I have been making a mistake for years. You’ve most likely been making the same mistake for years.
I finally got some much-needed perspective at the Festival of Faith and Writing last week.
I forget that the tiny slices of people that we find online can’t possibly stand in for the whole person. Everyone I’ve met through Facebook or Twitter and then met with in real life is far more fascinating, complex, and wonderful when we meet up in real life. I have made the mistake of “fearing” these in-person meet ups because I fear we won’t get along or, most likely, they won’t think all that much of me.
Getting to the point of meeting up with online friends requires some risks. We have to risk those awkward first moments when we shake hands or give a side hug. We have to break the ice (which some of us are better at than others).
We have to risk a conversation where we may find out that we don’t have anything in common.
We have to risk a conversation knowing that the other person, someone we may admire, could find our interests and passions boring or insignificant.
We have to overcome these fears in order to make the most of our relationships. However, every time I reached out to someone I even vaguely knew online, I was delighted to learn more about their stories. Even more so, I was energized by their dreams and goals. I wanted to help them.
In the world of writing, this can be a tricky matter. I want to help writers with worthy stories, but I also want to give them a list of caveats. I want to show them the hope/discouragement graph from my Examine app.
“See all of those low points from the past two months? Those are from my book releases.”
It’s my “secret” mission to help writers when I can. I want to push them to sit down and write, to explore the tough points of their lives, and to develop those ideas into book proposals when appropriate.
I want to warn writers that they are leaping off a cliff and the landing may not go well.
As honest as I want to be about the pain and fear that comes with both writing and marketing a book, there’s so much more to talk about if time permits at a conference.
I’ve fallen on my face several times. I’ve crashed off that cliff. I’ve received really painful emails. I’ve questioned whether I should keep writing more times than I should admit publicly.
And yet, I wake up, and get an itch to write about something. Before I realize what has happened, I’ve filled an entire page and exposed a liberating truth about myself. I start to wonder if it may help someone else…
Perhaps it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s a fatal flaw. Maybe it’s the only way I can keep myself sane or at least truly “know” something. I need to jot down notes, outline, scratch out the inane, and scribble, scribble, scribble until some kind of direction takes shape on my page.
It’s like I need to draw an arrow for myself, but I need to experiment with wiggling lines and unruly circles first.
Everything with writing and relationships is risky. But we can’t tap into the beauty of our relationships or our writing without taking risks. Mind you, let’s take the right risks. Let’s explore our writing, let’s ask the “what if” questions, and let’s jump on opportunities to meet our “online friends” in real life when appropriate.
To that end of taking risks and reaching out to each other, I have an idea I’d like to share with you.
Lent is almost over. A new season of the Christian year begins next Monday. Perhaps you’ve been fasting. Perhaps you’ve been just hanging on by a thread. Wherever you are, I wonder if you need to take some risks along with me into this world of writing and relationships.
What if we all made a commitment to spend at least one morning or at most five each week getting up to write at least one page around 6 am? The rules aren’t ironclad. Maybe that’s a notebook page. Maybe that’s a Word doc with tiny font. Maybe that’s an index card or it’s a Note app on your smart phone. And maybe you won’t start until 6:15 am. Maybe you need to start at 5:30 am.
If you know me, you know I’m not one for rules and precision. Just get a page done each morning around 6 am. And when you do it, mention it on Twitter or take a picture on Instagram to let us know what you’re up to. I’ll try to do the same.
Use the hashtags: #6am #1page.
Maybe we’ll find the courage and encouragement we need if we know that others are trying this out. This is something I’ve done for a season after our son was born, but I’ve started staying up later and sleeping in. Hearing Anne Lamott talk about getting your butt in the chair, especially before your kids wake up and the day begins, has left me wistful for those days of early morning writing. And wouldn’t it be better if we could all do it together?
We’ll give it a shot this year, starting Monday, April 21st. If you want to join me or just write whenever your schedule permits (even one day a week), let me know in the comments or drop me a like on Twitter at @edcyzewski and mention the hastags: #6am #1page.