I had the opportunity to interview Al Carraway, an amazing role model to young women everywhere. She is a blogger and author of the book “More than the Tattooed Mormon”. She told me all about her writing and motivation and inspiration. I hope you enjoy her answers and learn from them as much as I did!
1. What made you want to start a blog? Two things: for a long time I was praying every day to know what I can do to help people. This girl messaged me on Facebook about a year after I was baptized asking me a question–and finally it all clicked, If she had this question, so did others. So I decided to post my response on thoughts for everyone to read on a blog about 6 years ago.
2. How has writing affected your testimony? The spirit always speaks to me as I write. I’m an avid journal writer, and no matter how much I ponder and learn, it’s not until I write it down, even if it’s months or years later, too many more things are unfolded and make more sense to me. The spirit speaks to us when He knows we’re listening and will write it down.
3. How do you find inspiration for what to write? Prayer. Always, always prayer. I have a mini notebook I keep in my purse to write down ideas to go back to, but prayer always takes over any initial ideas I may have. I have no idea what people need to hear, but God does. I listen to my reoccurring thoughts. Shoot, I even pray for the captions on my Instagram posts, not joking, haha. But also, I pick up on themes in my emails and comments, too. I get a ton of emails everyday from people telling me their struggles and I just can’t respond to every email I get. So I pick up on themes and I turn them into blog posts to hopefully help more people that way.
4. Is it difficult to maintain a healthy social media presence without starting to compare yourself to others or become obsessed? How do you do it? Eh, I don’t know, that’s never really been an issue for myself. When you’re comfortable with yourself you don’t care about comparing yourself to others, and when you know you’ve done things by the spirit, then numbers don’t matter. It always comes down to not getting distracted on your purpose and your objective. If we lose sight of the why, then things will unravel and get stressful or fall a part and your engagement goes down and you lose what keeps you genuine. It’s easy to get distracted, but if it’s your passion and you are staying close to God then the only thing you have to worry about is the marketing behind it–best times to post, etc. (and not many people know this about me but I’m a marketing freak, I’m a marketing manager over at Church headquarters, so that’s extra fun for me). The thing about having a ton of followers is you get approached every day by companies to get free stuff by them and help promote them. I turn down money and free stuff every day because if it doesn’t get me closer to my goal, or if it has nothing to do with my brand, I won’t do it. The reality is, you probably can do everything, but it’s not smart and it will hurt your brand. And just because it’s appealing doesn’t make it best. It’s all about staying true is the key to social growth.
5. What is your favorite book to read? Book of Mormon, easy. Or anything by Sheri Dew.
6. What is your favorite thing you have ever written? I have several favorites, but my most read by others is: Mormons & “Tattoos,” I’ll Never Get Married”.
7. If you had to pick one moment as your “defining moment”, what would it be? In my life or as a blogger? It wasn’t until I lost my family and all of my friends and was forced (by a prompting by the spirit) to leave my life in NY and move across the country, to a place where I was judged and treated so poorly. It was me laying on the floor screaming at God why things needed to be so hard, and why I needed to feel absolutely and dreadfully alone, after too many times of losing my voice from screaming at Him so much, that it hit me. choose to be bitter or mad or confused—or not. Choose to keep going, to have faith—or not. What it will always come down to is, choose God—or not. It was then, when I was tired of being upset and mad and alone, that I decided to change my perspective and look for the good because we find what we look for.
Even though there was too much that didn’t make sense, too many prayers that weren’t being answered, too much loss of things and people, I knew that God was real. And I needed to trust that everything He asks of us is to help us succeed. As soon as I changed my mindset to keep going and put God first, no matter the cost, that life unfolded in ways I never could have imagined for myself. Hard times have always been there, but they have led to better things than I even knew was available for myself.
To be honest, I don’t categorize myself as a “blogger.” I see myself as a speaker first, then author, and a bunch of others things, and then a blogger last. It’s just another platform to get my message across but I love speaking most and it;s what I do that primarily. No matter how busy I am, or how tired I am, or how much I miss my family, or how much money I have to spend on gas and hours in the car to go to an event, the second I stand up to speak and I look out to a few thousand people, that is when I’m reminded that it’s everyone’s mission in life to help people. Everyone wants to know they are not alone in their feelings and I want to help and connect so people know how find strength to keep going to receive the better things in life. I know what life is like without the gospel and I don’t want people to live without it, or to take it for granted.
8. What is your favorite quote? It;s my own quote, and the theme of my life: Embrace the unexpected knowing who is guiding you.
9. If you could tell every teenage girl one thing, what would it be? God did not short change or screw up on you. You were created perfectly by a perfect creator. You are never alone. You are loved. You are good enough and God does care.
How has writing helped you feel the Spirit?
How do you maintain healthy social media habits?