Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Keeping Your Joy as a Writer by Marilyn Turk

The first time something I wrote was accepted by a publisher, I was excited for months! The thrill of having your work liked well enough to publish is such affirmation that you’re on the right track, that you have a gift for writing.

My story had been accepted by a respected magazine. The acceptance gave me credibility, motivating me to continue to write. The excitement stayed with me through my next publication and the next, then I won a couple of contests. I was on my way to success as a writer!

Then I went to a writers’ conference where one of the keynote speakers said, “Very few of you will ever be successful writers.” It was as if he’d dropped a bomb on the audience. The reason for his dire prediction was because many would-be writers don’t follow through on requests for submission, and those that do face slim odds in the face of a sea of other authors. He was trying to give us a reality check.

But I didn’t need to hear the reasons why I wouldn’t get published. I needed to hear that I would. I wanted encouragement, inspiration, and motivation to forge ahead. I needed to know why I should write, not why not!

Are there people in your life that try to dampen your enthusiasm or steal your joy? They can be well-meaning, even friends, but feed you negative thoughts that stifle your enthusiasm.

Perhaps the negative voices aren’t coming from outside, but in your own head. We doubt ourselves and our ability. And if we receive rejections, our self-confidence takes a dive. When I pitched my first book idea to an editor, she wanted to see it plus synopses for a series. But by the time I was ready to send the proposal, the editor was no longer with the publisher. I was disappointed of course, but I had made progress by preparing the proposal, so now I knew how to proceed, contract or not. That series eventually sold because I didn’t give up on it.

So how do we keep our motivation, our joy of writing?

1. Celebrate little successes. If you meet your word goal for the day or the week, pat yourself on the back! Reward yourself with something besides food, like maybe being able to watch a TV show or a movie. Sometimes just knowing you met your goal is reward enough.

2. Look at how far you’ve come. We all started somewhere, and each time we take on another writing task, we’re making progress.

3. Fill your mind with motivational words like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) Reject negative talk because it does not come from God, but from an enemy that wants to kill your joy and rob you of your motivation, so he can prevent you from doing the work God gave you to do.

4. Even rejections can be motivational because they can tell you what you need to do to fix your manuscript, and even if they don’t, realize that just because one publisher doesn’t want your manuscript, it doesn’t mean no one will.

5. Realize that only you can write your story your way. There may be similar stories, even similar titles, but no one will write the story just like you do.

6. Surround yourself with supporters, writing friends or readers who encourage you. I don’t know what I’d do without my support group, or as some say, my “peeps.”

7. Thank God for the gift and the opportunity to write. Ask Him to help you use your gift.


Multi-published author Marilyn Turk calls herself a “literary archaeologist,” because she loves to discover stories hidden in history. Her World War II novel, The Gilded Curse, won a Silver Scroll award. When readers asked what happened to the characters after the book, Marilyn wrote the sequel, Shadowed by a Spy. Her four-book Coastal Lights Legacy series—Rebel Light, Revealing Light, Redeeming Light, and Rekindled Light—feature Florida lighthouse settings. In addition, Marilyn’s novella, The Wrong Survivor, is in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection. Marilyn has also written a book of devotions called Lighthouse Devotions. Marilyn also writes for the Daily Guideposts Devotions book.
She is a regular contributor to the Heroes, Heroines and History blog, ( is the director of the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat.

She lives in the panhandle of Florida where she and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, and playing tennis when time permits (and it’s below 100 degrees).

Website: @