THE WRITER’S WAITING GAME

By Jeannie Campbell, LMFT

When writers have yet to enter the published category of author, they oftentimes feel like they are a spectator on the sidelines of publishing. During this time, it’s easy to lament a lack of publishing credits so much that you fail to see what God is doing during your waiting. It’s during the waiting that God strips you of your silly ideals and notions that you have to write a certain thing or present a certain way in order to reach fulfillment.

If you write only third person, stay away from the “edgier” topics, strictly adhere to the no-more-than-3-POVs rule, attend at least one writer’s conference a year…then surely God will honor your righteousness with a publishing contract or at least the interest of an agent. If only you get rid of -lys, passive voice, and show–not tell–then you will be “good enough” for a second glance.

The problem comes once you’ve done all this. You’ve taken online writing courses. You’ve paid for the extra critiques. You’ve entered contests…and even won. You’ve done everything you were told to do by people who have traveled the path before you. But still no “call,” no contract.

In the dating world, this is the equivalent to dieting, exercising, getting contacts, a makeover, and a new hairdo only to sit by the phone, waiting for a potential date to call. You might be tempted to cry yourself to sleep at night, wondering what is wrong with you.

What we fail to see is that there isn’t anything wrong with you or your writing! God just isn’t done teaching you. He’s going to draw out your waiting period as long as it takes for you to realize that not being published isn’t a “problem” and that God is still in control even while you’re waiting.

We can’t lose focus of why we’re writing. If our ultimate goal is to give glory to God, then that can be accomplished published or not. He’s going to be glorified through our persistence and dedication and desire to achieve excellence for Him. Finding fulfillment, completion, and contentment where you are in the journey is crucial to keeping that fulfillment, completion, and contentment after you’ve been blessed with a contract.

We’re not on the hunt for a book deal. We’re on the mission to worship and serve God while we’re waiting. How can you best do that? Here are a few suggestions to help encourage you in your journey:

  1. Learn scriptures you can hide in your heart, whether your heart is broken, searching, or weary from the wait. Two of my personal favorites are below.
    • Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
    • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  2. Have your own person cheering squad. Writers are like shy adolescents in that we need to hear when we wrote a particularly eloquent turn of phrase or when a metaphor blew someone’s socks off in order to bloom with confidence. We want to know when we made a reader laugh or cry. Your critique group members and close personal friends and relatives hold a large sway over your attitude and motivation as a writer.
  3. Allow yourself a limited time to vent, then move on. It’s deeply therapeutic to express thoughts and feelings over not being published instead of holding them in and letting resentment build. A good cry can be so healing, especially when done in conjunction with a cheering squad member (#2) who loves you. Ignoring those feelings will only make them build up.

I hope that this gives you some ideas of how to maintain a heavenly perspective through the writer’s wait.

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Jeannie Campbell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC # 45366) in the state of California. She is Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit in Humboldt County, and enjoys working mainly with children and parents. Two of Jeannie’s “therapeutic romance” manuscripts have garnered the high praise of being finalists in the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which she is an active member. She writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs.

Connect with her at The Character Therapist.

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