Discovering Passion And Purpose In Writing

August 13th, 2011

fountain pen photoWelcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

I’ve often heard it said that everyone dreams of writing the next great novel. That may be, but few get beyond “trunk writing” and fewer still actually publish something of quality. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because, while people may dream of being a “writer,” only those with a true passion for writing can find the energy to do it.

As I continue work on Apprentice Cat, I am amazed at how much passion it takes to keep plugging along at something I often feel unqualified to write.  I sometimes ponder what exactly is my purpose, not just in writing this book about prayer, but also about my purpose in life in general. It’s given me yet another subject for research and I would like to share what I’ve found.

First, there is the need for passion. If you’re like me, determining your passion can be difficult. I’ve always thought of it as something you eat-sleep-breath (much like my husband’s obsession with Star Wars action figures). That may not be the case for you, as it hasn’t been for me. A passion can be something that you naturally gravitate to, but don’t necessarily obsess over.

In her article Determine Your Passion, Amber Keinath poses several questions such as the obvious “What are you good at?” to the less obvious “What were you doing the last time you really had a lot of fun and found the time flying?” that can guide each of us to determining our own passion. For a writer, those questions can lead to a long list of possible books, essays, posts and even workshop notes on a particular topic.

After passion comes purpose. That is possibly the most difficult question to answer: What is my purpose in life? Some people, called nihilists (see #6 on Dictionary.com), believe we have no purpose. Others, like myself, want to believe we have a purpose (or more than one), but just don’t know how to discover it.

Many a book has been written on the subject of discovering one’s purpose in life and some have become very popular for whatever reason, like Purpose Driven Life. Unlike Rick Warren, however, I like to think that each of us has our own purpose separate from each other. As Albert from UrbanMonk.net said in a guest post to ZenHabits:

Are Your Goals Yours? This statement is everywhere, and yet it is ignored so often that it bears repeating: Your purpose is your own. No one can cramp themselves into another person’s definition of happiness and success and, well, expect to be happy and successful.

That was why I particularly enjoyed Steve Pavlina’s article “How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes.” Steve’s solution is simple: title your blank page with “What is my true purpose in life?”, then write down any answer that pops into your head. According to Steve, the answer that makes you cry is your life’s purpose. Again, as an Independent Author, I can see where finding this purpose can lead to so many new avenues of income from book sales to speaking events.

It’s not always about making money. The money, in my opinion, is a byproduct of doing what we’re meant to do. For this Independent Author, discovering a passion and a life purpose is just part of the journey.

What defines passion and purpose in your life?

Photo by ChrisL_AK

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Am I Qualified? One Author’s Look On Writing A Bible Study

August 12th, 2011

Bible photoIt just occurred to me that some of you may wonder what qualifies me to write a Bible study, since that was my first published book.  I know I wouldn’t trust just anyone to write a Bible study worth journeying through.

To be honest, I asked myself that same question many times as I wrote it.  As I said before, “Fear Not! Discovering God’s Promises For Our Lives was born from a need in my church for an adult VBS class that had no curriculum.” (read my entry “Fear Not! Discovering God’s Promises Available” for more specific info on the book.)

I’ve been in ministry since I was a teenager; however, just because I’ve served in various capacities in different churches, does that automatically mean I know how to put together a Bible study?  Maybe, but there’s more to my story.

I spent 3 1/2 years at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, working toward my Master’s of Divinity.  It was during this time that I re-discovered my calling — writing.  Ministry had always been a struggle, as if I was trying to eat with my feet while walking on my hands, yet writing was almost as easy as breathing (so long as I didn’t let my perfectionism get in the way).

So I decided to quit the ministry and devote my time to writing. (Well… okay, so it took two more years, but I did it.)  I’ve still been active in my church, but not as part of the staff.  When the opportunity to write some curriculum came up you would think I would have jumped at the chance.  After all, it would be a blend of a former passion with a life-long passion.

I hesitated.  I wasn’t convinced I was qualified.  I was a ministry dropout.  What could I possibly offer?  Then my husband reminded me that many of the greatest people in the Bible weren’t “qualified.”  In fact, Moses, the man whose story is the main part of the first six lessons in Fear Not, kept giving excuses to God why he shouldn’t be the one to go to Pharaoh.

Keeping that in mind, I dove in and gave it my all for two (long!) months.  Is it the best Bible study ever written?  Probably not.  Is it a Bible study anyone can use to meet God in a new and, perhaps, unexpected way?  Most definitely.  Each lesson begins with an introduction, then moves on to a scripture reading (included), questions to ponder, a meditation picture and lastly a list of possible hands-on projects you can do.

I don’t plan on writing another Bible study, but if the opportunity arises I may just turn that corner and forge ahead.

Photo by Ryk Neethling