Do you have a book inside of you?

Do you have a book inside of you? 
Or do you have an article you want to get published?
How about a blog that you want to write for and grow?
Or maybe you love to write and want to get better at your passion?

But where do you start? 

How do you go from having writing dreams to making them a reality?
How do you move from wanting to be a writer to fully owning your calling as a writer?

I know how: you have to take the risk to invest in yourself and your desire to write. I did this when I decided to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing nearly a decade ago–and I gave years of my life to studying the craft of writing and immersing myself in the world of literature and critical feedback.

Your writing dreams matter because your story matters.
But most of us can’t drop everything and give years of our lives to solely focusing on writing, and that’s why I started Writing with Grace back in 2015. I knew that there were writers who wanted to grow and pursue their calling as Christ-centered word-wielders, but they didn’t have the time or finances to go back to school.

So, after teaching college-level writing courses for half a decade, I decided to offer the best of that material in an online format. I teach the classes live, and you can re-watch them later when you have time. This is the cream of what I taught in 300 and 400 level writing courses, distilled into a six-week course and offered at a fraction of the cost of traditional university education.

I want you to have access to the best writing instruction in a format that works with your current life.

Registration is open now, and you can use the code GRACE to save 10% on the cost of the course. We’re going to have an amazing time together starting at the end of this month, and I want YOU to be there with us.

So, do you have a book inside of you? An article (or ten?) A writing dream?
If you do, this is your next step.

Come join me over at Writing with Grace for all the details–I can’t wait to see you there!

Registration is open now at Writing with Grace!

Yes, the World Needs Your Story

The World Needs Your Story www.annswindell.comThis is the start of my newest piece for Darling Magazine.
You can read the whole article here!

For those of us who find ourselves drawn to the written word, the pull toward pen and paper is more than just a hobby. It’s a lifeline. Many of us flourish when there are words flowing from our soul onto the page — we’re able to make sense of things better when we’re writing, and we think our thoughts most clearly when we write them down on paper.

For those of us drawn to the written word, writing is more than a hobby--it's a lifeline. #amwriting Click To Tweet

As unique as the personal writing experience is for each of us, research is starting to reveal a universal reality that many of us have inherently known for a long time: writing about our lives is healing. Several studies point to the fact that when we honestly write about our own lives, working through our questions and challenges on the page, we can experience emotional breakthrough. That’s because when we take time to write about what’s bothering us, the act of writing enables us to see our lives in a new way and release past burdens. Writing can help us reframe our experiences and see ourselves as active participants in our lives, rather than as victims or observers.

Additional research has found that people who take time to intentionally write about their emotional state “were able to create the distance between the thinker and the thought, the feeler and the feeling, that allowed them to gain a new perspective, unhook, and move forward.” When we write about what’s happening internally, it enables us to parse experience from emotion — and then decide how to change.

Writing is a powerful tool.

If you’ve never taken the time to write your story down, maybe this is the nudge that you need. While writing about our journey and the emotions that we’ve experienced may feel initially overwhelming, the work that it can do in our hearts and our minds might actually change the course of our lives. It can help us to really see how we’ve been living and what it might look like to flip the script in our current story.

Read the rest of the article here, at Darling Magazine!

And if you want to write your story, check out my online writing course, Writing with Grace: Memoir. Registration is open until October 6th, and I’m offering a discount to blog readers: save 10% with the code: MEMOIR10. I can’t wait to join you there!

Image via Maddie Greer

Three Ways Counseling is a Gift You Give Yourself

As someone who has benefited immensely from Christian counseling, I was thankful to get to write a piece about the gifts counseling offers us for
Darling Magazine

3 Ways Counselingis a GiftYou Gift Yourself (1)

We’re still settling into the rhythms of life in our new city, and last week we had dinner with a family that we’re trying to build a relationship with; we go to church with them and our kids are about the same age, so it’s an easy connect.

As our kids ran around one another, I talked with Lesley about life in the last year and a half — all of the transitions that have taken place as we’ve moved cities, changed jobs, and essentially started over in our adult lives. I mentioned that professional counseling has been a game-changer for me in the last season of life, and Lesley paused to ask me more. She had recently been considering counseling but wasn’t sure if she should pursue it, or if it would be a good fit for her. Here’s what I shared with Lesley that night — the three ways that counseling was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself:

1. Counseling helps us to walk the journey of health and wholeness intentionally.

Most of us long to live in healthy, empowering ways in our daily lives; we want to respond to ourselves and others with kindness, and we want to live from a place of love rather than fear. But there are very few practical ways to determine if we are actually growing in wholeness and personal wellbeing. There’s not a to-do list that we can check off at the end of every day. Rather, the journey to healing and health is one that will take a lifetime of intentionality. Committing to counseling sets at least one clear step before us on the path to wholeness, and it offers us tools for not only coping with, but thriving in our daily lives.

The journey to healing and health is one that will take a lifetime of intentionality. Click To Tweet

2. Counseling helps us to own our brokenness and our glory.

A good counselor — one who is seeking to help us rather than trying to appease us — is a person who will speak truth. And when that truth is about our brokenness and the ways we have failed, it can be hard to hear. But it is necessary for us to come to terms with the brokenness that we carry so that we can better understand how we respond when confronted with pain and anger and fear. We need to hear the hard truth so that we can forgive and change and grow. And the good news is that as we better understand our brokenness, we can better understand our glory, too. For we are not solely broken; we are those who are choosing to try again, to ask for forgiveness again, to show up again. We have more strength than we know, and more resilience than we might have imagined. These are gifts that a good counselor helps us to see in ourselves.

We have more strength than we know, and more resilience than we might have imagined. Click To Tweet

Read the rest of the article here, at Darling Magazine!

Pursuing Your Passion in the Margins

Why it's ok if your passion isn't your full time thing right now.
This is the start of my newest article for Darling Magazine.

You can read the full article here!

While we wish it were otherwise, most of us don’t have the luxury of pursuing our creative passions as a full-time job. Whether we love painting or pouring candles, writing or dancing, event planning or photography, the truth is that we don’t often make a living from those passions. Instead, we find pockets of time to shadow those desires on the weekends, the evenings, and, often, when we could be sleeping. We read articles and books about our hobbies, and spend our money on the passion we love so dearly. But we aren’t waking up every morning to head to a studio or the craft room or the keyboard. Instead, we get up and work at jobs that don’t set our hearts aflame.

Those hours in the margins are often charged with the electricity of a soul on fire. Click To Tweet

There were a lot of years where I bemoaned my lack of time to pursue my passion. I’m a writer at heart, a woman who comes alive with the tap of keys on the keyboard, a woman who could spend hours each day whittling down a paragraph until it sings with the vibrancy of power and precision. But for most of my adult life, I’ve been a writer in the margins, pulling out my laptop in the evenings or on the weekends, taking twenty minutes over lunch or an hour after work to finish an article or pen a chapter.

And for a while, I thought I was missing out. I spent my best hours, I believed, working as an administrative assistant, and later as a teacher — for ten years. I gave those “normal” work hours to jobs that I deeply valued but that didn’t necessarily hit the sweet spot of all of my dreams and passions. I supposed that because I wasn’t a full time writer — a full time creative — I wasn’t doing the beautiful, meaningful work that I could be doing if only I had the time.

I was wrong.

I can say that because, in many ways, I’m on the other side of the proverbial fence now; I work as a writer and writing coach. I’m a full-time creative — well, as full-time as I can be while also being a wife and mother, and being primarily at home with my toddler. But I’m making a living as a writer, and when I’m working at my job, it’s (mostly) in my creative sweet spot.

And I have learned that I’m not more creative because I have more time. I’m not even convinced that I’m producing “better” work because I have more hours to work in.

Having to squeeze our passions into the margins of our lives is a good, good thing. Click To Tweet

In fact, what I’m realizing now is that the necessary boundaries that most of us live in — our jobs, our responsibilities, the hours we give to mothering and laundry-folding and meal-making and grocery shopping — those boundaries are actually gifts to us, if we will receive them that way. Having to squeeze our passions into the margins of our lives is a good, good thing.

You can read the rest of the article here, at Darling Magazine!

And if you’re a writer, don’t miss out on this post!

Images via Sé Kipp

4 Ways to Grow as a Writer


4 Ways to Grow as a Writer at www.annswindell.comThis is the start of my newest piece for Darling Magazine. Read the article here!
Image via Madison Holmlund

For those of us who feel the tug toward words and books, toward verse and ink on the page, writing may feel like second nature, like a gift. For many of us, it even feels like a lifeline—a way to uncoil our thoughts, understand our existence and connect to our truest selves.

But after our years of school end, how do we continue to grow as writers? How do we invest in this passion? Is it even worth it? If we aren’t going to write a best-seller or even make money writing, can we justify giving the craft more time and expense?

Yes. In fact, I believe that we must invest in what brings us fully alive, even—and especially—if it isn’t “profitable” from the world’s perspective. Instead, we must ask ourselves if our souls will prosper from time spent clacking at the keyboard and penning words into journals. If so? Then we have our answer.

We must invest in what brings us fully alive. Click To Tweet

Here are four ways to invest in our desire to grow as writers—as women who live fully alive in our gifts and callings:

1. Take a writing class.

Most of us won’t have time to drive across town to take a traditional college or graduate writing class, but there are other choices are available. Online writing courses, communities and cohorts are wonderful options for writers who need to fit their love for words in the margin of their lives. For example, I teach a live, online writing course.

2. Respond to consistent writing prompts.

The best way to become a better writer? Write! It seems simple, but it can be difficult to actually sit down on a regular basis and write for ten or twenty minutes, especially if you don’t know what to focus on. In order to stretch your writing muscles, aim to respond to three or four prompts a week. You can time yourself—say, five or ten minutes per response—and write in whatever direction the prompt takes you. My guess? You’ll probably be surprised where your words lead! Pick up a book likethis or head to this website for a dose of regular writing prompts.

Read the rest of the article here, at Darling Magazine!

5 Resources to Help You Develop and Determine Your Calling

5 Resources to Help You Develop & DetermineYour Calling

This is the start of my newest article for Darling Magazine.
You can read the entire article here, at Darling!

It’s a question that most of us bump up against for decades, no matter what it is we are in the middle of doing: Is this what I’m called to do?  We wonder, in the middle of our working and coaching and mothering and writing and dancing and dating and marrying and studying:

Should I be doing something else? Why am I still not sure what I’m made for?

Let us remember this first: None of us are stagnant souls. We will not be called to do the same thing in the same way for the whole of our lives. Our “calling” and our purpose in any particular season of life may shift and change, as we do. But at this start of the new year, it is worthwhile to step back from the immediacy of the demands we face in order to re-evaluate what our calling might look like in this particular time. It is valuable to seek to develop our purpose right now so that we can live fully and presently, exactly where we are.

None of us are stagnant souls. We will not be called to do the same thing in the same way for the… Click To Tweet

Here are five tools to help you in uncovering and clarifying the direction and passion of your life, right now, this year.

1. PowerSheets

Lara Casey has created a workbook that is packed with meaningful questions for the reader to ask herself about her dreams, her goals, and her why behind everything she does. While PowerSheets includes goal-setting priorities and visually engaging ways to see your progress toward those goals, where it really shines is as a tool to help readers clarify their life purpose and direction. Lara is the author of the bestselling Make it Happen book, and PowerSheets pairs well with that text. I found this resource to be deeply meaningful in unearthing my own desires and dreams for the coming year, and I think you will, too.

2. StrengthsFinder

In the midst of hundreds of personality tests, StrengthsFinder differs in that it focuses exclusively on the reader’s top strengths — places of ability, insight, and influence that the individual already carries in herself. The StrengthsFinder bookcomes with a code for an online test that readers can take; out of 32 strengths, the quiz will clarify the top five.

StrengthsFinder is often used in businesses and organizations to help create a sense of understanding between team members, and my husband and I have found it to be deeply helpful in clarifying our strengths as individuals and in our marriage. When we understand our tendencies and gifts through the lens of strength — and how those strengths can encourage those around us — we can better see our purpose and direction in a given season of life.

Read about the other three resources here, at Darling Magazine!