I once received the following question from 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.
One writer in the general market wrote in their blog, “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. I will never forget reading Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students (in particular chapter two starting on page 19 of the linked PDF). I read it in college while trying to decide whether to pursue becoming a pastor or a teacher with my Bible degree.
Spurgeon, in essence, said the only reason you should become a pastor is if you cannot do anything else. The call is that strong. I realized I was making the pastorate one of a number of options, which immediately revealed where I placed it in my passions. So I began changing directions immediately. I set my sights on becoming a professor of theology after going to seminary and graduate school (my fiance, now my wife, would be a professor of Old Testament). But in my last college semester, I began working part-time in the Christian bookstore located one block off campus. And a rather different journey to my profession began. If God had not led me to make a life-decision regarding my calling, I may not be where I am today.
In some ways, it is like the life of the writer. If you can’t not write, then you know where your passions lay. If you can put it aside and write only when the inspiration strikes, then that may speak to your passions differently, and you should treat writing as something to explore. I find this separates many in this profession rather quickly. There’s nothing wrong with the latter. In fact, you won’t know if the skills and passions are aligned until you explore. I think you catch my intent here.
The author who asked the original question above replied a day later with this:
“I had two dark days, for whatever reason. But yesterday afternoon, wouldn’t you know, those dark hours translated into my writing in just the way the manuscript needed. I’m learning that the work of writing and the love of writing are a bit different. I love having written! And I could step away from it for a time, but writing will always woo me. I fought for 17 years to follow what I believed was a call from God, so throwing in the towel now would be silly.”
I pray that, for you, this is not a day of discouragement, but one of hope and joy. That you take every thought captive and your work is for the glory of God, in everything you do or say.
What do you do when discouragement strikes in your writing career?