that there were times to use different voices and styles of writing, not every audience is the same.
Two things I've learned: I'm getting better and I can get help. The more I write and ask for help the better I get. I have found others who love words as much as me, they just don't feel like they have to write them. They help me make my words sound better. Lisa Slattery, the Sacred Holidays Editor, reads everything I publish (blog not included) because I don't want my lack of technical writing knowledge to distract my readers. Each time she reviews a Bible study I learn more because she has a gift of reworking all my fragments and misplaced punctuation, without taking out my voice.
What about you? What's the best tip you have or or have heard? Share it with us on Instagram.