Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Writing as ADVENTURE...and What to Do When It Stops Being One...

This weekend was one of the best of the summer for my family. We attended a Young Life family camp here in Virginia with church friends.

It was a Christian camp that included the Gospel message, great meals, and lots of outdoor fun activities.

Some of these fun activities included: a rock climbing wall, a ropes course, a zip line into the man-made lake...and lots of surprises.

God has been teaching me this year to embrace adventure in my writing life and in my day-to-day life. Its an uphill battle for this gal who prefers everything planned and scheduled and is not a fan of surprises.

My question is...are you still viewing your writing life as an ADVENTURE? If not, WHY? And how do you get yourself back on the path to excitement?

Here's what I learned about the writing life at summer camp....

1) Rock Climbing: The writing life can be a struggle and requires hard work and training. The view from the top makes it all worth it.

"I didn't make it to the top," my daughter's friend exclaimed in frustration.

But I'll bet she will make it even farther next year.

Push until all of you is sore. But the ability to climb is built in the times of weight lifting, running, building endurance for the way up.

To get that moment of adventure looking down from the top, what can you do now?

-Persevere. Keep going even when rejection or other's opinions seem to build up a wall.

-Day-to-day: Each day builds you up for the top. But remember when you are on the top, the view is beautiful but God calls us to the humility of coming down once again.

Don't live for the peaks in your writing life, dreaming of the day when an agent or editor calls you or you win a contest. Live in the daily adventure of building up your writing muscles 1K words at a time. Its not about the race to the top, its about the climb.

2) Ropes course: Everything is easier with a little help from your friends. Slow and steady keeps us ready.

Another important element in our writing adventure is enjoying those he's put in our path and being humble enough to learn from them.

Ropes course makes me a bit shakey. The truth is I get a bit nervous with walking on narrow beams and shaky boards.

-Steady, girl! Keeping our foundation in Jesus keeps us strong when we feel our strength fading or when a tremble comes on.

And remember sometimes we might FEEL that way, but we just keep on going in spite of our fears trusting in the God who walks on water and calms the stormy seas.

Pray, pray, pray about your writing life. Put Jesus first in all your life so you can have a Godly response when trials come into your writing life.

-Have a little help from my friends. Being humble enough to ask for help and willing to use it is essential in the writing life. Our friends are the ones that keep us on the adventure helping us to keep going. Try to find at least one who is supportive of your writing journey, it sure helps with endurance.

3) The old pie in the face trick. Put others first in your writing journey and be willing to find adventure in their adventures.

One of the most fun parts of Young Life camp for the kids was a special carnival they set up one night in the front yard. Impressive feat as the workers set it up during the time we were in worship. The kids earned tickets which they could either redeem for fair food such as fried dough and snow cones OR (the more palatable option) the opportunity to throw a pie in their parent's face. My son and daughter chose the pie, so both my husband and I were covered in whipped cream by the time the night was through. It was lots of fun in a strange way!

-Take a stance of humility in your writing journey. Be willing to put others first, esteeming their journey and their work above your own. Be willing to take a pie in the face and find the fun in it. Putting others first can be fun when you see the joy in their eyes as they rise.

4) The whirlpool: More effort yields more fun in the end and relax and enjoy the journey.

Both tiring and relaxing, creating a large whirlpool in the outdoor swimming area with everyone's participation was fun. You have to push hard against the tide, there were times when I thought I was going to lose hold of my 7-year-old son who I was pulling along. Its hard work pushing against the current. But then comes the fun part. Swirling and floating along the vortex created by all the effort.

-More effort yields a great time! Creating the whirlpool like a book is tiring work and work that requires help. You can't create one on your own, the more people the better. Just like the more eyes on your book, the better the end result will be. Sometimes you must move against the current, doing what is best for you individually. It is hard work to be a writer, and even harder to be a Christian writer. We must swim against the tide hard and not give in to temptation to follow the world's ways.

-Relax and enjoy the ride. At the end and even at some points during our journey it is time to relax and remember why we chose this writing thing in the first place. Writing is exciting and fun! If you stop viewing it that way, maybe you need to take a break to work on something new to renew your joy.

Julia Reffner lives in central Virginia. She is a writer and reviewer for Library Journal magazine. At the site Wonderfully Woven she writes about her faith and life on alternating Thursdays. She is active in ACFW as a Carol Awards Assistant.


kaybee said...

Julia, this is a good perspective on the writing life. We really don't know what's going to happen, and if there's one thing I've taken away from visiting this kind of site, it's that the published and so-called "successful" writers face the uncertainty too. Publishing houses or lines closing, agents or editors jumping ship. We have our Call (not that Call, the real one) and sometimes that's all we have.
It is worth it.
Kathy Bailey

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great analogy, Julia and good insights.
I also love rock climbing and hiking. Maybe thats why I stick to the writing challenge!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Sounds like you guys had a GREAT time at the Young Life camp! And your lessons? Definitely lasting. I think one of my favorite lines that you shared is: "Don't live for the peaks in your writing life, . . . Live in the daily adventure of building up your writing muscles." Such good words here.

It's so easy to set my eyes on getting to that next goal--checkpoint--and when I do that, I miss out on the adventure of the moment-by-moment joys in writing.

Loved this post.

Julia M. Reffner said...


So true. Today I've been writing to editors about house closings and changes for an upcoming article. I end up writing about them every year. Lots of changes and uncertainty and that doesn't change when we get published. Thankfully we have a God that is in control.


I never knew you were a rock climber. Neat! I love your go-getter attitude in writing and life!


So easy to get our eyes on the future (or stuck on the past) in writing and in life and forgetting what GOd is doing now!

Jill Weatherholt said...

I'm not much of a rock climber, Julia. I'm deathly afraid of heights. I really enjoyed this post. I'm a firm believer that if writing doesn't give you joy, it's time to step away and reevaluate.

Unknown said...

"Another important element in our writing adventure is enjoying those He's put in our path and being humble enough to learn from them."

I completely identify with this. Sticking my attitude in the corner to learn can be difficult. My sin nature wants to thumb my nose, knowing that editor or agent MUST be wrong when they tell me to work on my "masterpiece." Lately, God has been knocking me down and I finally see His glory in it - the Savior wounds that He may heal. He knocks down so He mail lift up.

Unknown said...

*may lift up.