Thursday, May 12, 2022

How A Parachute Jump Prepared Me for the Writing Journey

by Julie Lavender @JLavenderWrites

“Arch 1000.” I said the words aloud and pulled my shoulders into an arch while freefalling to the ground. 

“Look 1000.” I glanced at the buckle-like housing on my left shoulder that held the fake rip cord. My parachute jumpsuit, slightly large for my frame, flapped in the wind.

“Reach 1000.” I pushed against the wind of an 80 mph fall and reached with my right hand to touch the rip cord. 

“Pull.” I simulated a pull, though as a first time parachute jumper, I wouldn’t actually deploy the parachute. That took place from a static line, one end attached to the actual rip cord on my chute and the other end attached to a hook inside the plane.

At that precise moment in my countdown, the line went taught, my rip cord pulled away, and the parachute jerked me into a much slower descent. Finally, my heartbeat slowed to a more reasonable rhythm.

How did I get here? I pondered as the chute billowed out above me. 

You let your crazy high-school and college girlfriend talk you into it as a graduation celebration. I smiled as I answered my own question. 

Debbie, a friend I’d known for a long time, was always more adventurous than I. She talked me into parachuting, although I’ll admit, I halfheartedly said to her one day, “I think it would be fun to parachute.” 

Never give Debbie ideas like that. 

The next thing I knew, she’d signed us up for the class about an hour away at a small airport. 

We sat through the class on Friday night, passed the written exam, and spent Saturday morning practicing our PLF’s—parachute landing falls—from the back of a pick-up truck. 

Just a couple of hours later, we climbed aboard a small plane and left the runway. After releasing the windsock to determine the perfect place to exit the plane, my friend Debbie went first. I was too scared to go. But with a few more circles above the airport, I knew I either had to jump or lose my lunch from airsickness. 

When it was my turn, the jumpmaster gave the command. 

“Sit in the door.” 

I moved to the open doorway and sat on my bottom, with both legs hanging outside the plane. 

“Get on the strut.” 

I grabbed hold of the wing’s strut and inched, hand by hand in monkey-bar fashion, farther away from the door of the plane. My quivering legs dangled in the air. 

When my hands reached their destination, the blue markings of tape that signified my stopping point, I heard the instructor yell, “Go.” I unclenched my hands and let go, falling away from what I knew. I tumbled in the air, immediately starting the countdown we’d practiced over and over. 

That’s how I got here.

With my parachute safely deployed above me, no tangled lines, no crossover lines to deflate the chute, I exhaled and took in the beauty around me. Farmers’ fields in various shades of green and gold looked like a handmade patchwork quilt. Streams meandered and flowed, cutting into the earth. Dirt roads and paved ones bordered quilts and split properties. Trees lined the forests at a distance, reaching their limbs in praise to the Creator.

In fact, everything below me screamed praise to the Holy One.

When the site of the ground drew nearer, I touched my knees together, touched my feet together, tucked my chin, and bent my knees slightly. I landed just short of the grass I aimed for, but upon contact, I buckled and side-rolled to absorb the impact of landing. 

“We did it,” Debbie screamed as she ran towards me, grasping her parachute bundle in front of her. 

“Wasn’t that the most fun we ever had?” I yelled across the runway to her.

We high-fived and hugged and did an unattractive happy dance in our too-big jumpsuits and then waited for our jumpmaster to finish his jump from the plane.

Years later, few activities provide the adrenaline rush of that parachute jump. But each time I send out a new query or manuscript proposal, I think of the similarities of my parachute experience and my writing life. 

Lessons on the Writing Journey 

1. Sometimes the idea to leap into a writing journey comes as a wild and crazy thought.

2. Friends (and fellow writers) can be the catalyst that encourages you to follow through on that “crazy” idea.

3. A successful writing career most often begins with the proper education, whatever that looks like. It might include classes at a writers’ conference, like the amazing Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference that’s just around the corner. It could include online courses, library research, mentorship from another writer, or university credits. 

4. Once you’ve taken classes and practiced over and over again, the time comes to get on board and take off! Get busy writing!

5. Under the instruction of an experienced mentor—a writer farther along the path than you, an editor, an agent, a publisher—you can move forward to accomplish whatever writing goal you’re seeking. Sometimes, you might dangle your feet in the shallow end, submitting to wonderful, non-paying or smaller markets, just to “get your feet wet,” so to speak.

6. Many times during the writing journey, the task is arduous and exasperating, and you feel like you’re pushing against the wind, slowly moving hand over hand to reach your goal. 

7. Then comes the time when you have to let go and free fall—submitting a manuscript that felt so daunting, sending off the query that has you quivering with fear of rejection, or pitching in person at a conference when every part of your introverted body screams, “Don’t do it.”

8. With the safety net of God’s love and grace and mercy, you can breathe, exhale, and enjoy the beauty of the writing path God’s placed before you. Some projects will launch perfectly and fall into place like a hand stitched, patchwork quilt. Some will meander and take a few turns before succeeding. Some roads will lead nowhere; others will take you on the adventure of a lifetime.

9. Sometimes you hit the mark with precision, executing a writing project with perfection. On other days, no matter how much you prepare and practice, you’ll go off course just slightly. When that happens, a little tuck and roll will get you right back on your feet again!

10. When all is said and done, with writing accomplishments bundled together over the course of a lifetime and that writing journey comes to an end, we can thank the Holy One for the opportunities He gave us and cheer loudly, “Wasn’t that the most fun we ever had?” 


Julie Lavender enjoyed parachuting with her friend, but decided once was enough. She seeks adventure now with family and with each new writing project. Her most recent projects include a new podcast, The Seven, with six amazing writing friends and housed on the Charisma Podcast Network and other podcast platforms and two books: Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime (Penguin Random House) and 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell.) She would love to connect with you on social media and


  1. Great metaphor for the writing journey! I love the way you told the story of that first jump.

    1. Thank you so much for reading! Looking back, I'm surprised I was brave enough to follow through, but I'm really glad I did!!! Blessings!

  2. I SO can't picture you doing this! But then again, I didn't know you when you were quite that young and foolish. Of course, you could also tell me it prepared you for future homeschool adventures in SoCal! Thanks for this thoughtful post, and I do agree-it can be a wild ride in multiple ways.

    1. Thank you my sweet friend, for reading and commenting! I'm shocked I was brave enough to do something like that, but I'm really glad I did it. Once was definitely enough!!! For me, anyway! Writing has definitely been a wild ride for me, but what an adventure!!! Love ya, friend!

  3. Great story. I hunger for adventures but am too timid for that.

    1. Well, I'm not brave enough to take part in that ever again, but it was really fun then! My hubby and I took a hot air balloon trip before kids, and we also parasailed on our honeymoon (but we were attached by a long rope!), but once kids came along, I seemed to be less-brave!! I hope you get the adventures you hunger for - I have more adventures I dream of, and I'll see if I ever get to take part in them! Blessings!

  4. You are awesome, Julie, and so is your story and takeaway. What a perfect analogy. Thank you for sharing it!