Is Your ‘Why’ Strong Enough?

Five years ago, I had the dream of writing a book.

Is your why strong enough? via Ashley Stevens at Mountains Unmoved, picture of pen writing on notebook

At the time, I had absolutely NO idea all that goes into getting published. Sure, I knew it would take time to put the manuscript together. But then, I thought, it was just a matter of pitching it to the right publisher. Bless my little aspiring writer heart.

I had been asked many times to share my story and was thus unsoundly confident once I put it in writing, it would be off to the races from there.

I didn’t have any writing experience, but the desire to share my story to help others walking through hard seasons was so strong I couldn’t let that dissuade me.

Dreams usually start as a small whisper, as a little ,”What if?”

What if I started my own multi-level-marketing business?
What if I sold what I love to make on Etsy?
What if ran a half marathon?
What if I went back to work?
What if I wrote a book that gave people hope?
What if God put this on my heart for a reason?

But there’s something about big dreams that keep us coming back to them; that trumps the other ‘What If’s?’ to become that one thing your mind just keeps coming back to.

That ‘What If?’ is your Why.

Chasing Your Why Takes Time

A friend advised me to just start writing, so I did.

After a year and half of writing at a snail’s pace over babysitting and breastfeeding, my rough draft manuscript was done – badly done in auto-biography format (oops), but it was done.

Next, I chatted with my recently published friends about how to get it into print. They advised putting together a book proposal to pitch to editors, including how mine differs from the competition, a chapter outline, and where I had been published which, at the time, was a big goose egg.

I was disheartened to learn publishers recommended compiling the proposal before writing the manuscript to make sure writing the book was even worth my and their time. Oh yay, previous two years. :/

Over the next year, I read all the competitors to see how mine was set apart, got some guest blogs up, and polished my best two chapters over two moves and another baby.

There Will Be Setbacks

Then, it was time to send the proposal over.

I emailed it to my top four publishers. “They’re going to love my story,” I thought, “At least one of them will definitely publish me”…and then I waited. And waited. And waited.

Over the next few months, the No’s began to roll in…

  • “we have so many book projects in the pipeline that we aren’t making many acquisitions decisions right now”
  • “at this time we’ve chosen not to pursue your title, as it isn’t quite publication ready, and our production schedule for the year is full.”
  • “we do not publish memoirs (with possible exceptions for highly public figures)”
  • “start developing an author platform. In our social media-driven age, this is becoming a non-negotiable for authors (and aspiring authors)”

After two years of putting my time, babysitting money, and my heart into this manuscript and proposal, I was deflated with the final No. :/

There Will Be Doubts

“What now?” I thought.

God, you put this desire on my heart. You gave me a powerful story to share. I have spent so much time and money trying to make this happen. What now, God??

Was I wrong about my dream to publish the book? Was I wrong about my story being able to encourage people at a hard spot? Was my writing really that bad that I’d never have a chance to get published?

But then, you guys. But. Then.

One of the rejection emails came with kind and, as I’ve since learned, completely unnecessary feedback. She said, “we will not be able to publish your manuscript as it is, I do see a lot of potential for a powerful book from you, one that could weave in your story to speak to readers on some broader theme”

She went on to recommend specifically what (social media, website, blog, guest posts, etc.) I should get rolling to pave the way to get that, “powerful book” published.

That, my friends. That small shred of potential was all I needed. That shred of potential reminded me that there is a story that only I can tell.

I just finished this book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis. She’s an author who had a similar dream and this book really helped me see my journey in a better perspective. It reminded me to dream with purpose.

I took an entire morning making a big idea soup, as she puts it, and wrote down every single thing I can think of to get me closer to my biggest dream for the year. I’m excited to have a more tangible plan to make them come to life. I would highly, highly recommend reading if there’s a big dream on your heart that’s been put on the back burner.

One of my favorite premises of the book was the reminder that sometimes it’s OK to pivot; that changing how you get there doesn’t mean you won’t get there.

“You’ve got to be relentless in your pursuit and flexible in your methods.”

-Rachel Hollis

The Power in the Pivot

Thanks to the advice from one of the publishers, I pivoted from the book to different ways to share my story. I rolled out this website as a hub for my writing and speaking content and began this blog to really hone the story I’m trying to tell.

Along the way, I’ve met so many great fellow bloggers, appeared on various podcasts, radio interviews, and TV segments, and am learning how to tell and share my story in a way to better help others.

It’s taken me five years of mistakes to get to where I am in my writing career today. Five years, you guys.

But every misstep has taught me how to run a little faster next time.
Every No has made me revisit and refocus my Why.

Let’s stop beating ourselves when we don’t get it – the approach, order, words – right. Setbacks, mistakes, and all the No’s are only failures if you let them stop you from getting back up; if you let them forget your Why.

Sometimes dreams can be born from the ashes. Click To Tweet

For those of you who have started and stopped countless dreams and resolutions, it may be because your Why wasn’t strong enough.

If that big dream or goal is something God placed on your heart that just won’t seem to go away, one step at a time. One day at a time. One failure at a time.


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