Tag s | Discouragement

The Writer’s Responsibility

When you decide to pursue writing as a career or even an avocation, you probably are unaware of the responsibility bestowed upon you by the decision. There is no official ceremony involved, but there should be.

This responsibility will change the way you interact with friends and relatives. It could even cause some friction between you and those close to you. Here’s the promise you make, which is part of being a serious writer:

“I do hereby promise not to encourage every person I meet to author a book. I promise to be kind and supportive of my friends and relatives, knowing most of them should not become writers.”

Once you know how much work is involved, when encouraging another writer, make certain you communicate the real world of writing to them. At least encourage them to visit a writer’s conference for new writers, giving them a glimpse into the marketplace of words and informing their perspective.

Why is this responsibility such a heavy burden? Because you might need to tell someone (in much kinder words than these):

You are not a good writer.

You don’t communicate with clarity or creativity.

You don’t have a compelling message readers will pay money to read.

You don’t have the credentials to write a book.

You haven’t yet put in the work.

In a creative world, the motto is often, “Where never is heard a discouraging word,” but if you follow my advice today, you will be the person others might avoid. (I hope I am wrong.)

Sometimes I feel bad writing tough things to readers of our agency blog, because you are not the problem. The simple fact you are reading about publishing, interacting with insightful comments, making every attempt to learn, improve and grow, means you are open to exploring the necessary sacrifice in order to become a writer people will spend time and money to read.

Anyone with a minute of experience in publishing knows there is much more to this writing “thing” than putting down your thoughts on a screen and printing it out.

But there are still some people out there telling everyone writing is easy, Microsoft Word spelling and grammar check replace the need for an editor and most important, anyone can make lots of money in publishing really fast.  After all, Amazon is a magic money-machine.

Encouraging someone to write who is not willing to put in the requisite work is not being kind and loving. This person is being set up for discouragement and the person handing out encouragement is not doing them a favor.

Mass encouragement without discernment can end up being a cruel joke, accomplishing the opposite of what was intended.

Once you have some knowledge of the work required to be a good writer and succeed in publishing, you have an obligation to communicate reality to those around you. There is some “fine print” in this vocation, draining some of the enjoyment, unless you are well prepared.

In high school I was an above-average musician who had fun playing an instrument in various music groups. Who wouldn’t want to keep having fun? I thought about music as a career.

In college, I met people who were serious about music as a career and I realized the fun from high school was pretty much over. Being professionally good at music required a level of commitment I was unwilling to undertake, and I was more interested in having fun than putting in the work. I chose another path instead where I was willing to put in the sacrifice and work.

Those who are committed to doing something really well know what is required and generally do not toss out encouragement to just anyone and everyone, unless they see the “spark” necessary to drive them to the next level.

Don’t become a serial discourager, but be wise in your encouragement about writing books. Genuine encouragement is much more powerful when those being encouraged know you don’t give it to everyone.

 

Leave a Comment

The Danger of Discouragement

Some days, I have to admit, it feels like I’ve been working and working, doing everything I’m supposed to, and yet, nothing ever changes—unless it’s for the worse. The struggles are still dragging me down. The sense that no matter what I do, nothing will change, weighs on my spirit. …

Read More

Writing in the Night

Does it seem to any of you that things the last few months or so have been really hard? That there are more people struggling and hurting? As I’ve gone through my dad’s continued health struggles (2 more hospitalizations in the last 3 ½ weeks), my own health frustrations (bursitis …

Read More

Knowing Discouragement’s End

A guest blog by Mesu Andrews

Mark Lowry is one of my favorite comedians. I heard one of his performances many years ago, and he quoted a single, profound phrase found 457 times in the King James Bible: “It came to pass…”

That’s it. That’s all.

It came…to pass.

And then he challenged the audience to remember those words the next time they faced an impossible situation, the depths of discouragement, or “a bout of constipation.” (Lowry’s words, not mine.)

I’ve needed that reminder during my writing journey: Discouragement will pass. And I decided if anyone could to teach me about discouragement, it was Brother Job. That poor guy lost his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, and children—and was left with a surly wife. Eee-gad!

So, I dove—headfirst—into the mire of Job’s whining and ranting. After reading a few chapters , my life didn’t seem so awful! And I learned things everyone should know when they struggle with discouragement:

Know yourself Know your enemy Know your Champion

Know Yourself

The world says look inward to know ourselves, but Job 1 shows us how God knows us. Read the Lord’s description of His servant Job:

“There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8

Read More

Overcome the Discouragement of Expectations

Guest post by Erin Taylor Young


This is Henry, our dog. Not my husband.

I love my husband. Really I do. But there are occasions I’m tempted to take a sharp, pointy pencil and stab him somewhere non-fatal. Especially when I’m torqued over my anemic word count, frustrated by a recent edit, or discouraged by yet another rejection.

I’m venting why, why, WHY, and my hubby turns into a fixer. Worse, he’s a fixer with a PhD, so when he tells me exactly what’s going on inside me and how to change it—apparently it’s some stupid cycle between my situation, my brain, and my emotions—he’s right. I hate that.

Can I not just have five minutes to wallow?

Sometimes that’s exactly what we need. You know, like a good mud bath. People pay money for that.

Then again, people also get sucked into mud bogs and are never seen again.

The difference is in knowing what you’re doing in the mud and how to get out when it’s time. Which means understanding that cycle between situation, brain, and emotion is actually helpful. I’ll give you the elevator pitch though, so your eyes don’t glaze over.

We have goals. We try to achieve them. We fail.

Then we feel rotten because the mismatch between our goals and our ability to achieve them creates frustration. This is perfectly normal, and in fact a GOOD THING because it compels us to adjust our methods or our goals, i.e. get a grip on reality.

Sometimes it’s easy. Like that six-figure book contract with an eighty-city tour? Give it up.

Sometimes adjusting our goals is hard, because what if we did everything right? We wrote a great book, we’d be giddy over a puny contract, and the manuscript went to pub board at three houses. Then got rejected.

Our perfectly normal frustration makes us wrack our brains to figure out what we could’ve done differently, or what we can change now. But there’s nothing. So our brains keep cycling until we exhaust ourselves straight into discouragement.

And that, my friends, is a bog we can drown in.

Read More

Taking the “Dis” out of Discourage

by Nancy Farrier

With over 400,000 books in print, Nancy J. Farrier is no stranger to the ups and downs of the writing life. That combined with being a worship leader and Bible study leader has given her all kinds of valuable lessons on discouragement–and its solutions!

__________

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair…”    II Cor. 4:8a

During my writing career, I’ve often felt like Paul, hard-pressed on every side or perplexed due to the many areas of discouragement I’ve faced. Unlike Paul, I’ve often felt crushed and in despair. When I prayed about staying strong, God gave me a way to battle discouragement, showing me three areas where I often come under attack. Once recognized, they are easier to combat.

D—The first area is those who are distant to me. These are people I don’t know well, but who have contact with me: readers, critics, sometimes industry professionals. I don’t believe any of these people intended to say or do things to discourage me, but seemingly insignificant comments often cut deep. Even when most of my reader letters are very positive, notes like the following too often have a greater impact:

“I bought one of your books to give my granddaughter, started to read it first, and realized you’ve never opened a Bible in your life!”

I can’t tell you how much that hurt. I love God’s Word and I love sharing Scripture, so that attack was more painful than most. She didn’t say why she came to that conclusion. She didn’t even give her name or contact information. Perhaps from her perspective she was being honest, but her words wounded me and made me doubt my abilities.

Read More

The Many Faces of Discouragement

I know I promised you the final blog on accountability partners, but as I’ve talked with publishing folks and friends the last few weeks I’ve noticed a theme: Discouragement.

It’s a well-documented fact that people struggle with depression and discouragement more during the holidays than any other time of the year. I wonder sometimes if writers are among the most discouraged. Part of it, I’m sure, has to do with the in-and-out of finances this time of year—as in nowhere near as much coming in as is going out. I also think writers, introspective souls that we are, tend to look back on the year when December hits. You know, assess how we’ve done on meeting our NaNoWriMo or publishing goals. Many of us are forced to face what is rather than what we’d hoped would be.

Don’t you wish sometimes that you could write the story of your life? That you could tie up all the loose ends, show how even the hardest times are all a part of God’s plan to refine and restore? That we could craft a life where no one loses health insurance, jobs, or homes. And of course, in our wonderfully crafted story, family gatherings would be just like those heart-warming Norman Rockwell paintings, where everyone is smiling and happy and full of joy. But no, instead of Rockwell, we get a scene from Chevy Chase’s “Christmas Vacation.” As for the job of writing or publishing, well, what a year it’s been, what with publishers shutting down lines, editors being laid off, advances getting cut in half, contracts being cancelled…

Read More

Down in the Valley

Imagine awakening one morning, not knowing where you are, utterly unable to move or speak. Imagine coming to the slow realization that you are in a hospital, and that the people all around you are looking at you and talking to you, but you can do nothing in response. Imagine doctors telling that, at the age of 43, you’ve suffered a stroke that has caused what they call “locked-in” syndrome, where your body is frozen but your mind is fully functional. Fully functional…and trapped. Imagine realizing that the only thing you can move is your left eye. That’s it.

One eye.

Such was the case for Jean-Dominique Bauby (Jean Do–pronounced jhan doh–to his friends and family), a one-time editor of ELLE magazine. I’d never heard of him until I caught the fascinating docudrama, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  But get this: the movie is based on Bauby’s memoir. Written after he had the stroke! Remember, now, he can only move his left eye. That’s it. He cannot speak. Cannot respond in any way except to blink that one eye. And he wrote a memoir.

Read More

When You Hit the Wall of Discouragement

by Steve Laube

 

I recently received the following question from a client (an award winning author):
Is it common for an author to hit a wall of discouragement? To feel as though they’re working so hard for so little? To question why they’re doing this?

Unfortunately it is quite common. Doesn’t mean it aches any less. Sort of like getting old…everyone does and it aches, but it is a common malady.

I recently read a blog by a writer in the general market who wrote, “Why am I doing this? I work so hard for so little money only to have critics tell me I have no talent at all.”

It truly comes down to whether your calling is stronger than the frustration and anguish of the writing process.

Read More