“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine” ~ Emily Dickinson
In 2016, I started off the new year with anticipation and excitement.
After 15 years in business and corporate roles, I had finally made the decision to follow through with a deep calling to start teaching yoga. Subsequently, I was about to embark on a year of yoga teacher training and fresh beginnings.
I felt daunted but free. Nervous but ready.
At the same time, my spark of motivation to write and scribble in my journal took hold, renewing my passion for creativity and the written word. It was like a private conversation with myself, where I could write anything and never be judged or criticised. I was 35 years old, yet I felt 15 again!
Like a balm to my soul, I started to write about anything and everything around me. I wiped clean the slate of stigmas and status quos, and started to see life through a new lens.
As I started to grow in confidence with my words, I mustered the courage to submit my first ever article: “Yoga & Christianity: Sacrilege or Soulmates?” to Elephant Journal. I can remember pressing the submit button and holding my breath, checking over the submitted piece anxiously to ensure there weren’t any typos or grammatical errors.
And I waited, not knowing what to expect, and expecting that I would have to wait, perhaps, forever.
To my sheer delight, I received an email the very next day from the Ele-team, advising me that my article would be published! I can still remember the exhilaration and shock—someone (and not just anyone, but Elephant Journal!) wanted to publish my work.
In those days, there was no Ecosystem or scoring, however my article received an “Editor’s Pick” and I was just so thrilled. I went on to publish quite a few articles, in Elephant and other publications, however it was this first article that gave me the confidence to continue writing.
Writing my Truth
That first article was a controversial topic, inspired by an encounter I had with a girl at my gym who shared with me her disappointment that her Christian faith had banned her from doing yoga. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and it sparked my curiosity enough to delve deep into research papers and sites that validated her claims.
I wrote truthfully, transparently, and from a solid base of well-credentialed evidence. People wrote to me from all over the world and shared their own fears of doing yoga, and I had Christian friends and acquaintances challenge me in person about my intentions for writing the article.
The impact of my article was clear to me: by sharing my words with others, I could create ripples of impact across the world. It was empowering to think that the words I was crafting in my notebook could be of benefit to those needing the messages that they carried.
I wrote about yoga, smartphone zombies, Pokémon, digital detox benefits, spirituality, philosophy, energy channels, and anything that I felt a burning question about. It was so exciting to have the freedom to write about any topic I was called toward—the energy was intoxicating!
The thing was, I never once during this time considered myself a writer. I had kept a diary and journaled from a young age, but I guess I thought of it more as a hobby, an enjoyable pastime where I could connect with myself at the end of each day. I believe it is this mindset that enabled me to write truthfully and from my soul, with all the layers of conditioning peeled away. Similar to the saying “dance like no one is watching,” I would find myself “writing like no one was reading.” Of course, I hoped that someone would want to read it, but by adopting this writing mantra it prevented my mind from wandering and imagining what my grandmother or other family members would think of me if they read my words.
Your Unique Voice is your Superpower
The community of other writers and editors at Elephant provided so much inspiration and motivated me to keep putting my words up, until I found myself starting to truly believe that I might even be able to write the book I had been daydreaming about.
In the years that followed, I began working on my manuscript and book proposal. I found myself a brilliant book coach and editor who guided me on chapter structure and book proposals. I signed up for every writing workshop I could, making myself a sponge to learn as much as I could about the publishing industry (that I knew absolutely nothing about).
When I first started writing about my motherhood journey, something kept holding me back. “I’m not an expert,” I would say to my book coach. “There are so many books on motherhood…why would anyone want to read mine?”
Her message was loud and clear:”There are hundreds of books about similar topics, but none of them have been written from your personal experience. Write the story that only you can tell.”
At the same time, I listened to a workshop with Gabby Bernstein encouraging writers to “get out of your own way” and my entire mindset shifted. When I gave myself permission to write from my deepest centre of truth, using examples from my own personal experience, the manuscript flowed without effort and I gained back my self-belief.
This voice came from the same truth as my first article with Elephant—unobscured and untainted by ego. This is where your unique voice and ultimate writing superpower resides. Ditch using the Harvard Referencing System for every sentence you write and your voice (and writing) will thank you for it.
Lessons in Patience and Perseverance
When it comes to traditional publishing opportunities, I can confirm that the rumours are definitely true—it is f*cking hard to get noticed. Rejection is almost impossible to avoid, and a strong book proposal is essential.
Before I sent my book proposal to my now publisher at the start of this year, I would estimate that I’d been rejected at least eight to 10 times already by others. It is tough, but also so common. I’d remember interviews I’d listened to with authors like Mitch Albom and Elizabeth Gilbert where they discussed the rejection they’d experienced with books like Tuesdays with Morrie and Eat, Pray, Love, and just accepted that I needed to keep going.
An electric energy deep within me kept pushing me on. I did eventually receive the highly anticipated “offer to publish” (and yes, I did a hyena-style happy dance when I received the news!) but there were two things I needed to become an expert at in getting to this point: patience and perseverance. I believe that if our words are flowing effortlessly to the point where our fingers cannot keep up to type or write them, then those words need to be in the world. Keep going!
My book is now about to be published and available to the world, and I am so grateful to Elephant Journal and Waylon Lewis for all the opportunities offered to aspiring writers and authors. My first published article was my kickstart, and my message to other writers in this community is to keep at it, even when you doubt yourself or don’t believe your writing is good enough. It is, and you are in fabulous hands with your mentors at Elephant Journal!