Called to Write
I was having lunch with a writer friend of mine, and she didn’t seem like she was in the best place emotionally. “I’m starting to question whether this is really my calling,” she said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because some days… it just isn’t fun.” (She said this with a straight face.)
“Hmm,” I said. “Is your marriage fun everyday?”
“Mostly, but…um, no.”
“Every time it’s not fun, do you question the entire marriage? Do you consider divorce?” I asked.
“Of course not.” She rolled her eyes.
“Well, I think your calling as a writer is similar,” I told her. “Every time it gets hard, you try and figure out if you’re doing something wrong, but you don’t question the whole darn thing. Every time you have an argument, the whole marriage doesn’t fall apart. Every time you have a bad day writing, you don’t have to question your entire calling.”
“But…” she argued, “I thought God is supposed to give us passion for the things He calls us to?”
“Are you passionate about your husband?” I asked.
She laughed. “No, not everyday. I get your point.”
Your calling to be a writer is bigger than a feeling that shifts with the wind. Once you decide that this is what you’re supposed to be doing, you have to avoid using every roadblock as a reason to question it. Instead, look at whether your calling is being confirmed.
What are some ways to know you’re on the right track?
- You’re taking little baby steps toward possible publication.
- You know that your writing’s improving.
- Someone important has given you encouragement.
- Rejection letters are getting nicer and more complimentary.
- Your critique group is saying good things and they know what they’re talking about and you don’t think they’re blowing smoke.
- You’ve published something smaller like a magazine article or a contribution to a book.
- You’ve got an agent interested in your work.
Unless you have a total lack of anything resembling confirmation… stop questioning your calling and get to work!
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Great encouragement to those of us who are writers. I loved your analogy with marriage and our passions. Writing is hard work, and hopefully seasoned with passion.
Great logic and terrific advice to give a friend struggling with something that can’t be measured with a physical yardstick.
Becoming a writer was the scariest thing for me, because it was the first time I did something that I thought was truly just for me, so I thought I was selfish.
Then I realized that if someone reads what I’ve written and it moves them or inspires them, I’ve done what I’m supposed to. I use contests to gauge and connect with editors and agents to get a feel for whether what I’m writing is viable in the market before going after them with a query. It doesn’t mean I don’t work super hard to write the best story I can and have it as shiny and sparkly as I can when I enter the contest and I only enter ones that offer feedback so I can gauge other writers, published and trained-working toward publication writers. Some are kind and gracious. Some are callous and scathing. It is conflicting when you get one of each in the same contest on the same story. But the point is, I have learned something from every single experience I’ve had with my writing. If I take a step back,I stop and reasses to see if maybe I missed a turn God wanted me to take. I get joy out of making these people come alive on the page and helping them overcome the challenges of life by learning a God truth that someone else can apply to their life too. That’s why I write. That’s why I think I’m called to write. But I don’t think I’m the only one God has called (check out the local Christian bookstore shelves). It takes lots of practice and polishing to get a story where it needs to be so God can use it like He intended. Trust His leading, follow that voice you hear inside your head and that world will come to life and you will help someone.
Of course landing an agent who lands you a contract with a big name publisher is the ultimate validation, like the cherry on top. You still eat the rest of the hot fudge sunday too, so enjoy.
I didn’t think of it in terms of a calling, but I questioned my destiny as a writer for 25 years. I was overwhelmed with childcare, making a living, dealing with an unsupportive spouse and then single motherhood. Finally, when my second husband began pursuing his dream of writing music regardless of lack of time, I realized I was resentful because I had sacrificed my own dream for my family. I decided I wasn’t going to make that sacrifice any more, and then I found I was able to make the time to write. I’ve never looked back.
Thanks, Rachelle. This was an encouraging post. I’m not sure if I question my call to write, but I certainly question whether it’s worth it. It’s too hard. I can’t do it. I’ll never get published. Why bother? Those are the thoughts I have to fight. It helps when I remember my original reason for writing: to help others and as an act of love to God. When I write for Him, that need to “succeed” goes away. But it’s a constant struggle.
Rachelle, you really nailed this one. Look at all these comments! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.
Finished the end of the hardest Nanowrimo I’ve ever encountered, I have to say. “Ain’t that the truth.”
I guess I am not alone. Who knew? 🙂
I love this post. SOO many writers I have talked/tweeted with/read their blogs are so filled with doubt! Trust me, I have doubtful moments but it’s so vital to take the “quit” word out of our vocabularies just like we (should) take the word “divorce” out of our marriages in any casual way.
I definitely needed this message today. You are right though, emotions and feelings change with the wind, but it doesn’t change your calling. And sometimes we don’t even recognize the encouragement God sends our way. Instead, we question and doubt. I know I do. It’s a process though. A marathon, not a sprint and marriage is a GREAT analogy for it all! Thanks!
Thank you. 🙂
I have questioned my calling. I started late, I wonder if I have anything to say, and I wonder if I’ll have time to learn how to say what I do have to say. We recently completed a small group study where one of the questions was about gifts, talents, and our motivations to use them. The question helped me to remember some “God moments” I’ve had about my efforts at writing. I’m not sure if I’m called to write, but I definitely feel God’s encouragement to keep writing.
I think it’s important to remember that you might be called to write, but not to be published. Writing could teach you something or glorify/please God or touch one person, etc.
But otherwise this post is spot-on. Just as with anything else, especially a long-term relationship, there will be periods of struggle, laziness, maybe even apathy. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing the wrong thing or should give it up. Just wait/pray/try again/see what happens.
On this 25-year journey I’ve been on to get published and established as a novelist, I have had plenty of times (yes, even years) when I seriously doubted my “calling.” And since I am now a professional writing coach and talk almost daily with my clients about this very topic and the writing life (life, like in a lifetime of writing), God has pointed out some very insightful things to me. Take a look at this verse in 2 Thess 1:11 (NLT):
“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”
The only call on our life according to the Bible–the only work we are told to do (John 8)–is to believe in the one whom God sent-Jesus. Some are called to different facets of ministry, for sure, and I believe, for example, that God has called me to both write and encourage other writers. But I don’t think there is a formula or a set calling like “God told me to write and so that’s my calling.” I think it’s more like Paul said above–that our faith prompts us to do certain things, God giving us free will and the space to invent ourselves, explore our talents and inclinations, but that we are not burdened with one particular calling as far as writing goes. If we feel prompted by the spirit to write for life, then God will give us the power to accomplish this and all the other good things our faith prompts us to do. I don’t know if that gives a little different slant on the writing life for you or not, but it does for me. And I would of course encourage new writers to link up with a writing coach or mentor to help them not only assess and aid them with their writing but to help them along in this very long, difficult journey full of rejection and disappointment. It is not for the fainthearted, but God has his reasons for it being this tough, and one reason that I cherish greatly is the years of hard work have matured me as a writer and I’m grateful for them.
All my life, I’ve seen missionaries who have been called to some of the strangest fields imaginable. While it might have started with a more general call, it always turns into a more specific call. Some of these guys head off into areas that they can’t reach with an automobile, believing that is where God wants them. In a similar way, if writers are called, I think God will direct their attention to a specific topic or people group.
Excellent point, Timothy, and it’s encouraging to remember that writing may very well be our mission field, though it may not seem as illustrious as living amongst cannibals or working with orphans. Those things are good, but not everyone is called that way.
(just realized that everyone IS called to help w/orphans–I was thinking more along international lines)
I think of a calling as being different from a commandment or duty. Certainly, it is our duty to help the widows and the fatherless, but I know with certainty that that is not my calling. There are, however, people who have a great burden for that work and usually that is accompanied with a skill that I don’t have. If there is something I’m burdened about, it is because I see Christians who are not living up to their potential. I see my writing headed in that direction, but I don’t see that as a calling to write because that is also my motivation for teaching an adult Sunday School class. Writing, teaching, blog, etc. are just means to reach a goal. I suspect that God calls us to pursue a goal, more so than that he calls us to perform a task in a specific way. Clearly, he has given some people great skill in writing and he allows them to use that skill, but I very much doubt he will call someone without the expectation that they will accomplish something.
“I very much doubt he will call someone without the expectation that they will accomplish something”–that’s exactly what I’m counting on with my writing! I think we can plug in our spiritual gifts to coincide with our writing topics, if that makes sense. Thus, we’re using our gifts for God. Yes, we can serve Him in other ways, but as writers, we can reach many people for the kingdom, too.
I’ve not questioned my call to writer, but I have wondered if it is really worth persevering in face of the low odds for success and limited compensation potential. If only I were independently wealthy…
If God has called you, he has also equipted you with what you need to succeed.
Thanks for your post, Rachelle, and for everyone’s insight and encouragement!
After my late husband passed away, God led me to write and publish a book for others who are grieving the loss of a loved one. I pray for those who need renewed hope, understanding, and direction.
Right now, I’m in the process of penning a novel but have been detoured from my journey for a couple long periods of time – until today. How ironic that these posts arrived today as well!
I’m discovering I need to stay focused on the One who called me to write. I’ve started, once again, to praise Him daily for His direction, even before it happens.
My goal also is to have something positive to write that will uplift or entertain others in a positive way.
I also read “Writers Digest” magazine articles to be encouraged, inspired, and to better learn my craft.
I struggle even calling my writing a “calling”. I am stunned to discover that it is only me and my writer friends who eavesdrop to jot down dialogue and people watch to build characters.
If it is a Calling (from God gets a capital), it seems a bit anti climatic that God called me to write stories compared to being a prophet or running a hospital in India. However, Jonah was called to be a prophet and doubted it. He ended up swallowed by a whale. Can you imagine how that SMELLED in there? So, doubting what God has given you to do is not for the faint of heart (or faint olfactories.)
I did decide a few years ago that my writing was a weird hobby that I would once again regulate to the bottom of my things to do list. I prayed for God to let me know differently. This was unbeknownst to my husband who gifted me with a writer’s conference. When I asked “why”, he said “Because you’re a writer.” Oh, okay.
I may doubt if it’s any good. I may doubt I will ever really get published. I may doubt a lot of things. But I do not doubt I am a writer (now).
Here’s ANOTHER wonderful hubby! Where do you all find these guys? (Rhetorical question.) They don’t grow on trees!
I don’t think Jonah lacked confidence. His problem was that he knew that, if he did what God called him to do, his enemies would repent.
I really enjoyed this post. Everything we love does at times feel like work. Related to this post on so many levels, Rachelle. Thanks!
Of course I have. Often. Not because it’s not fun, but because I question my ability. Honestly, I compare myself to my critique partners. At those times, I try to remind myself that my gifts are in different writing areas than theirs. I have to work harder in areas that come naturally to others, but maybe they have to work harder in areas that come more naturally to me.
Thanks for this blog of affirmation.
I questioned my call to write very recently. However, I do believe it is something the Lord has given me to steward well and doubting His gift isn’t good stewardship. I tackled my doubt by writing the next day. I pulled out an old manuscript and looked for areas I could improve. Challenge motivates me, and I want to work hard to be my best and allow the Lord to handle the results I can’t control. Thank you for this affirming post! I was actually thankful for the urge to write today on my blog.
Yes, I have. Well, actually, let me add to that. I never questioned whether I wanted to write or not. But I have questioned where I want to write for publication or not. More so before I had an agent/book deal. But even now….I find myself having the occasional day where I feel too overwhelmed or too unmotivated or too….unpassionate. That should totally be a word, by the way.
If you are so inclined to climb inside a colleague’s brain…here’s something I wrote several years ago to help me deal with this very issue:
Thank you for the encouragement on the calling to write. I see how this applies to other areas of my life outside of writing. I have been analyzing a good day in my career and what that means…your post helps to clarify. My favorite posts are those that encourage the writing life…thank you.
I began to write at the age of 9 and finally have a published book at 53. Can you say never give up??
Of course I went through periods of doubt. During those times I wrote for newspapers and that bolstered my confidence. It is ironic that my first published work is a story that I never imagined I would write. I was compelled to tell the story.
Can I follow-up with #2? Getting back in the swing is not fun but I am sticking to my schedule.
Rachelle, your comparison between marriage and being called to write is perfect. My husband and I have been married forever. We married for life. Period. Looking back we can see how that made all the difference.
Thanks for the great start on another week.
Sometimes I get sidetracked by life or frustrated by writer’s block and forget that writing is a calling. But when I remember how I got started, how the girl who, unlike the rest of her family, disliked writing, suddenly starting writing because of a friend who dreamed of writing a children’s book and because of her own elaborate daydreams, I realize anew that it is a calling.
I have questioned my calling for years at a time, but I always come back to it eventually. I believe God wanted me to give up writing for several years and focus on other things. I even questioned whether my calling might be to edit rather than write. Then a few months ago He gave writing back to me, and I have now made more progress than I ever had before. Living one’s calling is a fascinating, terrifying, gratifying adventure, and I am eagerly anticipating what more is in store!
Absolutely, I’ve questioned it. I’m one of those introspective nerds who questions nearly everything frequently, though. But I do recall sitting there preparing to take time off from my day job to go to a writers conference, having received 30 outright rejections from agents and over 50 non-responses, wondering if this was really my thing.
I went to the conference looking for insight on what I could do better, and I found it. My writing improved greatly, and with it my outlook, and soon after I had a small publisher interested. Suddenly my plight didn’t seem so bad. I even wrote a blog post to that effect, titled “It only takes one yes.”
I suspect that most people question their calling from time to time. We all know that some days it’s harder to keep on “keeping-on” than it is on others. Regardless what kind of work one does in his or her life, there are bound to be some no-good, terrible, horrible, very bad days. We just have to be tough and hang in there on those days until the good, wonderful, marvelous, very positive days come back around.
The wording of created versus called has touched me, made me think a bit. Somehow the idea of created to write puts me in mind of God reaching down to me, regardless of my response, while called to write seems to require hearing and responding to that call. Created to write gives me more confidence to respond to the call of writing. Alas, it is quite easy to question a call; what if we, in our humanness, heard incorrectly after all, particularly in a season of hardship. Yet, we cannot ever question the creation God has fashioned, for He is God, after all. Creation is what we as writers aspire to, trying and failing, and trying again, hopefully, to walk in Daddy’s footsteps. It is higher than calling, creation. And, if we are created as writers then that is unchangeable, in the fabric of the Earth, no matter if we feel like writing or if we don’t. It is, just like God is. For some reason, that brings a freedom to me, a settling the matter, perhaps it is the response of faith, not in myself but in God’s good pleasure and plan.
This is a wonderful post and I love the comments. I have been called to write, and to write a particular book. It is so clear in my head that I think about it constantly. I feel God is telling me to write this book and to write it now. Why have I not written it? Many reasons.
1. Time. I work 16 to 18 hour days to support myself and put my son through college. After that I am lucky to be able to string the words “good night” together.
2. Self doubt. I am “uneducated”. I feel as though my writing will never be taken seriously and if I embark on this great endeavor and spend all my time and energy on it, it will not be good enough.
3. Fear. I am afraid to stop doing what I have always done and try something different.
4. Lack of knowledge. I have no idea how to start, to finish, to even think about sumitting it to someone even if only to be rejected. I don’t know what a critique group is or where to find one.
I have no idea why God picked me to write this book. I am an artist. I am comfortable expressing myself through the ease and flow of watercolours mixing on paper, with the vibrant possibilitis pastels and oils, sculpturing clay and stone into what my mind pictures, using mixed media to accentuate a point, even beadwork though tedious is rewarding. But writing? Me? I don’t believe my mind contains the vocabulary necessary for a book.
I feel like I must have stumbled in front of the person God wanted chose to write this book when he was doing his picking.
Your comment proves that you’re not “uneducated”–no more uneducated than Abraham Lincoln was.
Your comment proves that you can write coherently and effectively. With bullet points 1-4, even, so you’re able to structure your ideas.
Your artistic skills carry over into writing. One of the most useful things I did for my writing was take some art classes.
Hang in there. I’ve discovered that there’s a huge learning curve. But it’s clear to me that you’ve got what it takes.
I doubted my call to write strongly after about 17 years of it when I got kicked out of the third round of finals for the American Title II contest (the American Idol for Books). I’d made it to being one of less than eight in the nation up for a publishing contract. I’d had a book sell, and the publisher go bankrupt three weeks before the release date.
I thought, I’ve got a PR agency, why do I keep banging my head against a keyboard for this? I’m done.
That lasted 30 minutes.
I realized I was still going to have to find a way to deal with the stories and bits of dialogue floating into my head every day. A) I could bore my non-writing friends to death and potentially lose them. B) I could go get a second job to pay a therapist to listen to me babble on about my stories or C) I could just keep writing the damn things.
I like my friends. I don’t want yet ANOTHER job. Writing seemed like the cheapest and easiest way of keep my head on straight.
And if I was going to write anyway, why would I not send it out?
And so we came full circle. And five years later, I’ve had four books out this year, three scheduled for next year and two in 2013.
Once you let go of the, “is this what I’m meant to do” it all gets more focused.
Yep I’ve had doubts. They usually occur when I have writer’s block or consider the scope of the project 🙂
A very timely post! Now that I am almost finished with the NaNoWriMo task of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month…not only am I exhausted, but I am questioning this “calling” all the time. But…having a top literary agent interested in seeing my completed book has been more than enough motivation and inspiration to keep me going.
I have been an artist for most of my life and never had true success with it, and now I am trying this writing “thing” to see if anything is there.
Of course, I question my calling, but I also trust the Lord because He gave me this story. I just pray it finds its way to readers someday…
Keep the faith everyone!!
Yes! Many, many times. After switching careers from journalism to teaching, I tried to quit bc, let’s face it, writing doesn’t pay much. And teaching is SO rewarding. Besides, what I have to say has already been said. But God kept nagging me about it. I put Him off, ignored Him, until last fall when He arranged my schedule so I could write. Weird, right? But I never would’ve arranged it like that on my own. And now I am SO content. Even if I never get published (altho I’ve experienced all of your ‘right tracks’) part of me shrugs. Bc this is who I am. Period. The rest is up to His timing.
Everyday I have doubts. The thing is, I love to write. I think it would be great to get confirmation from the outside world to tell me yes, you are a good writer. I keep hoping that will happen.
I really appreciate this post and many of the comments. This last month life has really gotten in the way of writing, and I was wondering why I spent so much time on something causing me so much frustration. The comparison to marriage, and by extension to family in general, helps me understand I never give up on them, why stop something I enjoy when it’s working right just because right now it’s difficult?
Now it’s back to the outline to figure out why I don’t like my story and where to change it. I’m certain much of the difficulty is because it isn’t the story God wants me to tell. When He likes it, I will too.
Rachelle, I think for me the questioning comes in when I experience writer’s block, or I get a rejection, or my health problems or family obligations keep me from writing.
I’m currently working on my third MS. I’m struggling with the writing of it and it sometimes makes me wonder if I can really do this. But. I make myself sit down and write. I focus on one scene at a time. One word written is one less unwritten, right? That’s my motto. That’s what I tell myself when it seems like I’m writing at a snail’s pace. One word written is one less unwritten.
So far, every time I sit down and write a scene in this book I sigh in relief once it’s down. Not because it’s a boring story. Not because the writing is bad. It’s a difficult book to write because it deals with heart issues – deep, heart-rending, life-scarring issues. I do believe I’m called to write it, so I do write it… with much prayer and many BIC moments.
Thanks for this post! Great reminder!
BTW, how would you categorize romance with suspense elements that may not quite be suspenseful enough to be called Romantic Suspense, but there’s too much suspense to be considered simply Romance?
A suspense-filled Romance novel?
(My WIP is also in a cumbersome category. I learned it is not Historical Fiction. It’s Mainstream. So now I’m calling it Mainstream Fiction in a historical setting.)
Really, Marion? I thought anything historical was historical – mainstream or not. That’s strange.
I like your “Suspense-filled Romance!” Thanks for the suggestion. Though this is pretty much my style (and I do write in a suspense style), I don’t write about murder and mystery and things that are typical for suspense. Drama? Is there a category for Romantic Drama? Only my stories are real to life drama, not soap opera drama.
*shrugs* I’ve been told I have a unique and captivating voice. Let’s hope that’s as much of a plus for agents and publishers as it has been for my readers.
I’m no expert on genre.
Is there a writers’ workshop in your area? The facilitator might be able to take a little time to help you pinpoint things. You could probably do an internet workshop too.
Sorry about very late reply.
Break a leg!
Yes, I’ve questioned the calling. Repeatedly.
I’ve even tried to quit, but nobody would accept my resignation–not even me.
Then I quit whining and start writing.
We all have moments, some longer than others, when we question this calling. I think that’s the result of a career that’s not only hard, but emotionally draining. It seems I’m always traveling between amazing highs and frustrating lows, but I think consistency is the key. I try to write when I’m getting all kinds of praise, and I try to write when I receive rejections. Each word is one word closer to my goals.
Thanks so much for putting a writing career into perspective. I like the analogy! I will keep this in mind as my inner dialog changes daily.
This is a great message to share with anyone questioning a “call.” How quickly we can stumble off a path of positive expectations on to a rabbit trail of doubt. Your marriage analogy is quite effective. As always, thanks for your generous blog.
Great post and quite timely for me. I’m writing my first novel, and the rough draft is not what I would call anything in the vicinity of great. Still, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing this for a reason, and that I’ll be able to go back and improve more.
Oh, yeah, and like Beth says above, I compare myself to others, especially in the creativity department.
Interesting timing on this post, Rachelle, at least for me personally.
Right now, I am really struggling with figuring out exactly what direction I’m headed with this writing venture.
I’m not so much questioning whether I’m called to write, so much as I still have trouble thinking of myself as a writer. That, in itself is not necessarily an issue, except it makes it harder figuring out goals, directions, niches, etc. with my writing.
Am I called to write? I don’t know.
However, I do know that I am called to serve. And, for now, at least, serving seems to include writing.
I also hesitate to say that I am called to write. I feel that God has equipped me with the ability to right and I believe that God equips us for any calling he gives us. But we can’t say that we are called to something because we are equipped for it. If anything, it seems to me that the “calling to write” is much too broad. When God calls us, he is usually much more specific than that.
“When God calls us, he is usually much more specific than that.”
I like how you expressed this!
I feel much more comfortable saying that God led me to write a book on the topic of God’s heart toward believers who have experienced divorce.
Thru the process of writing and publishing that book, I have felt led to also begin a blog, and have discovered some of the potential ministry opportunities available thru blogging.
That’s about it, for now, in terms of what I can confidently say God has called me to in the world of writing.
Thanks for the feedback, Timothy! I always enjoy reading your perspective.
I believe the way God calls people to any ministry differs from person to person. I have stated at Internet places in the past that God never speaks to me directly, but rather that I pray and ask for direction, and when I don’t receive it in an explicit way I pray for God to direct my decision-making process. And I believe He always has. People have said I didn’t have a call unless God spoke to me directly. I reject that boxing-in of the Creator.
I cannot say that God has called me to write. He has never hit me over the head with a 2×4, never struck me blind on a road, never had an apostle suddenly appear at my chariot (er, F-150). But the writing bug bit me in 1999, and I was diagnosed incurable in 2001. writing ideas rush through my head about every day. Rejections are now typically personalized; magazine editors are approaching me to contribute. I’m making a couple of thousand dollars a year from my writing. That’s evidence of grace, gifts, and usefulness. I don’t think I need anything more explicit than that.
“That’s evidence of grace, gifts, and usefulness.”
Excellent points, David!
Excellent points! And one I needed. THanks so much. I’m going to print this out and post it on my bulletin board next to my computer.
Thanks for this post, Rachelle. Although still unpublished, I got to check off everything else on your list. Yay! I know I have hit that point of self doubt many times. Especially after receiving a rejection letter from an agent or editor. It usually only lasts a day or two though, then I’m back in the saddle. One thing I do to get myself on tract is to re-read one of the positive or encouraging rejection letters I’ve received. Or should they be called in-jections, because they give hope?
Happy writing everyone.
Thanks. I needed that! Particularly this morning!
It’s easy to question my calling–again… and again–when the writing hits a plateau and I don’t feel much like pressing on. But each time I get bogged down in doubt, God reminds me of the “proofs” He’s provided in the past. Your bulleted list was another one of those validating reminders, so thank you!
Yep, I’ve questioned. It’s part of my DNA…to question things.
But in the same way I’m committed to my marriage, I’m committed to this calling. It’s often after surfacing from the most discouraging lows that I begin to understand just how called I am.
You said it. Those rough days or weeks or months test our commitment.
And, after weathering the storm, we’re more certain of the calling.
Without commitment in the tough times, the calling is a mirage.
Do I, or have I, questioned my calling as a writer? Not since last night. What caused it? I think the simple overwhelming amount of work I have to do in the world: at my job, keeping the house and cars up, helping my wife in her home business, and trying to concetrate on health issues, all of which have to take higher priority than this lottery-chance endeavor I somehow can’t let go of.
How do I resolve it? The coming days must tell. Yesterday I decided to concentrate on just two things: completing the magazine article that’s due today and get back to proof-reading my completed novel prior to e-self-publishing it. I completed the article and will proof it today and e-mail it. Over the weekend I proof-read 200 pages in the novel; only 80 to go.
Monday evenings are devoted to family finances, so today I’m limited to what I can get done on the noon hour. Tomorrow, who knows what I’ll do. I have an editor requesting me to write for her site, for ad-share royalites, and I have one article ready to go. I guess I’ll sign the contract today and turn in the article. Someday I hope to be a novelist.
Fantastic post. You’re spot on! Gosh, despite being published and having contracts for a few more coming out over the next 14 months, I still question it. More like, “Really, God? Me an author?” Then I shrug and say, “Okay. I’m up for it, just let me know what you want me to do.”
🙂 I love this journey–even the tough parts.
Thanks, Rachelle. I can totally relate to your friend’s feelings. I never thought of it this way, too. Thanks for the encouragement!
You have no idea how much I needed this today. What a timely post! Thank you so much.
Rejection always does it for me–at least briefly. Kind of the snitty, four-year-old reaction. Fine. Then I just won’t write. But thus far it’s never lasted more than a moment. And so long as I feel like I’m fulfilling God’s pleasure, it doesn’t matter if I’m not fulfilling the person who rejected me.
And as for God calling fewer people to write than those who say they’ve been called . . . I think it’s important to remember there are many reasons for the calling. And it’s not necessarily publication.
That is kind of my point. What I expect to see from people who are called to write is that they will be applying their writing to things that touch the lives of other people. That might turn out to be a traditional publishing contract, but there are far more ways to write than that. What makes me question the “calling” of some writers is that while they tell people they are called to write, it is clear that their primary focus is on obtaining a publishing contract.
“I think it’s important to remember there are many reasons for the calling. And it’s not necessarily publication.”
Well said. I couldn’t agree more. Writers will write whether they are ever published or not.
Rachelle, thanks SO much for this post. Recently ACFW ran a big discussion on being “called” to write with all these spiritual reasons. I never felt reasons like that, and because of my personality, felt like less of a writer. I only knew I had a talent, a desire and a need to write.
Your list describes my writing life.
I think “God’s calling” is something so individual and unique, that it looks a lot different for each of us.
As one above pointed out, he was called to write, but not necessarily to publish in the traditional sense.
Personally, I knew God wanted me to do something with my writing for a long time, but had a “not yet” whisper in my ear for many years. When it was time, God let me know.
Now that it IS time… some days I think, “what the heck have I gotten myself into!” not because it’s not fun (like you said, not all things are FUN that God calls us to do, in fact usually it’s opposite! You think Noah had FUN building that ark? I’m thinkin’ no…) but because it is overwhelming.
But God doesn’t call us and not equip us, so I’m resting in the fact that even though it looks daunting and impossible in my eyes, God’s got it handled, and if I’m obedient (HUGE KEY WORD!) it’ll happen just as He plans.
I don’t know if Noah had fun building the ark or not, but it sounds like a lot of fun to me.
For me, the reality that comes before whether I am called to write is that I am created to write. And I am. The way I see the world. The ways I best express myself. Language is not merely a communication tool that connects me to other people, but the way all the pieces of me find their way to each other. That’s what drives me to keep on writing even when it is not fun. (And I’ve been married 32 years, definitely not always fun.)
Forgive me, but I don’t see the difference between being “called” or being “created” to write. It is the same God who calls and creates.
Timothy, you are correct that we are created and called by the same God, but I do think there is a differene between the two.
I think the difference between being created to write (or any other ministry)and being called is around the seasons in our lives. While there is an overall purpose in our creation, there are things we sometimes have to learn in life before we are able to respond to a specific calling. Right now, I think my purpose is to help others improve their writing, not to write myself.
This is something I need to ponder more…
Sometimes God speaks in that “still, small voice” and sometimes … in a blog! Thanks so much, Rachelle, for this post.
I’ve been having this exact inner dialogue for some time now. I appreciate everyone’s heartfelt sharings and can resonate to some. For me, it was some 30-plus years of a journalism career and writing for others.
Now that I’m writing creatively for “me” I’m questioning whether this is my true calling. Reading your post helped.
It reminded me that “calling” is about commitment and vocation, about something un-nameable and deeper than our world expects. Writing is the gift I’ve been given and despite doubts, rejections, struggles and more, I’ll continue to answer the “call” of the Divine to write.
I can relate to this. I love the marriage analogy. Now that I am aware of the struggle involved it gets easier. It’s like having a mystery ailment revealed and gaining understanding. Then you know how to treat it. Writing discouragement needs positive affiliation with other writers. Self imposed discipline to sit down to produce words every day and refusing to believe the lies that you will fail is the prescription to win the battle.
I couldn’t agree more!
This was such a perfectly timed message for me, thank you so much for sharing it right when so many of us needed it most. As a speaker who is also a writer I know it is not as natural to me as the speaking is, but I’m learning, growing and doing better every day…some days you just have to stop and celebrate the steps on the journey. That’s what this post is to me, cause to pause and celebrate! Thanks Rachel!
Thanks. Very inspiring and a great analogy. I’ll keep it in mind for those ‘moments’ of doubt.
I agree with the essence of your message. Just because God calls us to do something, such as our writing, and even though we are passionate, there are times when it is tough. It’s wise to dispel the notion that when you are ‘called’ the going is easy. For example, Jesus. ‘Nuff said.
To be fair, however, writers are a sensitive bunch. We may struggle a little more because of our fundamental nature. If you are aware of this and ‘shelf’ your doubts and anxiety it helps – well, at least it helps me. I’ve also learned the God uses everything. So I believe this path I am on will not be wasted.
You make a good point. When Jesus called his disciples, he didn’t tell them how much easier their life would be; he did the opposite. He told them that they would be hated, tortured, and even killed. God never calls us to a life of ease; he calls us to a grand challenge, a fierce battle.
I’ll second what Beth Vogt says above. One of the toughest things for me this year has come when comparing my journey with other writers’ journeys. Every writer’s journey is different, and that is so difficult to see once I get down. But with rest and immersion back into my own work usually snaps me out of it and gets me back on “my” path.
Thanks for this message today, Rachelle. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Your “Standing Strong Against the Force of Waves” blog post today dovetailed beautifully with Rachelle’s blog post today.
Thank you for this post. It is exactly what I needed today.
I’ve wondered if going after publication was what I should do. Then I think about jobs and careers and how God gave me something I love to do and has shown me a way to turn it into something bigger than just me and my page (because no one ever read my writing really, except my sister.)
I think your advice to that writer was very wise.
As a beginner on this road to becoming a writer….I appreciate hearing the perspective of fellow sojourners that have been traveling awhile….thank you for sharing & caring about those of us who are endeavoring to use the pen to share our voice!
I’ve sometimes wondered if it was God who was calling me to write, or if it was just my own thing, like someone who loves to play golf or whatever. I especially feel this way when no one seems interested in my work and I feel that he isn’t blessing it or using it. But whenever I’m tempted to give up, something happens that makes me open the laptop again, so I guess that’s God telling me to keep on!
I know nothing about your situation in particular, but I’m convinced that God has called far fewer people to write than the number of people who say he’s called them to write. Even so, that doesn’t mean he won’t bless us in what we want to do, if we approach it with the right attitude.
A few years ago, I felt the Lord’s calling to a specific ministry (not the ministry). I took the steps to position myself in that role and began doing the work. I shared my burden with several people and I had a “vision” for the future of the ministry. But as is the case with a ministry, the decision was not mine to make and the organizational leadership recommended someone else for the position. I didn’t want to assume that they didn’t know what they were doing, but I questioned how I could be so wrong about what the Lord was calling me to do. But looking back, I can see that I’ve been able to do much of what I felt the Lord calling me to do from a second chair position. That’s not to say that I’ve tried to circumvent the decision that was made, but it has just worked that way. When the Lord calls us to something, he will provide a way for us to do that thing, even if others make decisions that keep us from doing it in the way we thought we should do it.
In a way that links in with my problem, relinquishing control of something we think we know better on is very hard.
Great comparison, Rachelle. I had an interesting chat with hubby last night over getting time to write and he suggested putting daughter in daycare one more day. That wasn’t what I was getting at at all, and I don’t think it’s necessary. He also said if you aren’t living off it it’s still a hobby. He really doesn’t understand I write poetry and picture books, that is so funny.
I agree with “hubby”. For me, it is freeing to view writing as a hobby. When someone questions why I would spend hundreds of hours writing something that will sell so few copies, I just point out that most people don’t make money from hobbies like golf, fishing, or video games and yet they invest as more or more time and money into those things as I do into writing. But unlike them, I get part of that back by way of book sales.
I agree with Timothy. Looking at my writing as a hobby has been very freeing for me. It takes a lot of pressure off, in terms of our usual definitions of success, and allows me to define success in terms more meaningful to me.
Thanks Timothy and Joe, this has really helped. Though I can’t imagine a golfer blogging before he tees off. I get your point, and I will view it like that and hope that things get more manageable. Thank you!
Your hubby suggested AN EXTRA DAY OF DAY CARE, to facilitate your writing. This is huge! Go for it! He’s supporting your writing where it counts, with cash on the nail. Don’t lose this opportunity!
Maybe you’re scared you can’t really do it. As others have said, lighten up. (Note to self.) Hubby doesn’t even care if you’re “successful”–whatever that is. He wants you to be happy and fulfilled. He’s supporting you in your endeavor, even if it’s a “hobby”. He’s willing to put up the cash, whether or not your writing pays off financially.
Do something really nice for him (a special dinner or something) and take the extra day care day, and give it a try!
I questioned my call to write until my first time at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference.
I don’t write because it is fun. It is not often fun. I write because that is who I am. I write to make sense of my world. But now I can write without guilt. Praise God.
Now for fun. . . I read novels.
I don’t question the part of “called to write” that means getting words and stories down on paper. It’s all the other things writers must do to be known and get published…platform, marketing, become a publisher. that’s the calling I sometimes question.
I have felt called to write and it has been hard sometimes. The hard part is juggling family, work, social media and my manuscript. There is not enough time to write. It feels lonely sometimes, too. However, my blog gives me a community to immediately reflect back what I am writing and that sustains me. I wrote an article for the paper and got tremendous feedback that people were inspired, even a letter to the editor about it. So this has helped me keep going. Here is the link to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20111030/LIVING/110300305/Jodi-Aman-Irondequoit-won-t-singing-winter-blues?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CHome%7Cs
Thanks for this post! I needed it today.
Excellent post. And for me, quite timely. I recently had another writer tell me “I don’t think of you as a writer, you are more of a resource than a writer.”
That cut me to the quick. But I liken the experience to my early years as a self doubting Christian. There comes a time when you simply have to put the question to rest.
All-in-all it was a good experience, because another writer told me “You are what God says you are because He created you. You are what He says you are.”
I suppose all writers must reach that clarifying moment.
I’ve definitely questioned the call to write in my life. But whenever I get discouraged I think of all the hours and years I put into learning the craft and bettering my writing. If I give up, that time is waste. I refuse to let it be so! 🙂
Thanks for that last line – off to write those final scenes and find that critique group!!
In 2005 God clearly called me to write. At times I’ve doubted both of us, but no more. If I continue to work hard and do my best, I still might not get published and the world may see me as falling on my face, but God will see me as faithful.
At closing in on sixty-five, it’s now or never. I say, “Now!”
Wow, what an encouraging post, Rachelle. Like Kate, every time I do ask that question, something fantastic happens (like a magazine editor asking for more of my work) and I’m motivated all over again. And I continue to write, thank You Lord!
I know I’m called to write. I just don’t feel that I’m called to be published by anyone other than myself. I did, but when no agent ever read my writing and simply said no to my queries, I realized the publishing world doesn’t need me as an author.
The people to whom I’m called do, however. They will read my books when they won’t read anyone else’s simply because they are mine. I’m a called pastor and as a part of that calling, I write. Whether novels, short stories,sketches, plays or poetry, what I put on paper gets read and that is enough.
Being called to write does NOT mean that I am called to be marketed any more than being called to teach means that I will get a paying job as a teacher. Did the woman that taught you in Sunday school every get paid?
If you are called to write, then write! Otherwise, you’ll cap a well that God dug.
Well said. In any calling, I think we can say that God cares about the people he sends us to, and not about our receiving praise for how we do it.
P.J., I like both your passion and your perspective. It really is about the people God blesses through us or our writing.
P.J., Good points! I know I am called to write, the rest I am waiting on God to reveal. I hear him saying, “go for it”, but I’m not entirely sure what that means at the moment, so I am doing what I feel lead and not worrying about the rest.
What a wonderful peace you must have in knowing you are to be a writer and in knowing to whom you are writing for (and what you don’t need to worry about).
Thanks for this insightful post, Rachelle! Loved the advice you gave to your writer friend. It really put things in perspective for me also.
I think it’s normal to question at times if we are on the right road. Especially if we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. That really serves no purpose in moving us forward, so I try hard not to do it.
The writing road is certainly bumpy, but we never know what wonders are waiting just around the bend. That keeps me going, both in writing and marriage.
This advice applies to more than just writers. I’m going to send this to my computer tech husband.
By the way, “everyday” is an adjective meaning ordinary or common, or to describe something that happens daily (everyday chores). “Every day” means each day (I do chores every day). The space changes the usage. Hope that helps. 🙂
Thanks, April. I was about to point out the same spelling error. More info about it at a few of these posts: http://sentencesleuth.blogspot.com/search?q=everyday
Oooh. I’ve had a couple of those days, where I just stopped and asked myself ‘what am I DOING?’
And it was just such a crushing feeling. Words can’t describe how it feels to think you know your purpose and then doubt yourself.
So I told myself, ‘stop trying to find a way out of this madness. It’s not going to work. Now get back to that novel.’
Like Beth, I’ve compared myself to other writers too, particularly the ones who tell me all about their publications, the number of stories that they’ve completed, and the awards that they’ve won. It makes me feel insecure because I don’t have nearly as much to show for all the time I’ve spent writing.
But writing is still something that I look forward to doing every time I open my laptop or my journal, which is why I haven’t given up on it yet. I think that if I were to give up just because of my insecurities as a writer, I’d end up feeling worse and miss writing too much.
Yes, I’ve questioned my calling as a writer. What led to the questioning?
Two basic things:
1. Comparing myself to other writers
If I focus on what other writers are accomplishing, what accolades they are gathering, rather than sticking to my side of the writing road (bumps, detours, forward motion and all), then I question myself. But for all the wrong reasons. I’m not really asking the “Am I meant to be a writer?” question. I’m asking the “Why aren’t I a writer like (fill in the blank with whoever you want to be like)?” question.
Complete waste of time. But I still do it.
Which leads me to #2.
When I am tired, when I work too hard and don’t play enough or rest enough or realize I am taking myself way-too seriously, it is all to easy to trip over #1 and fall flat on my face.
Beth, you sum this up really well. I was thinking that when i get discouraged is when I hit an obstacle, like a rejection, but really it’s one of these two factors. Either I’m tired of the submit, reject, repeat grind, or I’m comparing myself to those who got acceptances. It’s hard to remember not to compare, or to let discouragement have its way when we’re tired.
Exactly! It’s fatal to read the work of a master writer and use its excellence as a stick to beat yourself with: “I could never write like that.”
Two techniques I’ve found useful.
1. Say “I could never write like that. OK. That’s true. Because that writer is an individual. I’m an individual. We each have our own style, our own weird way of looking at the world, etc. I couldn’t write like them because they’re them and I’m me.”
2. This writer is a master. So learn from them. Identify one technique that they do really well. Appreciate it, and your writing will be enriched.
(Trying this again. Maybe I forgot to hit the submit button.)
Exactly. 2 techniques I use:
1. Of course you can’t write like them. You’re an individual. So are they. They’re them and you’re you. Each with your own quirky way of looking at the world, your own experiences, etc.
2. OK. This is a master writer. Learn from them. Identify one thing they do well. Appreciate it, and your writing will be enriched.
You know, every time I start to question whether I’m supposed to write, something happens that gives me the boost I need to keep going. I was very discouraged about my latest WIP, but just when I was about to trunk it and give up, I had three or four people interested in my previous book. That tiny spark of encouragement was enough to get me out of my doldrums and back to work. And now I’m feeling really good about the direction I’m going in.
So glad you haven’t given up. Isn’t it nice that God gives us encouragement to keep going?