By Melissa Tagg
A few years ago, I got stuck in a dress.
I mean reeeally stuck. Arms over my head, uncooperative fabric playing boa constrictor with my torso while my sister laughed at me inside the department store dressing room. I’ve never forgotten that moment.
And to be honest, I halfway blame my near death on ACFW.
Yep, that’s right. See, when my unfortunate incident occurred, I was shopping for the perfect dress for the ACFW Conference awards gala. If I hadn’t needed a dress for the gala, I wouldn’t have squeezed into a too-small gown…my sister wouldn’t have had to free me…and that Younkers employee wouldn’t have glared at me like I attacked the dress instead of it, well, me.
Suffice to say, I did not buy the dress.
But the incident got me thinking about the things I “wear” as a writer. And the things I don’t wear. It brought some do’s and don’ts to mind. So here we go…
• Anxiety. Honestly, a case of nerves is normal for any writer. We’re doing that whole “wearing our heart on our sleeve” thing with every single book. But anxiety is worry on steroids–and honestly, it’s avoidable.
• Ego. Confidence is one thing, but overactive egos are best left at the door. No one loves a cocky writer.
• Jealousy. Even typing that word makes me feel icky, but it’s way too easy to fall into, isn’t it? When we see others get better reviews or better sales or better covers or better whatever, it’s so tempting to turn green-eyed.
• Fear. The worst of them all.
These don’ts and others are just like that dress–they squeeze and steal your breath, threatening to ruin what could and should be an incredible storytelling experience.
The best combat technique? Filling our “mental” wardrobes with the must-wears:
• Eager expectancy. In other words, hope! No matter what happens with our writing, good things will happen when we dedicate our writing to God. Things like making new friends, growing in the craft, discovering our unique voices. Sometimes the good stuff is internal–it’s God working on our hearts as we sink into our stories.
• Teachable spirit. This is so huge. In this digital age, we’re surrounded by wise and experienced industry experts. If ever there’s a time to don a little humility, it’s now.
• Awareness. I want to be a writer who knows–deep down–this journey is not solely about me. It’s about readers. Sometimes it’s about other writers too–all with stories churning inside and personal lives full of highs and lows. I want to see the people around me and do what I can to invest in and encourage them, the way so many have in me.
• Trust. Everything comes back to trust, doesn’t it? Trust that God has our back. Trust that He’s got a plan. Trust that we’ve been gifted with a passion for stories for a reason.
And trust that when we’ve prayerfully and properly outfitted our thoughts, we’re in for an awesome writing journey.
Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. She writes romantic comedies in the banter-filled style of her favorite 1930s and 40s classic films. Her upcoming book, Keep Holding On, releases Sept 27 and is the third in her Walker Family series. When she’s not writing she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at http://www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.