Did you realize there are seasons to a writer’s life? From the beginnings of spring to the seeming death of winter we all experience these seasons as we seek to honor God in our writing. Unlike nature’s seasons, though, each season of the writing life can last a short time, or a long time. And each season brings blessings and obstacles. Learn how to thrive in whatever season God has you in right now!
But first, don’t forget about our newest Going Deeper Workshop: Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk. We understand the struggle to keep our thoughts filled with truth rather than doubts, lies, worries, or fear. This self-paced audio course will help you fill your minds and hearts with the ultimate antidotes to your specific negative thoughts and words. Check out this workshop (and our others) at writefromthedeep.teachable.com!
How to make the most of your writing season
If you’re hearing this when it first airs, it’s September in the United States, and we’re just getting ready to head into autumn. God created such beauty when He made the seasons. There’s so much for us to learn from each season, not just in nature, but in our life and in our writing journeys. Because whether you realize it or not, writers have seasons in their journeys.
From the first spring, when you start on this amazing journey of writing, to the springs that happen after years and years of writing, these seasons always bring us both blessings and potential obstacles. So let’s take a look at how we can embrace the blessings and avoid the obstacles in the seasons of the writing life.
The Spring Writing Season
Spring in the writer’s journey can be when you’re just starting out and everything is new and exciting, or it can happen when you’ve been writing awhile and your journey is coming out of a winter season. When God is breathing new energy and focus and ideas into you.
The Blessings of the Spring Writing Season
Everything is new. You’re planting the seeds of ideas, then nurturing them. You’re learning the craft, going to conferences, getting involved with a critique partner or group, etc. Those seeds will grow and bloom in a story. Then a book!
When spring shows up in nature, many of us welcome the sunshine and fresh air by opening up windows and letting them flood in. Likewise, spring on the writing journey is the time you open the windows of your heart and mind to the fresh ideas God has for your writing.
For those who’ve been writing awhile, spring can be when you discover a new direction or element of the craft, and that discovery breathes excitement and creativity into you. You sense you’re perched on the edge of something powerful and life or career altering.
Spring in the writing journey also brings us the nourishment of community. We’re meeting new people, finding new allies. The wealth of encouragement that brings us is as refreshing and restorative as spring rains. Hosea 6:3 reminds us how important and necessary those “spring rains” are: “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”
The Obstacles of the Spring Writing Season
1. Too many ideas in your head.
- Jot your ideas down but stay focused on your current project.
- If something won’t let you alone, then set aside time to pray about it. If it’s something God wants you to act on now, He’ll let you know.
2. An abundance of advice from varied sources can be confusing, even frustrating.
- Focus on one area of improvement at a time, weigh carefully what you hear from others.
- Give yourself time and space to decide what works for you and ditch the rest without guilt.
3. When we see book after book release, it’s easy to get discouraged, to think there are too many books out there vying for attention, so how will anyone ever find your book(s)?
- Get your focus off of others and their books, and onto the One who has given you this task to write.
- Embrace Isaiah 40:31 because it reminds us what our focus needs to be, and how energizing that focus will be: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
- Stay focused on God and where He has you in your journey. Leave others and their books to Him. They’re not for you to worry over. In fact, if you’re going to focus on them at all, let it be to celebrate with your brothers and sisters who are serving the same God you serve!
- When you feel like your book is lost in a sea of other books, be willing to invest time and money in cultivating readership and growing an audience. Make it about serving, not numbers. Let it be a time of you nurturing others and let the results grow over time.
The Summer writing season
Summer is when nature shows off the fruits of all the spring labor. All that diligent planting and tending and feeding and watering produces a beautiful abundance. Likewise, in a writer’s summer season, all the work and study and prayer of the writer’s spring brings things to life! Things heat up, and it seems growth and blooming in your writing is happening fast and often. You find yourself working harder than you ever thought possible, but that’s okay, because this summer also brings you boundless energy. Energy that writers can harness to work and to play.
The Blessings of the Summer Writing Season
Nature’s summer is a great time to absorb important nutrients like vitamin D. Likewise, when your writing journey is in a summer season, you need to be sure you’re absorbing the “nutrients” that will strengthen and sustain you. What nutrients? God’s Word! No matter how frantic you are or how busy you feel, you MUST take time to soak in God’s word. 1 Peter 2:2 tells us, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation”
A writer’s summer season is when we experience boundless energy, productivity, and, as a result, growth. Sometimes that’s growth in your career, but more often it’s inner growth. We gain a firmer understanding of what our journey is about, and what God is doing in us as a result. Those deeper insights and understandings flow from our hearts and spirits onto the page.
Writers can also harness the energy that comes with a summer season to play! To gather with other writers at conferences or retreats and share ideas and experiences. To read those books you’ve been longing to read but haven’t had the energy. And so much more!
The Obstacles of the Summer Writing Season
1. With everything that’s going on, you can become overwhelmed and even burned out. You can end up hot and tired and not able to do what you need to do.
- Be aware of your pace, be aware of your surroundings, most people don’t notice sunburn until it’s already happened.
- Work to prevent your writer’s burnout before it happens by putting safety measures in place. Pay attention to things like your posture in writing and the proper height for your keyboard to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Get a good chair, stand sometimes, and pay attention to the length of your writing sessions.
- Be aware of your writing schedule and avoid putting yourself in the position of having to schedule an excessive amount of words per day.
2. Drought. Creativity dries up, passion dries up, our closeness to God feels dried up too. These are usually all connected. When we lose touch with the Creator, we have a harder time creating as beings in His image.
- Always stay tuned to your “why.” Why are you writing? Know the answer!
- Know what restores your passion, know what nurtures your creativity, and schedule time for those activities.
3. A growing sense of competition. When we realize other writers are having a summer season and things are happening for them, we run the risk of entering an emotional competition with them. If they show up on a best-sellers’ list, we wonder why we didn’t. If they get a movie deal, we think there must be something wrong with us, or they sold out to get the deal. As a result, we end up frustrated and discouraged.
- Write the very best book you can and trust God’s plans for it. Whether God intends your writing to be traditionally published, indie published, written for friends, or for just you and God, know that His purpose will stand, and His purpose is always perfect.
The Autumn writing season
The autumns of our journey are those times when it feels as though we’ve settled in to the writing journey. We’ve learned a lot, have put much of it into practice, and now a harvest of confidence and return is happening.
For some, we finally have a routine and it’s producing a harvest of words on the page. For others, words have become books on the shelves, and letters from readers sharing how your writing has touched them. In our autumns, we find a sense of belonging in the writing world and richness in what God is teaching us through the process.
The Blessings of the Autumn Writing Season
While summer seasons can be a lot of fun, our autumn seasons are calmer and more relaxed. We can just do what we know to do, and leave the details to God.
Our autumn seasons remind us that change is inevitable, Nothing stays the same. God didn’t create the world to be stuck in time or one season. And just as the animals use autumn to store up for winter, writers should use their autumn season to store up for whatever changes are coming. And for winter. Store up on what? Well, here are a few suggestions:
- God’s truths and wisdom in His Word
- research and craft books
- fun books to read and savor
- anything that encourages us
The Obstacles of the Autumn Writing Season
1. Because we have a sense of being settled, we have a tendency to ease off. To be more distracted and tempted to go off on rabbit trails of “Hey, that’s something new I can try!” But those rabbit trails too often don’t lead us where we hope, and we lose ground we’ve gained.
- Never forget the admonition in Philippians 3:14 to remain diligent and press on toward the goal. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to reflect Christ to the world. But we also need to be diligent in performing the tasks God has given us.
2. The leaps and bounds of our summer season may start to slow and even out. People who loved your book when it released aren’t talking about it as much. Your traffic on social media seems to be stalling, and you’re not in the spotlight. Too often writers see this as loss rather than the natural pace and pattern of the publishing world.
- Learn from the leaves. Let go! Accept that God’s in control and let Him do what He desires.
- Hold fast to two powerful verses:
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
The Winter Writing Season
In nature, winter can seem desolate, a time when everything dies and is buried under heavy blankets of snow. A season cursed by cold, little daylight, and a dearth of the colors in the other seasons. But in reality, winter is a season of wonder and great beauty. But you have to have your eyes open to see those things.
Likewise, when our writing journey enters winter, things slow down and even seem to be stopping. Maybe dying far earlier than we wanted. We look at where we are and it seems everything has just…frozen. But we writers must keep our heart and spirit open to what God has for us in this remarkable season on our journey.
The Blessings of the Winter Writing Season
There’s no time more conducive to rest and being restored than winter. With the busyness of the other seasons gone, we can give ourselves a break. Breathe deep of the Spirit’s presence.
Winter in a writer’s journey is the perfect time to sit back and think. To savor the quiet. To ponder what’s happened in the past, and where you are now. Are you where God wants you? If your career seems to have slowed to a standstill, ask God if it’s time to do something different. Ponder your goals. Write them out and then spend time praying over them, seeking God’s guidance.
Winter is also a time to simmer inside, like a cabin in the snowy woods with a warm glow in the window. Stuff is happening in that cabin, even if the rest of the world looks like it’s asleep.
The Obstacles of the Winter Writing Season
1. Not understanding the difference between dormant and dead. If something is dead, there’s no bringing it back to life. But if it’s dormant, there’s hope. Maybe with a little attention it can bloom back to life. With the right kind of effort and intention, it can bloom in more amazing ways. With prayer and study, it can surge back to life, stronger than ever before.
2. Harshness. The winter season can bring harshness such as bitter reviews, cold decisions from your publisher (like dropping you) or trials from retailers (like bookstore closings, changing royalty rates, or new fees). Maybe you got your social media account cut off or a plagiarizer stole your books.
- We have to go back to what we’ve said before. Trust in God. Take refuge in God. He’s the shelter from the elements, the storms, the bitter cold. Psalm 46:1says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
3. Barren market. Maybe no publisher is looking for what you write, or your genre is frozen over in the market.
- This industry is cyclical, bide your time and be faithful in your daily tasks
- If, after you’ve spent time reflecting and seeking God, you feel you should change your genre, then use your winter season to prepare
4. Barren mind. No ideas are coming to you because you feel you’ve used them all up. They’ve had their time and their growth and now that’s over.
- Look again at what you stored up in autumn. You may find a kernel that needs to simmer before it reaches full potential.
5. Barren sales. No one is buying your book.
- This is a good time to evaluate if you need a new cover, a new description, or a change in categories.
- It’s also a good time to learn and explore new ideas for marketing, new tactics for reaching readers.
Always remember that winter is just one of the seasons writers experience. There will be light and color and new growth again at the end of this season. God is for you, and what He has planned for you and your career WILL happen.
Whatever season of the writing journey you’re in, embrace it. Yes, sometimes it can seem you’ve been in one season for-EVER! You long for a different season because surely it will be better. But as with nature, God is in control of the seasons in our journey as writers. He’s the one who changes the seasons, not you or I. So instead of fighting or resenting or being frustrated about your season, surrender to God’s work in your life and career and embrace your season. Sink deep in the blessings it holds, and seek God’s wisdom and strength to deal with––or even avoid––the obstacles. And know that the one thing that will never change, regardless of what season you’re in, is God’s Spirit being with you every step of the way.
We want to hear from you!
What writing season are you in? What blessings and obstacles are you finding?
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Special thanks to our September sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! She writes atmospheric and charismatically character-driven suspense. You can find out more about Tammy and her book Blood Beneath the Pines at her website tammypartlow.com.
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