Monday, May 20, 2013

4th Annual LDS Writer Blogfest---A Personal Book Review of 21 Principles

LDS Writer Blogfest

This week I've been reading the 21 Principles---Divine Truths to Help You Live By the Spirit by Richard G. Scott.  He is an apostle in my church and I love his frank way of presenting things.  There were so many principles that applied to me in his book, but Principle 3 has stuck with me all week and I really want to share some of my thoughts about it with you because it encompasses a lot of how I feel about my writing and my religion.

Elder Scott presents Principle 3 as "Repeatedly I have been impressed to learn that to reach a goal never before attained, one must do things never before done."

He goes on to talk about how he tried his hand at watercolors, even though he wasn't that great at painting.  He took lessons from a master, received constructive criticism and noticed his work getting better.  He said he still felt accomplishment from the first sale of one of his paintings and an award he received.  But the thing that touched me the most was how he described his change in sensitivity and awareness of the world around him.  People's faces became a fascinating study of light and shadow and texture and he thought more about the miracle of color and expression of feeling through art.  And these things made him appreciate God's creations more.  He goes on to say,

"Search for feelings that prompt you to try something new yourself, and if they are not there strive to generate them.  Try art, poetry, prose, music, dance, photography, clothing design, or anything you haven't done before.  Otherwise you may never know the thrill of personal creativity nor enter the doors it opens to insight, enjoyment and wonder.  Every individual has creative capacity.  The satisfaction and growth creativity generates is intended for each of us, not just for the most gifted.  To try takes courage."

When I was young I knew I wanted to be a published author.  As I worked on my English degree at BYU I wrote my first novel.  I felt that thrill of creating something.  Of course when I submitted it, it was rejected and I let doubt in myself creep in.  I gave up.  I put the manuscript under my bed and let it gather dust.  I wish I would have read Elder Scott's words then when he said, "Believe in yourself.  Doubt destroys creativity, while faith strengthens it."

But then, a year later, I was talking about my rejection experience with a friend and she encouraged me to try again.  Make the changes, she said, and submit it again.  So I did.  And I received an offer for publication within a week.  I achieved my goal, but I'd wasted a lot of time letting doubt creep in when I should have had faith in myself.

I love being a writer.  I love creating characters that can help me present my perspective on life and explore all kind of myriad experiences.  I listen and observe the world around me more because I see creation in relationships and humanity accompanied by emotion wherever I look.  When I'm watching a mother and her young son at the grocery store and she's kissing his face even though there's sticky ice cream all over it, I smile.  When I see beautiful cloud pictures in the sky during a fiery sunset I marvel.  When I look at my sleeping babies tucked into bed I know I'm blessed.  Being a writer makes me look deeper, feel more, and appreciate it all.

I feel like I was given the seeds of a talent by a loving Heavenly Father who knew that if I developed this talent I would find joy and personal satisfaction.  It took courage to do it in the first place and to continue with it, but I'm so glad I did.  Not only have I achieved a goal, but I've met so many wonderful people who have helped and cheered me along the way.

I've learned a lot about myself while I focused on my goal of being a published writer.  I've learned to find balance in my life, I've learned I have limits, and I've learned that I have an Eternal Friend in my Savior who is always there to lean on, to help me through the dark days, and to share my happiness at my learning and growth, not just in my writing, but life in general and I'm so grateful for that.

I hope you will try something, whether it's writing or painting or dancing or whatever, that can help you see the world in a different way, that will give you a goal and personal satisfaction when you meet that goal.  I hope you will look at the incredible world around us and feel something stir in you at our Heavenly Father's creations.  But most of all I hope you find belief in yourself and your abilities.  Find your courage and try to create something.  We've all been given the ability now we just have to do it!

So go on.  You won't be sorry.

Here's a list of other blogs that are participating in the blog fest today.  Check them out!


Charlie Moore said...

I love seeing a post that focuses on my faith tied into the writer and the overall concept of not giving up. Elder Scott is from my hometown of Pocatello. Thanks for this post, Julie. Another great thing is that if you follow an apostle's advice you know your brand of entertaining will be clean and acceptable to the Lord.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

That is a great thing, Charlie. Thanks for your comments. :)

Rebecca Belliston said...

It's amazing how much self-doubt I've felt through my writing years. It's a hard little hobby/business. But I love hearing the encouragement from Elder Scott to keep going and the importance of creativity. I also love what you said: "Being a writer makes me look deeper, feel more, and appreciate it all." That is so true!! Thanks for the post!

Debra Erfert said...

Well said, Julie!

Jon Spell said...

I don't have any poignant thoughts on your post, which was lovely, so I'll just say, "Happy Victoria Day!"

Charity Bradford said...

What a perfect post! Doubt really does kill creativity and diminishes our chances for success. Thanks for sharing!

Ryan said...

What a great story!
I never thought of Elder Scott as the artistic type. It's so true what he says about creativity.
And you're right that artists are naturally more observant (or should be) of the world around them. Sort of goes hand in hand with the gift of charity. (Now if I can just get charity, I'll be the world's best writer! muah hah)