Encouragement and Courage

Happy holidays! Can I just say how amazed I am that SEVEN people sent me queries on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? What’s up with that? Does an agent’s in-box EVER get a rest??? Apparently not. Well, I’m on vacation now so anything that comes in will be unanswered until January. The following is a re-run of a post from last year.

I was speaking to the Denver chapter of ACFW, and several writers mentioned wanting and needing encouragement in their writing journey. It got me thinking (well, everything gets me thinking). It’s a hard business to break into and often the news seems so depressing. They just want to hear something good for a change, something heartening. I pondered… what exactly do we mean by encouragement, anyway?

I have the feeling that sometimes the encouragement writers want (and I include myself in this) is for someone to tell us, “It’s not that hard. You can do it.” And so the reason we keep feeling discouraged is because people keep telling us, “It’s hard. This is a hard business to break into.”

It’s not spoken as discouragement, it’s spoken as truth. There’s no point in having a false sense of optimism about getting a book published—that only leads to disappointment. But if the truth is difficult, can we still somehow find encouragement in it?

Encouragement (according to Webster’s) is something that gives you courage, or inspires you or gives you hope. Something that spurs you on, stimulates you, incites you to action. I think hearing the hard truth CAN be encouraging, because it forces you to make an internal decision: Am I up for this, or not? How much am I willing to give this? How badly do I want it?

And if your passion is sufficient and your drive is powerful, this is the time you rise up and say to yourself, yes, I can do this. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes work, perhaps more than I’d want. But I can do this. When you go through this soul-searching and come out of it more determined than ever, you’ve found your encouragement. You’ve found your hope.

The point is that all the platitudes in the world, camoflauged as encouraging words, aren’t going to do anyone a darn bit of good. Only the truth can get you where you want to go. The truth separates the passionate from the daydreamers. The truth leads you to the resolve—the courage, the grit, the sheer perseverance—it will take to find success.

And success is a whole ‘nother topic. We’ll tackle that another day. Until then, be encouraged. On this blog we’ll speak the truth.

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Amber Lynn Argyle on December 29, 2008 at 5:27 PM

    >The fact that it’s hard weeds out the people who haven’t the dedication or drive to stick with it. The other people. The people who don’t write because they must, but because they want to be rich and famous.
    Just remember, YOU aren’t the OTHER people. You are one of the strong ones. You will make it, because you will CREATE success by being prepared. And when the right circumstances meets preparation, beautiful things can happen.

  2. Rachel on December 29, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    >Agents are for truth. Husbands are for platitudes. It’s good to have both. 🙂

  3. Patricia W. on December 29, 2008 at 2:18 PM

    >Platitudes? No. But there’s nothing more valuable than knowing you’re at least headed in the right direction to get to your desired destination.

    Courage comes into play when you realize just how hard it is and how far you have to go…and you trudge ahead anyway.

  4. Lady Glamis on December 29, 2008 at 10:21 AM

    >What a great way to put it! Thank you for sharing this. I definitely need encouragement along the way, but just little nudges. Not lies. I know it’s hard. And I’m glad for those who tell me how it truly is out there. Thank you!

  5. Kim Kasch on December 29, 2008 at 10:21 AM

    >7 on Christmas (Eve) – SHEESH!

    I was going to say, “No rest for the weary” but then “No rest for the wicked” popped into my head. So I wikipedia’ed the phrase:


    and found out one is just a modern variation for the other.

    But the two are very different. Interesting.

  6. lynnrush on December 29, 2008 at 9:41 AM

    >NICE!! Great post. Thank you for this.

  7. Lisa Jordan on December 29, 2008 at 9:28 AM

    >Love this line: “When you go through this soul-searching and come out of it more determined than ever, you’ve found your encouragement. You’ve found your hope.”

    Thanks for the rerun. Posts like this one are great reminders when those “No, thanks.” letters come in.

  8. Inspire on December 29, 2008 at 9:20 AM

    >Two words stand out in your post, Rachelle. Passionate and perseverance. It takes those two driving forces to bring us to any level of success, but not without putting our careers in the hands of God. And like Jessica posted, the little successes are more sweet. It would be great if all of us writers would make a commitment to encourage are fellow writers this year.

  9. Jessica on December 29, 2008 at 7:40 AM

    >Ooh, separating the passionate from the daydreamers.
    I like that.
    Hearing that it’s hard only makes the little successes more sweet, I think.
    Sorry to hear about your inbox.

  10. Timothy Fish on December 29, 2008 at 7:24 AM

    >Platitudes? No, we don’t want platitudes, but nothing is more encouraging than for a friend to ask when she can read the next book. It is easy to tell the difference between someone who is asking just to be asking and one who is asking because he wants to read the book. One friend who likes the book or even one good review doesn’t amount to much in terms of book sales, but it gives us a hope that others might enjoy our work also.

  11. Ann Victor on December 29, 2008 at 5:35 AM

    >Inspiring post, thanks!

    This is exactly the turning point I reached this year (in 2008). I guess as I’m spending a lot of time lurking on agents blogs picking up great tips, you can guess what I chose!! 🙂

  12. Pheebles on December 29, 2008 at 3:16 AM

    >Have a great vacation, Rachelle. I enjoyed the rerun.

  13. Julie Layne on December 29, 2008 at 2:15 AM

    >I’m glad you decided to do a rerun because it’s just what I needed to hear tonight. Thanks. 🙂