Water to Swim In

Not long ago, I took stock of my unrealized desire to be a published writer, or maybe I should I say ‚??Writer‚?? with a capital ‚??W.‚?? For some reason it always seemed a lofty goal, to want to see my byline in print. I found this trepidation totally uncharacteristic to every other area in my life. For twenty years, I have ministered to women both in small home group settings as well as conferences. Especially in conference settings, friends would ask, ‚??Are you nervous?‚?? Almost every time I could answer truthfully that I was not. I could easily stand up in front of hundreds of faces and feel quite confident in my own abilities. Yet, to put an article or query in the mail, or to push the send button to some unknown editor elicited in me, absolute, consuming insecurity.

I looked at my collection of books and realized with a bit of a jolt that I bought my first ‚??Writer‚??s Marketplace‚?? in 1997, and have bought one every year since. Beside them stood as many consecutive volumes of Sally Stuart‚??s ‚??Christian Writers‚?? Market Guide‚?? Another shelf, is full to brimming over, with books discussing every facet of writing, from getting ideas, to setting up filing systems, to time management. I have a filing cabinet almost busting open with ideas, and research and possible markets.

In times gone by, I have looked at those shelves and filing cabinet and have seen the investment of time and money that they represent. They could easily have become a monument to my failure to accomplish my dream of being published. Or they could be testament to the time I have been educating myself and practicing my craft.

How many of us have dreams to accomplish bigger things but allow consuming insecurity to win over us? Let‚??s redefine past failure as learning, and unfinished projects as practice, and rejection as apprenticeship. Let‚??s take a step toward that thing that we want the most, whether it be writing, or starting a small business, or finishing a degree.

For years I have dipped my toe into the scary world of publication, like a swimmer testing new waters. Each time I came close, I backed off and settled back into my comfy chair to wait for warmer conditions. That day I decided, that things are going to be different I am going to dive in, sink or swim‚?¶ I shut my eyes and jumped.

Does anybody else want to go swimming?

1. Set a manageable goal-When trying to overcome fear, or insecurity or just looking at an overwhelming task, set a small bite-sized goal. This goal needs to be very specific. To set a goal to ‚??write‚?? for instance, can set us up for days of floundering. ‚??Write an article‚?? is still not specific enough. I can easily waste hours, or even days, perusing magazines and websites in search of an idea. My goal is to write a short article about overcoming insecurity targeted to beginning writers.

2. Determine the steps-Even small tasks can be broken down into their simpler components. List each one of these components on a sheet of paper, or wherever you make lists. Cross off each task at each stage of completion. This provides a strategy or roadmap to complete our goal, as well as a continued sense of accomplishment along the way. We especially need to do this in tasks that cause us anxiety or just seem overwhelming.

3. Set a deadline- The deadline for small goals needs to be sooner not later, you may want to put time limits on each component. For this article I set the deadline for writing it today, and actually sending it tomorrow. The reason for this is that I find I need my work to ‚??set‚?? before I give it a final proof. This is a trick I learned in university, every time I wrote a paper, off the cuff, it had glaring mistakes. I have learned that my best work needs to have a setting time.

4. Jump! This is the moment of truth: fear, insecurity, relief, and accomplishment. I remember the feeling the first time I jumped of the high diving board. Everything seemed to go in slow motion. On the way down, I wished I hadn‚??t taken that step. Although when I finally hit the surface of the water, it didn‚??t seem so bad. Wow, I did it!

5. Do the whole thing over again- Use this new gained confidence to start the whole process over again.

Pamela Hatheway has ministered in the United States and Canada, both through her writing, as well as teaching and facilitating workshops, speaking at regular services and conferences.

Pamela lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada with her husband David and their two daughters Anna and Olivia. Email phatheway@rogers.com

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