by Maureen Lang
Being a writer demands the impossible. On one hand, we must possess the emotional tenderness and sensitivity to see and feel all points of view. It’s only by experiencing deep emotion that we can create characters who think and feel authentically-characters who often represent two sides of a single issue.
At the same time, the professional side of writing requires thick skin and toughness to withstand rejections, negative reviews, and the insecurity of a business that is run on nothing more than the fickle tastes of the general public.
So what is a writer to do? How do we protect our emotional sensitivity while developing a tough skin? Here are a few tips for you to consider:
• Pray, and ask others to pray for you and your writing ministry.
• Don’t be shy about depending on friends to encourage you. You might even have to ask for such encouragement, especially if you’re good at presenting your stronger outside while inside you’re soft as a marshmallow.
• Let a book help you preserve your emotional sensitivity. Take regular reading breaks to refresh your love of what’s at the heart of this industry-good storytelling.
While comparison is never a good idea, it’s sometimes helpful to know others have struggled, too. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Margaret Mitchell were all rejected multiple times before their work found success. Even Anne Frank’s diary was rejected before finding a publisher! (Just Google “famous literary rejections” for this guilty pleasure, or for the names of 30 authors whose work was rejected, click on this link: http://www.examiner.com/article/30-famous-authors-whose-works-were-rejected-repeatedly-and-sometimes-rudely-by-publishers)
Finally, remember Eric Liddell. He wasn’t just a memorable character in the movie Chariots of Fire. He’s a real person, the famous Scottish Athlete who ran in the 1924 Summer Olympics and whose faith inspired anyone who knew him. He said “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
If God wired you to write, you no doubt feel His pleasure every time you sit down to create a story world. Regardless of the outcome, whether your words are meant to be read by the multitudes or simply by an audience of One, when you write you are being obedient to the call God has given you. Remember this: writing is its own reward, because when you use the gift God gave you, you’ll feel His pleasure. Just don’t let the burdens of this world (i.e. an industry that ultimately depends upon money) cloud the gift God gave you.
Maureen Lang has been writing stories of history and romance since she was ten, after figuring out how to write what she wanted to read. Since then she’s become the award-winning author of over a dozen novels, most of them published with Tyndale House. Visit her on the web at www.maureenlang.com
The e-book version of Maureen’s newest book, All In Good Time, is available now.
This is a great post! And wow, I didn’t know Anne Frank’s diary was rejected — what??
The only thing I would add to this is that a writer can always test where his/her heart is by asking “Would I still write if I knew I wouldn’t get published?” Because if that’s the main thing that attracts you to writing, you probably won’t make it very far (especially if you have never published anything before).
Great post, Maureen. I love the quote from Eric Liddell. I actually used it this week in Sunday School when we were talking about our God-given passions.
I love Eric’s quote and will definitely be using it. Great post.
So glad for the comments! I couldn’t believe Anne Frank’s diary was rejected, either. Unbelievable! And isn’t it interesting how God so often coordinates different themes, across many churches? My own pastor used the quote in a recent sermon, which reminded me of how it applies to writers. So interesting that God brought it to Elizabeth’s mind for Sunday School class around the same time!