When I first started writing for an audience of zero, it was liberating. I had thoughts and I wrote them down and I hit publish and I questioned nothing. No regrets, no doubt, no worrying, no panic. Just think, type, publish, repeat. Think, type, publish, repeat.
Everything was simple.
Over time, my audience grew to three, and then four, and then five. And then maybe twelve. And then more. I stopped counting. I have no idea how many people are reading this now. I can look up how many people click on this page, sure, but I have no idea how many people are actually reading this. There is a difference. A big difference.
Something weird happens when you start writing for more people. You become acutely aware of what you are saying. You analyze your sentences more often. You write with an open thesaurus because you want to make sure the words you use are the words you actually mean to say. You second guess some of the words, and some of the sentences. You delete this, delete that. Re-write that thing, re-write this thing. I am learning to be a better editor, and I think that is good for me and good for my writing.
But then a tiny wave of panic rolls in, and you start to write something else.
You start writing negative comments in your head, filling in the blanks as you go.
If I say this, they’ll say ____________.
If I say that, they’ll assume___________.
If I say this, they’ll think_________.
And so on and so forth.
It’s….crippling. Pretty soon you’ve written enough one-star reviews to fill up an entire online gossip forum, all based on what? Fear? Doubt? Your own multiplying insecurities?
I’ve recently come to terms with something: I am never going to be a good writer if I write safe. And truth be told: I write safely a lot.
The bigger the audience grows, the safer the stories I tell. I’m going backwards, I can feel it in my bones. God keeps giving me more and more, and I keep telling less and less. I’m writing small instead of big; scared instead of brave.
Enough of that.
I’m writing this today in case you also find yourself going backwards instead of forwards. In case you also find yourself creating art from a place of fear and doubt instead of courage and confidence. Let’s not waste another day crippled by our own insecurities. Let’s take the talent God has placed in our hands and be good stewards of those gifts. Let’s write the truth and use all the paint colors and sing every note and dance with our whole bodies.
Let’s be brave with our art.
Let’s start today.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10