Dive in, be kind, and listen. That became my mantra when I started writing children’s books about a year ago.
As humans often do, I immediately started telling myself the idea was ridiculous. This is especially true for someone with complex PTSD, like me. Doubt gets deeply woven into our brains. The intricate work of pulling out each thread of fear is exhausting. But the idea wasn’t going anywhere. I think of the book What Do You Do with an Idea? and see it following me around.
I felt silly ordering a book about writing children’s literature. I was even embarrassed realizing I left it on the coffee table when family came to visit. Would they think I’m presumptuous in this pursuit? I had already dove in by waking up every morning before my 3-year-old, writing a manuscript, and joining SCBWI. I was close to the shore though, easy enough to turn around. As a therapist, I was used to encouraging others. It was time to encourage myself.
I pushed through the fear and completed several free digital workshops through SCBWI. I was surprised at how much I gained from each one. From Kaitlyn Sanchez, I got inspired to be myself in my writing and transform words into kid-friendly language. From Kristin Dwyer, I learned the power of your first sentence. I was even surprised by the value of Meet the Agent workshops. These helped me get insight into what agents are looking for and the business parts of writing.
I also gained confidence from the encouragement of colleagues. One of my beliefs is in the power of spreading kindness in the world to receive it back. I’m so early in my writing journey but have already been embraced by so many other creators. By putting myself out there, I have connected with others who are happy to provide guidance and reassurance. Finding opportunities for connection is paramount. Join the monthly gatherings, go to conferences, ask to be part of a critique group, meet with fellow members and be kind through it all.
Lastly, I will continue to listen. Listening to yourself is as important as listening to others. I often remind clients to, “Listen to understand, rather than to respond.” When you allow yourself the space to understand, the growth that takes place becomes evident in your writing. Internal judgment and fear can block you from hearing true meaning. Whether it comes from yourself or others, soak up the information you receive and process it. I used this guide for myself with a critique partner. She saw things in my work I hadn’t even considered.
I was terrified to start this writing pursuit. Now I’m excited every day to see where I’m going next. Diving in has given me creative energy that I didn’t know was missing. No matter where you are in your writing journey, keep going. You never know where this journey can take you.
Glee Dunbar lives in Frisco, NC with her playful husband and magical daughter. Glee owns and operates a private counseling practice that provides telehealth services for a variety of mental health and substance use concerns. Glee experienced serious health problems in 2021 that changed her life forever. Facing these with complex PTSD from childhood was overwhelming but enabled her to embrace life in a way she never had.