I day-dream. A lot. Usually it’s in the shower that the good day dreams hit me. I imagine what I would do in front of an audience, maybe speaking on the leadership culture (and why it needs to be divorced from the church) or playing my guitar and leading people in songs. I imagine what kind of sermons I would preach if I was back in the pulpit. I also day-dream about writing: what kind of books I want to write, what kind of posts I want to write, what kind of conversations I want to inspire by my work. These rehearsals amount to boxing shadows. I might get a decent mental workout, but I don’t have anything real to show for the effort.
Now, I’m not knocking day dreaming. It’s the stuff of inspiration. However, if I am going to produce, if my efforts are going to bring some fruit and bacon to the table, I can’t just rehearse these daydreams in the shower. Rehearsing, rehashing, retelling my “what if” list… none of that makes me any better. I will get better at what I do by practicing the way a doctor practices medicine, the way a musician practices his chops. Like an archer honing his aim, letting arrow after arrow fly, I need to shape and temper my skill by writing where other people can see it. Pitch the articles to magazine. Offer to guest post different places. Yes, I will keep hitting publish on my blog, but this blog is my space. Getting these words of mine into other spaces will let others see my practice, and with new eyes comes new challenges, new critiques, and new chances to write like I’ve always wanted to by never thought I could.
Now comes the hard part: I am going to fail. Like I said, this blog is my space, my wall, my page. No one will tell me “No, You can’t put those words here.” Writing a guest post, pitching an article, submitting a book proposal… I’m going to get told “no” by people. And that is ok. I’ll say it again despite the fear that wells up in my chest: being told “no” is ok. Practice isn’t about having a perfect presentation, pitch, paragraphs, and public face. Practice is about living in the chaos, writing through/in the mess, and getting better. I practice by doing the job (like a doctor or a musician). Sometimes I’m going to get it wrong, but I am still doing the work, I am still writing. When I do the public practice of writing, I am doing the work to shape what kind of writer I want to be. No practice, no chops.
The fear of the public eyes, of failure, and of rejection can’t keep me from doing the work of writing. If it does, I’m a cowered not a writer.