Month: January 2022

158 – Hope for Procrastinators

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Hope for Procrastinators Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungMost of us procrastinate, but not all of us are procrastinators. Periodic procrastination is one thing, but constantly putting off things you need to do can have a negative impact on your writing, health, and relationships. If you let it. But there is hope for chronic procrastinators!

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

We developed this podcast in response to something shared by a listener who said one of the hardest things for her in the writing journey was battling procrastination. Now, you want to know something funny? When we decided to buckle down and actually do this podcast, we discovered we had started it already. Twice. Once several months ago, and again a month ago.

The next podcast should be on irony!

If there’s one thing all writers absolutely MUST do, and I’m talking to every writer, everywhere, no matter who you are or what you write, it’s this: Put your backside in the chair and write. 

We lovingly refer to this as BIC. But while we all understand the necessity of BIC, we struggle, sometimes every day, to DO it.

Unless, of course, you’re the kind of writer who has no problem with BIC. You write every day, meeting your word goal. You have no trouble turning your projects in on time, or even early.

That’s all great! But even if you don’t procrastinate in your writing, there may be other areas—personal, spiritual, emotional, financial—where you keep saying to yourself, “I know I need to deal with this. And I will. Soon.”

But soon never seems to arrive. And more often than not, the damage from procrastination will sneak into your writing as well. 

What is Procrastination?

Let’s dive in. First, let’s make sure we’re all talking and thinking about the same thing. According to Webster’s Dictionary, procrastination is intentionally putting off something that needs to be done. And you’d be amazed how common it is to procrastinate.

In his article “Why Wait? The Science behind Procrastination,” author and researcher Eric Jaffe points out that, “The Greek poet Hesiod, writing around 800 B.C., cautioned people not to ‘put your work off till tomorrow and the day after.’ The Roman consul Cicero called procrastination ‘hateful’ in the conduct of affairs… For all we know, the dinosaurs saw the meteorite coming and went back to their game of Angry Pterodactyls.”

Don’t you love it when a scientist has a sense of humor? But when it comes down to it, procrastination really isn’t very funny. Or fun. I (Karen) know. 

And that’s why I (Erin) asked Karen to put this podcast together because, in her own words, she is a “master procrastinator.” 

A Master Procrastinator’s Profile

I (Karen) have always been a procrastinator. Even as a little kid, I often put things off ‘til the last minute. Because I could. Looking back, I’ve realized I was too smart for my own good. I could do what I needed to, when I needed to, in very little time.

As I got older, I actually enjoyed the last-minute pressure of meeting a deadline in a fraction of the time I was given. I’ve always been competitive, and was in a lot of sports. I loved the rush that came on game day. Everything was on the line, and the pressure upped my game. I excelled in the face of pressure. 

So was Karen an adrenaline junkie? 

More or less, yes. And it worked for a long time. 

But not anymore. True confession time. I (Karen) put this podcast together on Monday. Two days before we were supposed to record it. And the only reason I did it then was because I thought we were recording it on Tuesday! But the cool thing is that, as is so often the case, God was at work. When I finished the podcast Monday evening, I was happy with it. I’d had a fun idea, and wrote the podcast accordingly, with a sense of humor. Yay, me. Good job. Go to bed. 

But was that the end of the story?

It was. Right until I woke up Tuesday morning. And realized something wasn’t right. As I came awake, it was clear that God was nudging me. Convicting me. Telling me I needed to—surprise, surprise—go deeper in the podcast.

Yes, I’d created something fun for our listeners. But I hadn’t created something true. Not really. I’d hit on the positives I’d experienced through procrastination, and skipped right over what really mattered. The cost. The deep, disturbing, damaging cost of being a chronic procrastinator.

I apologized to God, got up, and reworked the podcast. And you want to know the real irony? If I hadn’t gotten confused about when we were recording, if I’d followed my tendency for last-minute work, I wouldn’t have had an extra day to make this podcast what God wanted it to be. How’s that for a pointed lesson?

I love God’s graciousness in working with us, even in our weaknesses. How come we so often wonder if he truly loves us?

Why do we procrastinate?

So if procrastinating can be so harmful, why do we put things off? Why don’t we just settle in, put our nose to the grindstone, and do what we know we need to do? 

After all, logic tells us that if we’d just spend a little time on those things each day, they’d get done. And then we’re free to move on to something else, without any sense of guilt or shame.

Some people do exactly that. Some people are amazing in the way they know what needs to be done and just do it. 

I (Erin) can sometimes “just get it done,” but I definitely have put things off. Especially when what I have to do is hard, and I don’t know how to do it. For example, with the staircase in my house, the bannister and the spindles need refinishing and updating, and that’s a whole thing. I’ve got to cut newel post caps off, figure out what gel stain is and how to use it, figure out how to deal with the carpeting, and on and on. So yeah, I’m guilty of procrastination.

Most everybody is. But in the article by Eric Jaffee, he shares a quote from Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University. Ferrai, a pioneer of modern research on procrastination, said, “What I’ve found is that while everybody may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator.”

In fact, Ferrari’s work has found that only around 20 percent of people are chronic procrastinators, who, for the sake of this podcast, we’ll call CPs. And contrary to what a lot of people think, Ferrari says being a CP has nothing to do with time-management. Or with being lazy. Which is why, he says, telling a CP to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up. Get over it!  

Many people believe CPs are just lazy, and that’s why they keep putting things off.  But that seems like an oversimplification of a complex issue. There are lots of reasons people procrastinate.

Fear, for one. Fear that you can’t do what you thought you could do. Maybe the project, when you get into it, feels too big. It’s overwhelming and you don’t know where to start. 

Or you realize you don’t have the knowledge or skill you need to do this thing, so again, where do you start? You just put it off and put it off. But doing that can have terrible effects on our reputation. We become known as people who don’t do what we say we’ll do.

Procrastination has a bad effect on our relationships. Something has to give when we’re working hours upon hours to get something done last minute, and too often it’s time with family and friends.

Procrastination can even make our health suffer, which makes more sense than you may realize. When you constantly put something off, then have to scramble to do it, you trigger stress in your body. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels spike to give you the energy to face whatever crisis you’re in. And even if we don’t consciously see it as a crisis, our body reacts to the pressure. That’s no big deal when it happens off and on, but if you’re a CP, then the stress and cortisol spikes become chronic as well, which leads into all kinds of health issues. 

Then there’s perfectionism. That’s a great reason to put something off. I mean, if we can‘t do it the way it should be done, why even start? Perfectionism can also contribute to the fear we talked about earlier—we’re afraid we can’t do it perfectly, or even well.

Another reason we procrastinate is that the project just isn’t a high enough priority. There are so many things we can focus on, invest in, and that project is way down the list of what’s most important to us. Unfortunately, the deadline is still there, which ultimately forces us into pressure mode. 

What’s especially hard is when you find you’ve lost your passion for what you’re working on. How often, as writers, do we hit a point in our manuscripts when we’re convinced it’s the worst thing we’ve ever done? That what started out with such promise is now a convoluted mess. It’s easy, especially for a CP, to set aside something when you’re feeling “meh” about it.

I (Karen) have been involved in projects that, at the beginning, I was SO excited about. But then something happens, and suddenly that excitement fizzles. And those somethings can be internal, like we talked about with fear. Or they can be external, like an illness or a boss changing your priorities or a loss of funding.

So all of that, fear and scrambling and stress, has to stir up self-doubt, which then ushers in things like guilt and shame and anxiety. And now the real damage of chronic procrastination sets in. You may have put off the work, but not the deadline. And as that deadline draws closer, anxiety deepens. And self-recrimination. And negative self-talk. “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get this done?” I’m betting a lot of CPs wake up in the middle of the night fighting guilt and anxiety.

I (Karen) sure did. And it’s been proven that a lack of solid sleep leads to things like a lack of focus and mood swings. Not to mention health issues, such as heart problems and stroke. So it’s no wonder that creativity suffers, so that even when we finally try to do the work, we just sit and stare at the blank screen.

I remember feeling at times like my brain was seized up, so much so that my head hurt. Which left me feeling stupid or worthless. And, worst of all, disobedient to God, who gave me this task. Which just made me depressed, which made me put things off until it wasn’t just last-minute work to meet a deadline, but I missed deadlines. Which made me spiral even deeper into guilt and shame and…well, you get the idea.

No wonder we continue to put things off when we feel that way. What’s that old quote? “Being defeated is a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent”?

But here’s a much better quote, and it comes from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy: “Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Power, love, self-discipline. Those are the tools to use when self-doubt tries to derail you. 

God has not given us fear. He has not given us a spirit that gives up. He’s given us power. Not our own, but HIS. Nothing can stand in the face of that. He’s given us HIS love, for him, for our readers, for those we encounter, for ourselves. He’s given us self-discipline! Even if you don’t feel like you have that, He’s given it to you. It’s there. You just need to start tapping into it. God never intended for us to be shackled by fear. 

Chronic procrastination is about a lot more than putting things off. It’s about letting ourselves be sidetracked. It’s about focusing on circumstances and not on God. It’s about rebellion: “I don’t want to miss out on the fun stuff, so I’ll just do this work God gave me later.”

But think about it. If God didn’t give us the spirit of fear, who did? Pretty clear what the answer is there. So the first and most powerful step in dealing with chronic procrastination is to realize a few things. 

Help for Chronic Procrastinators

We have this work because God gave it to us. It’s not our work, it’s his. It’s not that we’re putting off our work, we’re putting off God’s work. When I (Karen) realized that truth, it pulled me up short. Who was I to tell God I didn’t feel like doing HIS work? 

Our focus must be on the God who gave us this task of writing. Pray. Read his word. And confess your fears to him. Surrender them. Then ask him how to move forward. Remember Isaiah 35:4: “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is… coming to save you.”

With that as our foundation and motivation, we can deal with the other causes of procrastination, such as when a project is overwhelming in size or scope, or when we realize we need to gain more knowledge or skill.

In his article, “How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the Two-Minute Rule,” author James Clear writes about the “two-minute rule,” which is designed to help you stop procrastinating and stick to good habits. We talked about this when we did a podcast on building healthy habits, but it’s relevant here as well.

Clear says that starting a new habit should never take more than two minutes to do. The idea is to scale any job down to a series of two-minute “bites.” Then organize those bites in order of importance, and then tackle them one, or rather, two minutes at a time. 

So “write 300 pages” or “write 1000 words” becomes “write for two minutes.” When I (Karen) did this, I learned how many pages or words I could write in two minutes, then I gave myself a range of two-minute slots for the day. Shoot, even I can get my backside in a chair for two minute at a shot.

When we’re faced with what seems like a gargantuan task, we can take to heart what David said to those preparing to build God’s temple in 1 Chronicles 28:20: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work…is finished correctly.” 

When you need to learn something new, instead of “read that book,” it can be “read the first 5 pages of that book.” When that’s done, read the next five. 

I (Erin) will tell you, dealing with my staircase has been about at that level. How do I get a spindle off? What kind of spray paint will work on it? What tool cuts off a newel post cap?

As for perfectionism, folks, “perfect” is a lie. It will never be perfect. So before you start, remember only God is perfect. That’s part of what it means to be God. Not one human is perfect. Nothing humans do, in and of themselves, will be perfect. The key isn’t perfection, but obedience. 

It helps me (Karen) to ask God each day what he wants me to accomplish, then I focus on doing just that. Every day, get your working orders from Him, then do your best with the time you have. The real time, not the stolen time from putting it off. Putting off a project until you miss the deadline is stealing time that isn’t yours. Time from your co-workers, or your friends and family. Time from God. Don’t do it.

Then at the end of your agreed-upon time, let it go. Turn it in. Trust that if God brought this project to you, he will equip you to do it, and to finish it.

What do we do when a lack of passion makes us put something off?

A lack of passion says a lack of motivation. So with any project that comes your way, before you ever agree to do it, understand your motivation. If you had a great motivation at the beginning, but find your excitement dimming, go back to the motivation. 

  • Why did you agree to do it in the first place? 
  • What excited you about it?
  • What has changed? 
  • Can you find a new motivation, thus new excitement? If not, then ask God if you should step out of the project. If the answer is no, then it’s time to let obedience become your motivation.

These questions work as a solution for when the project isn’t high enough on your priority list, too. Why isn’t it high enough? Figure out the motivation and the value of this project, and ask how that compares with whatever else you’re doing, and make sure the time blocks you spend match your priorities. 

Can procrastination be good?

So, has Karen stopped being a CP—a chronic procrastinator?

Not entirely. Remember, she likes working under pressure. 

Does that mean procrastination is good for a person? 

What we’re saying is that it can be helpful for some people when they do it right. How do we do procrastination right? Here are Karen’s secrets that work for her: 

First, I have to be realistic about what I can do and the amount of time it takes me to do it. I’m not as fast at writing as when I was younger. What used to take me days or weeks now takes me weeks or months. There are a lot of reasons for that, health reasons, unexpected life events, memory issues, and so on..

As we age, we’ll have new challenges and hindrances to deal with. Life changes, too. Writing when you’re single is different than when you’re married, or when you have kids, and so on. I don’t like that I’m a slower writer or editor now, but I’ve accepted it because I can’t change it. So step one, be realistic about my timelines based on what I can do now.

Second, I plan for procrastination. I break the project down into small, achievable goals (like the two-minute rule!) and then I add “in case” days to my schedules. 

Days “in case” of what? In case I can’t work because my house gets robbed. Or I break my shoulder. In case I’m sick, in case I’m dealing with brain fog, or even, once in a while, in case it’s the first sunny day in a month and I want to work in the garden. Whatever.

I plug those “in case” days in, and then I plug in rewards for meeting my mini-goals. My love language is gifts, so when I meet a goal, I give myself a gift. Nothing big or expensive, just something that brings me joy. 

Third, I remember my foundation in God. As a CP, how do I avoid putting things off, going through all my “in case” days, and ending up in trouble? Well, I can’t say it will never happen. But I remember that the foundation is the realization that God gave me his work to do, and my focus is him, not circumstances.

With that in mind, giving myself the freedom to use an “in case” day reenergizes me. As often as not, when I spend a day away from a task, my mind is still processing and pondering that task, so when I return to it, I’m ready to go. And I’m motivated by the thought of my reward.

Bottom line, it’s about balance. Balancing freedom with responsibility, goals with rewards, work with fun. When I strike that balance, everything works. When something happens to throw that balance off, I’ve got my “in case” days. 

When everything goes out the window, for whatever reason, say, a rampaging fire forces me to evacuate, or I get a concussion from falling on a poorly marked wet floor—I mention all these because they’ve actually happened to me—I’ve got God’s promise in Romans 8, that he is there to “cause everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” Romans 8:28-30

So in whatever we do, however we do it, let’s remember we’ve been given God’s glory. And let’s do the work He’s given us with excellence and joy. 


What helps you overcome procrastination?

If you procrastinate, there’s hope for you! #amwriting #Christianwriter Share on X

We’re so grateful for the sponsorship from the Novel Marketing Podcast, with host Thomas Umstattd Jr. It’s the longest running book marketing podcast in the world. We know and trust Thomas, and his podcast is full of great information and advice—like Novel Marketing’s 10 Commandments of Book Marketing, which we’re going to be bringing you.

Commandment #8: Thou shalt surround thyself with savvy authors.

Thomas says, “There are some things you can only learn from other authors. The savvier your friends are, the more you will learn.”

I (Erin) me agree with this. I’ve had a number of wonderful author friends throughout my career who’ve taught me plenty. First in my local ACFW chapter, and several years later, I joined a mastermind group, and that’s the one thing I wish I’d done 5 years sooner in my career.

I (Karen) agree with this as well, having worked with so many different writers and having so many of them become friends. I’ve also been blessed with a brainstorming group. We meet in person once a year and stay connected online. We talk about our experiences and share what we’re learning, and we understand each other and the unique ways our “writer minds” work. Surrounding yourself with savvy writers is a huge value and benefit all throughout your career.

For more book promotion and platform help listen to Novel Marketing in your favorite podcast app or at


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our January sponsor of the month, Wendy L. Macdonald. Not only is Wendy a writer, she also produces a weekly, short, inspirational podcast on Spotify called Hope Walking with Wendy.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!


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157 – Soul Care for the New Year with Guest Edie Melson

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Soul Care for the New Year with Guest Edie MelsonThe new year is here! Which means a lot of us are thinking about what we want to do and be in 2022. But are you taking time for you? More important, for your soul? Guest Edie Melson is here to help you do exactly that!

About Edie Melson

Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Her industry blog, The Write Conversation, has been recognized as a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Sites for Writers. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and a board member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Connect with her on her website, and through social media.

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!

Karen: Hi, everyone. Welcome into the deep this new year. Amazing to think that it’s a new year already. We’re so glad you’re here with us to start out your year, and we are so excited to have Edie Melson here to talk about soul care for you and how you can accomplish this wonderful thing in the midst of this new year.

Erin: I get to introduce her! I’m so excited. I have known of Edie Melson for a while, but I got to meet her in person at the Florida Christian Writers Conference a while back. That was just a delight. 

While Edie happened to be teaching at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, she’s actually the director of a different conference. The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Doesn’t that sound great? Blue Ridge Mountains? They have some really exciting things going on there!  

“Find your voice, live your story” is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message. No matter if she’s writing for readers, parents, or fellow creatives. As an instructor, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including the award-winning Soul Care series, which we’ll be talking about, reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. 

She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains—again, amazing—where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Sounds just like what Karen and I would do! You guys can connect with Edie at her website, or through social media. 

Edie, we are delighted to have you here. Welcome! 

Edie: I am so excited to be here. As I was sharing earlier, this was kind of a bucket list moment because I’ve loved Write from the Deep podcast since it began. So, I’m really excited to be here. 

Erin: Since it began way back when! I hope, Edie, you are prepared to tell us what the deep means to you. 

Edie: I am. I actually, several years ago, wrote about the deep and what it meant to me. I was really glad that you guys were going to ask me that. I was at the beach. My husband and I love to go to the South Carolina coast every year. And I love to get out, past where the waves are breaking, with a float and just sort of bob along and spend the afternoon out there. 

But I always hate getting out there because the waves are crashing, and I’m usually knocked over. As I was doing that, it hit me that this is so much like my spiritual walk. When I feel like I’m staying safe and close to shore, I am constantly buffeted by all of these waves that just hit me. 

Sometimes they can swamp me. And yet when I decide it’s time to go deep with God, and I move past those waves, instead of being in a scary place, I find myself in a place where I’m cradled, and where I’m at peace, and where I’m really able to spend time reflecting and renewing my soul. So that’s what the deep means to me. 

Karen: Wow. That is so cool. I love that imagery. We have the Oregon coast out here and that’s just a very accurate description of what it’s like. 

Erin: Bumping along, bumping along. 

Karen: Right. As we talk about all this, your focus is soul care. So what exactly does soul care mean? How do you define it? 

Edie: For me, soul care is a deeper and stronger connection with God.

One of the things I’m asked frequently is what’s the difference between self-care, which is really kind of a buzzword right now, and soul care. While soul care can provide us with energy and renewal and just a more peaceful way of living, it is not about me. It is about making that soul tie, that connection with God that cannot be broken no matter what kind of chaos is whirling around and what circumstances I find myself in. 

Erin: Yes. I like that. That’s a really huge difference. You know what? The interesting thing to me, though, is that ultimately soul care does help you. I mean, it is self-care eventually. You know, that connection strengthens with God and it helps you become a better you, it helps you become a better self. But it’s funny. You can’t, you don’t get there through you. 

Karen: Right. I think that’s clearly the difference in self-care. At least as the world sees it. That it’s all about me. In soul care, as Edie has talked about it, and as it means to us as believers and as writers seeking to spread God’s Word, it’s all about God. It’s about going deeper and knowing God better and having that foundation. 

Erin and I read Streams in the Desert every day when we’re having our meetings, before we start our meetings. The reading for today, which we’re actually recording this November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. But the reading was talking about how we need to be so anchored in God that even when there’s chaos or devastation going on around us, we’re focused on him. We’re not focused on circumstances. We’re focused on him. 

Erin: Right. So what do you think, Edie, as far as, like, how does this apply to writers? Why do writers need soul care?

Edie: I think it boils down to the fact that you can’t pour water out of an empty bucket. And if we aren’t connected with God, with the wellspring of our creativity and our very life, then we don’t have anything to draw from. Our creativity dries up. Our inspiration dries up. Our very energy dries up. I think we’ve got to be connected to that source of living water so that God can work through us and through our words. 

Erin: It reminds me, I was listening to an old sermon that John Piper had done about when Jesus fed the 5,000. And you know, there’s Jesus multiplying this sustenance. But the interesting thing was after it was all done, and I think about how the disciples are there with them and they’re busy and they’re tired, after it’s all done, after they’re spent and tired, Jesus is like, “Pick up the leftover bread.” 

How much leftover bread was there? Twelve baskets. Okay, I think about that, and like, that’s not a coincidence. There’s one basket for each guy. And it’s like God is saying, “I know you’re tired, but look, I just refilled your basket.”

So that’s what I was connecting with as you were talking about that, how we need to stay connected so that God will continually be pouring into us. Because it’s really not us pouring out. It’s God pouring through us, into others. So I think that’s cool. Very cool. 

Karen: I find, too, that one of the issues for us is we want to be able to focus on pouring out to others and focus on drawing deeper and closer to God. And yet…life. Life comes in. 

Don and I are in a chaotic life place. We are putting our home on the market and getting rid of three households of stuff. Mom and Dad’s stuff. Stuff from my older brother, who died almost exactly a year ago, unexpectedly. And then our accumulation of things over the last eighteen years of living in this home that we love.

So, you know, we’ve been going through all that stuff. It’s been chaotic. We took a trip to go up to Washington and look for a possible home. When we got back, we discovered that someone had broken in and they had robbed us. So first we brought ourselves into chaos by trying to put our home on the market. Then we go on this trip, and we come back and someone has broken in. 

I can’t begin to tell you how weary Don and I have been. We were weary before we discovered the theft. But now in the midst of all that, the thing that I realized as these last couple of days have gone by, we got home Sunday night and it’s Wednesday, the things that I realized as we’ve gone through all this and the phone calls to protect our finances, to report the theft, and the police coming in. We went and got fingerprinted for elimination fingerprints. I came home yesterday and I sat in a chair, and I just sat there and put my head back and I thought, “All I want, Lord, is peace. I just, I want peace and I want to be able to sleep.” 

I haven’t been sleeping well. I was looking through the table of contents in your book Soul Care When You’re Weary (Embracing God, Exploring Creativity). And one of the things that you talk about is triage for soul care. Why don’t you unpack that for us, both as in what we do in life and what writers need to do to make that first step into triage?

Edie: I think it’s really important when we’re in a season of busyness or a season of stress that we take a look at the stressors, the things that are causing us to not have peace or that are keeping us from peace. That’s what I mean by triage. I usually take time when I find myself in that place of challenge, and I spend some time with God looking at all of the things that are stressing me out. 

I ask him, “Is this something that I’m supposed to walk through? Is this something that you’re going to build a bridge over? Or is this something that I just need to turn my back on?”

I think once we know what we’re dealing with, and we allow God to speak into those circumstances, then he can help us navigate what’s ahead with peace. Because we see it again and again, in Jesus’ ministry, he had all of these chaotic situations, but he walked into them and he brought peace. 

I think that’s what we do as writers with our words. When we are allowing God to work through us, we have the Holy Spirit who can take those words that we put on paper, and he can speak peace into any circumstance that our readers are facing. But first we have to know how we’re supposed to navigate where we are.

Karen: I think why Jesus took so much time going away and praying was in essence for doing that spiritual triage and going to the Father and saying, “What is this? What do you want me to do?” He was constantly plugging himself into the source that the Father is, not just for him, but also for us.

I mean, God has promised us his presence. God has promised us his power and his peace. And we just forget. We say things like, “Well, at least I can pray for you.” And yet prayer is the most amazing, powerful, effective thing that we can do. 

Erin: I really like that idea of the triage, because I think you’re right. Like some of those things we can turn our back on and we might feel helpless, and going to prayer and getting that, “Yeah, turn your back on that.” You know, that’s okay. It’s like it’s a weight off. Or knowing you have to walk through something. It’s God saying, “I’m going to be with you, though. I’m going to be with you.” 

So I love that as just a way to start moving forward and get stuff off our plate that shouldn’t be there to begin with. That’s genius. We can all do that in the new year. 

What are some other things? I’d love to know, what are some good things that writers can do as they’re starting this new year to put new habits or tactics into place to better do soul care?

Edie: I think my one hard and fast rule with writing, and as you all know, there are no hard and fast rules with writing, but I do have one, and that is before my fingers hit the keyboard, I pray. I don’t care if I’m scheduling social media, if I’m going on Facebook, whatever it is. The fact is that God wants to use my writing to touch others and to work through the words that I put on the screen or on paper or wherever they go.

I can’t be an effective conduit if I am not first connected with God. That is just the one thing that I think every writer can do. Pray first. 

Another thing I think we need to do is I think we need to leave behind the baggage of comparison. I think so often we are comparing ourselves to each other. We’re comparing ourselves to expectations. Comparisons are just a trap from the enemy. I think the only person we need to be concerned about when it comes to our writing is God. And whether or not we’re being obedient. 

Karen: Right. Gee, you’re saying everything right. I love this! 

Erin: Comparisons are toxic. It’s poison. What do you think are some ways we can identify when we’re doing that? Are there key words that might help us identify it and say to ourselves, “Oh, wait, you’re comparing yourself. Don’t do that”? 

Edie: I think anytime that I am looking anywhere but God for confirmation or affirmation, then I have fallen into the comparison trap.

Anytime I'm looking anywhere but God for confirmation or affirmation, I've fallen into the comparison trap. #amwriting #christianwriter @ediemelson Share on X

When I’m looking at how many numbers I’ve got, how many reviews I’ve got, what my reviewers say, whether this person has a contract or an opportunity that I don’t have, I am falling into that comparison trap. 

Karen: Amen. Anytime we look outside, anytime we look at anyone other than the Lord. It’s so easy to get our eyes focused on what God is doing for others and forget what he’s done for us.

Erin: Yeah. “But she… but he… but her…”

Karen: “But, Lord I’ve been doing this so much longer and I don’t have that many contracts…” 

Erin: Right. Are there other things that you can think of that might be good practices for us, besides praying, besides avoiding comparison? Are there other things we could maybe put into practice? 

Edie: I think it’s really important to write regularly. Now I have a real issue with people who say you must write every day. Because I think God calls us to different seasons and different walks, actually. When my kids were young, it was not possible for me to write every day, but I wrote on a schedule and I wrote regularly.

I think that’s another one of those things that we can let happen. We let these voices creep into our minds and tell us that we’re doing it wrong. And I think we need to remember that the voice of the enemy can often use our voice to speak, or the voice of someone we love, to speak lies to us. We have to be careful who we let speak truth into our lives. We can’t always shut up the voices, but we can decide whether or not we’re going to accept what is said as God’s truth.

We have to be careful who we let speak truth into our lives. #amwriting #christianwriter @ediemelson Share on X

Karen: Yeah. Again, looking at the contents in your book Soul Care When You’re Weary, I’m going to have to get a copy of this. I really love what I’m seeing here. Your first chapter, like I said, is triage. Then you talk about rediscovering peace, and then you talk about reconnecting with prayer play. I love that term prayer play, which you also described as worship, and then you move into letting go. 

It’s interesting because so many of us think that we have to do that step, that letting go, at the beginning. That we have to let go. But I think that it’s perfect because as we re-enter and rediscover peace, and as we reconnect with prayer, that enables us then to let go. To let go of things like failure and to let go of those comparisons and to enter into that spirit of rest, enter into dwelling in God. 

But you don’t stop there. You go to moving on to joy. I’ve always felt that too often we stop with surrender and forget that there is joy. When we go into surrender, when we enter into that union with God, where we are focused on him and we stay grounded in him, joy comes regardless. Even if we’re grieving, even if we’re in pain, there is joy because of the knowledge of who it is that is with us and stands with us in the midst of it all. 

Edie: Amen. It’s so important to realize that when God calls us to something, the ability to discern whether or not it’s God’s call is not how miserable we are when we do it. So often we feel like, “If God really called me to this, then it would have to be hard, or difficult, or misery.”

In truth, God wants us to be joyful and to enjoy the gifts that he’s given us. 

Erin: Yeah. Amen. I’m curious about the prayer play. Just describe that a little bit. That’s interesting. 

Edie: I used to be very intimidated by prayer. I was surrounded by a lot of people at my church and in my women’s ministry who were really good pray-ers, especially out loud. I avoided praying out loud because I didn’t think I was doing it right. I was looking for a formula and a way to do it. 

What God showed me is that prayer is what everybody knows. It’s a conversation. And you can’t do a conversation wrong when you’re building a relationship, and when you trust the person you’re talking to.

He showed me that my prayers don’t have to be solemn, wordy, or formal. He showed me that I can go outside and I can sing prayers to him. I can laugh prayers to him. I can just enjoy the conversation wherever I am. 

Erin: I love it. It’s just, it’s a way for us to connect. It’s a way for us to connect with him. That’s prayer. And I’ll just mention, you were comparing yourself, like we all so often do, so no wonder that didn’t go well.

Our time is almost up, but do you have some final words of wisdom you’d want to leave with our listeners? 

Edie: I think the thing I hope everyone takes away from this is the fact that God wants that relationship. There are times in our lives, like when my dad was dying from Alzheimer’s and we were in the midst of a caregiving season when I couldn’t go deep in a Bible study with God. I couldn’t spend hours in prayer or in anything.

But God showed me that as long as I am focused on him, he is every bit as able and powerful in those in-between moments to give me the soul care I need to get me through what I’m going through as if I could become a hermit for a month. 

God is not dependent on my ability to spend time. God is dependent on nothing. But he’s waiting for me to give him the bits and pieces of time that I have in those seasons of busyness that he has called me to. 

Erin: I love that. 

Karen: Those are such great words, Edie. I’m so glad that you’ve been with us today. 

Friends, as you take a look at this new year coming up, and as you consider everything that is being impacted, your career, your family, your life, all of that, I encourage you to take these words to heart. Ground yourself in the Lord. Go deeper with God and do some soul care so that you know you can stand firm in the one who has called you to share with others the words that he’s given you and the one who loves you beyond anything we can imagine. 

Happy New Year to all of you! May it be a year steeped in God’s blessing and peace.

Erin: Amen.


How do you do soul care?

Books by Edie Melson mentioned in the podcast

Soul Care for Writers by Edie Melson

Soul Care for Writers by Edie Melson

Soul Care When You’re Weary by Edie Melson

Soul Care When You're Weary by Edie Melson

As 2022 gets started, we need soul care! Guest Edie Melson shares how to do soul care all year long. #amwriting #christianwriter @ediemelson Share on X

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Investing in marketing is a given. Every successful author does so. But how much of which resources do you invest?For example, one resource is time, and another is money. They’re both valuable. But how much do you have of each? And how do you allocate them?

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