Thursday, January 25, 2018

Writing Through the Tough Times by Laurie Wood


“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I love this Bible verse. It seems so simple. Its profound in its simplicity. Be joyful in whatever God brings to your life. Be thankful for it. Never stop praying. It sounds so easy!
Until a serious illness hits you and that deadline is looming. A diagnosis you don’t want to hear. Or, like me, you fall and break your elbow and wrist and put yourself in a 90 degree cast from shoulder to fingertip for two months. Be joyful? Be thankful? Where’s the joy in the pain? 
How can you be thankful for an unintended break in your routine, especially one that means you can’t clean, cook, dress yourself, or look after your children? The part about “never stop praying” is easy… rail at God! How can He do this to me? I have deadlines to meet, I have people who count on me, why me?
When I recovered from my own broken arm and was finally on the home stretch of my requested book, my son fell and broke his ankle in three places. It was what’s called a “catastrophic” break in that his foot was internally severed and needed orthopedic trauma surgery. We were traumatized all right. It’s easier for a parent to bear the pain of broken bones or surgery, than it is to watch your child go through it, especially when they have a limited understanding in the first place.

The real question, is not “why me?” As Christians, we know God is sovereign and in control. The real question is “why not me, Lord?” That bad things happen to us means we’re where He intends us to be, whatever His purpose for us is, even when we can’t see it. Sometimes we need to go through the fire with Him to know, in our hearts, that God is sovereign and in control. He will bring you through to the other side.
What does this “big picture” have to do with our writing? 
  • Are we trusting God with our writing or are we trying to do it under our own steam? Is this a season where He needs to get our attention back on Him?
  • Are we seeing “the joy” in the situation? You may not feel joyful but there is always something to be grateful for wherever we find ourselves. In my case, I didn’t need surgery on my arm, nor did my son lose his foot. But I had to force myself to see the “joy” when both instances felt like major catastrophes in my life.
  • We must handle our emotions, our thoughts, our reactions. Many people never learn that the only control they have over anything is self-control. That is the only control the Bible talks about. So, we need to guard our attitudes and take charge of our hearts and emotions. How do we do that during trials? Back to our Bible verse: “Never stop praying.”
  • Pray even when you’re angry, even when your situation makes little sense, even when a contract falls through. God hears even the faintest whispers of our hearts. Sometimes in my son’s hospital room all I could pray was “God, I can’t do this anymore, I need sleep!” I didn’t get sleep, but I felt His presence.
  • My husband struggled with the “be thankful” part of the verse. And, at times, so did I. With an unknown prognosis it was hard to “be thankful” that a mentally challenged son might also now be physically incapacitated. But I saw how it drew our family tightly together, how inter-dependent we became again. We’d been drifting apart and hadn’t even realized it. My son and I shared a deep bonding time in the hospital I will always cherish, even while hating the reason it happened. And I was so thankful the injury wasn’t worse. Things can always be worse.
My book got written and submitted. Sometimes I had great writing days and some days all I could do was read over what I’d written the week before. Some days I wrote drivel and then typed in red, capital letters “You Can Edit This Later”. And while I hated most of 2017 and am glad to see it in my rear view mirror, I’m also glad I’ve been through the crucible and feel God beside me, stronger than ever. I have a direction for my writing. I’ve persevered.

There are practical things to help you write in the tough times of life. First, if it’s a dire emergency like my son’s accident, or a death in the family, give yourself permission NOT to write. You need to give your full self to the task at hand.

When struck with an illness, as I was several times this year, I recommend working through the pain along with times of sleep and rest. Use Dragon Speak or other dictation software to help you. They’re well worth the money and sometimes steep learning curve. Dictate into your phone, or scribble words on a notepad. Anything to keep your head in your story for a brief time each day.

Reach out for help. I needed practical help in the form of meals and respite care. I had online friends praying for me and checking in with me during the worst of my son’s accident. A crisis is no time to be proud! You can pay it all forward later when life returns to normal.

If you’re contracted and can’t meet your deadlines, you need to work that out with your editor and/or agent. If you’re not contracted yet, use your best judgement on getting your writing done, but my advice is: persevere. You’ll learn more than you can imagine. Finishing is a reward in itself.

Writing through the tough times teaches us resilience. It teaches us to focus, to never give up. Before 2017, I would’ve told you I couldn’t write under emotional pressure. I’ve changed because I’ve done it. And as the saying goes, if I can do it, so can you. Here’s to a better 2018!

Laurie Wood is a Canadian author who writes both romantic suspense and historical novels. She’s a military spouse who’s followed her husband’s career around the country. Pre-children she was a police officer, and also an Executive Director for a crisis shelter for youth. When she’s not writing she can be found spinning on her spinning wheel, knitting, or walking her dogs. You can find her at www.lauriewoodauthor.com

10 comments:

  1. Great post, Laurie! So encouraging! All your points are true. Joy in the situation-that's the one that spoke to me the most. I find that the hardest to do.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Laurie, this was a beautiful reminder to persevere through hardship, relying on God to see us through. I’m in awe of you and all that you have accomplished in the midst of so much. I love your heart!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My goodness, you ladies are up with the birds! I admire your ability to get up before 6 a.m. lol! Thank you for your kind words, both of you. And as I said, I had help from friends although family was painfully absent and that hurt my husband and I. But, God provides and we're grateful for it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for such an uplifting and thought-provoking post, Laurie! Love your positive attitude!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Laurie, your walk with Christ is so inspiring! You are amazing! Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts and advice. Focus on the JOY with PRAYERS of THANKSGIVING!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you, Laura and Sherida, for your encouragement. It's not easy to be positive in the moment! I'll freely admit that...my husband sometimes says he's not a "glass half-full kind of guy, sometimes I'm a glass-is-empty kind of guy". When we went through our son's surgery, I kept telling my husband that at least we saved his foot. Losing it would've been much worse. There's always something, or someone worse off than you or your situation. That's how I look at it. So, that's where the PRAYERS of THANKSGIVING come in, as Sherida said. And be thankful God is right there with you, even in the darkest night at the hospital.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great words of advice Laurie! I love that you said, "give yourself permission not to write". Sometimes, we just have to know that it's not the time. So glad you're back in the saddle!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Laurie, I'm so thankful you guested on Seriously Write today. I'm amazed you were able to accomplish anything with all this going on.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Terri, thank you for the opportunity to be a guest with you here on Seriously Write!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Such an inspirational post, Laurie. Thank you for sharing your heart today. You're truly an inspiration to me.

    ReplyDelete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!