February 2, 2018

Just Jump

By Connie Kuykendall

My friend John returned from skydiving with a smile as wide as an open parachute and a fresh supply of life wisdom, which got me thinking that jumping from a plane and writing and publishing aren’t that different.

As his plane neared the drop zone, John just knew he was going to die. Too many things could go wrong. What if the plane crashed, the instructor passed out, the parachutes didn’t open, or John forgot how he was supposed to move his body during the jump and freefall? He was never very good at athletics after all. He needed more instruction and practice time on the ground, more time watching flight videos. He should have checked his equipment five times, not three.
As John slid to the opening, clutched the doorframe, and felt wind against his face, his instructor shouted, “Trust your training!”

When I jumped into writing, I had skydiver’s stomach—that sick feeling in the pit of my belly and windstorm of doubts in my head. As I tried to write, thoughts plagued me about all the things I believed I was doing wrong: “the black moment in my story doesn’t occur at the spot where the structure expert said to put it” or “this media expert said I should be sprucing up my website and posting daily to all social media sites, or “popular author Debbie Macomber wakes up at 5:30 am to write, so I should too.” I could hear the words of agents who said my style was too edgy, too funny for the Christian market. 

When I went Indie, the demands of being CEO of my own book mounted. I carefully measured every decision about editing, book covers, formatting, trim size, launch parties, and advertising against the diverse advice of the experts. I tried to do what the bestselling authors were doing, but, of course, I couldn’t match their success. I couldn’t breathe either. The pressure gave me headaches and panic attacks. I spent so much time worrying and comparing and questioning that I wasn’t doing the two things that really mattered: praying and writing.

Perhaps the pressure to be the perfect writer, publisher, and promoter is building inside you and you’re “failing” at every turn. You’re exhausted from carrying around in your mind the expert advice on story structure, writing bestsellers, character, and marketing.

Enough! Enough critiquing. Enough comparing. Enough criticizing. Cut it out. Call a foul on your perfectionism. You are enough. It’s time to trust your training and yourself.

You’ve listened to the experts, you’ve done the research, you’ve been to conferences, you’ve done your best to build an online presence. Now trust your instincts. Life is short. Go write. Put your head down and, for the next few hours, don’t look at anyone or anything else. You’ve been given a voice, style, and talent uniquely your own. Relax into it during the freefall.

No parachute needed. Your wings already exist, all you have to do is fly.
Connie Kuykendall  writes to empower and uplift women struggling with their body image and faith. Her dream is that one person who reads my work will look in the mirror and, instead of repeating her daily “I’m so ugly, I’m so fat” mantra, says, “I am so loved.” God has shown me that, through writing, He can turn broken pieces and broken people—like a mosaic made of shattered glass and stone—into something beautiful. Her social media links at all things Curled Crusader 😊 @CurledCrusader Insta: CurledCrusader

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