Many things in today’s world make us feel we need to hurry up and get them done. But there are some things that we should NOT hurry to do. Here are 10 specific things you need to do for your career—and life—but never in a hurry.
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The new year started a few weeks ago, and by now we’re probably deep into the commitments, resolutions, and activities of life. If you’re like most people, all that has probably come with a sense of rushing about.
Now, rushing isn’t always bad. If, say, your carbon monoxide alarm is going off, rushing out of the house is prudent. But if rushing becomes the normal course of our lives, it leads to stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. That isn’t the way God designed us to live and function.
This year we want to encourage you to slow down. To NOT live your life in a constant state of “hurry.” To help you do that in concrete ways, we’ve made a list of 10 things to NOT hurry. We’ll start off with something writing related.
1. Don’t hurry to publish your first book
Some of you may have started the year with a goal of finishing your book and publishing it this year. That is not necessarily wise. Especially if it’s your first book, and most especially if it’s the first draft. Trust us when we say that learning the craft takes time, and you can’t put a deadline on that.
Most writers don’t know what they don’t know until AFTER they write their first book AND get professional feedback. The last thing you want to do for your writing career is be in a hurry to publish something that isn’t ready. Unless you’ve been studying craft for a few years and revised that first book multiple times, it’s very likely not ready.
Trust us. We have seen lots and LOTS of manuscripts over the years that were pitched to agents or publishers, or self-published, long before they were ready. So take your time. Don’t hurry.
Proverbs 19:2 (NLT) says, “Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes.” We want your first book to have every chance of success, not mistakes.
2. Don’t Hurry Learning
With so much information and advice available these days, it’s easy to take in huge quantities of ideas, techniques, facts, and so on, without ever stopping to absorb any of it. Instead of putting new ideas into practice, we just skip off to the next interesting idea. This year, we encourage you to slow down. To let a new idea or technique soak in. To reap the benefits before you move on.
Think about how many writing craft books are out there. And blogs, and articles, and workshops, and courses. You could spend a lifetime hurrying from thing to thing. Don’t do that. Spend some time applying what you’ve learned about dialogue, for example, before you go off to read that book on subplots.
We’re not saying you have to be an expert in one thing before you can move on, because improving craft does seem to go in waves. What we are saying is that you don’t want to let distraction pull you away before you’ve gained real and lasting benefit from what you’re learning.
This same principle applies to life lessons. Take the time to reflect on new insights and experiences. Often your newfound knowledge will apply to other areas of life. You just need to stop and connect them. This is a great practice to not only gain wisdom, but to improve creativity, because creativity is about making connections.
3. Don’t hurry conversation
The next thing to NOT hurry is conversation. James 1:19 (NLT) tells us “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
Think about the good old days when people sat on the front porch and chewed the fat. My dad is in his eighties now. When he was a kid, his family lived in a small town. No one locked their doors when they left the house—that was considered rude because a neighbor might need to borrow something while you were gone. Since the doors weren’t locked, it wasn’t uncommon for his family to come home from somewhere and find folks sitting in the living room waiting for their return, just to visit, to talk in an unhurried fashion.
One of the ways we see hurried conversation these days is a “like” on Facebook, or a thumbs up on a text. Or a quick direct message or email. This seems to be today’s preferred method of communication. Or if there is an actual conversion, it seems that people just want to get their point across and move on.
This year we encourage you to change that. To stop and have deliberate conversations, not quick information exchanges. Put your phone down, turn off the TV, close your laptop, look someone in the eyes, and listen.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to devote hours and hours to every conversation. Five relaxed minutes of undivided attention is worth far more than an hour of distracted “uh-huhs.”
4. Don’t hurry relationships
Going along with not hurrying conversation, the next thing to NOT hurry is relationships. The writing business, and life, is all about relationships, and good relationships take time.
Get to know people through unhurried conversation. Spend time with them. Get to know them over time. Go to writing conferences not once, but year after year to meet industry professionals and other writers. Ask them questions about what they do, who they are, and what they like.
You don’t want to end up with an agent whose style is completely wrong for you. Or a publisher who likes to work with the type of author that you definitely ARE NOT. You don’t want to end up with a critique partner who isn’t as experienced as you need. You don’t want to line up a newsletter swap with a writer who turns out to be unreliable, or hire a PR person who doesn’t understand your brand.
Your goal is to learn about other writers and industry professionals as human beings—not instruments to help further your career.
But don’t forget about the non-writing relationships in your life. They need time too. Life is busy, and the dual careers writers often have makes things even more challenging. But if we don’t slow down for relationships, we’ll be missing out on the very thing God created us for. We have been made by a relational God for fellowship. This year we encourage you to NOT hurry through the very thing you were made for.
5. Don’t hurry through prayer time
In our hurry-up life, we can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking we have no time for prayer. Or our prayer time becomes a quick recitation of our list of “needs.” This is not what God intended when he told us to pray—and we are indeed instructed to pray.
Prayer isn’t just for the super spiritual or the super devoted. It’s for everyone, all the time. When we hurry through prayer time, we’re hurrying our relationship and our conversation—two things we’ve already said we shouldn’t do.
In our last episode on Silence, we talked about how incorporating silence into our times of prayer can help us focus on God and hear him better so our prayers become a relationship-building conversation. This year, we encourage you to pay special attention to your time with God. Make it unhurried. Make it deliberate.
We’re not saying you can’t have short times with God, or that a short sentence of prayer before you head into an important meeting, or phone call, or whatever, is inappropriate. But we are encouraging you to stop, to focus, and to be mindful of who it is you’re speaking to.
6. Don’t hurry through accomplishments
The writing journey is a long-haul effort. It’s built upon a series of accomplishments. Everything from your first attempt at writing an article, to your first draft of a novel or memoir, to your first critique, your first published work, to your first book sale or contract, your first critical review, and so on to the next and the next and the next.
Too often our focus is on getting to “somewhere down the road,” and we forget that being right here, right now, is important. It’s a place of learning and growing. And—now hear this everybody—it’s a place that is actually JUST FINE.
This year, wouldn’t it be nice to simply be okay with where you are and not feel like you’re always in a hurry to finish whatever you’re working on so you could get to the next thing? Because there is ALWAYS a next thing. Consequently we’re always trying to move on and never satisfied with where we are or what we’ve done. That is not a happy way to live.
Don’t hear us saying that you shouldn’t set deadlines and you shouldn’t try to grow. We’re simply saying that if, for example, you’re at the “freshman level” of writing, enjoy your “freshman year.”
That doesn’t mean there is no movement forward. Of course there will be. But move at a reasonable pace. Don’t spend all your time rushing or wishing you were at the next grade. Take time to celebrate each small milestone and to acknowledge and enjoy the fruit of your efforts.
7. Don’t hurry through trials
The next thing to NOT hurry through is trials. Yes, we know that might sound dumb, but hear us out. What we mean is that when you’re going through trials, and the writing life—even the Christian life—can sometimes feel like one big trial, don’t put all your focus on trying to claw your way past the trial.
There are things we can learn in trials—things we can’t learn any other way. There are ways we meet God in trials, and these are ways to meet him that won’t happen outside of trials. If your sole focus is on escaping the trial, you’ll miss God.
You need your energy and your focus on God, not on the emotional turmoil you’ll feel as all your attempts to escape trials fail. There is a reason God left believers on this earth and didn’t whisk us all to heaven the moment we gave our lives to Christ. Part of that reason is for us to experience him—and his grace—here and now in this futile, imperfect place.
Don’t miss out on the way God can reveal himself as a stronghold and refuge in this place.
8. Don’t hurry into decisions
The next thing to NOT hurry is decisions. What we’re talking about here are big, life-changing kinds of decisions. Not decisions about whether to have tuna or chicken for lunch. The writing life is filled with decisions so here are some dos and don’ts that can help you not hurry into a decision:
- Don’t hurry through the first open door. This might mean you don’t take the first offer of agent representation, or the first publication contract, or the easiest method of self-publishing. Just because a door opens doesn’t mean it’s the only door or the RIGHT door.
- Don’t hurry your decision because of someone else’s timeline. For example, this might come in the form of a sale that’s about to end, and you’re tempted to hop on board in order to not miss out rather than because you feel confident it’s the right thing. Or maybe someone gives you a deadline which forces you to say yes or no even though you’re not sure.
- Don’t hurry to get answers you don’t need yet. This might mean, for example, that you stop asking God whether you should indy publish or whether you should look for a traditional publisher, because right now God just wants you to focus on finishing the first draft so you can learn the craft and develop relationships in the industry. You don’t need any other answers yet.
- Do pray and wait on God, and remember that his timeline is almost never the same as ours.
- Do seek godly wisdom in Scripture and through other trusted believers.
- Do seek professional counsel such as industry experts, watchdog groups, and so on.
- Do listen to your gut. We’re not saying that every decision needs to be a long, drawn-out affair. Sometimes you really do just know, and second-guessing can be paralyzing. When you’re in tune with yourself and with God, it’s not uncommon to sense his leading one way or another, or to sense a check in your spirit if God means for you to wait or run away. There’s a big difference between acting rashly and acting on good instincts.
9. Don’t hurry through your day
Schedule white space into your day. White space is a buffer where nothing is scheduled so you can slow down. Breathe. Reflect.
Think about your daily choices and activities so you’re not stuck in poor habits that you do without even thinking about. Experience your life. Don’t hurry through it.
10. Don’t Hurry…
Our next thing to not hurry is personal. It’s individual: Don’t hurry whatever it is that God may be telling you that you’re hurrying this year.
Take time to think and pray about this. Where are you dissatisfied? That might be a clue. Where are you in a hurry where you shouldn’t be? Maybe it’s something we already said. Maybe it’s something we didn’t say. Maybe there isn’t anything, and if so, good for you! But do go to God and ask.
It could be something that you’re hurrying for yourself, but it could also be something you’re hurrying someone else into. God knows, so seek him and patiently wait to hear from him.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) tells us, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
The chapter goes on to list all kinds of different activities and seasons, like a time to laugh and time to cry, to build up and tear down, and so on. But one thing it doesn’t say is “a time to hurry.”
God doesn’t mean for us to live a hurried life. He means for us to live a purposeful life in relationship with him and others. Part of why we hurry is because we don’t always trust God with where we are. We don’t trust him with the times and seasons of our life. But that’s the very thing we need to do, because only God is sovereign and only he can see the whole picture.
Let’s leave the times and seasons to God and rest in an unhurried life, confident that he has our best in mind and will bring it about.How often have we told ourselves to hurry up? Here are 10 specific things you need to do for your career—and life—but never in a hurry. #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
What’s one thing you want to NOT hurry this year?
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Thanks so much to our January sponsor of the month Kimberley Woodhouse! She’s an award-winning and bestselling author of more than forty books. Her books have been awarded the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Reader’s Choice Award, Selah Award, Spur Award, Christian Market Book Award, Golden Scroll Award among others. A popular speaker/teacher, she’s shared with over 1,000,000 people at more than twenty-five hundred venues across the country. Check out her latest book: The Secrets Beneath. Connect with Kim at www.kimberleywoodhouse.com.
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