by Steve Laube
I recently received the following question from a client (an award winning author):
Is it common for an author to hit a wall of discouragement? To feel as though they’re working so hard for so little? To question why they’re doing this?
Unfortunately it is quite common. Doesn’t mean it aches any less. Sort of like getting old…everyone does and it aches, but it is a common malady.
I recently read a blog by a writer in the general market who wrote, “Why am I doing this? I work so hard for so little money only to have critics tell me I have no talent at all.”
It truly comes down to whether your calling is stronger than the frustration and anguish of the writing process. I will never forget reading Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students (in particular chapter two starting on page 19 of the linked PDF). I read it in college while trying to decide whether to pursue becoming a pastor or a teacher with my Bible degree. Spurgeon, in essence, said the only reason you should become a pastor is if you cannot do anything else…the call is that strong. I realized I was making the pastorate one of a number of options, which immediately revealed where I placed it in my passions. So I began changing directions immediately. I set a goal to be a professor of Theology after going to Seminary and Graduate School (my wife would be a professor of Old Testament). But in my last college semester I began working part-time in the Christian bookstore one block off campus….and a rather different journey to my profession began. If I had not consciously made a life-decision regarding my calling I may not be where I am today.
In some ways it is like the life of the writer. If you cannot not write then you know where your passions lay. If you can put it aside and write when the inspiration strikes, then you are a hobbyist and should treat writing as such. I find this separates many in this profession rather quickly.
The author replied a day later with this:
“I had two dark days, for whatever reason. But yesterday afternoon, wouldn’t you know, those dark hours translated into my writing in just the way the manuscript needed. I’m learning that the work of writing and the love of writing are a bit different. I love having written! And I could step away from it for a time, but writing will always woo me. I fought for 17 years to follow what I believed was a call from God, so throwing in the towel now would be silly.”
What do you do when discouragement strikes in your writing career?