English was my worst subject in school. I hated it. Who cares what a participle is anyway? That was my attitude, and it showed in my grades until a new semester changed our lessons from grammar to writing. Suddenly, my disappointing “D” soared to an awesome “A.” Being a drama queen meant that story telling came easy to me. I still didn’t know how to label my sentences correctly, but as one teacher remarked, “I could express them in a way that you could smell, touch, taste, and feel.”
I never thought much about my writing. To me, the skill only helped balance my most challenging subject so that I made a better grade. Otherwise, I stuffed my gift deep within.
When I turned eighteen, people suddenly expected me to use my talents to change the world! There was only one problem. I didn’t have a clue what my talents were or how to use them.
I knew I wasn’t the sporty type. I had tried that. My last name carried a lot of weight being the younger sister of an all-star athlete like my brother. When I signed up for softball at the community center, the coaches actually fought over me until they learned I couldn’t play. Then, they traded me to another team. It was clear. Sports were not my gift.
I had also tried following in my sister’s steps by taking piano lessons. That didn’t go well either. The teacher told my mother that I was the only child she had ever encountered who came to class knowing less than the week before. That’s because I despised playing the piano. I would sit on the bench in our living room and dream about safari hunts in the back yard or bobby-pinning a yellow bath towel to my head, transforming myself into a princess with long blond hair. I could concentrate on many things, but not little black notes. They would trickle right out of my head.
Years later, I was reading my Bible in my bedroom when God called me to surrender my life to full-time service. I don’t claim to have heard the audible voice of God, but it was the loudest thought I ever had. At the time, I didn’t know what it all meant, but I responded wholeheartedly to God’s plan for my life.
Part of the Lord’s plan was to place me with Proverbs31 Ministries. While God was opening doors for me as a speaker, I never dreamed I would become a writer as well.
It began one day when Mary Southerland asked me to join her in writing a weekly devotion for the Proverbs 31 Speaker Team—which eventually turned into “Encouragement for Today” a daily devotion by Proverbs 31 ministries with over 200,000 subscribers!
I was honored, of course, to be asked. But mostly I was afraid until my fear eventually turned to panic!
“I can’t write! I can’t even spell!” I shouted to my husband.
“Who signed you up to write devotions?” he inquired.
“Mary did. Apparently, she thinks I can write,” I explained with fear and trembling.
I knew this was going to take a lot of discussion that could throw my willing, but not “created to talk about it for hours” husband into overload. Once again, I called my mother.
“HELP! I have to write a devotional,” I urgently explained.
“That’s wonderful,” mother replied with joy.
Confused by her remark, I wondered if mom had heard me correctly or not. She had.
“Micca”, she said. I knew when she began her sentence with my name that mom was about to say something important. “You are focusing on what you can’t do instead of what you can do,” she said in such a way that I recognized the tone and could see her expression in my mind’s eye. “Time after time, you have been commended by your school teachers, collage teachers, and even your seminary professor on your writing style, not your grammar. This is the way you are to express your gift. It’s what you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to write,” mom said proudly.
God uses mothers in so many ways…to comfort us, teach us, encourage us, and to discipline us. That day, God used my mother to open a world of dreams I never thought possible.
Are you like me, seeking the confidence and reassurance to let go of your fears and step out in faith? Then allow me to share some nuggets of truth that I hope will become stepping-stones into your future of writing.
First, you don’t need to be good at grammar to be a good writer. Sure, there are those that love the art of dotting every “I” and crossing every “T”, but we don’t all share that passion. Besides, if we were all good at grammar we wouldn’t need editors. People need people. God created us that way. He will place in your life a person with strengths where you are weak to balance your gift. Ask God to provide you with such a person. Someone is longing to come along side of you and use his or her gift as well.
Second, don’t try to copy the technique of anyone. You are uniquely designed. God didn’t create you to fit in, but to stand out through your own style. You have a specific way of communication through writing. Find your voice by simply writing letters to your family and friends. The way you express yourself in common everyday experiences is your individual voice that reflects your own method. There are many writers, but your style is one of a kind.
Third, the key to writing is…revise, revise, and revise again. Don’t ever expect your first draft to be your final copy. Striving for perfection the first time around will cause you to struggle for words. Begin by writing whatever comes to your mind. Then, go back and revise. Shorten your sentences, add some adjectives, and write in your transition sentences. For words that are repeated often, use your thesaurus to find a different word with the same meaning. It will make your writing more interesting.
Writing is like any other gift in that it has to be practiced. If God is not opening doors right now for your talent, don’t let it become dormant. Keep writing, so that when the time is right, you are ready to step through that open door into a world of expression where words are countless, dreams are real, and possibilities are endless.
This was taken from an excert of “For the Right Reason” by Marybeth Whalen http://www.marybethwhalen,blogspot.com
If you feel God is calling you to write or speak, then check out our annual Writer/Speaker’s Conference called She Speaks. http://www.proverbs31.org