It begins with why

At first, you might think this is a blogger’s blog post about blogging.  But it’s not.  This post is essentially about the pursuit of the dream.  What dream?  Everyone’s dream — to live a meaningful life, fulfill your calling, and have time to spend with those you cherish.  Regardless of if you’re a blogger, teacher, secretary, nurse, marketer or manager, you have dreams just like me.

It begins with why

I blog to help myself and other people grow spiritually.  I blog because there is more to life than work, eat, sleep, repeat.  I blog because I truly believe God hand-crafted me for His glory.  I blog to create the life I want.

Do you say those same things about your life?  May you don’t blog, but you could say:

I do ______ because I want to help other people.

I do ______ because I know I was meant for more!

I do ______ because I’m creating the life I want.

I believe our generation is uniquely + powerfully equipped to use the internet, social media, and the rapidly changing world to help us achieve our dreams!  If I were born 100 years ago, I would need to attend Oxford or some ivy league school to become a great writer and gain a following.  But in 2017, I don’t have to do all that!  I just need to connect with people.  And that is a B-E-A-UTIFUL thing! <3

So today, for all you fellow dreamers, I’d like to offer my v. honest (read: super vulnerable) perspective on stepping outside of traditional work to my chosen profession: blogging.  And seeing as I’m new to this thing, I’m uniquely positioned to empathize in feeling that fear of the unknown/failure/what if’s along with you.  Hopefully that’s encouraging! 😉

Lastly (before I even begin…so really not “last” at all), I thought I’d compose this post a little differently, if you don’t mind.  I recently spoke at the Great American Teach-In to a TON of 13-year olds.  I spoke about blogging, writing, and growing a following.  These kids were so curious and frank with their questions — traits I adore in kids — so let me use their questions as an outline for this thing.

S/O to any Webb Middle Schoolers reading this! You are STELLAR!!

Okay, GO!

Q: Why did you start writing?
A: I began writing as a way of talking to God, the one constant in my crazy life.  I lived a very tumultuous childhood.  My parents fought constantly and eventually divorced when I was 10 years old.  I didn’t look like everyone else.  We moved all the time.  I was lost as a goose in a snowstorm.  Writing was my therapy, my sanity, and the purest expression of my faith in God.

God saved me when I was at the brink of life, and He promised an amazing life to me.  Everything He promised, I saw confirmed in Scriptures.  His promises to lead me, mature me, teach me to love.  His promises for abundant life, peace in my home, a strong marriage.  I believed I would receive all of that so much that I wanted to record the heyday of my young life as a testament of this transformation He was doing in me.  And I do the same thing to this day.  I write about my faults and triumphs and how I see God’s unwavering love through it all.

Q: How did you get started?
A: At 10 years old, I began journaling.  I wrote about what was happening every day, whether at home, school, in relationships, or my internal battles.  I wrote very frankly about my sin and things I struggled to overcome.  And I wrote about God’s grace — living in favor and love that I don’t at all deserve.  I wrote about Scriptures that didn’t make sense to me, often because I couldn’t imagine wholeness the way it’s described in the Bible.  And whenever God would do something EXTRAORDINARY, I had a journaling party (just me + God), scribbling down all the details of JUST. HOW MIRACULOUS. that event was.  Now I have a whole bookshelf of memories: sloppy, tear-filled, joyful, angry, victorious.  Looking back on it all now, it’s a testament of God’s grace permeating my life.

Q: Do you get criticized for things you write?
A: Yes!  People will never approve of everything you have to say or the fact that you have the “audacity” to say anything at all.  But I know God has called and gifted me to write, so I’m going to put my blinders on and focus on God’s voice.  He’s the one who approves my message.  He’s the one who forgives me when I mess up.  He’s the one who loves me regardless of how good I am at writing (or anything at all).  To all the haters, I say DEUCES…and I forgive you.  The best way to overcome bitterness toward people who have hurt you is to forgive them.  (Luke 23:34)

Q: Do you get writer’s block?
A: Never.  The only time I’ve had writer’s block is in high school when I wasn’t interested in the subject I was writing about.  But nowadays, never.  If you’re someone who gets writer’s block, here’s a little tip that works so well I’ve never strayed from it:

Deliberately live a non-boring life.

Drive a different route to work/school.  Sit in a different seat every time you go to the same meeting room.  Try standing on your head.  Ask the opinion of someone with a much different viewpoint than yours.  By varying the input in your brain, you are adding diverse material for your brain to be inspired by.  Creativity is killed when you’re chained to routine.

I’ve done this thing over the last several months that has been so creatively liberating.  I call it “My Daily New”.  I try something different every single day to challenge my own creativity.  Sometimes that’s doing a new design for an Instagram story.  Once it was cooking a multi-course meal with a fork to force myself to improvise.  Sometimes it’s changing the format of a blog post.  Often it’s listening to a different genre of music (Hello, yodeling!).  Once it was daring myself to change my default tone during a convo.  It doesn’t matter what it is, but by shaking up your life, you’re going to (1) see everyday things with new eyes, and (2) give your brain more material from which to create.

Q: Were you good at Language Arts* in school?
(*The Middle school version of “English” as a subject)
A: Honestly, no.  I had really good scores in Math, followed by Science and Social Studies.  But I think the best writers are those who know a lot more than grammar and composition.  Having a definite interest in a particular topic is a necessary prerequisite for writing.  Being an English expert is not.  That’s what editors are for, and if you’re not at that stage yet, check out www.hemingwayapp.com.  (Again, the interwebs to the rescue!)

Q: How long does it take to write a blog post?
A: It can take somewhere between 2-8 hours, depending on how much I need an idea to percolate.  BUT, some thoughts simmer in my head for up to a year before I’ve developed enough understanding for a blog post.  I’m weary of claiming a thought as “true” only to find out it was wrong or very limited.  Especially for the more stimulating posts, I need to arrive at a place of understanding before I publish anything about it.

Q: Do you use click-bait?
A: Absolutely!  But I work really hard to meet the expectation of whatever lure I use to ensure a click.  In other words, if (hypothetically, of course) I title a post, “When you get punched in the face“, I want to make sure I’m creating enough interest within the post so it’s not a let-down to whomever was expecting to see a photo of me with a black eye…  And let me just say that it’s NOT my fault I use some gimmicks; it’s the clicker’s fault for seizing sensational titles! 😛

One of the girls drew this for me! <3

Q: What “are” you?
*This question was posed at the end of my 45-minute talk.  I almost face-palmed before responding, “I’m a writer…” Rather, I asked, “What do you mean?
Q v.2: What nationality are you?
A: I’m half Filipina.*

*This has no bearing on my talk, but some kids’ eyes darted up for the first time upon hearing that I am ethnic, just like them.  That was a learning moment.  Duly noted: when speaking, connect with the audience before you try to inform them.  I mean…duh!

keep going

So you’ve started a blog, or a pop-up shop, or a part-time endeavor.  Now what?  Keep seeking inspiration.  Keep believing your mind can create endlessly.  Keep DOING…even after you crash from that initial adrenaline rush.

It always astounds me when I hear someone (usually middle-aged) say, “I used to want to open _____ business.”  Or, “When I was young, I wanted to do _____, but then I had to pay bills.”  The reason it astounds me is because it happens ALL. THE. TIME.  Which tells me that “having dreams” is guaranteed, but “fulfilling your dreams” is not.  In fact, a great majority of the world is raging against you doing what it takes to fulfill your dreams.  It sounds like this:

  • You can’t afford to pursue a different career, because you have to pay bills.
  • You’re comfortable in the life you have, even if it’s nothing too interesting.
  • You’re unqualified to do what you dream of doing.

Let me tell ya!

  1. Money comes and goes, but time only goes.  Change your thinking:  You can’t afford the time to NOT DO what you dream of doing!
  2. Comfort is killer.  It will lull you to sleep like the frog in the pot of boiling water.  (If you don’t get it, google it.)
  3. Not a single person who accomplished anything great in her life was qualified BEFORE doing it.  Only after you’ve done it will people start believing in you.  So don’t listen to the proverbial “them”.  Listen to God.  He called you for great things!  He chose you + instilled undeniable gifts in you!  He weaved dreams into your mind.  Listen to His voice, and pursue that calling you’ve been dreaming of.

now go!

This year is coming to a close, and I love this season we’re in.  Life is going to go by fast until December 25th, when everything just slowssss down.  Hallmark love stories will play throughout the day on TV.  Home-cooking out the wazoo!  Face-to-face conversations with the ones you love.  Blesssss!

In this wintry season of quietness, I encourage you to dream.  Ponder the changes you want to make in 2018.  Do you want to start a side hobby/business?  Do you want to live a less boring life?  Do you want to move into a profession that helps you AND helps others?  Whatever your goal may be, I hope it helps you to fill in the blanks:

I do ______ because I want to help other people.

I do ______ because I know I was meant for more!

I do ______ because I’m creating the life I want.

With love,