By Lisa Jordan
Recently I bought a new train set for my childcare program. One of my Little Darlings waited patiently while I assembled it, then proceeded to move the three-car train along the tracks. If he pushed too hard or too fast, the small train derailed. As I watched him, I realized his actions resonated with how I’ve been struggling recently in my writing.
For the past six years I’ve been juggling a demanding day job with family and church obligations while meeting deadlines, which left for little time to refill my creative well. Eventually, my fast-paced approach to writing ended up like the toy train–pushing too hard and too fast caused my writing to derail in the form of rejected proposals from my editor. After talking with my amazingly smart agent and one of my talented mentors, I’ve considered four ways that will help get my writing back on track.
• Write with God. You know, this suggestion should be a given, but we writers tend to be a stubborn, independent lot, thinking we can handle stories on our own. The thing is, God wants us to partner with Him. Praying over our words and writing with God allows us to create novels that touch readers and align our hearts with His. In his book, The Story of With, Allen Arnold writes, “Living with a dependence on God and not on yourself is only available in the second realm–a place where we pursue our life, love and creativity with God.” By the way, every Christian writer needs to read The Story of With … several times.
• Read for pleasure. I love to read. There’s nothing like curling up with a good book and getting swept away with characters who grip my heart. Lately I’ve been reading for endorsement. I’m always so honored and humbled when they ask, so if the timing fits between deadlines, I’m quick to say yes. Recently, I talked with my amazingly brilliant agent who suggested I take a few weeks off from writing obligations to read for pleasure, particularly in my genre and books from my publisher. Reading enables me to see how other authors implement craft techniques for compelling stories. As Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
• Spend time with other writers. No one understands the writing biz and its many struggles like other writers. Even though no one can write your story, writing doesn’t have to be a solitary occupation. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. An ideal way to spend time with other writers is at a writers retreat or conference like ACFW. The brainstorming benefits, education and energetic atmosphere create an excitement that curls around our hearts reminding us why we possess this passion for words and stories. Gathering together in person is the most beneficial, but if you can’t, connect online. Social media allows for groups to be formed no matter the time zone.
Writing isn’t easy. And all writers will go through difficult seasons where putting words on the page is just plain difficult, especially when life circumstances, rejections, and not seeing forward movement in our careers weigh us down. However, taking time to write with God, spending time immersed in quality books, and fellowshipping with other writers affords opportunities to keep your writing fresh, focused, and on track.
Lisa Jordan is an award-winning author for Love Inspired. Her fifth novel, Lakeside Romance, released in August 2016. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. In her free time, she enjoys family, kayaking, and Netflix binging with her dog Penny. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.