Digging Deep to Find What If

As an author begins to determine the structure of her novel, she asks the question, “What if?”

  • What if my protagonist time travels to 2123? What will he find in that new world?
  • What if the main character is a minister with Alzheimer’s who is afraid she will forget God?
  • What if an Old Testament story is placed into a contemporary setting?

“What if” can also become a fear tactic, used by writers to procrastinate and avoid the writing process. What if no one ever reads my book? Is it still worth the time and energy to create it?

But “What if” can also become a positive surge toward new goals. What if my book makes it to the Pulitzer Prize committee? How will that change my life?

Image of Questions and Answers
Image attributed to Pixabay

In 2012, I asked myself the question, “What if I become a Writing Coach? What goals do I need to reach to make that happen? How can I use the network I already have to find new clients?”

After becoming certified and studying various resources, I notified my network and the clients found me. Check out this resource if you’re thinking along the same lines. Coaching the Coach by Georgia Shaffer.

If we think long enough on any subject and apply the ‘What if’ question, we can entangle ourselves in all the possibilities and questions. Some positive. Some not so much.

When we dig deep to find those hidden visions and dreams, we may discover some negative baggage. But also uncover the determination to change. And transitions of life often force us into change, whether or not we get caught up in the ‘What if.’

When asking ‘What if?’ my spiritual director often says, “Listen to your heart.” Great advice. Not so easy to accomplish.

We can become so overwhelmed by the stresses of life, we fail to stop long enough to listen within—to dig deep and consider what our souls are saying to us.

This is one reason why I journal. I need to process what I am thinking about and tap into my inner conflict for clues about how to address life. When I write out my thoughts, even the most hidden desires, I often find a pathway out of the conflict.

I also need to listen for that still, small voice that ushers me into the divine space. When I tiptoe into that soul sanctuary, I learn more about myself but also become more teachable for eternal guidance. God wants me to make wise choices, so I need to listen to what God is telling me about current circumstances or future direction.

What does my heart tell me and how does it apply to the ‘What if’ question?

My heart longs to return to Santa Fe, to find a writers retreat in the area where I can spend long hours inventing sentences and paragraphs. Where the sunsets call me to praise the Artist who creates them each night. Where the spiritual aura over this ‘city different’ centers my soul within its terracotta temperament.

My soul also yearns to bring to life so many ideas that swirl through my creative spirit. My heart breaks for the unwritten books, the stories waiting to connect with their characters, and the voices longing to be heard. I feel an urgency to write while I can. To share the wisdom and experience God has gifted me through the years. To somehow make an impact within our weary world.

What if these soul searchings could happen? What if I could find my place in Santa Fe to write until the well is dry and everything has been completed? What if it is indeed possible, if not entirely doable in the time I have left?

For the ‘What ifs’ also carry a timeline. Life is fragile. At any point, we may face the shutting down of our speech’s freedom or the very real possibility of bombs that destroy lives and livelihoods. The warnings exist in almost every news report, and urgency beats its frantic wings from the TV to my daily planner.

My heart beats with a restless tone, eager to authenticate itself and complete the mission God birthed in me before the foundation of the world. His invitation to ‘Keep writing, because words are important.’ He being the Word himself.

So I wonder if my followers are also challenged with the ‘What if’s’ of the heart. Do you feel the urgency? Are you restless to write or draw or make music while you can? To utilize that creative spirit within?

Let me know in the comments. Perhaps we can encourage each other as we dig deeper.

©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

To impact the world, writers need some marketing tools. Check out the tips here: Marketing for Writers.

4 thoughts on “Digging Deep to Find What If”

  1. Yesterday I visited an old friend in the hospital. He is just 67 and, although tests are not complete, his prognosis is likely cancer. Probably from his smoking. He has always been a prolific reader but never a writer. I recently turned 85 and am in reasonably good health. Reading is important to me, but writing is essential. Maybe for the reasons given in your essay. Somehow the activity makes me more. More reflective. More alert to who and what I am. More accepting and giving at the same time.

  2. Love this: ‘Somehow the activity makes me more. More reflective. More alert to who and what I am. More accepting and giving at the same time.’ Sounds like the theme for one of your future posts.

  3. ‘Overwhelmed by the stresses of life’ that I don’t process the chaos within. That’s totally this season here. When I purpose to take even 30 min to breathe deep and meditate on Scripture I find clarity. I need to take time to journal and empty my thoughts. Thanks for this encouraging post.

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