The following is an excerpt from Enjoying Newsletters: How to Write Christian Communications People Want to Read by Amy Young (me). Since this month’s workshop is about mindset as a cross-cultural worker, today we’ll start to unpack mindset around newsletter writing.
Many moons ago I bungee jumped in China with two of my Chinese students. Much to my horror, the experience started with each of us having our weight written on a sticker and placed on our upper arm. Because I was so much heavier than either of my adult students, one female and one male, I was told I would jump first and was sent off, with my poor Chinese language skills, to climb the bungee tower by myself. By the time I got to the top, my fear of heights was only slightly outweighed by my fear of not understanding what the employees would say to me at the top of the tower. Huffing and puffing as I summited the last step, I saw that we would jump off at the far end. Between me and that jumping ledge were three other female customers and two male employees. The employees coaxed one of the young women to jump, after she stepped into the safety straps. Her slip-on shoes were duck-taped to her feet and she kept squealing and bending over in fear.
After what felt like hours but was probably thirty seconds, the men told her to walk to the other end of the platform by me and asked another woman to jump. Also overcome with fear, the second jumper tried to jump but kept squealing and panting, and eventually took off the harness and headed down the steps, refusing to jump. The third woman was not immune from fear and acted equally ridiculous. As I recall this experience, I am fuzzy as to what she did, but I vividly remember talking to myself, having watched three people make fools of themselves. “Amy, if you walk towards that ledge, you will jump. You will not act ridiculous. You will not bend over and shriek and try to decide to jump. You need to decide now. Are you jumping or not? If you step towards the straps, the decision is made.”
When one of the men gestured it was my turn, I stepped towards them. They looked at my weight on my stickered arm and got the biggest straps they had. I’m kidding. But they did get the appropriate straps and after adjusting, told me to jump when I was ready. I stepped up to the ledge and over the loud speaker heard, “Everyone in the amusement park, please watch our foreign friend jump! Our foreign friend will now jump! Everyone, please watch!” I froze, but the decision was already made. I turned and told the employee behind me, “I am afraid. I need you to push me.” He stared at me. “You have to push me!” And he did.
The foreigner went flying, screaming all the way. It was magnificent.
Whether you enjoy writing or not, the truth is your job now requires you to write. You are a writer. The majority of this book is devoted to helping you improve in the craft of writing. Much of writing is a skill, and as such, the good news is you can work on and improve in any given area of writing. However, just like my bungee jumping, the mind-set is crucial. Even though I have been writing newsletters for decades, blog posts for many years, and books for years, I still feel self-doubt as a writer. Multiples times as I worked on this very book, I said, “Amy, you are wasting your time, nobody will read this.”
But the decision was already made, I would write what you [are reading]. I did not wait until I was writing the book to decide if I would write it. Before starting, I shared the idea with people I trust, and they agreed this is a needed book. In essence, they “pushed me off the ledge” through their encouragement and questions. You might freeze and need a teammate, parent, or spouse to ask you each month—or whatever the time period may be—if you have written your newsletter. As a writer, do not be surprised if you need someone to “push” you to start. It happens to all of us. You will wonder if what you are doing is important. You will wonder if what you are experiencing should be shared. You will wonder if anyone will read what you have written. You will wonder if they will think you are doing enough. So, when these waves of wondering and doubting hit you, do not be caught off guard. They are part of the process. Embrace the reality that you are a writer and that part of the creative identity is self-doubt.
Work on your mindset, push through, grow as a writer and … write a newsletter.
Purchase Enjoying Newsletters and you can truly enjoy writing them and grow as a writer (even when you didn’t plan to be one!).