I get asked all the time, “Shelley, how did you get published?” The real question, though, that these folks are asking is, “Shelley, what can I do to get published?” We all want to find success in our field of interest, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your field is the same as mine: communication, and in particular, writing.
While there are some GREAT steps of action you can take, and you’ll find a lot of those by following the Water Cooler, I personally have experienced the ONE that is the most important, so I want to pass that along to you as I make my debut here as a contributor. This ONE thing keeps me sane regardless of book sales. This ONE thing helps me know which project to work on and which one to table or forget altogether. The To-Do List of life, family and ministry often blur my vision and confuse my priorities, but this ONE thing really does make ALL the difference.
It’s so simple and yet so overlooked by far too many (even Christian) writers.
I told you it was simple, but the truth is, the quality of our lives rises or falls on our level of trust in our Heavenly Creator–the One writing our lives. The One who knows the end from the beginning. The One who has GOOD plans for each and every one of us. Many times a creative soul like a writer gets all jumbled up in the mix of “the next new thing” and trying to have his/her voice rise above the noise of so many voices also trying to make themselves heard. But the motive behind it all is either going to be FEAR or LOVE. And that motivational force will come from the Source in whom I place my trust: myself; my agent; my abilities; my marketing team; my publisher; or my Heavenly Father.
It’s a simple principle, but that doesn’t mean it’s also an easy practice. Thankfully, there is grace for this, too! God cares more about your willingness than your perfection.
As we seek to discover where we’re placing our trust, we can ask ourselves these good questions:
- Do I have to be a successful (however you define “successful”) writer to be of value?
- Am I working on this current project because I sense God’s Spirit flowing through me in the process or because I feel pressure to write this?
- Who is my audience…really? In other words, who am I most seeking to please? (Readers? Myself? God?)
- If my writing isn’t as successful as someone else’s, is my writing still valuable?
- What is my source for content? Am I solely relying upon my experiences, education, research, and skills, or am I inviting God’s Spirit to be my greatest influence in what I write?
According to the writer of Hebrews, one we can take some cues from as writers, “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.*”
Asking ourselves where we are placing our trust, regardless of the size of that trust, will help us navigate through all the ups and downs and unknowns that writers experience. God sees and God cares more about your calling to write than even you do. Trusting Him in the midst of every day life and trusting Him to give you the words to put ‘out there’ will give you the strength and peace to accept His plans for the reach and impact of those words.
*Hebrews 11:1 The Message