I was tagged by my writer friend, Jen Pollock Michel, IVP author and Her.meneutics contributor, to participate in a #MyWritingProcess blog hop.
Writers are asked four questions about their process, and then they tag other writers. If you’re reading this as a writer, you’re probably interested how other people go about this work. If you are reading this as a non-writer, thank you for taking the time to read something you probably care very little about. On behalf of writers everywhere, we appreciate the support (since we are writers, we crave support in a borderline unhealthy/needy way.)  

If you are new to writing, or you’re writing sermons, blog posts, or even just jotting down book ideas in the spare moments you have throughout the day, I’d love to hear your writing stories. Please comment below and/or join the #MyWritingProcess conversation. 
I’m also giving away an autographed copy of Margaret Philbrick’s new book, A Minor: A Novel of Love, Music, & Memory.  Every comment, tweet, and share automatically enters you to win. 
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.” 

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

My glamorous computer.
If this doesn’t demystify the writing life, I don’t know what will.
Q: What am I working on?  I am currently working on my first book on overcoming shame. I’ll make a big announcement about it in the next couple weeks. I’m so excited to share that with ya! (I’m also in the process of fighting against shame so that when I type the words, “I am currently working on my first book on overcoming shame,” I don’t immediately laugh at myself for trying to tackle such a huge topic.

Q: How does my work differ from others of its genre? It feels so arrogant even attempting to answer this question. The truth is, I’ve gleaned everything I know about overcoming shame from the Bible, Dr. Brené Brown, Dr. Sandra Wilson, Dr. Harriet Lerner, Dr. John Bradshaw, and one of my closest friends, who happens to be a therapist. (If you can have a gal pal and a therapist rolled into one, do it!) All of the above are much wiser than me, and I am in their debt.  

I’ve also learned a lot of life lessons from Tina Fey, Jack Bauer, and my own crazy life in which I wear my pajamas way more often than is appropriate, and cause brouhahas at grocery stores. 
In other words, I know what it is to experience shame and also to laugh at it. I think that’s why my take on the subject is different. So much healing takes place when we can recognize our own blunders in an author’s or speaker’s story. (Oh, she deals with that too, I must not be soooo daft, after all. Or, we’re just both daft, and then there’s nothing we can really do about it anyway….I’m currently loving the word “daft,” by the way. It feels so British and important.) 

As you can tell, I attempt to share my blunders with gusto. 
3.Why do I write what I write? You might think this sounds crazy, but I literally can’t not write. (Do you like how I threw a “literally” into this “literary” conversation - gold star for me). If something is bothering me, weighing on me, has angered or embarrassed me, I will almost obsess over it until I can get it out on paper and work through how I feel about it. Putting words to my feelings is a therapeutic process for me—it’s prayer for me—and writing, honestly, helps deepen my faith. 
I write about shame specifically because I am passionate about helping women of all ages experience freedom from it. I see so many women burdened by pain from their pasts or by insecurities in their present. God has set me free from shame, and I long to see Him transform the lives every one of His daughters. 
Finally, I write because of something one of my favorite authors, Isak Dinesen, wrote about in Out of Africa. She tells the story of her African friend seeing his name in writing for the first time. It wasn’t about being published. It wasn’t about recognition. It was simply about the joy he felt when he saw his flesh having been made word. There is something so empowering about our flesh—our stories—being brought to light on the page. That’s part of the reason I love sharing others’ stories. 

4. How does my writing process work? First, I hire a babysitter. I seriously can’t write when my kids are around. I’m distracted and don’t write well. Or sometimes, I actually write really well when they’re around, but then I feel über guilty for not being a present parent.
Once the aforementioned sitter is in place, I hide someplace quiet: my bedroom or office. Then, I check my email, wander in the bathroom to examine the pores on my face, get distracted by the dirty bathroom, and start wiping down the sinks or cleaning the toilet. I walk downstairs to warm up my coffee because it’s gotten cold after all that pore-checking and bathroom-cleaning. I walk back upstairs, (if I’ve gotten dressed for the day, I’ll put my pajamas back on) and eventually convince myself to sit down and start typing. 
Then I type words for a few hours. That’s pretty much it. 
I have had a few people ask me how to get published, and the first thing I tend to ask is, “Are you actually sitting down to write?” It seems obvious (and I’m not the first person to say this) but you can’t be a writer unless you are physically writing something. Do you have to be published to call yourself a writer? No. But, you do have to actually have written or typed words onto paper, or a blog, or on a bathroom wall somewhere. If you want to write, words can’t just reside as ideas in your mind. (Unless you’re very famous or rich and have the capacity to hire a ghostwriter; in which case, I hate you.) 

If God has given you something to say, the world is better for it, so share it! 
Ann Lamott writes about SFD’s. I’ll let you figure out the “S,” but I’ll rephrase her acronym as CFD’s (Crappy First Drafts). In other words, I get everything possible on the page without judgment or edits. Again, I just type words. 

If I was a little more laid back, I’d probably have a free-flowing style like Jack Kerouac. But, I’m a first born, so I’m anal. After getting all those words out, I go back and edit–word by word, line by line. I ask my writer friends to look over what I’m writing. I’m so blessed to be part of the Redbud Writer’s Guild, because I have a manuscript group filled with these amazingly talented writers who will read something I’ve written and tell me what needs to go in the garbage, and what needs more work. 
(Soon, I’ll have a professional editor’s help on my book, and for that, I am so grateful.) 
If I’m blogging, I’ll pray, hit the publish button, and hope God is somehow glorified and readers are encouraged through what I’ve just put out there in the world. (I also obsess a little more at that point, and might even go back and rewrite something after I’ve published it. I told you, I’m a firstborn.) 

In conclusion, all you need to experience the fabulous and glamorous life of a writer is the following: pajamas, a dirty bathroom, an old computer, prayer, and some anal retentive qualities.  

I’m now going to tag some much more experienced writer friends so you can learn from then…and then I’m going to go back and obsess over this post some more.
Shannon Ethridge is a million-copy best-selling author, international speaker, and certified life coach with a master’s degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University. She has spoken to youth, college students, and adults since 1989. Her passions include: Challenging adults and teens to embrace a life of sexual integrity; encouraging married couples in their pursuit of sexual and emotional fulfillment; counseling women who have looked for love in all the wrong places; equipping parents to instill sexual values in children at an early age.

Catherine McNiel’s aim as a writer is to awaken herself and others to the creative, redemptive work of God in this present moment. She is striving to see beauty, learning to expand her perspective, and praying to keep her eyes and heart open. She has written for Her.meneutics, Abingdon Women, and much more. 

Jon Peacock is the lead pastor at Mission Church. Jon wakes up everyday with a crazy dream in his heart which can be summed up in one word: awakening. He believes in our lifetime God will do something historic in “The 10” (the ten cities surrounding Bloomindale, IL) and that we are already seeing the early signs of that. It brings Jon great joy to lock arms with people and pastors of The 10 to see God do what only God can do. This is what fuels his passion and work ethic every day…well, except on Fridays. Jon usually does nothing on Fridays.

Pam Kanaly is the author of The Single Mom and Her Roller Coaster Emotions and Will the Real Me Please Stand Up? She is an inspirational speaker and former national television talks show co-host, brimming with passion in bringing the Word of God to life. As co-founder of Arise Ministries, Pam pioneered the first-ever statewide single mothers’ conference in America, Survive and Thrive.


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