The Many Faces of Discouragement

Close-up of an English Bulldog Puppy, 2 months old, in a wicker basket, isolated on white

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…

Okay, now I’m discouraged!

Interestingly enough, a number of my clients and I have been developing a workshop on this exact topic. We’ve been talking about the different faces of discouragement we face as writers and how to deal with them. So for the next several weeks, I’m going to bring you guest blogs from these wonderful writers:

Nancy Farrier
Roseanna White
Erin Taylor Young
Mesu Andrews

My prayer is that their words will speak to your hearts, bring you insights and encouragement that will last far beyond the holiday season. So stay tuned to the first installment next week.

Until then, I’d like to open the floor for you to share anything you’d like us all to pray about for you. Any discouragement or worry, concern or frustration. Remember, you’re not alone.

Not by a long shot.

28 Responses to The Many Faces of Discouragement

  1. Terrance Leon Austin December 4, 2013 at 4:17 am #

    Good Morning Karen.

    When I look at the many published authors around me, I am actually happy to see their success in the publication of their work, especially if it’s in my genre. And then I look at their bio and pass accomplishments and get somewhat discouraged. With no P.H.D.s or college English courses etc. to name, I sometimes wonder how I would have a place in this business yet alone a query were agents sometimes look for the most prestigious, famous, or has some type of degree to speak of.

    My Prayer Request,
    Please pray for me that whoever that literary agent is that cries to God for a good client will one day come across me, the man with no extraordinary credentials, yet a writer who works hard to know the publishing business and writes with passion to honor our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

  2. Rick Barry December 4, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    One good cure for discouragement is to be a blessing to others. There is always someone hurting or in need of something I can supply, even if only an uplifting word or card. Focusing on self can feed discouragement. Focusing on God and others takes the mind off self!

    • rudy martinka December 4, 2013 at 6:40 am #

      “If you don’t succeed at first, try, try, again” is what my grammar school teacher taught me to end my thoughts about discouragement.

      What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom

      Regards and good will blogging

  3. Ane Mulligan December 4, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    My writing journey has been long and an exercise in patience … nearly 11 years before I got a contract. Yet, every time I got really discouraged, God sent encouragement in the way of a contest win, another trip to committee (that’s a whole other story).

    What I learned is that God has a place and time for us, and if we don’t wait for Him, the people our words will reach and touch may not be ready yet. Remembering that helped me a lot.

  4. Pammer December 4, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    It’s been a very full year for us, losing our beloved dog and getting served foreclosure papers on the same day in January started the year off.
    My writing journey took on another face as well.
    And I find myself praying for some clarity and direction at this point in the year. Guidance.
    I don’t have any words of wisdom, but I can pray.
    And I wanted to let you know that this post has helped me and I look forward to the series you have planned.
    Thank you!

    • pamela black December 4, 2013 at 10:14 am #

      Pammer, I had to comment on your post as that is the name my father used to call me as a child and I’ve never heard anyone else use it. How funny.

      I assume your given name is Pamela, the same as mine? Curious how your nickname was chosen. 🙂

  5. Jeanne Takenaka December 4, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    I’m looking forward to reading these posts, Karen. Yes, I’ve dealt with discouragement, in real life and in writing life. I think for me, discouragement hits when I want to work on my story, but real life prevents me—like when a kid gets sick on the day I’d set aside to write. Like today. 🙂

    I would appreciate prayers for wisdom in balancing the different roles I move in and out of each day, and how to work a consistent writing schedule into my every day. For perseverance to move forward with my story when I feel stuck. And that I’ll trust God for His leading and timing.

    Thanks for being real here!

    • Jackie Layton December 4, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      Hi Jeanne,

      I’ll pray that you and all of us are open to God’s wisdom in balancing life and following his will for us on our journeys.

  6. Sherry Carter December 4, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Writing’s been frustrating for me, too. I guess it is for all of us who are trying to discern God’s message.

    Writing is my second career, after many years as an engineer. Quite a switch! Pray for Satan’s lies that I’m not able to do this, even though I already have one published Bible study, to be drowned out by God’s truth.

  7. Ron Estrada December 4, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    I’ve been at this for about 10 years now. I’ve got a regular column in a local print magazine and a few other one-time publications, but the published novel remains unachieved. Oddly, I really think I’m in my “Senior Year” of my writing education, meaning that I’ve worked hard to learn and improve, and know how to write a novel, but now the doubt sets it. Am I writing the right genre? Targeting the right audience? I wake up at night wondering if I my protagonist needs higher stakes. I know it’s not really a form of discouragement, but my self-doubt is probably my biggest obstacle at this stage of the game.

    • Jackie Layton December 4, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      Hi Ron,

      I’ve noticed you around quite a bit. You’ve been amazing in your writing journey. I’ve heard many people take an average of ten years to get their novel published. I’ve met many successful authors who took over ten years.

      Don’t give up!

    • Rick Barry December 4, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Ron, I’m convinced that self-doubt isn’t always self-doubt, but a sneaky Satanic attack. Right from the beginning, one of his tactics has been to sow seeds of doubt. (Genesis 3:1, to Eve, “Has God said…?”) If you’re attracting individual attention from Satan, perhaps that’s a sign that he believes your writing is growing more dangerous to him?

      I believe Reg Forder is the one who jokingly says something like, “To be a writer, you work day and night and then–after ten or twelve years–you’re an overnight success!”

      Hang on, my friend.

    • pamela black December 4, 2013 at 10:11 am #

      I’ve read your blog and love it Ron! I found you via K.M. Weiland on Facebook.

      Don’t give up! Fight the good fight man! You can do it if anyone can!

      • Ron Estrada December 4, 2013 at 10:38 am #

        Wow do I feel loved! Thanks to all of you. Don’t worry about me. This is my retirement plan. I figured it was writing or mallwalking. Since I hate malls, I’d better write. I’m sure the overnight success is coming soon!

  8. Kathy N. December 4, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Thank you for looking out for us. I often find myself moaning that this is “The best of times and the worst of times” all within the same quarter hour.

  9. Meghan Carver December 4, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    It’s been on my heart to contact a particular published author to ask if she would take a look at my writing. During a time of prayer, the Lord reminded me that I do not have because I do not ask. But not a moment later the doubt and discouragement crept in. I’m a nobody. Why should she bother with me? I know that the worst she could say is she doesn’t have time, but I still have much trepidation just sending an email. Why do we doubt ourselves so much?

    Thank you for a great post, Karen, and I’m looking forward to your future posts.

  10. Martha Rogers December 4, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    For so many years I faced discouragement and frustration as editors expressed interest and then rejection. From 1990 until 2009 I persevered, and then success came with thirteen novels and 2 novellas since then. Prayer, patience and perseverance pay off. Karen, you were such an inspiration to me in Tulsa at the PIW conferences and again at Mount Hermon. Thank you for those times you told me to keep going. Thank you for all the encouraging blogs, workshops, keynote addresses, and books you’ve given so many of us. And I thank Tamela for not giving up on me. 🙂

    • Jackie Layton December 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      Martha I’m sure you don’t remember meeting me in Indianapolis, but you are a true inspiration!

      • Martha Rogers December 5, 2013 at 6:20 am #

        Jackie, I remembered your face, but not your name. So many people and names at one time are more than this old brain can handle. Thank you for the kind words. 🙂

  11. pamela black December 4, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    You know Karen, I agree with you. The whole issue of publishing is discouraging. And as much as I’d like to be the positive cheerful voice saying how we should all just buck up and be happy about it, I can’t. I could easily expound on that for hours. But, I won’t.
    Since you’ve offered to pray and you’ve asked for requests, I will take you up on it.
    Please pray for me that I will not walk away from writing to pursue a field that is more welcoming and wide open. I truly feel God has given me a message and gifted me to tell it. I’m just unsure If I’m able to wade through the muck necessary to do it. It breaks my heart. Daily.
    So, yeah, I will take your prayers. I will covet them. I will beg for them.
    I look forward to your posts on encouragement. Boy, do I need some.

  12. April Gardner December 4, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    This is one of those sweet, rare times I’m not battle discouragement in some area of my life. All glory to God. Looking forward to hearing from your list of guest bloggers!!

  13. Karen Ball December 4, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Oh, my friends, please know I’m praying for you and your struggles, both expressed and unexpressed. We serve a God of all wisdom and comfort, and He knows and is answering even before we ask. May He cloak each of you with the sure knowledge of His truth, presence, and guidance.

    Onward, compadres! The battle is already won!

    • Jackie Layton December 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Thanks for this series on disappointment and thanks for your prayers!

  14. J.D. Maloy December 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Ron, I’m dittoing everyone’s reply to you! When I’ve asked myself those exact questions about my story, I pray and look at Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel workbook. He has fantastic examples and questions to enhance and confirm all those normal story questions that keep us awake at night.

    Meghan, I pray you send your friend an email. Like Rick said, Satan is the master of trickery. Kick him out, sister!

    Spirit lead, discipline, and perseverance. Those are my requests in regards to writing.

    Karen, this agency has many devoted followers who appreciate all the work you, Steve, Tamela and Dan do. If I may be bold and ask, how can we pray for you and the agency during this season of the year?

  15. Karen Ball December 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    J.D., I’ll let the others answer if they want, but for me, I’d so appreciate prayers for wisdom, discernment, and a servant’s heart.


    • J.D. Maloy December 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

      On it!

      I forgot to add that it is crazy cool to have an agency ask its followers to share prayer requests and pray for them. Wow. Who does that?! It speak volumes of your heart’s intention and I thank you 🙂

  16. Nancy J Farrier December 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I loved reading through all of the comments. So many have similar discouragements, and so many are willing to encourage. I will be praying for those who expressed requests. Hugs and prayers to all.

  17. Linda December 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    As always, whenever I am battling with a particular issue in my life, God arranges for just the right type of encouragement to come along. It might be in the form of a message in a devotional or a sermon on the radio or in this case a blog I stumble on and find it dealing with the very topic I have been struggling with lately- Writer’s discourgement. Like some of you my writing journey has been a long one. Well over ten years and I have come to the point where I am not sure anymore if this really is God’s path for me. I have prayed and fasted and still I wait for answers. Most of all, I do not want to waste what God has for my life. I admit it has become so difficult to write lately that I often find myself sinking into despair–even when I know God understands and cares. Satan is at work partially, but the publishing climate contributes to the feeling of “what’s the use?” Thank you for this blog.

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