Overcoming Discouragement

Nick Harrison encourages NCWA writers by sharing tips to overcome discouraging times.

I touched on dealing with setbacks and discouragement in my earlier series on How to Succeed as a Christian Writer, but today I want to revisit it for a minute. Not surprisingly, this is due to a bout with discouragement I had earlier this week. Yes, even after eight or so books, I still face discouragement.

Not as often as I used to, praise the Lord, but every so often I still hear the inner voice that says, Pack it in, Nick. You’ve done all the writing God has for you. You’re at the end of your road. Enjoy life. You don’t need any more rejection. Maybe the voices in your head say slightly different things, but the result is the same: dejection and a sense that maybe you should take up bungee-jumping or macramé or something else that will prove more productive and less stressful (bungee-jumping certainly qualifies there).

Well, thankfully, my melancholy mood passed rather quickly and I’m now able to once again face the blank computer screen with hope. Some of you, though, are likely to be in the midst of a bout with the writing blues. I know some of you wish you were on your way to ACFW…but aren’t. Others of you recently got word of a rejection. Still others are facing writer’s block or some other writing-based trauma that’s causing you to consider chucking it all.

Below are three suggestions on how to handle discouragement that have worked for me. Earlier this week, it was idea number one that got me through.

1. Just hang on and wait it out. Time heals this wound rather quickly. In the midst of my dejection earlier this week, I told myself, Nick, just get a grip. Sure you feel like throwing your computer out the window right now….but give it a day or two. Then you can do the window thing if you still feel this way. Sure enough, the mood did eventually lift. My computer is safe and the window remains intact.

2. Browse at a local bookstore. Read the opening pages of a few books in the genre in which you want to write. For me, being around books is therapeutic, no matter what my problem. A trip to Barnes and Noble is cheaper than an hour on a psychiatrist’s couch. Get a nice mocha while you’re there and just browse and relax and don’t worry about your latest failure.

3. Commiserate with a good writing buddy. I have to laugh as I write this one. During my misery this week, I emailed one of my closest writing friends and basically cried on his shoulder, knowing he’d sympathize. Imagine my surprise when he wrote back saying that he hasn’t faced discouragement as a writer since he was a beginner. (Okay, window, get ready. Computer comin’ through!).

Other ideas include listening to a specific genre of music, walking through a cemetery (I’m sure you’ll want to hear more about that in another blog), or just getting some exercise at a gym or taking a long, long walk.

Those are some things that work for me, what works for you?

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This post appeared September 16th, 2010 on Nick’s Blog. Used by kind permission.

Nick lives in Oregon with his wife of more than 30 years, Beverly. Nick became a Christian through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ during the heyday of the Jesus Movement. During that time, he and Beverly joined a Christian commune in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District.

Today Nick is an editor with a major Christian publishing house and continues to write books in his spare time. Nick and Bev are the parents of three adult daughters and have three grandchildren. Visit his website and his blog.


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4 thoughts on “Overcoming Discouragement

  1. All good ideas. It’s been a while since I browsed at B & N, so I’ll be making a trip there today. My discouragement comes mostly from not knowing what to do next. Im fairly new at searching for agents and trying to get published. I guess the thing that works best for me is to remind myself that God started this work in me and He has to finish it in His way and His time. The other thing that helps me is helping other aspiring writers begin their journey. I love to teach and encourage others in their writing. It helps me overcome discouragement.

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  2. When discouragement comes, I don’t wallow but I do let myself grieve whatever disappointment triggered it — for a brief time. Then I stiffen my resolve, assess any needed changes and try again.

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  3. I had to laugh as I read about your friend in point number 3. I was thinking, forget the computer, throw the friend out the window! 😀

    I just received a redirection this last month that stung, as usual. Prayer and talking to friends (two of whom questioned the mental faculties of the publishing house that rejected me – ah, gotta love my friends) was what helped me get past that.

    I also constantly have to point myself back to God’s timing vs. my own. And God’s perfect place for my books vs. my own. Looking back on all the times God has provided and seen me through, helps me put a little reject– ah, redirection– into perspective.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I agree with Lynette…you need better friends, Nick.
    The speaker at our NCWA meeting last night (Bill Brubaker) talked about the importance of writing for fun. Last spring I made a decision to focus more on the fun and less on the getting published. That’s taken pressure off me, opened me up to new writing and speaking opportunities, and has actually moved me closer to getting published.
    It’s encouraging to know that even people with Nick Harrison’s resume get discouraged. There’s hope for us rookies!

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