September 2, 2011

Practicals on Pursuing a Passion {and a Giveaway!}

Or maybe you're still in the mulling-over-in-prayer stage. Wherever you are, I want to share some practical suggestions today regarding how to pursue a passion. These are the things that I have learned (and am still learning) in my own writing pursuits and they all assume that you both know your passion and are ready to pursue it.

I'm a busy woman. How can I make time to pursue a passion?
We always make time for those things that we consider to be a priority. So the first thing you'll need to determine is that this is actually a priority to you. When it's a priority, you can do it without feeling guilty or letting other "good-but-not-best" things encroach on that time. 

For me, writing is a priority. I write on mornings when my youngest is in preschool (my other two are in school) and sometimes during naptimes. Those hours are blocked off; I rarely say yes to any other commitments during that time. Why? It's not like I'm some famous author with tons of writing assignments and books in the works. So isn't it a waste of time? To me, it's not. I have certainly wrestled with this idea, but I feel certain that this is something that I do that honors God. 

Before my kids were in school, my husband and I decided together that I could go to a coffee shop for a few hours on his day off. Again, I had to get over the guilt. Shouldn't I be doing something "productive" or spending time at home with my family as much as I possibly could? But I realized that when I spent time doing something that was life-giving to me, I came home eager to jump back into parenting and family time.

I don't know when those moments or hours of quiet happen for you, but seize them! Get your husband on board and determine together how you can pursue this thing that you love.

How do I maintain my more important priorities?
When we get to do something that we love, when we finally open the door of possibility, it can quickly take over if we aren't careful. So we must be vigilant about keeping our priorities in check. 

There are things that come before writing for me and there are things for you that come before your passion. 
Pursuing Christ and enjoying your relationship with Him.
Time and connection with your husband, if you are married.
Training and loving your children, if you have them.
Ministering to and within the Body of Christ.
Loving your literal and figurative neighbors.
Work, if you do.

As a pastor's wife, I do not want the tangible ministry right in front of me to be neglected because I am pursuing something that is done in isolation (although I now think of my writing as a ministry as well).

However, perhaps your passion can be incorporated into those greater priorities. Mine certainly can. 

Finally, I suggest that you hold your passion loosely. Just recently, as I evaluated my calendar and commitments, I asked myself, "Are you willing to give this up if God asks you to?" The answer should always be yes and, if it's not, perhaps my priorities are out of line. I am determined to pursue my passions boldly and without apology as long as I am submitted to the leadership of the Lord.

How do I get started?
What is the first step? Don't think big or try to create a master plan. Just take one small step forward.
Pray about it.
Say it out loud.
Talk to your husband about it.
Find the time.
Sign up for a class.
Read a book.
Talk to someone who has a similar passion.
Study and learn.
Write something.

That's what I did, all of those things. With each step, I realized how much I didn't know and how much  more there was to learn. Sometimes I wanted to give up. Sometimes I didn't feel like I had the time, but I still did it. Sometimes fear kept me up at night. Sometimes I felt foolish. Sometimes I felt like I was wasting my time. 

But always I loved it. 

What do you love? What are you becoming? I want to hear!

Maybe, like me, you love writing. If so, I have a gift for two lucky ducks out there. Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, has two incredible e-books--one for nonfiction and one for fiction--about writing book proposals. I used his e-book about writing a nonfiction book proposal to put together my own, which helped me acquire an agent. 

I'm giving away one of each
  • Writing a Winning Fiction Book Proposal: An Insider's Secrets to Landing an Agent and a Book Contract  
  • Writing a Winning Non-Fiction Book Proposal: An Insider's Secrets to Landing an Agent and a Book Contract. 
Here's how you can win:
  • "Like" my blog on Facebook. After you "like" it, post on the wall whether you want to win the Fiction or the Nonfiction book proposal.
  • Follow me on Twitter. Then send a tweet telling me which book you want to win and include this link:
  • Subscribe to my blog. Leave me a comment in the comment section telling me that you did so and which book you want to win.
  • Tell a friend about my blog. Leave me a comment in the comment section telling me that you did so and which book you want to win.
  • Leave a comment telling me what your passion is and how you are pursuing it.
You can enter all five of those ways, if you so choose. I will randomly draw a winner on September 9th. Best of luck!