by Melissa Tagg
I like to think of myself as a fairly confident person. I mean, I’ve not pulled a Julie Andrews and gone singing through the streets of Salzburg about my confidence or anything. But I’ve not generally been all that self-conscious…
In the past few months, I’ve been writing-and wincing and replotting and rewriting-my second contracted book. And I’m pretty sure somewhere along the way, I got bit by a radioactive spider of insecurity. (Don’t worry, I’m not scaling buildings or anything. Or wearing red Spandex. Thought I’d spare the world that little joy.)
But I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s ever struggled with a case of second book insecurity…or third or fourth or fifth. That feeling of, “Um, what if my story is so-so instead of so-awesome?” is not fun.
However, a couple weekends ago, I fought back. I spent almost an entire Saturday pondering my story and rediscovering my passion.
After some prayer and an amount of caffeine I’d rather not admit to, I got the idea to pull out a pad of Post-It notes. And I started writing down one word on each sheet and sticking it up on the wall next to my desk. Each word represented how I want readers to feel as they’re hanging out with my characters and the qualities I want to capture in this story.
Then, as one of my author heroes Susan May Warren suggested, I started telling myself my own story out loud. I played storyteller to an empty room until renewed excitement had me bouncing in my seat. (Or, fine, maybe that was the caffeine…)
But it paid off. By the end of the weekend, I felt focused, productive and passionate.
And then, like always seems to happen on this writing journey, I got the niggling feeling maybe a little more was going on in my heart and head than simply rediscovering my story love. After a little mulling, I’m pretty sure God parsed my thoughts down to this one whisper of truth:
Melissa, I want you to care as much about the story of your life as you do this novel.
We’re writing stories every day, aren’t we? Flesh and bone stories which rarely have a defined ending but always have the opportunity for impact.
So…what if we brainstormed that story?
What if we took the time to write on Post-It notes words to reflect how we want to make people feel?
What if we were bouncing off our seats with excitement for the stories we’re living out each day?
And what if acting on these what ifs meant the difference between so-so existence and a focused, productive and passionate life story?
How about you? What word(s) would you put on a Post-It Note for your novel…or your life?
Melissa Tagg is a former reporter turned romantic comedy writer. Her debut novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in fall 2013. In addition to her nonprofit dayjob, she’s also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Connect with Melissa at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg).