When's the last time you did something terrifying? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

For me, it was last Saturday.  Navigating the traffic and unquestioningly following my phone's female voice through Denver, I pulled in the parking lot.  Turning off the ignition, I took a deep breath, straightened my clothes and went inside.  My first writing conference

At least we don't actually have to write, I thought. 

Then they might discover my secret--that I am an amateur who is still struggling to label myself  "writer."  The atrium was filled with people who were chatting, rifling through the materials and munching on pastries as I wandered around trying to look busy.  Introvert writers are not ones to shoot the breeze with petrified newbies. 

This conference was unique in that it was a collection of men and women who were mainly from Colorado who all had one other thing in common: Christ.  We were there not only to grow in craft and practice, but in vision.

Having survived the conference (which ended up being very mild on the scale of truly "terrifying" life events), these are three things that greatly impacted my vision as a Christian writer:

1. Give the mundane its "beautiful due"
John Blase began his session with this quote:

"My only duty was to describe reality as it had come to me, to give the mundane its beautiful due." 
~John Updike 

He asked each of us in the room the reason why we write and shared about two authors he loves, Kent Haruf and Richard Hugo, who have mastered making the mundane beautiful.

At the end of his session, my worst fears materialized: we actually had to write.  He asked us to write for five minutes about a very ordinary topic--our favorite pair of shoes.  As the published novelists and authors shared their five minute scribblings, I was astounded by the magnificent words they had crafted in such a short time.  One woman somehow connected red shoes with the death of her mother and had us all in tears.  It was amazing.  Needless to say, I didn't volunteer, but simply hoped that some of the talent in that room would seep into me.

But it inspired me to see my life through a new lens instead of trying to escape it to find something more fantastical and adventurous. 

2. Take a risk
James Rubart led a session called "Stepping Out of the Shadows" where he shared a story about overcoming a personal fear.  He challenged us to "flip," or do the scary thing that we've been avoiding doing as way of exercising the freedom from fear and bondage that we have in Christ.  He shared the following quote:

"You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down."
~Ray Bradbury 

Through the Parable of the Talents, Rubart pointed out that our idea of success is very different from God's and that God is more likely to ask, "With what you've been given, did you try?"  This was very much in line with what God has been showing me lately about writing, so I was grateful for more encouragement to keep moving forward as a writer. 

3. Don't write for God or about God, write with God
Allen Arnold led a session about living in the "orphan realm" vs. living in the "freedom realm."  He reminded us that through Christ, God awakens orphans to their true identity to live in freedom. 

He also emphasized that the creative process is never meant to be done alone.  "If you can do it without God, you're dreaming too small," he said.  He emphasized that the writer has the privilege of co-creating with God as we write the story we're living.


I drove the hour home Saturday in silence, soaking the truth, absorbing the words that had been spoken audibly and inaudibly to my soul all day.  Peace.  Joy.  Holy motivation. 

Permission.  The thing I most needed and need every day so far as a writer.  Permission to write.  Reminders that this is good.  That God is smiling.  That we are in this together.

What terrifying thing are you avoiding doing?   

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Linking up with Coffee for Your Heart and Literacy Musing Mondays

On Thursdays this year, I'll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I'm certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who's also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  Check back each week or subscribe for new posts.  Please introduce yourself in the comments--I'd love to meet you and hear about your thoughts on writing.

Happy writing!

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