Strategies to Self-Pity Proof Your Writing Life

Today’s guest post is by Lori Stanley Roeleveld. She is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four unsettling books, including The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at and is represented by Bob Hostetler.


To persevere in the writing life, we’re wise to develop strategies against self-pity. Opportunities for it abound. Writing and connecting with readers is hard work. Rejection, setbacks, low sales, or criticism will periodically factor into our labors. As Christians, we also have an enemy who targets us when we’re down. Many talented writers have fallen prey to the paralysis of self-pity. So, prepare a plan.

  1. Remember the farmer. Farming is a calling, a lifestyle, a commitment. Farmers must know their business, secure the right tools, invest relentless effort, and pray. Still, there are a myriad of factors out of the farmer’s control that determine the success of any crop. Weather, pests, disease, fluctuations in the market, and changes in buyers’ tastes all impact farming’s bottom line. It’s the same for writers. Just as farmers can’t take it personally when there’s an early frost, neither can we when three more famous writers release books on our topic a month before ours. Writing’s not the only calling known for hardships and steep odds. Relish the challenge. Write anyway.
  2. Give disappointment its momentbut only that. Many jobs require one interview. Writers interview with every agent, publisher, reviewer, and reader. That’s reality. Rejections sting. Missing out on awards or contracts hurts. Bad reviews and sales dips are uncomfortable and frustrating. When facing a low moment, stop to lament what you’d hoped would happen. Acknowledge the loss. Experience grief. Quit writing. Give up. But set an alarm for an hour later when you will set the loss aside, open your laptop, and write again. (For big losses, take a day or so, but schedule the end of your lament by circling day three on your calendar.) Be accountable for this to a trusted friend who believes in your work. Unquit and begin again.
  3. Remember your life is also a story. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. We are each invited into His story, but we have our own thread. As writers, we know a story falls flat if no one struggles, no one overcomes hardship, no one rises up off the mat after a series of blows. Keep a timeline of your life divided into decades. Below the line, write important happenings, the ups-and-downs, the triumphs, and the follies. Above the line, record what God was doing, speaking, or teaching you during that period. Ask Him to show you what theme or greater story He is telling through you. Then, commit to live the greater story. Celebrate the ways He’s demonstrating His presence with you–through successes and failures. Keep hold of the long view. Look forward to the days in eternity when we share our stories and imagine yourself saying, “And that was the moment I nearly gave up, but . . .”

Ask veteran writers how they fight self-pity. Have your prayer team pray specifically against the temptation. Memorize Bible verses on perseverance. You’re not alone. Have a plan, and keep writing. What’s your strategy?

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