You see the posts on Instagram. A group of writer friends headed of to some fancy location to “be writers.” An agent who sends their top writers off on a fancy and fabulous trip together. Writers who post photos of log cabins or the English countryside where they’ve gone to focus, work, and write without the distractions of the every day.
Don’t get me wrong. You know I love a great retreat or conference. I speak at them, I work for them, I adore the community that comes from them. And I would never say “no” to a vacation with girlfriends or my family. But if you are a writer, a blogger, an aspiring author and you are stuck in the pursuit of your dream because you think you need or deserve that kind of experience to WRITE?
Y’all. No you don’t.
And this is coming from someone who used to be invited to those fancy retreats full of fabulous people and fun all-expenses paid experiences. You know what happened to my dreams on those trips? They were smothered under the weight of lofty expectations, fear of not being enough, comparing my small offerings to the already famous women around me who never seemed to experience rejection. They just rejected others, talked about others, struggled to get along with others. The only thing I was able to take away from those trips was the realization that who God made me to be doesn’t fit in some perfect mold of a Christian writer. I’m sarcastic and moody. I don’t do well with small talk and I wear my heart on my sleeve (or my face). I laugh at inappropriate jokes, drink whiskey, and cringe at phrases like “sweet friend” and “soul care.” I’m not a gentle spirit and I need background noise to concentrate, drink too much coffee, and hate that going on those trips made actual friends feel left out. Those trips? They don’t make me a writer. Not being on one doesn’t exclude you from being a writer.
You are a writer because you write, not because of your location or vocation.
I wrote a book in my home, around dishes and laundry. I wrote it at Starbucks during daycare hours and I’ll edit it at home while my daughter watches Descendants 2 for the 100th time. I write blog posts and articles in my ratty pajamas and unwashed hair, and I email myself notes about future topics in the middle of the grocery store as I make an attempt to meal plan – again.
You aren’t missing out on anything because you aren’t part of an exclusive group trip that has a fancy highlight reel on Instagram. If God has called you to write, create, make, design, work, encourage, serve, teach, or lead – He has also given you the ability to do it right where you are. Don’t wait to get started on your dream because you’re waiting for an invitation from someone else. You are already invited. Do the work the way you were created to do it, with your personality, style, and voice.
I have no idea who first said this (you can leave me a comment if you know), but I love this saying: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.” Make the grass so green where God has planted you that others want to join you. Roll out the picnic blankets, unfold the soccer chairs, set up the yard games and build community that doesn’t require a passport or a secret invitation, hashtag, or airfare. Attend the conferences that will encourage you and keep you focused on God. Learn from experts and mentors. Meet new friends and pursue your dreams. Just stop waiting to start because you haven’t been included “there.” Stop associating your identity and the value of your gifts on the experiences of others. You have been called here by a faithful God who doesn’t make mistakes.
Let’s get started.