By Catherine West
“You’ll need a thick skin.”
“It’s not easy. Actually, it’s very hard.”
“How do you feel about rejection?”
This is what you might hear from seasoned authors if you ask about the writing life.
I love this image. It accurately portrays the often frustrating and overwhelming world of the writer, and it makes me grin. Is it really that bad? Well . . .
Once you begin the journey to publication, you’ll learn many things, and learn them fast, but first?
Learn to guard your heart.
What does that mean? Let’s unpack it —
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Writer, hear me, (I learned the hard way) — you cannot write from a place of confusion.
Trust me. If you’re anxious, after worldly affirmation, desperately checking email, hoping for that one yes in a barrage of no’s . . . your words will be as useless as the time spent fretting over their future.
Oh, I know. I know all about that dream and how very much it means to you.
So does God.
But those words you’re striving so hard to validate? They’re not yours. They’re His. And it’s all in His time, right? (It doesn’t help to ask Him to hurry up either, so don’t go there).
Our writing is a gift. One that flows from the heart. Given back to God in the same way He gave it. Presented with open hands — no strings attached.
But if you let the rejections burn, listen to the voices saying you’ll never achieve anything, believe the doubts that diminish your spirit daily, you will soon find yourself in a very dark place.
It’s a battle.
Really, it is. From the minute you declare you’re going to write for God, you’ve entered in. But here’s the good news. (Yay!) You can guard your heart, and here’s how —
Prayer and Scripture — Spend time with God before you write a word. Pray for protection over doubts and fear, seek wisdom from scripture, and set aside bitterness so you may love with the freedom God has given you.
Friends — One of my greatest gifts is my network of writer buddies. All I have to do is yell, and they immediately surround me. (And I yell a lot!). They pray with me, pray for me, encourage me, and sometimes give me the proverbial smack upside the head when needed. (Also a lot). Find your people, huddle in close and let them help you guard that heart.
Family — Don’t neglect them. It’s easy to get caught up in this writing gig — ‘just one more chapter…’ — and I’m guilty. Make time for the ones who matter most. Shut down the computer. Go for a walk with your spouse. Play with your kids. Go see Grandma. Whatever it is that fills your heart with joy, do it first. Your words will thank you.
Take care of yourself — Eat right, sleep well, and get plenty of exercise. And love well.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Those are just a few of my suggestions. I’d love to hear yours!
Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s latest novel, The Things We Knew, releases July 12th 2016, from Harper Collins Christian Publishing.