Writers spend a lot of time alone. Especially in our actual writing. While this is vitally necessary as we pursue our dreams and answer God’s call to write, there is a risk. It opens the door for Satan, the enemy of our souls, to slip in and plant seeds of discouragement. When we struggle with a difficult scene or an uncooperative character, when our writing has all the spark and freshness of laundry left in the machine way too long, he uses this discouragement to undermine us and our writing dreams. We’ve all hit moments where we think,
“I can’t do this,”
“Whatever made me think I could write?”
“I don’t have what it takes.”
Satan magnifies these thoughts to make us think they’re carved in stone and hangs them over our heads by the thinnest of threads, ready to crush us.
And then we get a harsh critique or a rejection. We take another step to the brink of quitting.
Discouragement can be so strong, we want to burrow under the covers.
But there is a way out. Well, there are several ways out. Beginning with prayer and seeking God’s voice.
After this, there is another way out that may seem dumb on the surface—encourage others. “How do I do that? I don’t have any courage of my own. How do I give it to others?”
We do it by making a decision and taking action to give from our own pain. It’s amazing, but it is possible to get courage when we give courage to others.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT) tells us to encourage each other and build each other up. Jesus doesn’t tell us to do something without also giving us the means to do it. It may still be difficult, maybe harder than we think we can handle. It requires us to take those first steps of obedience and faith.
How do we do this? With purpose. When we go to a writers group or a conference, go with the attitude of giving courage to a struggling writer. Ask God to bring our paths together. Their struggle may be related to a larger life issue, not just their writing. Talk with them, pray with and for them, offer to be available as much as you can.
The writing community is much like the early Church where believers came together to worship and praise. And also to serve and to share in struggles as well as triumphs.
Luke 36:8 (NLT) reminds us that when we give, it will be returned to us “in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
I have a friend in my writing group who is a super encourager. She should have a costume with a big golden E on her cape. She encourages even when we know she is dealing with health issues or other problems. Part of her encouraging is to challenge us to reach for more in our writing. When she starts encouraging, within a few minutes we’re all encouraging each other. It becomes contagious in a good way. We leave our meeting energized and confident because of the effort she made despite her own feelings.
What was it like when someone encouraged you? When did you encourage others? How did it feel?
This post was inspired by a post by Dan Balow of the Steve Laube agency: https://stevelaube.com/encouraging-writers/