Tag s | Encouragement

This Is Why We Write

I made a mistake a few days ago: I watched the news. I seldom do that. Yes, I am informed on events. I have notices come to my phone in bite-sized pieces so I can control the onslaught of evil swarming over us. But on that day, I sat there, watching, weeping, wondering when people gave up being…well, human? When they became animals, given over to the darkest drives within with such abandon that reason and civility seem to be some archaic, forgotten, spit-upon ideals.

What has happened to us?

What made any of us even begin to believe that life—any life—doesn’t matter?

What allowed us ignore the truth that we are all created in God’s image and focus instead on race and creed?

When did we fly the white flag in the battle to protect each other? Even worse, when did we hoist instead the skull and crossbones to declare ourselves the masters of all and anyone who disagrees with us will—no, deserves to die?

When did we as a nation, as a people…as humanity become utterly blind and deaf to God’s truth and laws?

And what grieves me most is that so many who claim the name of Christ are right there, in the thick of it. Not to hold high the banner of Truth or refuse to take on the world’s methods and attitudes. Not to speak the truth in love. Instead, they’re as incensed and vitriolic and hateful as the world ever has been.

Brothers and sisters, the world needs you! They need you to speak truth. We need to write truth. You are the standard bearers, the ones who hold the life preserver for those drowning in the evil. You are watchmen set upon the wall to speak warnings, to call the people back to God. You, I, we all need to hold fast to—and never surrender—the truths God gave us, truths so many seem to have forgotten:

You must not have any other god but Me.

You must not make any idols for yourself. (Not money, race, creed, career, sales numbers, best-sellers lists…NO IDOLS.)

You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. (This is not a small thing. When you use the name of the God of the universe, speak it and write in reverence, in holy fear.)

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Whatever day is Sabbath for you, it’s not just another day of the week.)

Honor your mother and father. (Stop badmouthing the generations that came before you. Respect them. Honor them. They’re not disposable.)

You must not murder. (The world has strayed so far from this command…)

You must not commit adultery.

You must not steal.

You must not testify falsely about others. (Stand up for truth and justice. ENOUGH already with people getting away with things!)

You must not covet anything your neighbor has. (Not his place on the bestseller’s lists, not her popularity, not his platform, not her writing talent or marketing budget or respect or…his or her anything.)

You know, when these commandments were first read, they were followed up with thunder and lightning, with smoke billowing from the mountain, and with the loud blast of a ram’s horn. Their response? They stood at a distance, “trembling with fear.” We need a bit more of that fear, to remind us that when we speak or write God’s truths, we are doing something powerful.

Yes, offer your readers hope. Yes, speak of grace and restoration. Yes, write how God forgives and welcomes us into His kingdom. But don’t soft sell the truth of Who God is. He is Love and He is Truth. He is Forgiveness and He is Righteousness. He is Grace and He is Judgment.

He is God almighty. He has given you a task to take His words to a lost world. That’s why you write. That’s what you write. And that’s what will save us, in these days of darkness and hatred and despair…days when evil only seems to be in control.

May He use you well, friends. And may He have mercy on us all.

 

 

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Write from the Deep Places

Far down, under the ground many of us walk on day in and day out, are roads and buildings and the remnants of long-ago lives and loves. Underground cities, they’re called. I’ve visited the one in Seattle. Peered down through the dark and dust and imagined people, horses, carriages…life. Under …

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When You Have One of “THOSE” Days

by Karen Ball You know the days I mean. The days you ask yourself, “Whatever made me think I could do this?” or “Why couldn’t I just sell shoes?” or “Are you sure that’s how you spell it’s? It looks stupid. It’s, it’s it’s. That can’t be right, can it??” …

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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!

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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.

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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…

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Handling Disappointment

by Steve Laube

I do not like to experience disappointment. I do not like rejection, even when it isn’t my personal project being turned down. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news.

And yet I do experience disappointment, rejection, and the telling of bad news…every week. That is the nature of the arts.

The arts (meaning music, writing, dance, and painting) is comprised of thousands of hours of practice; long days of solitude; truckloads of self-doubt; in a world where everyone is a critic.

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Write That Novel!

This question is from a writer who follows my Facebook business page. I have permission to use her question as a blog post:

I like to write, but am racked with doubt so I quit. How do you motivate your writers to finish?

I would say to set a goal. Look at your schedule. How many words do you think you can write in a day? If you write 1000 words a day, you will have the first draft of a novel in three months. A thousand words adds up to four pages. That’s it! Most people can write four pages a day. But if you truly can’t, go for 500 words, or two pages, a day. Writing a novel in six months is still a respectable pace. Write something, even if you know you’ll have to edit and revise. In fact, I worry about any writer who doesn’t revise — oh wait. I don’t know any. The point is, get something on paper so you will have material to work with. Some writers tell me they enjoy editing more than the initial writing.

If you want to move even faster and write within a community, note that November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo has the goal of encouraging writers to complete a novel in a month. Here is a link to a site written at the end of last year’s event with a lot of tools to help you participate.

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Kick Discouragement to the Curb

I don’t know about you, but I loved Steve’s blog post on Monday, When the Outlook is Bleak. People out there are HURTING.

I was with a friend a few days ago, a best-selling author who was battling an especially difficult edit. Difficult because the edits weakened the book rather than strengthened it. She’d uttered a series of gut-deep sighs, read me changes that I agreed didn’t make sense, and finally sat there, shaking her head.

And then she stopped. Straightened. Fixed me with a somber gaze and said:

“Today, in this very moment, someone is sitting in the doctor’s office, receiving the worst news of their life.”

I started. “What?”

She drew a deep breath. “At times like this, I have to restore my perspective. I have to tell myself that somewhere, right at this moment, a mother is saying good-bye to a dying child. A family is losing a home to foreclosure or disaster. In light of all of that, what does a difficult edit matter?”

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When the Outlook is Bleak

by Steve Laube

In the constant ebb and flow of this industry we have authors celebrating and authors in tears. Ask any agent and you will hear the same. For every author excited about their new contract there is another experiencing bitter disappointment.

And I wish I could fix it.

To hear the anguish is difficult, but to be the one who delivers the bad news is heart-wrenching. Why is it that they seem to come in bunches? So what do you do when you run into the inevitable disappointments the writing experience throws at you?

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