Overcoming Discouragement

I’m sure 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?

11 replies
  1. Paula Moldenhauer says:

    At my very worst moment I threw the laundry soap. I wouldn’t recommend it. It was liquid and splashed its oooey, gooey mess all over the laundry room. Not easy to wipe up either. Thankfully my husband came in, calmly told me there were better ways to handle my disappointment, and helped me clean it up. What a guy!

    I’m not discouraged today, though I’d love to be at the ACFW conference. God was so sweet to me! Just today He gave me another free-lance job, published one of my articles on Crosswalk.com, and let me see one of my finished products on David C Cook’s website. I can’t help but think He’s reminding me that He’s at work in my writing even when I can’t make it to the conference. He is very sweet to me.

  2. Lori Stanley Roeleveld says:

    I quit. It doesn’t last long and usually no one notices but it takes the pressure off. I don’t quit writing, I just decide everything I write will be for free. Then, an hour later, I stop quitting. 🙂

    I just returned from a stolen hour at Barnes and Noble – it helps me to stand there and think – all these people managed to do this, I have to be at least as good as some of them. Why not me? Then I pick up a few tempting titles and ask “Would I rather read a book or write one?” The answer is still, I’d rather write one. So, I keep writing.

    Thanks for this, Nick. It does help to understand that coping with discouragement is part of the job description!

  3. Janalyn Voigt says:

    Thanks, Nick. It’s kind of you to write this for those who couldn’t go to the ACFW Conference. I have an idea sure to act as a tonic: start planning for next year’s conference.

  4. Nona King says:

    Your post was wonderful, and it doesn’t matter if I have suffered recent discouragement or not.

    As you say, as writers we all get the blahs and it is our responsibility to pick ourselves up by the book-bag straps and trudge on. Your three suggestions all work wonders, I can attest to that!

    The timing of your post seems to fit hand-in-glove with my life’s little adventure recently regarding blahs, fears, and moving forward.

    In fact, I had the blessed opportunity to get the ‘buck up, little trooper’ message from James L. Rubart at the NCWA meeting this past Monday. “We are divinely destined” he told me – and it really did seem that I sat alone in the room – “so push past your fear”.

    It is that duty which I believe hangs as a banner over my life this year, as he is not the only Christian writer who has voiced that message. I know fear is my biggest hurdle to overcome as a writer, and I have made leaps and bounds already! So thank you for this reminder and encouragement. We writers, all of us, appreciate your compassion.

  5. Sherrie Ashcraft says:

    Great post, Nick. I’m not discouraged at all at this point, so my computer is safe. (And I don’t want to wreck the window because our house is on the market again and how would I explain the broken glass?)

    The Lord very specifically showed Christina she was supposed to go, and did just the opposite for me. So I have peace about staying home with the grandkids instead. Besides, I’m focusing on non-fiction right now, so it didn’t seem right to spend money we don’t have on going to a fiction conference. But I sure will miss seeing all the great people there and watching Christina get her Carol Award!! 😉


    Discouragement? Hmm. So far I haven’t experienced it. In earlier years, when I submitted my novel and received rejections, I was able to be objective enough to see WHY it was rejected. (It also helped to have a few agents scribble helpful comments.) Further, I could see that during the time I was waiting for a response, I had improved my craft, so it was easy to recognize my earlier errors. Perhaps another reason I don’t get discouraged is because I have my own website (www.janishutchinson.com), and every three months I get to write articles, including the posting of articles that have already appeared in magazines; also, short stories that have won first place in contests. Just seeing them appear again (even if it is on my own website) keeps me from getting discouraged. I’m still working on my novel because I’m continually learning new writing skills and can’t stop editing. For example, when I get to the end of my book and think I’m done, I go back to reread my earlier chapters, and it’s then that I discover that since I wrote those earlier chapters, I learned more. Therefore, I have to start reediting in order to bring the earlier chapters up to the craft level I achieved since then. (I still have a long way to go!) Now, even though I said I don’t get discouraged, I just happened to think of one thing that gives me occasional discouragement. I’m asked to speak quite often at churches and women’s retreats (this month, it’s off to California) and it takes up quite a bit of my time. Therefore, I do become discouraged (perhaps a better word is frustrated) wondering if I’m ever going to have the time to get back to working on my novel. I love analyzing sentences, paragraphs, making corrections, plus devouring all the writing helps I can find. Actually, I’ve wondered which I love more—writing or editing? Just the very thought of polishing up old sentences, rearranging paragraphs, double-checking structure and making it as perfect as I can, makes me salivate!

  7. Lydia Harris says:

    This would make a great article. Consider submitting one on this topic to the Christian Çommunicator, Northwest Christian Author, Cross & Quill or others, such as The Writer. It will encourage other writers to know even editors struggle with discouragement, and that’s OK. It’s normal.

    Thanks for your honest sharing. My friend Agnes Lawless Elkins often would say, “And it came to pass,” meaning, it came, but it will pass.

    Happy writing!

    Lydia Harris

  8. sally apokedak says:

    I like the “browsing the bookstore” deal. Reading good books always makes me want to write.

    I also talk to my soul anytime I’m discouraged, like the Psalmist did. I tell myself not to be downcast. I remind myself that God loves me and is giving me the best thing.

    Yesterday I got a rejection from an agent who asked for a revision several months ago. I did the revision and sent it back to her, giving her a thirty-day exclusive. She went 27 days and then told me she didn’t want to represent me and she didn’t want to go another round of revisions with me.

    I told my kids we should go out and celebrate. My son said, “Because God gave you an answer and he always gives the best answer.”

    And that was a wonderful side benefit of the rejection. Knowing that in my rejections my children have learned to “consider it pure joy when you encounter trials of many kinds….” was a great thing. Give me more rejection, Lord, if it’s good for us. And give me acceptance is that is good for us. They are one and the same to me because they are both given by my loving Father for my good.

  9. Bruno says:

    i am a 15 year old boy i have a little over $1000 saved up and i’m lnkioog for any ideas to multiply my earnings preferably a small business. I want to start restoring old cars but i need some more money for that. I want to save up for a first car car insurance and schooling. i have a grate work ethic and i can do anything i just need ideas other than the typical babysitting, mowing yards, and washing cars.

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