So You Wanna Be a Writer

First of all, run now, while you still have a chance. Just kidding. But seriously, writing is not for the thin-skinned. And it isn’t nearly as glamorous as it might seem. In fact, most days you’ll be glued to your computer, still in PJ’s at two in the afternoon, ball cap by your side in case one of your normal, presentable neighbors happen by. Although truth be told, you probably won’t answer the door anyway. Or the phone. Until the tips of your fingers throb from pounding your keyboard and your eyes cross from hours upon hours of edits.

Then you’ll stand up to force blood into your numbed legs and glance out the window as you try to reconnect with reality. You’d love to have someone to chat with, only all your neighbors are at work. You call a friend and leave a message. You hop on facebook and make a few random posts. You pace the room and have a few conversations with yourself. But then you glance at the clock. It’s just after one, which means you’ve got about two hours before the kids return from school and your nice silent haven turns into an unproductive madhouse. So, you toss all thoughts of socialization aside and bunker down. But hey, you’ve always got Alice, the heroine in your latest novel. She’s your friend, right?

Actually, I totally love what I do. I can’t envision myself doing anything else. (And believe me, I’ve tried. When I’ve noticed a fatal plot error requiring a total re-write or my computer crashes halfway through a 90,000 word document.) But I’m still here, plugging away, day after day, word after word. Only now, I’ve learned to do things differently.

1) I find ways to stay connected.

When I first started writing, I did it alone. It wasn’t long before I fell into a pattern of discouragement. We all experience that once in awhile, when our negative self-talk runs amuck and those fears, insecurities and frustrations bite away at our resolve. Now I’m a part of three writer’s groups and I cherish the support they offer. I’ve also taken the time to nurture deeper relationships with a few ladies I’ve met along the way. Yeah, they’re largely internet and phone relationships, but they work. My greatest resource has been the American Christian Fiction Writers network. They have an amazing online loop, numerous mature Christian authors who love pouring into the lives of newbies, and a phenomenal critique group.

2) I choose my close friends wisely.

The other day I listened to a writer friend talk about how someone had totally slammed on both her and her work. Not in your normal, “I think this would be stronger if…” This was all-out brutality. As she talked, I was reminded of the story of Joseph and how his brothers and father responded when he shared his God-given dream with them. They scoffed. They were so focused on who Joseph was–a runt–they overlooked the power standing behind him.

Writing is tough. You’re going to face rejection. A lot. You’re going to have to make tough decisions and you’re going to have to overcome a lot of inner demons that threaten to keep you stagnant. You certainly don’t need naysayers dragging you down. To the contrary. You need strong Christian friends who will encourage you to keep on keeping on, with your eyes focused on the goal with unwavering determination.

2) I learned to abide. (John 15:1-4)

If you want to write more than mindless drivel, you’re gonna need to learn to rest. To trust. To listen. To fight the urge to do things in your own strength and wisdom as you continually lay yourself on the alter. This is a toughy, especially when you’ve got deadlines coming your way or writer’s block dragging you down. Our first tendency is to try harder and in doing so, we fail to connect with our true source of wisdom and power.

The other day I had the task of turning nine Bible chapters into an eight hundred word leaflet. Not an easy thing to do, especially for a word lover like me. And I really didn’t have the time to fret over it. Fretting is the biggest time sapper there is! So instead of forcing a bunch of drivel onto the screen, I closed my computer, walked into the bedroom and turned on some praise music. Basically, I passed the buck. I knew God had brought me this assignment. I knew He had a plan for it. I just needed to wait for Him to share His plan with me.

After spending a few moments in prayer and quiet, I returned to my computer with clarity and finished the leaflet in a relatively short period of time.

4) Take time to get away.

Those momentary refreshers are great, but they’re not enough. At least not for me. I can only rely on shout-out prayers for so long before my creativity begins to shrivel. Every once in a while I need to create my own little spiritual retreat. Normally I don’t go far. Maybe I’ll visit a hiking trail nearby or spend a few hours in a nearby park with my Pandora radio (on my iphone), a Bible and a notebook. Sometimes the getting there is hard, especially when my tasks are mounting, but I’ve learned those are the times when I most need to get away. And once I do, once I spend those cherished moments connecting with God, I come back twice as productive as before.

5) Let it go.

God’s already got the whole journey figured out. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Try not to look at the day-to-day. Learn as you go, walking forward with an eyes-wide-open approach as God guides you towards the finish line.

6) Take your thoughts captive.

Negativity breeds negativity. And quite frankly, it’s a waste of time–time you don’t have. Make a decision, right now, not to allow discouragement to linger in your brain. If God’s got it covered, what is there to be discouraged about? So you’ve got a 60,000 word rewrite, or realized your eighth edit wasn’t enough. And? I’m not joining your pity party here. I’m waiting at the finish line with my camera ready to catch your victorious smile when you break through the tape.

 

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11 thoughts on “So You Wanna Be a Writer

  1. Hello,
    There’s a new e-magazine for amateur writers/photographers called INKLICK e-MAGAZINE. It is a freely distributable e-magazine run by amateur group of bloggers. I like your blog posts and I invite you to be part of the e-magazine team. For a copy of e-magazine, download it from http://www.dl4all.com/e_books/magazine/483921-inklick-e-magazine-debut-issue-october-2010.html ; 3 files are present: flash, HTML and PDF. For best view, DL flash/HTML files. If you get any trouble downloading, visit our forum/mail me for the links. It is also embedded in our blog at http://new-e-magz.blogspot.com/2010/10/inklick-e-magazine-isssue-1-october.html
    Let’s work together and create a great platform. For further details and info, visit http://newemagz.freeforums.org or mail me at clubrfz@gmail(.)com
    Hope you’ll show interest in this growing project!
    Regards,
    Shaz

  2. Sure then, I agree with all of the above and wish to add one of my own. As I’ve said before, I find a unique way to stimulate the creative surge is to not write at all. What a relief to these old joints of mine, when I get out my old runners, put the dog on her walking leash and away we go for no leisurely stroll. no, no this is God business, with firm, fast steps and an expectant spirit. I pick up followers along the way. As i shed off the anxieties plugging my mind, angels seem to surround me until I’m not walking along, but instead am being takne for a walk by them. Sound silly? Like, um, whoa, Terry, you’re losing it here.
    Think that if you wish, but many many times I’ve felt the presense of spiritual beings like a cloud around me. By the time I get back to the keyboard, I’m so pumped with ideas, the words fly from my fingers.
    Go ahead and try it. What do you have to lose? Join the band of angels as they min ister to you. I’ve often fell into a writing ‘fever’ after such a walk and typed out entire sequences I didn’t know were in me. Be sure and give God the glory for He is the Creator of all and Amen.

  3. Good thoughts, Jennifer 🙂 It is surprising how just taking a break, even a few days long break, can push those naysayers to the back of my mind and off the edge of the cliff. Lol! Seriously, taking a break brings clarity and energy to push on.

  4. Jennifer, I just said a few of these things to a friend earilier this morning. I’m in the process of getting a partial together and I think it is stressing my cps out more than it is me. I have a peace, because I know God is in complete control. I’ve taken comfort from your blog post this morning. It’s encouraging to find a post from you about the very thing God has spoken to me about. He is awesome!!

  5. Yes, yes, and yes — words of wisdom from a mature and Godly writer! THANK YOU, Jennifer! But what I really want to know is, how did you know that I plug away on my laptop still wearing my jammies until afternoon??! 🙂 (Sad but true fact about writers..)

  6. See, just this morning as I am wondering, “Does anyone come to my blog?” I click over to yours and right here the Lord speaks to my heart Jen. I am not at that word count yet or even thinking of publishing. I am still in that learning spot. It’s only been 2 years for me. But I still get those feelings of doubt and fear. I know this is the journey I am to be on. God has made that clear to me. Thank you for allowing the Lord to move through you. Being that open vessel. Blessings to you sweet lady=)
    Rob

  7. Robin, I come to your blog alot! I don’t always comment (especially if I’m reading it from my iphone–typing’s a bear on that thing). Hugs to you and continual blessings. And for two years, you’re doing so awesome! Wow! Can’t wait to see where God brings you in another two.

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