A Writer’s Flash-Point

Life is packed with flash-points, moments of ignition, moments when something contagious is sparked.

A few years back as a freelance writer for national and international magazines, I nurtured an until-then-dormant desire in the recesses of my heart: I wanted to write a book. I had no idea what book, but it sure sounded glamorous. Jo Ann Fore – Author.

I envisioned days penning words in a secluded cabin surrounded by soaring mountains and pristine lake waters—which would lead to countless fans, best-seller lists, and media engagements, of course.

My fantasy lived a number of quiet years before I joined the ranks of thousands of others who had made writing a book an official goal. I was proud of my fearless move. I did it. I set the goal! That much closer to authorhood.

Funny thing though, verbalizing that goal always led to the inevitable question: What are you writing?

What am I writing? (Flashpoint One.)

I really didn’t know.  All I knew was someday I was going to write a book. I had dreamed of writing a book probably since I held my first crayon.  But, someday.  Someday when I had more time, when my daughter was grown, when life wasn’t so hectic.

My husband, Matt, taught me a valuable lesson about the word “someday.” When he and I dated, I was extremely commitment-shy after having escaped a not-so-great (okay, horrific) marriage. Today Matt and I joke about the countless pre-proposals he tossed out before he got to the real one. Consistently he asked, “Will you marry me?” This both warmed my heart and petrified me. Feeling a bit bi-polar each time he asked, I simply smiled and said, “Someday.”

Until the day Matt called me out. “Maybe you dangle it just far enough out of reach to avoid the reality. There’s really nothing intentional about the word someday.”

Once he was serious about his proposal, he let me know that “someday” was going to have to move to a set date. We just celebrated our seventh anniversary. If I kept saying “someday” I may have lost this amazing husband.

I was unknowingly sabotaging one of my greatest desires. (Flashpoint Two.) And now, I was doing the same thing with my aspirations to write a book.

It was time to drill this thing down. What am I writing? I want to help hurting women. I want to offer lasting hope and practical application. So, what is my message?

Once I articulated that, I could move forward. After I settled the premise of my work I was ready to write. (Flashpoint Three.) That was the day the book became more than a dream, more than a goal. It became an intentional laser-focused choice.

Along these lines, Huffington Post’s Complete Guide to Blogging offers a great exercise we can use to nail down the focus of our book: “What is your point? How would you explain your point to a batty, slightly deaf relative in one sentence? Write that sentence down. This is the gist of your piece.”

I would love to see your answers in the comments section below.

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36 thoughts on “A Writer’s Flash-Point

  1. Loved this post, Jo Ann. It is the easiest thing in the world to keep saying, “Someday…”
    Thank you for the suggestion about the Huffington Post blogging guide as well.

  2. It’s critical that you know WHY you’re writing, because that will in turn become your identity as a writer. It’s what will make you identifiable to readers everywhere. You can be fine coasting along the first couple years while you find that identity –or that “voice” as they call it–, but eventually you have to find it or you will risk being another nine-to-fiver who hammers the keyboard for a paycheck and nothing else.

  3. As a counselor and a writer, I try to think of an existing problem people struggle with, and help them find a solution. I write because I want to encourage people to check the pulse on the condition of their hearts. Something most of us painstaking avoid until the bottom drops out!

  4. Fabulous post, Jo Ann! I am putting the finishing touches on a self-study program, written from a workshop I created. In the middle of the process, I took a step back and asked several groups of women to answer “What is your greatest midlife challenge?” Their answers affirmed what I was writing, and gave me even more insight into the content I needed to include. If I hadn’t asked, I might have missed some great teaching points. So I think it is important to know exactly what your audience needs, not just what you think they need. Thank you, Dear Friend!

  5. This is great and very inspiring. Love that your husband was the first to challenge you on your word of “someday.” My husband has made similar challenges regarding my speaking and writing.
    Let’s do this thing, Jo Ann! (Looking forward to She Speaks!)

  6. Great post Jo Ann! Your husband sounds like both a wise and caring man.

    My message in a nutshell?

    Sharing God’s heart of love and redemption toward His children who have experienced divorce.

    To be honest, it seems a bit scary to state it in that focused a fashion…it feels too limiting or too boxed in. Yet, at least for now, that seems to be the unique message God has given me to share.

    Come to think of it…my message seems to have a lot in common with your message… 🙂

    • Hey Joe,

      Yes — amazing husband :). Glad I turned away from that “someday” and ran straight for him.

      Love that you drilled down the heart of your message even more — and yes, definitely kindred spirits. Continue to spread that hope!

  7. Once again, Jo Ann, you inspire me! Thanks for this amazing article. I have set my ‘someday’ to be the end of June as I am working to wrap up my very first book! Yay! Your voice is consistently in my head saying, “Allison, you can do this!”. Big hugs!

  8. Pingback: Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 13, 2012 « cochisewriters

  9. Jo Ann, loved this and was challenged by this. It applies to another area of my life than writing, but the principle is the same: Don’t wait for life to begin. We have to embrace ”Yes” today, as scary as it is. I used to wait until ”someday” to write a book. Then I realized I didn’t want to leave this earth with my dreams still curled inside of me, and so I just started…I’m not at the destination I want to be yet, but the journey is fun so far. 🙂

  10. Yay..I found my someday and am in hopes I will be published before the summer is over…I can’t believe I actually did it!! I kept thinking, “who in the world wants to read what I have to say about my life”….but I have come to just see myself stepping out into the unknown with Jesus by my side coaching me along….there are no limits with Him!!! Thanks for all your encouragement in so much!!!

  11. It was an inspiration for me to read how you fulfilled your dream about writing. The Lord told me I would write a book.About What? I would find out the answer in 1998. My 32 yr.old son died. I wrote and wrote, that turned into a memoir, that turned in to a 225 page book, Longing To Be Loved, soon to be published!

    • Hi Kc,
      I’m so sorry for your loss. But it warms my heart to know that you are using that brokenness to pour into the lives of others. That is as God would have it. 🙂

  12. Great advice, Jo Ann! Great advice here: “After I settled the premise of my work I was ready to write … That was the day the book became more than a dream, more than a goal.”

  13. As someone who has been stuck in “someday” for way too many decades, I appreciate your post, Jo Ann. I will check out the HuffPost resource and see if I can get some help getting moving. Thank you!

  14. My greatest moment was a very painful one. I told my wife that I had a brilliant idea for a book. I was shocked by her response. “Look Fred stop telling me about your ideas for books, stories, plays etc. I don’t want hear another word about it okay!” She was angry with me. I shrank back in horror at the outburst. “And…when you have finished something come and show me.”
    Sorry for the brevity here but …6 months later I handed her a completed MS which is now in the process of being published. The truth hurts but boy does it work! Especially when it comes from someone who cares.

  15. Thank you Jo Ann, this post really spoke to me. My grandmother always encouraged me to write a book. After her death, I sat reading the collection stories she had handwritten in perfect penmanship and given to each grandchild with an attached picture of herself taken at her 90th birthday, nestled in the center of their family. It was then I realized we had shared the same desire and ability to write. I had just been saying “someday.” My sister gave me a laptop for Christmas the following year with a note, “Now Sis. Write that book.” So, I did! It took almost five years but I finished it, with another almost two years of second draft, rewrites, and critiques I am presently seeking representation. Finally! My someday is now!

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