Doubts as a Writer

Being a writer and also a major perfectionist are two things, I've learned, that often seem to clash. My perfectionistic ways haven't always hurt me, though: sometimes it gives me the extra drive I need to go above and beyond, which is critical as a writer, since writing is one of those things that so many do or want to do.

I don't always remember feeling so insecure about it, but time has gone on, and maybe with age I've just realized more hard truths about the writing and blogging world. And the reason I figured I'd blog about it is because I think it's something a lot of people will be able to relate to, even if they don't admit it. And really, even though this post specifically focuses on doubts with writing, this could be with anything, any dream you have or thing that you want to do.

I've been doing a lot of thinking back. Back to my journey of writing and actually finishing my first novel. I can't believe that was almost four years ago. The thing about it is that you oftentimes hear authors and writers say something along the lines of, oh, the first book I wrote was terrible and not at all suited for publication, but it was good practice, or something along those lines. But honestly, I don't feel like that really applies to my book. The writing of it is kinda sloppy, but it wasn't like I didn't know what I was doing, either, and I fixed a lot of it with edits. But even more than the writing was the themes. I know that it was a story that needed to be told. And if I had the opportunity to publish, I would. I might go through and add some things like I talked about here, but that's still a book I hope to publish one day.

The thing that I think about most, though, is how seemingly natural it felt to write that book. I'm not kidding. I know it was tough; writing requires perseverance. But I finished it in under a year. The themes and characters just seemed to develop with clarity—even though I know I can still make them better. I just don't remember it being a constant struggle like this second book has been for me. It doesn't have anything to do with the second book's plot—I daydream about it all the time and sharing it with people, but for whatever reason, it's like whenever I go to write it, it's always lacking. I just don't remember the first book being that hard to write.

Maybe it's because I truly didn't have any expectations for my first book. I mean, I was only eleven years old; I didn't even think I had it in me to finish a novel. But God helped me do it, and He helped me do it swiftly, which is how I know it was important. I think this next story is important, too. I think the thing that's changed, honestly, is the distractions.

I've talked about distractions before, here in this post. I've talked about how there is such a thing as too much information, where it's overwhelming and makes you overthink everything. That can happen with anything. Take the blogging world, for instance. I think one of the reasons I stopped blogging for so long is because I absolutely despised the new direction of blogging. It felt cheap to me, and I almost thought what was the point? Blogging, once upon a time, used to be about telling stories, plain and simple. It was a place for people to share their thoughts and entertain somebody with their writing or even inspire them, which was perfect for me, and I jumped right on board. But then I watched, oftentimes with horror, as everything started to change. Suddenly those honest posts where you would just write out your thoughts were meaningless, and it became all about blogging what you know. And you know what cracks me up more than anything? There's like, honestly, hundreds of blogs and "businesses" ALL blogging about the same thing: how to blog. And how to make money blogging. And how to make so much money blogging that you can quit your real job and travel the world to write!

And I'm sorry, but that just feels cheap to me. Look, I'm not saying it's a bad thing to want to make money writing or even to want that to be your job because I myself have wished for those things. But I think the thing that annoys me most about this attitude shift is just people's motives for wanting that. They're cheap, kind of selfish motives, really. The whole point of writing is to share something with the world that you feel you need to, something that I believe should be meaningful. And, seriously. Does the whole world really need to know how to make millions of dollars off their blog so they can, what? Quit their job? Buy a bunch of ridiculously expensive clothes to show off? Travel and run away from everything? I mean, seriously?! That makes writing and blogging look so cheap, like it's just some quick get rich scheme for people who just want to live off their romantic life fantasies! That isn't the point of writing! It SHOULDN'T be.

And I will probably lose all of my blogging connections for saying that because that's seriously what most of them do nowadays, but sorry not sorry, I think it's wrong. And I know some people will probably get offended by that and claim they don't do that, but I've had a lot of time to watch and observe, and that's what it looks like to me. Why else would there be thousands of e-courses promising to teach you how to make so much money so you can...quit your job...make tons of money...? Do those reasons honestly sound meaningful? They're not promising to teach you how to write meaningfully, how to inspire people through writing... No. They're teaching you how to make MONEY. Which is not in and of itself bad to want money, but again, it all comes down to people's OBSESSION with that. Welcome to America.

My point in even bringing this up is because it hurts my heart to see a writing career degraded like that, because then everyone wants to do it just to live out their getting rich fantasies, and it has nothing to do with them being actually passionate about writing or inspiring people through writing. Being an author is the same way—I see TONS of articles on those, too.

It reminds me of those Christians who do nothing for God—you know they don't really care about Him—but yet still talk the talk because they want the perks and benefits of going to heaven and the title of being a Christian. And sorry, it doesn't work that way. If you're not serious about your faith, then don't you dare pretend to have one just to get the benefits. It's not fair to those who legitimately have faith.

My point in this post, though, wasn't really to stir up anything controversial, but then the more I thought about it, I thought that nobody addresses this in the writing world, and somebody really needs to. I mean, I read a post on selecting an English major, telling people the hard truths about it: that no, not everyone makes it "big" like everyone seems to want to in their writing for the money. There's a lot of work, dedication, and craft that need to—and should—go into writing. And people need to know that.

But here's my point in sharing this: seeing all of those articles about making money writing and blah blah blah filled me with insecurity. For one, because like I said, it sends a horrible message about the purpose of writing as a whole. But more than that, it was just so overwhelming. And when talked about like a money making scheme, EVERYONE is going to want to try their hand at it, even those who do not have the willingness to truly develop as a writer. That means more competition, and I hate competition. So I began to wonder what my point even was as a writer. Because I know I won't be making money off of mine anytime soon, though that was never my intentions to start a blog and get rich anyway. But I just thought, with all of these people who may know the business aspects of marketing yourself and I don't, what is the point in writing?

And it became a similar pattern with my book. I just couldn't stop reading things about improving your craft—which is important to become educated on writing; I mean, I just complained about people who aren't willing to do that, but it just goes to show that there's a balance.

What happens when you get tangled into this mess is that you lose sight of God. And He's the reason I write. He's the One who, ultimately, is going to decide where my writing goes, not the business analytics, or SEO, or anything else. And I just shut Him out of it. Same with my book. I read too many articles and began to doubt everything about myself as a writer. Just the other day I was reading an article on showing and not telling in writing. It talked about how you should not use the word "felt" because you can SHOW how a character is feeling. So I did a search in my book for the word "felt." I already have almost thirty uses of it in the first 10,000 words. Talk about discouraging you before you can even get going.

But that's where you have to stop that. You have got to remain focused on God and doing what He tells you to do like I talk about here. So if He's calling you to write for His glory? Then DO IT. And don't spend the better half of your time going crazy trying to figure out promotions and the business side of it. What? DON'T do that? Yep, I went there. Seriously. I was going crazy for the longest time because I had all the social media and was doing my best I could when it came to promoting my blog and getting it out there, and I don't feel like I was getting good results. It was immensely discouraging, and it made me want to quit, to be completely honest. Because I don't like sharing things if I can't help people, and you're obviously not helping anyway if no one sees it. But I had to learn to release that. To just trust that God would get my writing where it needed to be. So I deleted the vast majority of my social media because I was done playing the games. Done trying to compete and market myself when really, I just wanted to write. That's why I started.

And it's the same with my books and with anything you do. You just have to do it. Don't get sucked into the world of being a "girlboss" or whatever. You'll never make it on your own. You have to have God's help. And it is hard sometimes to wait on those opportunities—take it from the most impatient girl alive. But even back then, I blogged about that here.

I'm so guilty of doing things on my own, of not consulting God and just plowing into everything, taking on more than I can handle. But God never asked me to do that. He asked me to write. And I know, that if it's His will, and these are stories and words He wants to share for His glory, then the rest will come. The opportunities and everything.

You have to trust Him. You have to do what you do for pure motives, because it's what He wants. Not to make a million dollars, even though, at one point in my eight year old mind, I did write this in a journal:

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Haha. I'm also not trying to specifically call anyone out or be mean to anyone, bloggers or writers. But I'm just trying to emphasize that in today's society, everyone thinks it's about money and stuff. And it's not. Life is about so much more than that; writing is about more than that.

And it all goes back to God, to trusting Him to take care of us and looking for our joy in Him. True joy is found in obeying Him, so if that means writing for Him, then do that and don't get so insecure about what other people are doing. God has a plan for YOU and what He's called you to do. I always worry that I'm missing it because you know me, I don't take waiting very well, and waiting to me looks like missing hundreds of opportunities. But not to God. And I have to trust that. And I have to write for Him alone.

Oh! I took an online quiz one time (ha, one time, no, I take them all of the time because I get a kick out of them and because they give me meaningful advice like which type of house I should live in and what makeup style I should wear, haha {for the record, it says I should live in a castle, and I don't disagree}). This particular quiz was over what I should blog. And it said I should blog about my life, and that it's actually pretty interesting. And I was like, you know, you're not wrong. I don't know if sitting on the computer for hours on a Friday night taking random quizzes counts for anything, but who knows, you might learn a lot from that that needs to be shared! Yeah, they said I should blog about boy drama and hanging out at school and all those wonderful things. And of course I was like, why not! I don't have much boy drama for you right now, but just wait until I write another letter to my future husband! I'm sure talk about living in a castle will come up. :)

But anyway, this meaningless quiz actually did give me a bit of insight, saying that the best blogs are ones over personal experiences anyway, which I totally agree with. It just reaffirmed everything I've been writing about and my goals in writing, but then just when I need it, God also sends just the right people to encourage me as well, and that's why I want to write. To inspire people and encourage them, too.

And if that million dollars shows up somewhere along the way? All the better. But that's up to God. :) And money or no money, that isn't the point of life. The point of life goes back to my fourth blog post I ever published: inspiring people for His glory.

That's the goal, and that's my goal as a writer. I'm not going to let doubts of anything else stop me because I want to live for and honor God. And my final advice is to not worry about what other people are doing. Worry about what God is telling you to do. You'll be rewarded for it, because He's amazing like that, and it's reward enough even to see Him working.

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