This week’s topic on Ruth Snyder’s blog hop is lifelong learning. We are to share what we learned in the past year. I can’t say I remember exactly when I gained some of the insights below, but I have picked them up along the way. To be completely honest, I’m still learning some of these lessons.
There are more skills development books and blogs than I could ever hope to read in two lifetimes.
I have several such books on my shelves, both physical and virtual, and I’ve subscribed to a good number of how-to blogs. Plus, there are new volumes and posts being written every day.
I have to stop buying and start reading.
My love of books – not just reading, but books themselves – is genetic. My mom loved books. However, these pristine volumes will do me no good unless I crack the covers and apply the knowledge I gain from their pages. It seems obvious, but the number of unread volumes in my collection indicates I haven’t really learned that lesson as of yet.
Sometimes our writing takes us down a different road than we anticipated.
Like many writers, I saw myself writing fiction. And I did win second place in a Crossings Book Club contest for a short story I wrote many years ago. But I’ve written far more nonfiction along the way. In fact, my first professionally published work was a brief piece chosen for inclusion in a compilation of devotionals. Even so, I couldn’t anticipate writing and recording 20 devotionals per month for inclusion on an Internet “radio station.” (Granted there was no such thing as podcasting way back when.)
Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
I will likely always be eclectically-interested and eclectically-involved, but just because something sounds interested and grabs my attention doesn’t mean I should jump at the chance. Wisdom must temper enthusiasm. 🙂
Making plans is good. Being willing to change those plans, when appropriate, is even better.
When I was in Bible college, we were given an assignment. Where do you want to be in five years? Where do you have to be at the end of the year to be on track to achieving your goal? At the end of the month? At the end of the week? I have no idea what goals I listed, but I know they’ve changed since then. Does that mean I’ve failed because I didn’t achieve those goals? No. Does it mean I shouldn’t set new goals and seek to achieve them? Of course not. But there are countless details on the path ahead that will affect what I aim for – and that’s okay.
It really is about who you know.
Several years ago, Ruth Waring spoke at my church. We were chatting afterward and she mentioned joining a writers’ group. Years later, she started Women Writing for Christ and I was one of the founding members. I had no idea that some time after that she would put me in touch with Deb Willows, whose memoir I would coauthor. When I met Ron Hughes a number of years ago at the Write Canada conference, I had no idea I’d be contributing regularly to the newly-launched HopeStreamRadio. These are only two of the connections I’ve made over the years that have had tremendous impact on my life – on my writing.
Contentment and resignation aren’t the same things.
Sometimes we have a tough time letting go of our dreams and expectations. If we resign ourselves to the idea that we’ll never accomplish what we originally set out to accomplish, we’ll always feel disappointed and burdened by regret. If, on the other hand, we learn to rejoice in the Now and truly say with Paul, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11 ESV), our heart will be much lighter.
Coming alongside other writers is not the second best position.
I do a fair amount of editing for others and I coauthored Deb’s book. It thrills my heart every time a writer says of their edited work, “Now my work sounds like me, only better.” And when Deb told me that sometimes she forgets I wasn’t actually there when the events in the book occurred, I know we hit upon the right way to relate her story to the reader. I love “riding shotgun,” as one of my friends put it.
My voice is unique.
This is true of every writer, but sometimes it’s easy to lose focus as we read others we would like to emulate – and even as we learn new skills. But as Joel Saltzman says, “If you can talk, you can write.” If our writing reflects the way we speak, we’ve got a good idea of what our writer’s voice sounds like.
My definition of success doesn’t include the words best seller.
I am more about touching the life of “that one reader” than reaching the masses. When someone tells me that something I’ve written blessed their life, I’m over-the-moon. If something I’ve written has a positive influence on just one other person, I consider that a success.
Perseverance is an integral part of the writer’s life.
I think especially of two of my fellow Women Writing for Christ writers’ group members. They have written – and rewritten and rewritten – full-length novels, and keep going back to work on them yet again as they develop their skills and learn new things. Kudos to each of you who does the same!
There is always more to learn.
And those shelves bowing under the weight of all my unread books is a great place to start.