I stared at my time in the Jamestown Half Marathon, the black type shouting up failure against a white backdrop.
One minute and sixteen seconds away from my objective. If I’d gone six seconds faster per mile, I’d have reached my goal.
I wondered if I could have done better. The race was torture, but I’d been prepared. I’d trained. I’d done the work.
I only neglected to wear a stopwatch. A stopwatch would have revealed how close I was to reaching my goal. It might have been the push I needed to close the seventy-six second gap.
As I often do, I thought about my writing and the goal I’ve had for years (and years!) of getting one of my books published. I trained with classes, books, conferences, and a critique group. I worked hard writing until I reached “The End,” taking comments from judges and my critique partners and editing for countless hours, letting my skin thicken and my writing improve.
And still, I have not reached my goal.
Only on the writing journey, there’s no option of a stopwatch. I don’t know if I am months away from selling one of my books, or years. I don’t even know if it will ever happen.
But I do know that I can’t give up now. I put too many hours of work and too much of my spirit into this work I believed God has called me to do. And maybe that’s why I don’t need a stopwatch. If He’s called me to do this writing thing, I only need to trust Him for the timing He’s laid out.
For me, the easiest way to practice that trust is to offer up my writing to God each time I sit down at my laptop. It’s His. He can do with it what He wants—either to mold me in some way or one day give readers enjoyment, and hopefully growth, through the telling of my stories. I don’t perform this spiritual release often enough. I hold too tightly to my work, my plans. And that’s likely why I often feel anxious over my writing career. But when I release it to the One who knows best, I experience the freedom He’s called me to.
So whether it’s running or writing, a bad race time or a rejection email, I don’t need to beat myself up about it. I don’t need to think of it as failure, but rather as a step in the right direction.
After all, there will be another race next year. Another book, and another chance to sell it.
I only need to run the race, and let God keep the time.
What do you do when you’re anxious about your writing?
Do you find it helps to realize you’re not ultimately in charge?
Heidi Chiavaroli writes History Woven in Grace. She is a wife, mother, disciple, and grace-clinger. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and has finaled in the Genesis contest and My Book Therapy’s Frasier contest.