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. WritingwithGrace.com
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! www.writingwithgrace.com

Creating Friendships that Last

In a world bloated with quick fixes, instant gratification and social media profiles, it can be hard to know how to build—and keep—lasting friendships. And while we may want to portray a particular side of ourselves online, the truth is that we need friends who know us here and now, in the middle of our mess and our daily routines. And we need to be those types of friends, too.

Creating Friendships that Last from annswindell.com

The secret to these kinds of friendships is actually pretty simple: You just have to show up.

The secret to friendship is actually pretty simple: You just have to show up. via @RELEVANT Click To Tweet

The Scriptures calls us to draw near to Christ and to draw near to one another: “let us draw near [to Christ] with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” and “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:22, 24-25). As people of faith, we are called to live so that we are encouraging those around us toward love and good deeds. I think this comes most obviously and importantly through deep, meaningful friendship.

Here’s how to start—and build—friendships where we spur one another on to godly lives and where we reflect God’s love to one another:

SHOW UP WITH A MEAL.

A friend doesn’t have to be sick to need a meal. A new baby doesn’t have to be born, and it doesn’t have to be a holiday. Many times, we need a friend to care for us—spiritually and practically—in the midst of our everyday lives when things just feel like a little too much to handle. I’ve taken meals to friends who are emotionally overwhelmed, to friends who have sick kids and to friends who just need a break from adulting. If you don’t cook: Take a pizza. Breaking bread together—sharing meals—is something that marked the early church, and it’s not hard to understand why. Sharing a meal together feeds both the body and the soul. It’s not hard—it just takes intentionality.

SHOW UP WITH PRAYER.

Hanging out and talking, watching a game together, laughing together—these are good gifts of friendship. But being friends who follow Jesus also offers us the rich opportunity to pray not only for but with one another. I’ve found that my times of prayer with friends have been some of the deepest and most steadying parts of our friendship.

Can it be awkward, especially if you’ve never prayed together? Sure. But it can also crack open the opportunity for deeper relationship and trust. Maybe you can’t help your friend practically, with her need or with his struggle. But you can pray with your friend, right there, asking God to meet that need and provide grace in the struggle. If you don’t know what to pray, consider getting a copy of The Book of Common Prayer and praying a liturgical prayer together. It doesn’t have to be fancy. But when two or three of us get together in the name of Jesus, He’s there with us (Matthew 18:19-20). When we pray, He hears us, and moves on our behalf.

Pursuing Your Passion in the Margins

Why it's ok if your passion isn't your full time thing right now. www.annswindell.com
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

I’m Speaking at #BlogHer16!

Today, I’m honored and excited to share that I’ll be speaking at #BlogHer16: Experts Among Us, the annual conference for the BlogHer Network!

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The conference will be held in LA this coming August, and I have the privilege of speaking at an Open Lab about one of my favorite topics: writing!

Specifically, I’ll be teaching about sensory writing, offering attendees the opportunity to engage in powerful writing tactics to help catapult their work to the next level. Speaking and teaching are near and dear to my heart, and I can’t wait to talk at the conference in August!

Let me know if you’re attending–I’d love to see you there in the sunshine as we talk about writing together.

How to Grow as a Writer: 5 Ways

Perhaps one of the questions that gets tossed around the most in writing circles the question of how to grow as a writer. It can feel elusive and unclear–how does one grow in a skill that can’t be quantified, like math? How does one get better as a writer when the skill can’t be taught like teaching someone to ride a bike? There’s no ten-step process to becoming an exquisite writer (although many of us wish there was).

From Hemingway to Dickens, from Voskamp to Niequist, there is a wide and maddening range of what readers love and what any particular reader might consider “good.” That’s why much of writing revolves around the discovery of a writer’s voice and strengths. We have to learn to strengthen our weaknesses and capitalize on our natural abilities. Most of us also need a good editor.

However, I do know that there are things all of us can do to offer ourselves opportunities to grow. There are disciplines that we can adhere to, practices that we can participate in. This is part of the reason why I offer Writing with Grace, the live, online, six-week course that I teach for writers who want to grow in their writing voice, craft, and ability. We tackle a lot of the nitty-gritty of writing well in that class, and I offer a lot of tools that good writers rely on to bolster their work. Head over to www.writingwithgrace.com to check it out–this post will still be right here when you come back.

I thought it might be helpful to create an infographic of some of the ways that all of us can grow as writers. Check it out below, and hang out with me over at Writing with Grace!

How to Grow as a Writer www.writingwithgrace.com

Writing for Christ’s Glory

Writing for Christ's glory.

Image via Deeply Rooted Magazine

This is the start of my newest article for Deeply Rooted Magazine.
Read the full article here!

For those of us who are word lovers, who enjoy the feeling of pens in our hands and keys clacking under our fingertips, writing often feels like second nature, like coming home. We love the ways that words help us make sense of our lives and help us encounter God.

This, I believe, is a good and holy thing.

After all, God spoke the universe into existence with a word. The first five verses of the book of John remind us of the beautiful and timeless declaration that Jesus is, himself, the Word—and so we see that who God is and how he is are bound up in the power of words.

To be those who love and use words is a high and sacred calling—and not one that we can take lightly. This is because words hold great power; they name us, shape us, and ultimately point us (and our readers) to the Truth of Christ or to lies and death.

Words hold great power; they name us, shape us, and point us to truth--or lies. Click To Tweet

But how do we seek to be women who are writing for Christ’s glory? While there’s no one definitive answer, my own journey as a writer has shown me several ways that we can focus our hearts and our words on Jesus in this work of writing.

First, I believe that writing for Christ’s glory means that we lay down our right to renown. In the world’s eyes, a writer garners praise for her byline, for her status, for her fame. But to write in the Kingdom may mean something else entirely. It means that our heart’s aim is not to secure our own fame, but the fame of our King. If we have opportunities to write that further his Kingdom and his work in the world, then we can pursue those without concern for our own name.

Read the rest of the article here, at Deeply Rooted!

And if you’re a writer, head over to Writing with Grace to learn about the six week writing course that I teach. Registration is open now, but only for a little while longer!