Writing Through Hard Things: Should My Work Be Shared With the World?
After over a year of writing and four months of working with an editor, I had finally completed my very first manuscript and was determined to get my labor of love into the world.
Today, that manuscript still lives solely on my computer, and for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.
Sounds crazy, right? The thought of pouring that much time and energy into a piece of work for it to never leave a computer seems horrifying. If you had told me that’s what would happen, I probably never would have started. But through the process, I discovered that what I was writing was only meant for me — for now.
Whether it is something so deeply personal it feels too soon to share or the reality that there are others who are a part of our story to consider as well, writing about our hard, personal experiences can be difficult to navigate. There’s no doubt that God is writing each one of our stories, but not every story is meant to be shared with the world. Today, I want to share a few practical tips to help you determine if a piece of writing is meant to be shared or if it was simply meant for you.
- Pray About It.
When sharing personal stories with others, it’s vital to ensure we’re writing from a place of healthy emotion. This allows us to produce and share work that will resonate with readers rather than bog them down.
Prayer is the most powerful tool when it comes to discerning whether or not work should be shared. It provides an opportunity to work through the deep emotions behind our work with our almighty Creator.
Get honest with God, and ask Him to show you what He is teaching you through your experience and how it may help others. If you feel God nudging you in the direction of sharing with others, continue to seek guidance throughout the process.
Additionally, pray for your readers as you write. Writing with readers in mind will help you discern whether this work is for you or a larger audience. When we pray for discernment and have our readers’ best interests in mind, the Holy Spirit will direct the outcome and purpose of our work.
- Journal Through It.
Sometimes we feel a nudge to write about something difficult because God wants to use our story to help others through something similar. Other times, we feel led to write because it’s necessary and healthy to get those thoughts out and process them by writing them down.
Both scenarios are equally valuable, but it’s crucial to be honest about which scenario you’re walking through.
Suppose you’re contemplating whether or not to share a story that you feel the nudge to write, journal through it first and then see how you feel. Some writing is meant just for you, and that’s OK! God gave us the gift of writing to serve others, but it can also be a great tool to help ourselves. If you feel at peace with simply getting the thoughts out and don’t feel a need to take it any further, that’s amazing! If, after sifting through your thoughts and emotions, you still feel that there is something worth sharing, take steps to get it out there.
- Formulate Your Why and the Lesson You’d Share With Your Reader.
After you’ve prayed and journaled through the process, you should pretty quickly have your “why” developed. To helpyou hone in on your “why” even more, here are a few questions to think through:
Why do I want to tell the story in the first place?
Am I sharing to process, or am I sharing to help someone else?
How will this help the reader?
When you are clear about the answers, the purpose will become apparent.
Suppose you walk away from this final step without a clear purpose. It could be that this piece of work was meant only for you, at least for now. You may still be learning through your circumstance and need more time before you share.
Your work isn’t any less important because it was written only for you. Some of my favorite pieces never left my laptop, but God used them to grow me as a writer, wife, mom, daughter and friend.
When I think back to that first manuscript, I always thought I’d feel like a failure if I didn’t get a book deal after all that I poured into it. I realize now that the first manuscript was God refining me, healing me and holding my hand as I processed many emotions and experiences.
He used that nudge to write as a stepping stone to shape me into the writer I am today, and He led me down a path even more incredible than I had imagined. So whether your next piece of work is for you or someone else, remember they are equally important, and both play an integral role in your writing journey.
Do you struggle to know if your story should be shared? Spend some time praying and journaling through your next piece of work to determine if it’s meant to grow you or impact an audience.
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