Monday, July 23, 2012

When the Going Gets Tough


What’s the one word we keep hearing from all the best writing teachers?
What’s the one thing all of our books MUST have to survive?

CONFLICT.

And we, as readers, love it! We thrive on the story of someone overcoming the obstacles of their storyworlds and fulfilling their goals. We are hooked by their struggles, cheering them on, and celebrating with them when ‘the end’ comes with beautiful resolution.

But, many times this is NOT the case in our REAL writing worlds.

Conflict doesn’t always  come in with guns blazing like a Mary Connealy novel. Lots of times the most powerful conflicts in our lives are the subtle whispers or ‘unassuming’ doubts.

A dear friend and I were having a conversation about this recently. She has a tender heart, ready to find God’s direction in her life and her writing. The writing world is a tremulous place – a world where comparisons are made, dreams are supplanted, and ‘publication’ seems to be the measure of all that is good.

And I think that’s where a lot of dreams falter through time. Though publication is a wonderful goal, and certainly something many of us would like to see happen at some point in our writing career, when it becomes the standard by which all other things in our writing are measured….we’re inevitably going to become discouraged.

If you’ve lost your vision, try to remember the joy of your writing, before the murky monster of doubt crept in. Go back to the moments of pure creation, for the sake of creation, and remember the God who called you.

My friend said, “If I could have an hour of free time, I’d write.”

That spoke chapters! It proved the call in her life. If the pressures and expectations were removed and all that was left was the dream, she’d write.

I believe that too many times we lose sight of God's call for us to write and get lost on the quest to publication. It is certainly an exciting goal, but not the heart of any Christian writer. God uses us - in our big and small writing- to minister to ourselves, our families, our friends, and others, but most of ALL to glorify Him. I'm pretty sure that all of us struggle with the pressures of productivity.

But real productivity comes from the inner workings of the Holy Spirit as He refines us through whatever means God uses.

My point? To encourage you.

Remember your first love.

Find joy in the journey.

And hold unswervingly to hope – because we serve the Author of the Incredible!

 How would you encourage a fellow writer who feels like a failure or who is questioning their call?

18 comments:

Joanne Sher said...

Oh, Pepper. If only you knew how very, VERY badly I needed this post today. Been fighting back tears this morning in my doubts and frustration and such. Thank you, my friend.

Jeanne T said...

Pepper, such a pertinent post (sorry for the alliteration). Discouragement comes to all of us, doesn't it? I love your thought of finding joy in the journey. I find that comes when my focus is on the Lord. Thanks for the reminder to keep my eyes on Him.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Very apt! I just vlogged today about the writer's WAIT....it just goes on and on sometimes. It is hard if you've already written a book and it's no good unless people get it into their hands to READ it! Kinda like a prophet w/a message burning in his/her heart and no one to listen. But in the meantime, we can develop our writing skills by blogging, getting critiqued, etc. Good reminder, Pepper!

Lindsay Harrel said...

Such good thoughts! Publication can't be the be all and end all for writers. Writing is a journey with many steps. The goal should be to grow closer to God and glorify Him. It can be so easy to focus on our definition of "success"...instead of following His path for us.

Melissa Tagg said...

This is such a beautiful, beautiful post, Pepper. Brought tears to my eyes. And now, I'm going to tweet it out because I'm pretty sure every writer everywhere needs to read it. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Pepper, such a timely post for me! It's hard not to struggle with writing even without all the other pressures of social networking, looking or an agent, etc. I used to love writing so much, I'd sit down and words would pour from me. I'd LOOK FORWARD to it. And now, it's just part of the daily routine. I'm working on trying to find that joy for writing again, because I know it's there, I've just distracted myself from it somehow.

Gabrielle Meyer said...

Oh, if only I could remember these words every time I'm tempted to doubt or be discouraged. I loved it, Pepper. I loved it because it's true and because I could see your heart in these words. Thank you for ministering to me and to everyone else who reads this.

Pepper said...

Joanne,
I am SO thankful God encouraged you through this. One of the things I like best about the computer age, is that we writers (an isolated profession) can build some mutually encouraging communities via the internet.

And - we ALL need the encouragement :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Jeanne.

Bumps always come in the road on this journey, but we have a focused destination :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Heather.
Good point - it does kind of burn within us to be shared.

Pepper said...

Amen, Lindsay

Pepper said...

thanks, Melissa. I got a bit teary-eyed while writing it. It was a good reminder to the author too :-)

Pepper said...

Oh Cindy,
I know that feeling.

Sometimes I'll find an unsuspecting friend who is willing to listen and just brainstorm through a story with them - no pressure, just pure fun!

It stirs up the love for teh story again.

Pepper said...

Thanks, Gabrielle.
You are so right! If ONLY I could remember my own words all of the time too :-)
We're all Works In Progress at some stage of completion or other.

Lynn Huggins Blackburn said...

Pepper,
I've been in the "depths of despair" recently. And for no reason other than those pesky little voices that ask me why I even bother. Thanks for the reminder that the call to write is more about ministry than publication.

Loree Huebner said...

Wonderful post, Pepper.

We must remember the joy writing brings us.

Sometimes when doubt creeps in or we are left numb by a rejection, I step back for a few days to regain focus. Yeah, there might be tears, but only for a short time. Soon I feel God's nudging my elbow to get back to writing. He put it on my heart, and I can't ignore it. Doubt and fear have disappeared by this point. I remember the joy, and I feel it.

Ruth Douthitt said...

Well said! I took the month of June off from writing and reading craft books to give my right brain a much needed break. I was beginning to hate writing and my WIP.

The break gave me a chance to miss it, glean some new ideas, and come back to it refreshed.

Now I am excited to write again! That inner struggle can be good sometimes. I know it helped me.

Great post!

Patty Wysong said...

One of my bffs told me NOT to miss this post. Now I know why. Thanks for the encouragement. I actually pulled out my journal the other day just to write for me--to work through some thoughts I'm still wrestling with. It was such a treat--one that I'm going to make time for more often because I need that free-writing time.