Diligence Rewarded

by Steve Laube


The ease of today’s social media communication brings a casual layer to the task of writing. Careful composition is trumped by the need for speed. For most “throw away” emails and posts that is the new normal. But it should never leak into the business of writing, either in craft or in delicate communication.

The other day I received an email query/proposal. There was a very large file attached and the body of the email read, “Here is my book. Please take a look.” No signature line, that was it. At least it rhymed. This was not a friend, a client, or someone I had ever met. But the casual, even flippant, nature of the note all but says, “I’m not serious about the craft or business of writing.”

The best writers are those who take their ideas and their words and run them through a gauntlet of critique and reformation. They pour their words into a garlic press and slice and dice them into bits that can flavor their entire book.

This takes time. This takes hard work. And it is a process that seems endless.

You writers out there know what I’m talking about. It is the middle part of the project that is the worst. It becomes a slog instead of a joy. You no longer like the story, you no longer think you idea is that good after all. And if you are writing a novel you might be wishing for the demise of your main character….it would be so much easier to have that character croak so you could write “the end” and be done with it.

But diligence has its reward. A finely crafted book can bring hope to those who are hurting. A well told story can take a reader to a place they’ve never been before. As one writer said, “A book is a place where you can consider an explosive idea without fear of it going off in your face.”

Those words you struggle to express will be gift for someone who is struggling to express their own.

So as you wrestle with your writing demons this season and after the new year begins remember the word “diligence.” Maybe make that your “word of the year.” Tape it above your monitor.

Samuel Johnson wrote, “What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.”

2 Peter 1:5-7 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

22 Responses to Diligence Rewarded

  1. Jackie Layton December 16, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    I needed your post today. Last week I hit a wall with my writing as I traveled the valleys and peaks of life last week.

    I’ve written diligence down and pinned it on my bulletin board with the scripture reference. You have no idea how much this resonated with my soul this morning. Diligence will be my word for 2014 as I continue my writing journey.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Diana Harkness December 16, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    Great reminder. Diligence is the stuff of iron, forged through the heat of despair and shaped by tremendous blows. But in the end it yields great reward. Or as my pastor continually phrases it, “One step, two step, one step, two step. . .

  3. Judith Robl December 16, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    Diligence, despite distractions! I must remember this. Thank you for reminding us and shoring it up with scripture.

  4. Connie Almony December 16, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    I remember when I first became serious about writing fiction. I LOVED it. I thought “This is the life.” I know you’re groaning at that statement. It was fun to develop a story and populate it with characters of my own liking. But then I felt this still, small voice say, “It’s going to get VERY HARD, but persevere.” It stopped me, but I knew it was true. So glad I heard that voice, because it got harder … and I persevered. I still love it today–even more–but in a deeper, more meaningful way. It’s not just for fun, it’s because I have to do it as if for God.

  5. April Gardner December 16, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Steve said, “You writers out there know what I’m talking about. It is the middle part of the project that is the worst. It becomes a slog instead of a joy. You no longer like the story, you no longer think you idea is that good after all.”
    This is exactly where I’m at! So thank you for this reminder. Much needed.

  6. Jennifer Dyer December 16, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    Thanks for sharing those wise and comforting words.
    Sometimes I feel it would be easier to poke myself in the eye than to dissect my words one more time, but I love the moments where I can see my skill improving. I have to keep telling myself this is a marathon, not a sprint.

  7. Rick Barry December 16, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    I amen this from afar. Not every story will appeal to every reader, but every story should be worked and refined before the author submits. The need for speed imbues our generation. Instead of slicing and dicing words to flavor the entire book, it’s too easy to send the project off half-baked. Been there, done that, and still striving to improve.

  8. Elaine Stock December 16, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    These are such encouraging and powerful words. I truly am treasuring this uplift. Thanks!

    Holiday blessings.

  9. Jeanne Takenaka December 16, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    I needed these words of encouragement today, Steve. Thanks for that. I loved Samuel Johnson’s quote. Anything worth doing will be hard, and diligence is what will help me get from beginning to end. I’m finding it in parenting, and in writing. Thanks.

  10. Patti Jo Moore December 16, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Wow! How did you know this post is exactly what I needed today, Steve? ;) Thank you for sharing–this is going into my keeper files. And the word DILIGENCE is going to be written and put on my idea board (when my eyes leave my computer screen, they travel to that little board behind my computer). :)
    Merry Christmas from Georgia, Patti Jo

  11. Rebecca DeMarino December 16, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    As I work on edits for my first novel, this is exactly what I needed to hear! And no more pondering what will be my 2014 “word”! Diligence! It rings true to my heart and is going on my little sliver of a sticky note for my computer, and the Bible verse I’ll commit to memory. What a gift you’ve given us for the New Year! BTW – Acceptable Words stayed on my desk this year, read and savored. I’ll always keep it close by!

  12. Thomas Allbaugh December 16, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Diligence really is at the heart of the writing life. Getting to it every day and working, doing something. This fits with how to define a writer: A writer is someone who writes. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • J.D. Maloy December 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Thomas, I agree. Diligence is at the heart of a writer. It reveals ones passion. According to Merriam-Webster definition, diligence is “preserving application” and the synonym is “attentive and persistent effort”. Yep. Sounds about right.

      “The best writers are those who take their ideas and their words and run them through a gauntlet of critique and reformation.” I’m off to pop my knuckles and get my story ready for training.

      Steve, you nailed it so poetically, thank you!

  13. Patrick Craig December 16, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Sigh! Thanks, Steve, I’ll keep going… :)

  14. Ron Estrada December 16, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Good post, Steve. I’ve watched a few of my friends go from beginning writers to multi-published. And they all have one thing in common: they’re deliberate about the business side of writing. It’s no longer a hobby for them. Whether we write full-time or for an hour a day after our day job, we need to treat it as a serious business, or it always be just a hobby.

  15. Rebecca Barlow Jordan December 16, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    Well said, Steve!

  16. Heidi Kortman December 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Thank you.

  17. Peter DeHaan December 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Steve, I like that you tapped the word “slog.” I had to slog through my second dissertation — for a couple of years. I hope to never have to slog through anything again, at least not for for two years.

  18. Nick Franks December 17, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I’ll remember this one come the New Year!!

  19. Mary Albers Felkins December 18, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Well said. So true! Thanks for encouragement to press on in diligence. And I am just NOW entering the writing industry, hoping for a first novel, hearing the Lord tell me to trust Him with the process – however long it takes – so that His message in the story is communicated to those who need to hear it.

  20. Laurean Brooks December 19, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Thank you. A timely post. It comes after a proposal request followed by a rejection as I question my abilities as a writer and/or why the manuscript didn’t make the grade.

    What to do next.


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