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Grace Under Pressure

by Laurie Alice Eakes

Once upon a time, I believed the time, mood, and environment had to be just right for me to find the creative energy within me. Without this perfect setting, the “muse” would never pay me a visit. The words would not flow.

Then my first truly serious deadline hit.

Three months to finish a 50,000 word novel was plenty of time-except my husband had emergency eye surgery, he graduated from law school and a host of relatives arrived, and we moved 1,800 miles away. Time to get the atmosphere exactly right vanished like cotton candy on the tongue. The right environment became nothing more than a dream. Yet the deadline didn’t change.

I had to change.

Writers frequently ask people what music they like to write by, what their office space looks like, what time of day they like to work in. If a writer can meet all her conditions, I hope she considers herself blessed. For many writers, writing happens when it can. I’m in an accountability group where one woman clocks in late at night once her baby is asleep. Sometimes she has hours, and sometimes she has minutes. What she isn’t getting accomplished is sleep. What she is getting is published. Another friend spent the day taking care of her ill mother-in-law, then went home and wrote her daily word count goal.

How many times have we heard, “I’d write a book if I had the time.”

You’ll write a book when you make the time.

During those three months of insanity, I not only managed to write my novel and meet my deadline, I wrote a proposal that sold three more books, and edited another book under contract. Since then, I have more than once found myself writing under extreme circumstances like at my sister’s dining room table while she home schooled in a room on one side, and my niece taught piano lessons in a room on the other side. Situations like having a week to move 1,500 miles away and editing a book while sitting on the sofa in a hotel room because I didn’t have a house yet. Super-human power? No. Dedication. Will. Drive to write and serve the Lord through that work regardless of circumstances–yes.

Sometimes we can get our environment just write to call in the “muse” and the creative waters flow. More often, we cannot, yet we have no choice but to allow creativity pour forth. This is where dedication, will, and the drive to serve the Lord through our writing regardless of the circumstances steps into the mix.

Being a writer isn’t about the right music or view from your office window, or even having an office. It’s about answering the call to write and putting the words in the notebook, on the screen of your cranky old computer, or into that new iPad you got for Christmas. Writing is about accepting God’s grace to grant you five minutes or five hours in which to work. Writing is about dedication, will, and the drive to serve the Lord through your creativity.


Author of eleven books and two novellas, Laurie Alice Eakes has won the National Readers Choice Award and has been a Carol finalist. She is an experienced writing teacher and speaker and has her master’s degree in writing.

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20 Responses to Grace Under Pressure

  1. Anne Mateer says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Laurie Alice! I, for one, needed to hear it today!

  2. Joanne Sher says:

    Soooo needed this reminder. Thank you, Laurie Alice!

  3. Anna Labno says:

    I wanted to make excuses, but I can’t.
    Though I do have to point out that many writers achieve their goals after their children are grown up. For full working parents with small children, time is always a challenge.
    Having said that, I can’t expect miracles but do my best with what I have to spare.

  4. Laurie Alice Eakes says:

    I agree, Anna, manyp eople cannot write until their children are older. We all have stages in life where writing is more feasible than others.

  5. Wayne Greene says:

    Thank you.

  6. So true, so true. I also believe we find time for those things we are truly passionate about–even in the midst of moving 1500 miles. I’d say you were truly passionate. ;-)

  7. Jill Kemerer says:

    This is so true. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Erin Unger says:

    This was a great post. I totally agree with you Laurie. Congrats on all the great but crazy changes you’re going through.

  9. Just what I needed to hear today! Thank you for a great post, Laurie Alice!

  10. Laurie, great post! I can so relate to having unexpected issues whether it’s health or family–many that I’ve had in the last year or so. Thankfully, I do have an office that I’m grateful for and huge chunks of time alloted to my writing.

  11. Laurie Alice Eakes says:

    I wrote this in reponse to a couple of friends who were concerned because their situations didn’t allow them to have the perfect office or chunks of time. I have assured them they can still be successful. Most of the first book I sold was written during my commute to work or on my lunch hour, while I worked full-time and commuted 2.5 hours a day.

  12. Whew, your words are what I need—a good kick in the butt to get working. LOL Thanks for the great inspiration.

  13. Ella Quinn says:

    Well said. Congratulations!

  14. Very timely words! Definitely something I needed to hear today as my situation has not been ideal, but when is it ever? Thanks for posting this on your blog!

  15. Susan Mason says:

    Laurie Alice,

    You are an inspiration to all writers! Thanks for your words of wisdom!

    Love your mid-wife series!

    Cheers,
    Sue

  16. Hear, hear to all the comments saying how timely and encouraging this is. I, too, needed to hear this today. Excellent blog!

  17. Deb Kinnard says:

    The other Deb weighs in…I’m working on a contracted book here in the front room, with “Big Bang Theory” playing in the background, and if that wasn’t distraction enough, my husband’s shredding redundant papers in the corner. If I waited for conditions to be perfect, I’d never get ANYTHING done! Thanks for the reminder…God doesn’t expect us to be perfect; just busy.

  18. Laurie Alice Eakes says:

    I am thankful that the Lord used my words to speak to you all. I confess I have been jealous of people who have great offices they could let the media into. I’d never let mine be photographed. Well, maybe now, but in the past… Not–if I even had one.

  19. Gina Welborn says:

    Laurie, I spent four hours yesterday sitting on my couch critting a ms for a friend. Then I moved to the dining room table and checked e-mails until the sun rose to a point where I couldn’t see my laptop screen. After making dinner for kids and spending a little quality time with them, I moved to the master bedroom because youngest wouldn’t go to sleep unless she was next to me. I ended up staying up until 330 am reading over and fixing editor’s edits.

    You can bet I wish I had an office like I had back in Virginia. Or that I didn’t have to write next to a buckets of laundry needing to be folded. What I’d give for a muse!!! Or for a dog who didn’t snore when he was sleeping at my feet.

    Still, amid all the chaos, I know my story won’t get written if I spend my time focusing on what I don’t have and what others do.

    Thanks for sharing this encouraging post!

  20. Joyce Myers says:

    Dear Laurie Alice,

    Thank you for the pep talk. My ummmm office is a desk in the living room where my family gathers. Thank God I can often tune out the TV or comments. But it took a long time and patience for me to tune out the distractions. I have a writer friend whose office is an old arm chair and her computer…because her house is so small.

    Our writing does not wither and die just because we do not have what is ideal. We write because it must be written. I know whenever I have adversities, I become more fluent in my writing. It is a part of life that I have to live through. Writing has carried me a long way through all those trials. When that difficult time has passed, I contemplate. I perservered because God got me through that long valley to the otherside.

    Joyce Myers