Friday, August 24, 2012

Stoke the Fire and Refuse to Compare by Heather Burch


We’re human, aren’t we? So even though we want to be supportive of our fellow writers, it can be difficult when we see others leap ahead of us in our writing careers. It can be especially discouraging if we believe that we’ve worked harder and longer than the person who just landed a nice contract. Today, author Heather Burch talks about the temptation to compare ourselves to others. Enjoy her inspiring words. ~ Dawn


Stoke the Fire and Refuse to Compare
by Heather Burch

Two things have gone over and over in my head since I was asked to do this post. Stoking the fire God has placed in you and refusing to compare yourself to others. It was only when I sat down and began to write that I realized the two are infinitely woven.

Let’s tackle the second. If you begin to compare your writing journey to others, you are headed for shipwreck—and that’s exactly what the enemy wants for you. Writing is a task laden with rejection. I don’t have to tell you that. You’re a writer. An author. You already know. No matter what level of success you reach, there will still be layers of rejection. I’m not saying this to discourage, but rather encourage you. Deal with the root of rejection right now. Learn its strategies and schemes and separate yourself from it. You see, we have chosen to pen words—or you could say to lay our souls bare before the world. I used to joke about being a pastor. I’d say, “It’s equivalent to pulling your heart from your chest and handing it to people knowing they may try to crush it.” Writing is a bit like that. But we still do it. Just as a pastor continues to hand his heart to each new person who attends his church.

When my series sold, I learned several hard lessons. Some of my close writer friends actually became snarky and hateful to me. Not blatantly, but in a very passive aggressive manor. I was stunned. I was beyond hurt. But God showed me they were comparing their writing journeys to mine. Shipwreck Island. Here are a few reasons that’s so destructive.

1.       God created you to write something different and specific. When you begin to compare, you run the danger of beginning to mimic.

2.      Comparison is the enemy’s playground. Have you ever heard, “Why did she get such a big book deal? You’ve worked so hard. You should have that deal.” He uses the same tactics in our Christian walk. Have you ever heard, “They’re not such a perfect family. I heard … (insert gossip here.)”  


3.      When you enter the arena of comparison, you are working with limited knowledge. I can’t tell you how many writers said to me, “Wow. You really sold quickly. I’ve been writing for fifteen years.” It may seem like my journey was a quick skyrocket, but they don’t have facts. I’d written five complete novels before selling Halflings. I’ve been writing for 20 years and have a rejection letter on my first manuscript from 1992. (And yes, Richard Curtis, you were right.)

Why am I saying all this? I believe there are amazing writers out there who haven’t sold and are beginning to question themselves. Listen, stop looking outside for that confirmation only God can bring. He loves us beyond love and He wouldn’t have called you to this if He wasn’t going to equip you. Write. Write your heart. Know that some may try to crush the words you agonized to pen. Know that even if they do, God has hedged you with his love. Write. Write because there are words only you can give and God has placed it on your heart to do so. Write. Don’t give up and don’t look back. And don’t look around. Focus on the prize. Keep your eyes trained on the horizon. And God will meet you there.

Now, stoke the fire. Write from the deepest part of your heart. Write from that place inside you that can only be reached by digging deep. Honor your readers. They’ve invested their time—which means they’ve invested their lives—into the words you’re writing. Be honorable. Writing is a partnership and a contract between the author and the reader. Don’t break their trust. If you are committed to that, God will flow through you. 




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Heather Burch is the author of the Halflings Series which launched in February and received rave reviews from USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Romantic Times and Booklist magazine. Book two, GUARDIAN has an October 8, 2012 release date. Book three will release in April of 2013. Heather lives in Southern Florida with her husband and two sons.

You can find Heather at:
twitter @heatherburch
facebook Heather Burch Books 

16 comments:

  1. "stop looking outside for that confirmation only God can bring" <--that is tweetable text. Thank you for the encouragement.

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    1. You're welcome Diana. Tweet away! :) Maybe it can encourage others as well.

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  2. Awesome post, Heather. I think it's wonderful when successful authors share their journeys. Seeing another writer overcome rejections, move past writing obstacles, and continue to push forward is so encouraging.

    And it helps new authors remember there is always more behind the scenes. A "first book" is not always a first book! Many times it's the second...fifth...eighth book an author wrote before finding a publisher. We only see the end result, not the process, and it can be discouraging when we are comparing our first steps to someone else's twentieth. Sharing those first steps helps us put things into proper perspective :).

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    1. Thanks Kat! I had all but given up on Halflings selling. It had garnered several rejections before finding the right home. But God had a plan. :) It's very important to remeber how utterly dependent on him we are.

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  3. Heather, thanks for this post; it has special meaning for me as I seek wisdom and direction at this point in my journey. Your title says it all, but I also like the idea that writing is a partnership between author and reader and that trust in not to be broken. It's a work we do because we must.

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    1. It sure is Jude! Thanks and I'm so glad the post spoke to you. Keep writing!

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  4. <3 this post Heather - tried to comment a couple times (Blogger issues).

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    1. Thanks! Great to see you here! :)

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    2. Hi Paula! HUGE congrats on your novella! Notes from readers are the best! Helps us remember why we do what we do!

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  5. Thanks for these words. My debut novella came out recently. God affirmed what He led me to write by comments from readers about how the story boosted their faith and challenged them. I love it when God encourages like that.

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  6. Heather, excellent post with poignant truth. Thanks for the time you put into writing this, and thanks for sharing what I'm sure is valuable insight for many writers!

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    1. Thank you, Rick! I hope it helps some of my fellow writers. We all gotta stick together. :)

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  7. Great insight, Heather! Thanks for writing "from the deepest part of your heart" to encourage us. :-)

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    1. Hi Julie! I'm glad Dawn gave me the chance!

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  8. Great post, Heather! Thanks for sharing your journey--and your heart.

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  9. You're welcome, Connie! Thanks for responding!

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