show up and do good // words with hannah brencher

lately, i’ve been learning that writing is much more than words on a page. i'm finding that the people that write the best words are the ones who live the best lives. there are a few people who make me especially proud to be on the journey of learning what it means to be a writer. one of those people is hannah brencher. recently, i spent my friday afternoon skyping with hannah, and our conversation filled me with hope about life as a writer. i'm excited to share some of what i learned from her, because hannah’s story is one worth knowing.

hannah is a blogger, author, and founder of the nonprofit "more love letters." most importantly, she’s a human who fiercely loves the Father and believes in the power of loving people well. hannah's been blogging for around seven years and has been self-employed for the last four. she lives in atlanta with her husband lane. for her, every day looks different, but usually involves some combination of writing for her blog, preparing to teach her online classes, overseeing the team at "more love letters," and traveling for speaking engagements.

one of the reasons i admire hannah is because she doesn’t have an overnight success story. she works hard, lives a disciplined life, and makes conscious decisions about how to grow herself as a writer. she's dedicated to her blog, and has made it her home on the internet. hannah told me that her blog began as mostly creative non-fiction, or, as she called it, "feely stories about ghosts with blue eyes." people connected with her words, and her email inbox began to fill with their stories and broken parts of their lives. these stories moved her, but then she started to think, “what is my writing doing to people if it’s not propelling them to live better lives?” this thought led her to play around with the voice of her blog and the topics she wrote about. people kept connecting with her words, and her blog continued to grow.

hannah wanted to steward her influence and space well and began holding online writing intensives to teach people the writing process. the writing intensives also led to another set of online classes: the craving series. the success of these classes inspired her to keep pushing herself creatively. “i want to dig deeper and see what people want or need and how i can supply that in an authentic way,” said hannah. her goal is to push people to live their best lives, but it all starts with a focus on living her life well.

as a young writer, her first priority was “be a writer at all costs.” now, it’s simply taking care of herself. both writing and living your best life require discipline. hannah's goal is to create something every day. in the mornings, she starts with reading her Bible and praying, which naturally flows into the writing process. she does this so that the most important things are the first things that get done. she takes a break in the early afternoon (what she calls her "slump hours") to do errands or other tasks and then does logistical work later in the evening. hannah told me that it’s important to know when and how you work the best, and then structure your days accordingly.

hannah’s discipline especially shows in her book writing. her first book, the world needs more love letters, was released in 2015. now, she's about to dive fully back into the book-writing process for her second book. when hannah wrote her first book, her process was similar to an athlete doing spring training. she got up at 5:30 and then would write until 11:30 or 12. she says that it all comes down to discipline. if something matters to you, prove it by the way that you live.

hannah's first priority is living a life that glorifies God. because of this, she is purposeful about reading and studying the Bible. her time with the Father equips her to live a better life and write better words. she told me, "now, more than ever, people are looking for something; it's dark and they're looking for something. really, we just want to show up for people." throughout our conversation, hannah kept coming back to her priorities: focus on living a good life and treating people well, and then go back and write about it.

she's found a freedom in showing up and doing good. one of my favorite things that she said during our conversation was,"treating people like they're humans and loving them well extends into every single area of life. that's the priority over being known or seen." her desire to glorify the Father drives her life and her writing. 

hannah, you are passionate and wise. thank you for your honesty and your words.