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3 Ways to Build Stamina for a Writing Career

December 12, 2022

Millions of books release each year—yes, millions. Between traditional and indie publishing, the number of new titles entering the market is staggering. Maybe those statistics boost your confidence that someday you’ll sign a book contract. If a million writers can slink past picky acquisitions editors, so can you. Or maybe the fear of missing out torments you. You’re struggling to finish your draft—what if no one ever expresses interest in your work because the proverbial field is already scattered with others’ stories? 

 

Endurance has become difficult because of the instant gratification social media provides. The ease of sharing content and receiving interactions skews our perception of the effort that leads to success. We begin to believe the lie that writing and publishing quality stories involves clicking a few buttons and waiting a few minutes for readers to notice us. 

 

The writing community contains three types of people: those who take shortcuts, those who talk about their dream of becoming an author instead of writing, and those who consistently invest time and energy into their craft. The first two types suffer from sloppiness and inertia. The last type is one we should strive to emulate, but how do we cultivate patience with ourselves and God’s plans for us

 

Let’s step outside into the dewy grass and turn to the garden for wisdom. Tending the earth, a slow and steady task, can teach us valuable lessons about reaping the fruits of our labor. When we push for immediate results, we risk entitlement, burnout, and defeat ensnaring us. When we focus on learning and trusting, however, opportunities will rise up to meet us, often by surprise.

 

1. Don’t Rush Growth

Every February, my husband and I start our greenhouse. We insert seeds into little pods, water the soil, and monitor the temperature and airflow. At different intervals, sprouts emerge, and within two weeks, leaves form. When the sprouts reach a certain height and maturity, we migrate them outside. But if the weather hasn’t warmed up enough, a freeze might harm the baby plants. Or, if we seeded them prematurely, the stems will be weak. If all goes well, our first tomato won’t ripen until July.

 

Timing matters. Growing a durable writing career means allowing each stage of the process to run its course. I know writers who self-published their books too soon. They still regret that decision. Even writers who pursue traditional publication may be unprepared for the marketing demands associated with it. Alternatively, a writer might possess the necessary skills but not the courage to face rejection, so she never sends her manuscript to anyone.

 

Some writers shoot up fast like tomato plants, others germinate slower like parsley. In either case, you need to be rooted in the understanding of your craft through diligent study. Whether you’re reading books and articles, enrolling in workshops, attending conferences, or doing all of the above, embrace the season you’re in. Just as you wouldn’t expect a half-inch sprout to bear a baseball-sized tomato, don’t pressure yourself to produce before you’re ready.

 

2. Experiment Over and Over Again

When I was pregnant with our daughter, Daisy, my husband and I bought African Daisies from a rare seed catalog. Instead of yellow centers, they have blue ones. Hoping to hand our daughter a beautiful namesake, we tried to grow them for two years. We changed soil, water levels, and lighting until finally a single sprig popped up. Now the flower reminds me that I need to be willing to fail (perhaps multiple times) before I can reach a goal. 

 

The more story seeds you sow, the more wild ideas you chase, and the more experience you gain, the stronger your next project becomes. Every draft, whether or not you shape it into a bestseller, reveals mistakes to avoid and methods to follow. Social media isn’t usually a place where users showcase their faults, but everyone knows that the messier side of life happens off-screen. So why are you reluctant to give yourself grace? Improving is part of the art. It may not be a fun scene you can spotlight in a ten-second Instagram reel, but the biggest, brightest blooms don’t burst open overnight.

 

3. Surrender Control

Last summer, aphids attacked our grape vines, mildew infested our cucumber plants, and squirrels kept stealing green tomatoes. As I watched our crop shrink, I began to fight a losing battle not only with nature but also my emotions. Why had I bothered to plant a garden when I couldn’t protect it? 

 

The hard truth is, even if you master all the ins and outs of your craft, you still may not attract an agent or fit into the trends of the current market. But when you doubt yourself and joy fades, remember that control is an illusion. God defines your journey, not the stress-induced choices you make, the publishers who say no, or the computers that crash. Leaning on Him is freeing. You can create with open hands and an eager heart, sometimes dismayed but not swayed by the pests in your writing garden.

 

Proverbs 16:1–4 offers encouragement when you forget who holds your stories: “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end.” God’s sovereignty enables you to leave your worries in His hands and replace those negative feelings with peace.

 

Thriving in the Now

Whether a new idea is sprouting in your mind, you’re experiencing the satisfaction of a bountiful harvest, or you’re undergoing painful pruning as you revise, all things come in seasons, and those seasons are rarely as short as social media portrays. Keep plowing the field of imagination. One day you’ll see green poke through the dirt and God will supply you with the tools and environment to coax it into vibrant life.

3 Comments

  1. Kristen Bazen

    Fantastic article, Rachel! I love the way you connected the writing life to gardening.

    Reply
  2. E. N. Leonard

    I love the plant and gardening analogies! They will help me to remember your tips 🙂

    Reply
  3. Alena Casey

    This article is both encouraging and comforting. I love the gardening parallels, and the call to patience. I have four kids and I’m building slowly right now. “Control is an illusion. God defines your journey.” This website is a real blessing for Christian writers, always calling us to order our lives rightly. Thank you!

    Reply

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