I’m often asked what writing advice I’ve received that impacted me the most. Without fail, I always turn back to this dark hour. But this advice, while directly applied to my struggles as a new author, also carries a great word of correction and encouragement for everyone. I originally posted this on Facebook a year ago, but this lesson continues to be one that I’ve carried with me every day since then. It’s so powerful that I believe it’s time to share it again in hopes that someone else will be strengthened. While this message does have a place in the heart of an author, I believe it’s something that everyone can relate to and apply to their hearts. I hope you’re blessed and encouraged…
I have recently found myself overwhelmed by a very serious and challenging deadline. I have a small window of opportunity to get my novel edited during the summer months. But in order to do this, I have to have a complete draft ready for its grammar cleaning. If it’s not ready by the end of May, I could find myself waiting an entire year before publishing. I told you it was serious.
Every day that ticks by is another reminder that I’m not finished. Every day feels like an entire week’s worth of productivity has vanished when in reality it was only 24 hours. At this moment, the rough draft for Where Can I Flee is sitting at 73%. Not too bad. But not finished. And once the rough draft is complete there is still a whole other editing process to endure before it’s ready for the grammar editor. It’s mid-February, but in my mind it feels like the first of May. There is a mountain of work ahead of me, and I’m anxious to see it finished. I had become so anxious that it became crippling instead of motivating.
It was one of those moments when you know you have just found the very thing your soul needed. I read it again and again and again. I connected with this quote so fully. Writing really is that hard. And I’m discovering, that it really is that easy.
I had been making the mistake of trying to write an entire novel in one day, in one hour, in one sitting. It can’t be done. If I’ve learned anything in the last 19 months, it’s that writing a novel word by word, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter is a tedious process. Nothing is fast. Since I’ve found this enlightening quote, I believe I’ve quoted it to myself every day as I approached the computer screen. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down with little idea of what I would write about. It’s overwhelming to know that you have to fill up a page with words when there doesn’t seem to be two words that go together in your entire brain. But I’ve finally grasped the concept that I don’t need an entire chapter floating around in my head to be productive. All I need is one word. One word. Then one more. Then one more. And before you know it, I have a page, then a chapter.
But this isn’t anything new. How often do we find ourselves staring at a mountain? Today my mountain is unwritten novel. What does your mountain look like? Are you approaching your mountain one step at a time? Or are you like me, trying to leap over the entire thing in a single bound? It’s stressful when you stare at the foot of a mountain wondering how you, in your strength, can ever leap up and over that thing. Compare that to the peace you find when you understand that all you need to focus on right now is one single step. You cannot, you will not, it is not physically possible, to take more than one step at a time. Each body is designed to move one leg at a time. Why then, do we keep trying to take more than one step when all we need is one? Why are we so determined to climb every mountain in one day? To answer every problem in one hour? To work out every detail in one afternoon? To make every step into one single leap? To write every page at once?
For me, it was time to repent of my foolishness and start doing things God’s way. One step at time. Trusting and relying on Him with every step and not stressing over the steps that I’ve yet to take….the words that I’ve yet to write. Is it time for you to repent? Is it time for you to finally learn how to climb a mountain instead of attempting to jump over them? If you’re a leaper, I hope you will see the wisdom in climbing because you’ll find peace in nothing else.
Today, one year separates me from the time I wrote this. It is, once again, February and, once again, I have a novel to finish. The remarkable thing is, I’ve finally learned to do it one word at a time. As you know, Where Can I Flee was finally published and is now loved by readers other than myself. Today, its sister novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, is now a finished draft and nothing can replace the lesson I learned last winter. I hope my difficulties will help you in overcoming yours. God bless!