Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Tale of Two Sayings (Or What Driving Taught Me About Writing)

by Lynn H Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

It's hard to turn a parked car.
It’s hard to turn a parked car.

Ever heard that one before? I can’t remember where I heard it first, but it’s so very true. You can be in the car, behind the wheel, motor running, ready to go. You may even have the brute strength to force the steering wheel to make the tires twist on the pavement.

But the car? It hasn’t moved, and it’s not going to until you put that baby in drive.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

If one of your resolutions is “write more” then you’re going to have to put this writing thing in drive and actually WRITE.

If you’ve been writing and the goal is to land an agent then you’re going to have to actually query one (or three).

If you’re ready to go to a conference or take a course then you’re going to have to set aside some money and some time.

God is Sovereign and He can do anything, but as a general rule, when He gives us a dream, a calling, a passion, He expects us to get our rear in gear and do the hard work that comes with following Him.

All that stuff going on in your head? That’s you sitting in the driveway with the car running. Not going anywhere.

You may have gone to bed one night with an idea and awakened with a fully fleshed out plot. You may know your characters better than you know your friends. You may have dreamed up a world to rival Middle Earth.

Dreams don't get published, documents do.
Guess what? Dreams don’t get published. Documents do.

You may have written the book, the poem, the article, the Bible study, the short story. It’s been polished and critiqued until it is a lean, mean, written machine. You think it’s time to send it out into the big bad world, but for some reason, you’re still waiting. You keep thinking it’s possible there’s more you should do to it so you keep tweaking it.

Guess what? Possibilities don’t land agents. Proposals do.

But what if you’ve done all that? You’ve been writing. You’ve been to conferences. You’ve queried agents. Maybe you’ve had some nibbles, or even some big bites, but as 2015 dawns, your hands are sweating on the wheel because you have no idea where you’re going.

You want to do to the right thing. Want to make the best of your time. Want to please the One you write for.

Should you revise the story again? Pitch to that other agent? Go to the conference close to home or the one with the focus on your writing? How on earth can you know?

This is where it gets tricky.

Because the path you’re supposed to follow and the one I’m supposed to follow won’t look the same. We have different abilities, situations, passions and interests.

What God wants to do with your writing will be unique. So if you’re writing and you’re scared about where you’re going, remember this…

You steer where you stare.
You steer where you stare.

They teach us this when we learn how to drive. You can’t stare at the sides of the road or you’ll mess around and drive off in a ditch. You can, and should, glance around you, but ultimately, you need to keep your eyes to the front.

When it comes to your writing, you need to stop worrying about the others driving around you, quit staring at the steep edge you’re afraid you’ll fall into it, and keep your focus on the One who already knows your ultimate destination.

He hasn’t taken you on this road to leave you stranded in a ditch.

Keep focused on Him. Keep the car in drive. And hang on for the ride!

What about you? Are you sitting in park? Driving aimlessly? What would it look like for you to change that? Let’s talk about it.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at


  1. Lynn, thank you for this inspiring post. Our old pastor used to remind us we can't steer a parked car. I'm definitely driving, focused on a goal to draw closer to God each day. My writing goal is to self-publish at least one novel.
    Thanks again for the reminder to put action to our dreams to make them happen.

  2. I love the line "Dreams don't get published, documents do." When I started writing many years ago, my critique partners and I did so with the goal of getting published. We worked hard toward that goal, doing everything that needed to be done. And without giving up, we eventually all made it.

    It's' a journey I wouldn't trade for the world. We went from raw newbies, knowing nothing, ti published. But it takes tenacity and focusing on the goal. And leaving the time element to God. :) excellent post, Lynn!

    1. "leaving the time element to God" very true, Ane! I've seen His timing at work in the lives of several of my writing friends (and my own, of course!). Sometimes it was STRESSFUL, but looking back, we can see how He's been at work and moving and we are in awe of His plan.

  3. So totally agree with your post. Funny, I'd never heard the "You can't turn a parked car" before but I love. Passing it on to a friend today.

    1. Thanks, Patricia! I love it, too. It has a lot of applications. I imagine someday my kids will be rolling their eyes saying, "We know, we know, you can't turn a parked car." :-)

  4. Really enjoyed this post. Everything you said is so very true!

    My goals are to submit at least 6 pieces this year (one every two months) and do at least four guest blog posts, get my own posts on my blog posted as scheduled (I'm a terrible procrastinator with my own posts!), and launch my blog talk radio show.

    Wishing everyone the best with their writing in 2015!

  5. Taking first steps to join a writing group.

  6. "He hasn’t taken you on this road to leave you stranded in a ditch." I think that is now my 2015 motto!

  7. I read this post yesterday in the middle of procrastinating and made myself go write! Thanks for the guilt trip, since we're talking driving. LOL. I'd never heard about the parked car, but like it. Took mine out of park and yes, it's much easier.
    I like you steer where you stare. That's so true in more than just driving. It's why we need to keep our focus on where God's leading us. I can't imagine going it without Him.
    What a great and encouraging post. Thanks for sharing.