by Becky Wade
Just four short syllables, but discouragement can have enormous destructive power in the life of a writer. Most of us who’ve been writing for any length of time have encountered seasons of it.
Here are just a few of the things that can cause the onset of a case of discouragement. Do any of these sound familiar?
• I can’t get an agent. I’ll never get an agent.
• A contest judge/critique partner/editor/whoever didn’t like my manuscript.
• I’m not published. I’ll never be published.
• My friend, who started writing after me, and has written only X number of manuscripts, is succeeding above and beyond me. And, ahem, I’m better than she is.
• I’m published but my book’s sales numbers have broken my heart and disillusioned me.
• I sell well and even win the occasional award, but I’ve overwhelmed
myself by committing to an overly demanding writing schedule. I’m exhausted, burned out, joyless. I’d like a LIFE instead of just a deadline.
• My publisher let me go.
• My publisher is giving all of their support and marketing to other authors. And, ahem, I’m better than they are.
• Bloggers and reviewers and the contest judges don’t ‘get’ me. No one affirms or recognizes my hard work.
Once we get discouraged, our default response it to try to fix it ourselves. Often, we think we can heal what ails us by DOING even more.
• I’ll join another critique group! I’ll enter another contest! I’ll query more agents! Attend more conferences! Nanowrimo!
• I need a bigger platform! I’ll blog! I’ll market market market! Book trailers, signings, interviews, giveaways, mailings, book clubs, social media!
But even after all that….
• I’m not getting recognized.
• I’m not achieving the success I crave.
• Thus, I’m not satisfied or content.
Hidden in the above three sentences is the true and underlying cause of our discouragement. The real problem?
The word “I”.
A focus on “I” means we’ve moved our attention off of God and onto ourselves. And the moment we do that, we begin to veer our author car toward a ditch. Amen?
The Lord’s goal, we can be quite certain, is not to make us rich, famous, and fabulously successful. His goal is to guide us through our own personal faith arc and to glorify Himself through us. He may fulfill those plans in ways that never include a flourishing career for a traditional publisher.
Fighting discouragement? Here’s a prescription for the sick-at-heart writer:
1. Pray. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
2. Face fear. Try telling God that if He allows (insert here what you fear most in your writing life) that you will still praise Him and love Him and trust Him. Make peace with your deepest worries by giving them over to Him.
3. Ask God to bless your friends who are succeeding above you. Pray earnestly that He would equip them and use their work for His kingdom.
4. Remind yourself of your job assignment. Your job is to let God write through you. It’s God’s job to handle the rest.
5. Place your schedule and your commitments before Him and ask Him to cut away anything that isn’t of Him. Then be brave. And take action to bring your calendar in line with His heart. He may want you to (gulp!) give up writing for a period of time. He may want you to spend more time with your family. He may want you to clear your week of things you enjoy in order to make time for the novel He’s asking you to write. It’s hard to discern His will unless you ask and listen.
6. Accept that the reward of this work isn’t recognition or achievement. The true reward is Him. The gifts He gives are lasting: peace, joy, hope, love. He’s so generous that on top of all that He offers deep satisfaction to the writer who responds in obedience to His call and pens the book He leads her to write.
Who could ask for more?
“Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.” Isaiah 50:10b
Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and one adoring (and adored) cavalier spaniel. Her CBA debut, My Stubborn Heart, was named a finalist for an INSPY and RITA Award. Undeniably Yours released last spring and Meant to Be Mine will hit shelves in May.