I’m excited to welcome author, coach, husband, father, counselor, and consultant Tim Warneka back for today’s interview.
Tim, welcome back, and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Last time, we spoke quite a bit about Catholic Servant Leadership and your work. This time, I’d like to focus on your work as a writer. What inspired you to start writing?
Ah … writing. God really dragged me kicking and screaming into writing. (Laughs.)
I began writing right after 9/11. I was working as a clinical counselor treating children and adolescents. After 9/11, many parents of kids I was working with (as well as parents at my church) came up to me, wanting to know how to talk to their kids about it.
I sat down and wrote “Ten Tips for Talking to Children About Terrorism” (available on my web page here). As my first public writing, I found this piece very difficult to write. But, with God’s help, I finished the article and emailed it out to some of the parents I was working with.
The tip sheet really took off. I heard from parents and professionals from all around the world who found my world helpful … which was a deeply humbling experience for me. A few months later, I was contacted by a psychologist who was putting together a series of books on terrorism. The psychologist had read my article and thought I was a good writer … which, frankly, surprised me. (Laughs.)
About a year later, the four-volume set The Psychology of Terrorism was published, containing my chapter, “Everyday Terrorism – The Long Shadow of Our Hidden Dragon: Shared Factors of Terrorism and Juvenile Violence.” I got a lot of positive feedback on that chapter, and so I began to accept God’s calling for me to become a writer. And here I am years later with four books under my belt. (Laughs.)
What’s the greatest challenge you face as a Catholic writer?
When I think about the fantastic writers from our Catholic tradition … a tradition that spans almost 2,000 year … it becomes easy to ask the questions, “Who am I? Do I really have something to offer?”
For me, I struggled with my self-doubt and the path that God was calling me toward. In the bible, Jonah was swallowed by the great fish because he was running away from God’s calling. There were many days early in my writing career when I could very much relate to Jonah!
Do you consider writing a primary part of your work or is it a consequence, a way you get the word out about your ministry?
Writing is absolutely a core part of my ministry. For me, writing is an integral part of the ministry God has called me to with Catholic Servant Leadership.
What have been your greatest helps in the work of writing?
Community and relationships. As I mentioned in our first interview, during my undergraduate years, I learned about the importance of community and relationship in the Catholic faith from the Marianists at the University of Dayton.
I strongly believe that “No writer is an island.” As best I can, I make sure I have a good community of people I can have read my writing and give me feedback. That way, writing becomes much more of a dialog for me than a lecture.
What advice would you give other Catholic writers?
My advice to other Catholic writers would be simply: “Write. The world needs your voice.”
Thanks, Tim! If you want to learn more about Tim, or if you find yourself wondering what a wood burning soapstone stove and a 1930’s guitar have in common, you’ll find that and more in his bio. You can also download chapters from his books, tip sheets, and essays.