Your story matters. But do you ever feel fear creep in when writing about your past and sharing your story?
In today’s training I share 7 tips on how you can overcome the fear of writing about your past and be able to share your story to those who need it.
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Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
I had someone in my Author Audience Academy group ask me this question, “Shelley, how do I ever overcome the fear of telling my story? Do you have any tips or strategies?”
To be very honest I don’t have any one specific strategy that’s the be-all-end-all to overcome fear. If you’re a Christian, which most of my followers are, the Bible says, “Perfect love drives out fear,” [1 John 4:18]
The perfect love of Christ will drive out fear, but sometimes we have to do it afraid.
Courage is doing it afraid.
I am going to share with you seven tips I came up with that may help you when sharing your story and you feel that fear and self-doubt overcoming you and wanting you to stop.
TIP #1: Don’t share all the details
I recently got back from my ColoradoWritingRetreat.com and one of the ladies that was there had a similar issue. She said, “Shelley, I don’t know that I really want to share my testimony and share all the gory details.”
And this is the first tip; you do not have to share all the details of your story.
I’m very open that I had a two year addiction to internet pornography. I’ve written a book all about that topic for Christian women that are struggling with a pornography addiction.
But in that book I don’t share the gory details. I don’t share a bunch of the details of the struggle, the addiction, etc. I share enough that they know I struggled, and I share enough that they know that I’m someone that can be trusted to help them.
So only share what is necessary.
TIP #2: Focus on the hope and the healing
Every story has an arc.
I’m not an expert on writing a story, but an expert in helping you get your first draft out of your head and onto paper in record time.
But I do know that every story has an arc. You have the obstacles, and the ups and downs of a story. Yes, your readers need to know that you struggled, but you don’t have to camp there very long.
You don’t have to tell all the gory details but focus on the hope and the healing. Focus on what happened and what God did in your life. Focus on how you overcame that struggle and how you can help them do the same.
TIP #3: PRAY
My third tip is pray, pray, pray.
I shared three reasons why every Christian author needs a prayer team, in a podcast. If you have not listened to it yet, make sure you check it out. It’s podcast 37 and it is on my blog, my YouTube channel, and my podcast Author Audience on iTunes or Stitcher, so listen to that.
So what you can do is, while you’re writing the book send a weekly update to your prayer team asking for specific prayer. I’ve been doing that as I’ve been writing my book Broken Crayons Still Color, it has helped me so much knowing that they are praying for me.
At the very minimum I recommend weekly updates. People get busy so they forget, but when you email them and remind them they are like, “Oh yeah, I need to pray.”
Give them specific things to pray for. If you are feeling this fear about sharing your story, send that to your prayer team, let them know that they need to be prayer for that, and ask them to pray that God would overcome that fear in your life, give you the words to write, and that it would just flow.
So pray, pray, pray and have your prayer team pray. You should definitely be praying for that, write out in your journals your prayers, and just be covering this in prayer, because it’s tough and it’s really hard sometimes. It will bring up emotions.
I probably had some of the most difficult weeks of my life writing my book Broken Crayons Still Color because I shared about almost every difficult, hurtful thing that I’ve ever gone through in my life. However, I shared about it in a way though that focuses on the hope and healing, and really encourages people, but it was hard!
TIP #4: You may need to work with a counselor or life coach
My fourth tip is that you may need to work with a counselor or life coach while writing your book, because it may be bringing stuff up for you that you need to continue to work on yourself.
Along the way, you may need that extra support. You may need to have somebody to talk to.
My mom and my sister are both counselors and I talked to them a lot in the process of writing this book. It brought up a lot of stuff for me and I needed to talk to someone. That may be something that you need as well.
TIP #5: Use your journals so that you’re not just working from a blank slate
If you have had journals I recommend using when writing your book.
Hopefully you had some that you have kept over the years, or you can use some other types of journaling like your blog posts, newsletters and different things that you may have used over the years; anything that you used to record some of your thoughts and feelings.
Instead of having to come up with it from scratch, use your journals. I’ve done that with almost every book where I’ve shared part of my story; I use my journals. It helps me not only remember more accurately, but it also takes some of the pressure off from really, truly having to dig deep, remember everything and walk through everything again, because it’s all out there in the journals.
TIP #6: Remember who you’re writing for
Always remember your WHY. Why are you writing this book? Who are you writing this for?
The first night of the writing retreat I had the women do this, and I recommend that you do this as well.
Take out a piece of paper and pen and write out who are you writing for.
- Who is it that this book is going to be for?
- What could be possible when your book is published?
- What could be possible when your book is published out there?
- How could it help people?
- What could it do?
- What is going to be the eternal impact?
- What is going to be the impact on people right now?
Write that on a piece of paper and post it on your office so that you can see it every day. I want you to think of someone who would be your ideal target audience; the person that could be impacted or reached with this book.
I want you to write their name down, I want you to think of them and I want you to picture them.
I want you to really have a firm reason of purpose on why you’re going through this pain, why you’re doing this and why you’re sharing this story.
When you have a person that maybe you have already helped in a face to face relationship, or you know their story and you know how they’re changed because of that, it really gives you the motivation and the encouragement to keep going.
TIP #7: Post the scripture from Revelations 12:11
When I first started sharing my testimony it was something that I was saying to myself, “I do not want to share this. This is embarrassing, there is so much shame regarding my story and some of the things that happened to me.”
And I was like, “God this is too hard, I can’t do this.”
Then God gave me this verse in Revelations 12:11. I want you to write it down, have it out somewhere you can see it every day.
They triumphed over him
By the blood of the Lamb
And by the word of their testimony;
They did not love their lives so much
As to shrink from death.
“They triumphed over him,” in the context over Revelations 12, him is Satan, is the enemy.
“They triumphed over [satan] by the blood of the lamb,” the lamb is Jesus, “and the word of their testimony.”
If you’re a Christian author, which most of my followers are, when you share your story, your testimony, your story of hope, of freedom, of overcoming, of whatever it is you’ve been through, addictions, abuse, you’re able to share the hope of Jesus Christ and overcome the enemy!
Wow, this is why I do what I do, this is why I share my story, and why I go through the pain! It’s not for me. It’s not so I can be a bestselling author, or so I can help people; it is so that I can be used by God.
The blood of Jesus, His sacrifice for our sins, and the word of our testimony is so powerful. You know what the enemy wants to do? He wants to shut us up. He doesn’t want us telling our stories and he wants us to think, “No you can’t share that, it’s going to make you look bad. You’re going to be embarrassed, there’s too much shame so you can’t do this. Who are you to share your story? Who is every going to read your story? Who is every going to be impacted with your story? No one out there needs your story.”
I thought all those things when I wrote my book on pornography; “Who is going to read a book for Christian women struggling with pornography?”
I thought I was the only one in the entire world that was a woman, a Christian and married that struggled with pornography. Since I started sharing my story I found that I am not the only one.
My story has given so many people hope that they too can find that freedom and that healing that’s only available in Christ! It has brought hope.
Can you tell I get pretty passionate about this? Because your story matters. I can’t tell your story. I can’t do it for you. I can coach you, help you, lead you, share with you, give you tips, give you strategies, share what’s worked for me, but I cannot tell your story.
You are the only person that can share your story and no one else in the world can share your story like you can. Now, I do want to make sure that you know you’re supposed to share your story.
However, if you are still in the middle of it, if you’re not free yet and haven’t truly overcome yet then it’s probably not time to share your story yet. Yes sometimes I still struggle with pornography, I’m not saying I’m 100% free every day, but I’m free. God has healed me! He’s asked me to share my story.
If you’re still in the middle of it, it may not be the time. If it relates to other people and other people’s stuff, you may need to ask God for wisdom. You don’t want to tell other people’s stuff, so try to focus on your story, what you went through, and your side of it.
You don’t have to say who abused you and what it was that you went through. You also don’t have to point the fingers at other people, because that isn’t what telling your story is about. Telling your story is just so people know that you’ve been there; it’s a way to be vulnerable.
When you’re vulnerable with other people and share your story, they’re more likely going to open their heart because they know that you’ve been there, that you’ve walked through pain as well, and they’re going to be more willing to maybe follow your advice or walk that journey. They are more likely to be open to the next step because they know that you’ve been there too.
Just because you have a story doesn’t mean you’re supposed to tell it. Ask God for it; pray and ask Him. Pray and He’ll show you what you’re to share and what you’re not to share. He’ll tell you how much details, and usually it’s a lot less details than you think. You don’t have to share all the detail, you don’t have to share all the dirty laundry. Still, I do encourage you to share your story.
There is power in telling our stories.
I’m not saying you have to tell everything and I’m not saying that right now is the right time, but I pray that you’re able to overcome the fear. The Bible says, “Perfect love drives out fear.” [1 John 4:18]
If you’re feeling fear and resistance it may be because your story is powerful and many people are going to be impacted by it.
A little bonus tip before you go. You may get in the middle of your book and it’s hard to move forward. One thing you can do is to have accountability.
I felt it when I was writing my book Broken Crayons Still Color. Praise God it’s going through final edits right now, but I almost didn’t make it. So what I did was I formed a Beta Group and sent each chapter to that Beta Group each week. That worked because I knew they were waiting for it every week, so it kept me going and that may work for you as well.
Whatever it takes, I encourage you to never, ever give up. Keep going, because someone out there is waiting for what you have to share. Someone out there needs the hope that you’re going to share in your book; in your story. Someone out there is waiting for salvation and they’re going to have salvation through your book, or hope, or healing.
They may not commit suicide because they read your book. There are so many things, and it’s not a guilt or a shame. It’s a look on what God is able to do when you share your story. When you’re obedient and you share His word, God will do the rest, He’ll show up, He’ll take care of the details, and people’s lives will be changed as a result.
Hope this encouraged you. Until next time! Keep writing!
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