I’m a Writer

I am a Writer

My old desktop computer, the one I bought with my own babysitting money and hauled away with me to college when I was naive enough to think I could be a writer, quit working.  My husband made a skull and crossbones picture and taped it to the monitor.

It was dead.

But it didn’t really matter because I hadn’t written a single thing in two years, except for grad school papers, and those didn’t count.

I felt like something had died inside of me too, but I couldn’t see any way around it so I shoved the words aside.

It’s just that I couldn’t do it, not well.  I couldn’t be an attentive wife and doting mother and token employee and perfect housekeeper and all the other things I thought I should be, and write.

So I gave it up, that writing thing, and I had told myself that writing was just a selfish dream anyway.

Because when I write, my husband eats peanut butter and jelly and my children run out of clean underwear.  When I write, I stare at the computer and forget to read bedtime stories and say “Uh-huh” to everything the kids ask, including, “Can we give the cat a haircut?” 

When I write, my family suffers.

And it all seemed so self-indulgent, to sit down and let the words flow out, to feed some kind of need I had to put pen to paper when all around me the needs of my family and my church and my community were so much greater.

So I patted babies and stirred dinner and felt all the while that I was doing the better thing, the sacrificial thing, by staying away from writing.  It was all terribly holy.

But mostly, it was just terrible.  

“So, you’re just going to quit writing?  Because it’s hard?”  my husband asked one day.

Yes, actually.  That was my plan.  He didn’t seem to understand how tortured I felt when I wasn’t writing, and how guilty I felt when I was.  He didn’t seem to remember the fact that when I wrote, I let the dishes pile up in the sink and forgot to buy milk.

“But Kristie,” he said, “you’re a writer.

That word pulled a plug in me and all the tears flowed out.   That was the name God gave me when my soul-clay was still damp and new.  He took a holy hand and wrote writer into me, and it has defined me ever since.

But I was a mother too, and a wife, and a child of God, and I felt so divided sometimes that the only thing I could think to do was give up the one thing that seemed negotiable, the one thing that seemed self-serving and selfish.

Because nothing felt so right in me like when I wrote, and that couldn’t be good.  It didn’t seem right that something should fulfill me that was not God, or my husband, or my children.  I could sniff out an idol as well as the next girl, and writing reeked of it.

If there was one thing I knew, it was that the road is narrow, and if I knew two things, it was that there are crosses to bear and flesh to deny, and anything that made me feel whole should be given up because broken is what we should be before God.

I learned that last bit in Sunday School, whether they taught it or not.   I learned it so well that I forgot the other parts about how every good and perfect gift comes from above, right from the same hand that formed me.   I forgot how God delights to see me use my gifts, almost as much as I delight to use them.

I forgot that crosses are for crucifying our flesh, not our beings.  Who I am and who I was made to be, well, that’s the part God wants to grow up into perfection.  That’s the part He wants me to multiply for His glory, not bury because I’m afraid and out of balance and I don’t like feeling like a poor excuse of a housekeeper when I write.

A few years later, my husband handed me a present.   It wasn’t even my birthday, and I felt strangely embarrassed at the surprise.  Inside the paper was a brand new laptop, bought with money my mother-in-law had collected from friends and relatives on both sides of our families.  “We want you to write,” the card said, over and over again in different words.  “We want you to write.”

Those were the same words my Father said to me when He gave me the gift and called me a writer.  Foolishly, I had tried to give back His gift.

I couldn’t refuse this one.

So I opened the lid to the laptop and wore the letters right off the keys with all the words that had been waiting.  I let the dishes pile up some days and learned to keep frozen pizzas in the house, just in case.  I still don’t understand balance and the kids can get me to say yes to anything when I’m typing out a story.  I just don’t mind it as much because it means something.

It means I’m a writer.

Post from the archives, authored by Kristen

8 Tips for Beginning Writers

8 Tips for Beginning Writers

Finding time to write can be a bit of a challenge. My children are all young enough to still need quite a bit of help and attention doing everything from loading the dishwasher, to using the potty. To say I don’t have a lot of free time is an understatement.

A question I am often asked is this: “How do you have time to write like you do? Or, people sometimes say it in a statement form, like this: “I don’t know how you found the time to write a book!”

8 Tips for beginning writers, (You Can do it) 

  1. I treat writing as a job. What I mean specifically is, I set aside specific time to work. I schedule it into my day, just as I would a doctors appointment or a girls night out. This helps me to plan our activities, and allow plenty of face time and class time with my kids, while still getting my projects done.
  2. I set deadlines. I’m jumping headfirst into another project and in order to make that happen, I have set deadlines for myself to complete different phases of the project. This prevents me from enjoying wasting hours of time watching Duck Dynasty, when I need to have something ready for editing.
  3. I guard my writing time fiercely. My children take a scheduled quiet time every day. This time is sacred to me. This is when I write most often (like right now) and I am very careful about things that would otherwise interrupt this time. It occurs at the same time everyday, and so I schedule our entire day around this 2 hour window. I’ve been known to turn down many activities that interrupt this hallowed time. Thankfully, my friends here know me well, and don’t often ask us to play or do anything during that time, and likewise, I avoid scheduling anything that will prevent me from being near my computer during this small window of time.
  4. I (sometimes) write at night. Part of the reason I guard my quiet time with such ferocity, is that in the evenings, I’d like to hang out with my husband. Therefore, in order to write, I must try and work around his schedule, which means limited night writing. When I was in the throws of finishing my book, many nights were spent writing, and we made do, because we knew that pace would not last. I try to have a once a week “write night” (#writenight for you tweeps out there) because honestly, sometimes, night writing is where the magic happens. I should add here that my husband is an absolute saint and supports me fully in my writing, which makes all the difference in the world. Amen.
  5. I write before the sun comes up. Early morning is an excellent time to get those first morning thoughts out on paper–and that’s specifically how I do my morning writing, on paper in my journalI won’t speak too much to this because everybody has their method, but I will simply say this, if you write almost exclusively on the computer, I suggest you find a good legal pad or a journal and every now and then, write long hand. I am amazed sometimes at how different my writing can be when I take the time to draw out the letters.
  6. I take scheduled breaks. I have found this to be a critical component in my efforts to hold on to ideas. The more tired I am, the more often I lose the words. Scheduling rest is a key component in holding on to my story and making my deadlines. ( If you need accountability and encouragement to take time off from being creative, try this.) This leads me to my last point.
  7. I get offline. Sometimes I can be positively fed full by the online conversations I enjoy. But I can also easily waste a tremendous amount of time online, and get distracted from my own writing and work. If you want to write, get off line and do the work. Everybody knows this already, but yet, many of us still struggle with this one seemingly obvious point.
  8. I pray. This perhaps should have been the first point, but the fact that I list it last does not speak to the significance of this tip. If you want to write, take that desire to the Lord and give it back to Him. Ask Him to show you how to fit it into your life, and for the words and wisdom to share. I believe that God is honored most by our willingness to use the gifts He has given us, for His purposes. Don’t know what that looks like for you? Ask Him. He will direct your steps.

What tips do you have for other writers? Share them below! 

Post from archives, authored by Kris

From Bandwagon Blogger to Blog-Trail Blazer

Social media concept in word tag cloud on white background

The most popular girl in school strode past my locker. She carried an air of confidence — the kind that eluded me. I wondered if the mysterious patch on her jeans had anything to do with it. There was something about that triangular patch. You know, the one with the question mark?

Within a few weeks, more girls showed up at school proudly wearing the question mark on their right buttocks. This newfound patch assumed the supposed weight of popularity. But I couldn’t begin to guess why.

Nevertheless, I begged my parents until I too owned a single pair of Guess Jeans. Except they didn’t make me more popular. They didn’t even feel different.

The whole affair struck me as silly. I followed the crowd without knowing why.

Today, I give thanks to God in heaven I’m no longer in high school. It took me awhile, but eventually, I found my own way. And it didn’t involve following the crowd.

Trends, of course, still come and go — whether we’re in high school or not.

In the blogging world, a new trend can permeate the online scene with great force. Blogging gurus inundate us with innovative ideas and vogue plugins. Many of their suggestions are great too. But sometimes the constant tide of new technology leaves us feeling like we’re electronically etched in the dark ages of blogging if we’re not mastering the latest technological gizmo.

For instance, when I visit other blogs, I see a variety of social media icons. They’re usually in the upper right corner of a blog. And they represent the various places we can connect with that blogger.

So when I had my website redesigned earlier this year, I wanted the full plethora of social media icons in the upper right corner of my blog too. Clearly, this was the “in” thing to do. These icons, of course, would need to link with real social media outlets.

So I made a list of blogging goals for 2014:

      • Begin participating in Instagram.
      • Figure out Pinterest.
      • Investigate Tumbler and Linked-In.
      • Upload some videos on You-Tube.
      • Learn how to schedule tweets and Facebook posts on Buffer or Hootesuite.

Across the bottom of my list, I penned my biggest and best goal of all:

      • Hire a virtual assistant who can do all of the above for me.

Well, we’re midway through September, and I’ve done none of the above. Because I had to ask myself:

Why do I feel this pressure
to have an online presence on every social platform?

Am I following the crowd because that’s what trendy blogging looks like?

There’s nothing wrong with participating in any of these social media venues, as long as we’re doing so with a genuine desire to connect with the people there. But I’m afraid my cute little icons in the corner of my blog had become a new patch for me — just like the patch with a question mark that my friends wore in high school.

What’s more, I wondered if my desire to be in every social sphere online was really an attempt to become omnipresent.

Has the Eve-old sin of trying to be like God re-fashioned itself in my generation’s attempt to be in all places at all times?

Only God is omnipresent.

So what’s my real goal here?

After reflecting on my real purpose for writing — to bring glory to God’s name — I decided that I don’t need my name everywhere. I need to be true to who I am. I’m a writer, yes, but I’m also a mom and a full-time English teacher.

As bloggers, we need to invest our time wisely because we are not limitless beings.

I’m comfortable with Twitter and Facebook, so for now, that’s where I’ll connect online.

We all have a unique set of strengths, and the most “successful strategy” for any blogger is to stay true to who we are.

Some bloggers are savvy with social media.
Some bloggers are awesome with affiliates.
Some bloggers are terrific with technology.
Some bloggers have a way with words.

Blogging trends come and go. But who we are — at our core — remains the same. I don’t want to be a bandwagon blogger. I want to be a blog-trail blazer. And the only way to do that is to stay true to who I am.

I no longer run out and buy a new pair of Guess Jeans just because everyone else is buying a pair. I don’t generally follow the blogging masses either. Instead, I stay informed. Sometimes the latest blogging hype is just that. Hype. But sometimes the newest gadget, or widget, is a fantastic feature that enables bloggers to accomplish online feats they never thought possible.

The blogging world doesn’t have to be a re-creation of an old high school soirée, where the “in crowd” knew all the best brands. You and I can make a difference. No matter how big or small our blogs may be. Our voice matters. And a lack of technical expertise or social media experience shouldn’t prevent anyone from starting.

We can master this crazy world of blogging we’ve grown to love. And going to conferences like Allume is the perfect way to get a jumpstart on all things blogging!

I’ll be there. And I’d love to meet you there too.

Which social media venues do you enjoy the most?

 

From Bandwagon Blogger to Blog-Trail Blazer @Allume <Tweet this!>

The most “successful strategy” for any blogger is to stay true to who we are.  <Tweet this!>

Blogging trends come and go. But who we are — at our core — remains the same.  <Tweet this!>

Denise J. Hughes

Denise believes in the power of a well-told story. She teaches writing at Azusa Pacific University and even has her students start a blog. She’s the author of On Becoming a Writer: What Every Blogger Needs to Know, and she devotes her blog to helping others develop their craft and deepen their faith. You can connect with Denise on her blog — denisejhughes.com — or on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle Plus