Thursday, July 12, 2012

Three Ways to Find Stability in the Writing Life

If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven. (Col. 1:23 ESV)
How those words send hope and hunger to my soul: stable and steadfast. Reminds me of the photo of a guy in a lighthouse. The waves crash all around, smothering the lighthouse in whitecaps, but he's safe from the storm. Too many times, the writer's life seems opposite of that, doesn't it? Rather than being safe from the storm, I'm driven and tossed in the storm. 

  • Will I make enough money to keep doing this? 
  • Will a contract ever land in my mailbox?
  • Do my words impact anyone? Anyone at all?
  • Can my family support me in all this? 
  • Is this really good for my family? 
  • Am I working on the right projects?
  • Do I even have a clue what I'm doing?

And on it goes. Anxiety rises and fear grows. I crave the security of a set and steady course. When this unsettled mode starts to take over, I try to tell myself three things. 

Myth of Stability
First, stability in this world (writing or otherwise) is a myth. Theoretically, I could get a promise of a contract, start to plan a book, do research, then have a sudden cardiac arrest, postponing it a year. Not so theoretical--this happened to me. Even though I had a contract on the way, God had other plans. The most prolific, published author doesn't really  have stability in her writing life. Life has a way of happening in ways we never expect. I don't really know what God's going to do with me, so I may as well stop chasing stability in this life and rest in His plans for me.

Stay Focused 
Second, looking at the big picture only leads to fretting. I lose my footing most when I gaze at all my goals. They begin to swirl around my head like a maddening dream. How can I possibly accomplish them all? I do like to explore the overall plan once in a while, but I need to live in the little goals. Babystep by babystep. What do I need to do today, in the next hour, to reach the goal? Breaking things down to only enough steps to fit on a 3x5 card helps with this--and establishes me on solid footing. 

The Lighthouse
Let's go back to Colossians 1:23. "If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel." There's the lighthouse. More than anything else, what stabilizes my shifting is keeping my eyes fixed on the Lord's love and gentle guidance. He is stable and steadfast. If left to myself I will always falter, but I belong to the One who never shifts or changes. His grace steadies me through the ups and downs of the writing life. 

He will for you too. 

Happy writing and God bless!



  1. You are so right, O! Anxiety begats anxiety. And the only way to overcome our fears (back to our word for the year), is to place all our cares on Him, "for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7b

    I love your idea of putting the babysteps on index cards. Great tangible way to "take a bite out of the elephant." I use the Pomodoro technique ( sometimes to help me focus, too.

    Thank you so much. I needed this today.

    1. Glad it helped, Angie! I like the Pomodoro technique as well. Good tip!


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