Help for the Directionally Challenged by Pearl Allard

on Jan 3, 2018 in Blog | 18 comments

I’d recently achieved a couple milestone goals in my writing journey – first publication, first paycheck, first acceptance after three rejections from a place in which I’d really wanted to be published – and I had less trepidation telling people I was a writer. I was stoked attending Breathe for my second time, but after meeting some of the goals I’d worked towards, what next?

I knew I was one step in, and a whole ocean away from arriving. That was just it. I suffered kid-in-a-candy-store syndrome flipping the pages of the conference schedule and breakout sessions offered. Did I meet someone new or continue under the amazing teaching of those I’d met last year? Did I explore a new topic or add to the foundation being built? For each session I attended, I grieved the five I missed. I felt directionally challenged.

That’s exactly what I was seeking at Breathe this year: direction. Brenda Yoder’s workshop Where Do I Go From Here? promised clues.

THERE IS NO OBSTACLE YOU CAN’T OVERCOME! FIGURE.SOMETHING.OUT,” Brenda Yoder bellowed. I loved her already. Dead serious. It was loving bellowing, I promise. (Still, I felt like I ought to drop and give her twenty.) It was as though she’d said, “I believe in you so much I’m removing all your excuses.”

It wasn’t exactly direction but for sure it was motivation.

“It will never be ideal. Just prioritize, and do it.” I don’t remember if Brenda said that or inspired that, but either way, she deserves the credit. It’s been a phrase I’ve kept handy since.

And then…we were supposed to write our goals and plan steps to achieve them. My stomach sank. If my goal was to find direction, was this a tail-chasing exercise? I tried to apply “figure something out.”

Other writers discussed securing agents for finished manuscripts, mastering book proposals, and other stuff that still felt foreign and unattainable. Insecurity crept in. After all, I didn’t have any big picture vision for my future yet. I’d simply been taking baby steps the past eighteen months. I listed a handful of baby-step goals I wanted to achieve before year-end, but beyond that? I had no clue. I dug deep to find the courage to ask Brenda after the session: was that ok?

“Absolutely,” Brenda said with conviction.

I could’ve shed tears of relief. She even pointed out the advantages of not having something large looming over me while I worked on doing the next right thing. Maybe I could more easily embrace that the writing journey is not a race.

Continue is a valid direction, and baby steps are a valid transportation, even when I can’t see my destination.

But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing those from whom you have learned them… 2 Timothy 3:14

Pearl Allard is happily-mostly-aftered to her hero of thirteen years and is stay-at-home mama to two crazy-wonderful kids in Southwest Michigan. She blogs weekly encouragement at Look Up Sometimes (http://www.lookupsometimes.com) from a Son-follower’s perspective to bask in the Sonshine and grow toward the Light.

    18 Comments

  1. omgosh, you have NO idea how much I love this and truly needed it!!! I have a very hard time breaking down a big picture into manageable baby steps! I kinda feel like it’s perfectly acceptable to break it up into pieces! I am so glad to have connected with you the past two years!!!

    Beth Sowles

    January 3, 2018

    • Beth, I am so with you! I can do big picture or details but turning one into the other?? Good thing we don’t have to do life alone! I’m also very glad we connected!

      Pearl Allard

      January 3, 2018

  2. Love this!! Much needed! I still am taking baby steps in all things writing. And trying to figure out what some of those baby steps are Needed this encouragement. And maybe this word “continue”. Blessings!!

    Carol Graft

    January 3, 2018

    • Carol, blessings to you, too! Continue and baby steps. Did you ever see that movie What About Bob? 😉 Cheering you on in your next step and thankful for your encouragement, too!

      Pearl Allard

      January 3, 2018

  3. Pearl, thank you again for giving me that gentle kick in the rear that I often need to keep writing. (In other words, thanks for your encouragement!)

    Writing is the one thing in my life that frustrates me almost to death but continually entices me back with its charm.

    Debra Scales

    January 3, 2018

    • Thank you, Debbie. You and me, both! Love how you worded that – the frustration but the enticement, too. Can’t remember who said it (Jerry Jenkins maybe?)– if writing comes easily, you’re probably doing it wrong. There’s some encouragement! 😉

      Pearl Allard

      January 5, 2018

  4. Really powerful reminders–multiple ones! “I knew I was one step in, and a whole ocean away from arriving.” Pearl, this soooo names the sense of writing. And then you wrote, “Continue is a valid direction…” LOVE! Thank you, thank you!

    Cynthia Beach

    January 4, 2018

    • Cynthia, I’m honored you were encouraged! You likewise encouraged me with your words, “Self-doubt doesn’t mean that we’re at the wrong place. Discomfort can mean that we’re taking the needed step out of our comfort zone—and growing.” Truth! Here’s to continuing to take steps out of our comfort zone to grow!

      Pearl Allard

      January 5, 2018

  5. Pearl, you truly are a gifted writer! When God is leading you to do something, my motto is “Do it scared!” Love you!

    Kathy Golladay

    January 4, 2018

    • Kathy, I love you to pieces! That “do it scared” business you shared has been SUCH an encouragement to me. Today I heard something similar about a “reasonable” amount of fear being felt in a stretching experience. It helps to know it’s ok to be scared. It helps even more to know we’re not alone! So glad we serve the same God together!

      Pearl Allard

      January 5, 2018

  6. Along with the writing journey not being a race, I constantly have to remind myself that neither is it a competition. I tell myself that it doesn’t matter what others are doing/have accomplished, blah blah blah, I just need to be faithful in the ways God is leading me. But sometimes on this path that is often so isolating, it’s helpful to receive some loving bellowing. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Patricia Alderman

    January 4, 2018

    • Patricia, I am nodding along in agreement with you. You are absolutely right – we need the reminder we’re really all in this together – it’s NOT a competition. May God make you successful this year, as He’s defined that for you, and cause you to reach the particular audience He’s prepared. Thanks so much for sharing a piece of your heart here. Hugs!

      Pearl Allard

      January 5, 2018

  7. A breath of fresh air, Pearl! And I know I say it often of your posts, but as always, very timely. I’m dealing with goal setting right now, and truly struggling. So thanks for being that solid, timely reminder.

    Melissa Stroh

    January 4, 2018

    • And thanks for being a solid, timely friend, Melissa! I know writing is largely solitary (which suits this raging introvert just fine), but my perseverance has been sustained by the friendships and connections made along the way. SO GLAD we’re journeying together! May you be given clarity and peace with the goals you choose for this year.

      Pearl Allard

      January 5, 2018

  8. This was EXACTLY what I needed to read/hear this morning!

    You’ve come a long way in your journey already, adding new skills and accomplishments while strengthening and growing those you already possess! Way to go! Onward and upward!

    Riley

    January 5, 2018

    • Riley! So glad to hear from you! Sending you a hug, girl! And so glad these words met you where you’re at. Thank you for your sweet encouragement. 🙂

      Pearl Allard

      January 5, 2018

  9. Pearl, I’ve found it’s all about the baby steps.:) Daily plotting along is what produces. Our goals are attainable, one day, one baby step at a time. And by the way, I love being jolted into motivation too! There’s just something about someone coming along and saying, “Figure.Something. Out.” What I’ve learned along my journey is that I really need others to help guide me strategically. You know, the “how-to” people. And there are people I specifically seek for motivation. You have become one of those motivating people! 🙂

    Michelle Barringer

    January 8, 2018

  10. Michelle, that goes two ways. 🙂 I’ve appreciated your encouragement and motivation, too. We’ll keep taking those baby steps together!

    Pearl Allard

    January 10, 2018

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