For Christian writers, it’s almost a given that prayer is vital to success. In fact, if one does pray diligently about his or her writing career, there can be no such thing as failure. This doesn’t mean that publication is a result of prayer, only that success as God defines it is assured. Success to God may be simply that you have written something that, though it may never be published, it was still important for you to write.

This surrender through prayer of our writing career can sustain us during the bleak months or years when all we hear is “no” from publishers. Just remember that one “yes” can cancel out about a thousand “no’s.”

If you’re in the bleak times now, then take heart. If God has called you to write and you live daily in that truth, God will do with your writing what He intends to do with it.

You do have to do your part though. You do have to write. You do have to prepare book proposals. You do have to go to writer’s conferences. You do have to meet editors. You do have to study the market. You do have to continually improve your writing skills. Beyond that, you simply must remain surrendered.

The reason I’m writing this is because a few minutes ago I happened to think about a writer I used to edit. This writer was one of the top three authors I’ve ever edited. Truly a wonderful writer whose works deserve to be in print forever. But when this author’s books didn’t sell as well as we all hoped, this author retreated from writing. And not happily so. The author expressed deep disappointment that the books labored over for so long didn’t prove successful. I was, of course, extremely disappointed too. I still am. I can’t think of that author without wanting to shake the book-buying public by their collective shoulders for not buying these well-written novels. To the best of my knowledge, that talented author has not written since. What a waste.

Sometimes I’ve felt the same way about my own books that haven’t sold well. And more than once I’ve been astonished at the lack of response from publishers to some of my best book proposals. (Don’t get me started on that). But whenever I start to feel that way, Someone reminds me of the vow of surrender I made regarding my writing long ago—and which I still work daily to maintain. Oh sure, sometimes my acceptance of that reminder from God is along the lines of “Well, okay, God. It’s all right with me IF YOU DON’T WANT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO BE BLESSED BY THE MESSAGE YOU GAVE ME TO WRITE!!!!!”

Repentance quickly follows.

Perhaps someone reading this is at that place in your career right now. You’re up to here with countless rejections. You’ve not yet published anything—or perhaps you had a book or two published several years but nothing since. No matter, disillusioned beginner or seasoned pro in a slump, just make that surrender today—or renew that vow if it’s one you’ve let slip recently.

Here’s the sequence: Surrender–>Pray daily for your writing–>Keep learning–>Keep writing–>Keep sending stuff out–>STAY surrendered.

29 replies
  1. Trisha
    Trisha says:

    Thanks Nick for this post. I’ve been struggling with my manuscripts since recent traumas have dominoed into my life. It’s a great reminder to turn things over to God–something I need to do daily to get my creativity flowing again.

  2. Jennifer Valent
    Jennifer Valent says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Nick. Wonderfully said and something I have reminded myself of time and time again.

  3. Lori Stanley Roeleveld
    Lori Stanley Roeleveld says:

    I’m right there this week, Nick. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting for the YES I’m hoping to hear. I have to continually surrender the idea that publishing a book is the sole expression of my fruitfulness as a writer. I have the gift of an agent (Les Stobbe) who treats me as if I’m his most successful client. He continually models through his treatment and his language that success is measured in more ways than book deals. I’ve also had the joy of being led by God into jobs where I can use my talent to serve others – teaching people how to lose weight and express their creativity through writing in a job at the Y and recently, finding a job as a counselor for families in crisis where “writing the family’s story in a way that captures their strength and communicates their needs” is an integral part of the program design. If I’d found “publishing success” before I took these jobs, I would never have experienced the amazing blessing of seeing the creative ways God would like to use this talent. I would have missed so much. This thought helps me through weeks like this one where it feels as though I’ll never hear “yes!”

  4. Melissa K. Norris
    Melissa K. Norris says:

    This post speaks to my heart. For many years, I was that writer who gave up after not getting a yes from an agent or an editor. But after two years of not writing, I finally surrendered my future to God. I laid it all out and told Him wherever He led me, I’d follow, even if it meant giving up writing. Once I surrendered, then He could lead me where He wanted. And I’m thankful that was to keep writing and this past fall, to my agent.

    But you’re right. It’s something we must keep surrendering. Thank you.

  5. Lydia Harris
    Lydia Harris says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Nick. This will help many. Maybe you can incorporate these thoughts into the workshops you teach at writers’ conferences. We all need to grow and develop as writers while we wait for publication.

    May God continue to bless your writing and editing.

  6. Tami Meier
    Tami Meier says:

    Since 1999, I’m still waiting, still working on the book, proposal, writing and rewriting. I’m super slow. It does get discouraging after awhile and lately, my daughter’s wedding is taking over with less than two months away. I’m not giving up. If it took Noah a hundred and twenty years to build the ark, I figure, if God wants me to finish this book, I still have time and yes, years of prayer later, I still have hope. Here’s some encouragement from God’s Word: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9 (NIV)

  7. Richard Mabry
    Richard Mabry says:

    Nick, Well-said. This is a common problem among all who write, whether pre-published or multi-published. I particularly needed these words right now, and I appreciate your posting them. Thanks for wise counsel.

  8. Marilyn Turk
    Marilyn Turk says:

    NIck, thank you so much for your reminder of where my focus should be. Too often I plunge into writing without praying, and before long I’m stuck or wandering aimlessly. Then I remember that I got my priorities out of order.
    Thank you for this excellent, empathetic post that I need today (and everyday) as I surrender my writing to God and His plans for it.

  9. Marjorie Vawter
    Marjorie Vawter says:

    Nick, thanks for this. So needed the reminder and encouragement today. Even though I know I’ve surrendered my entire life, including the writing, to Him, it’s so easy to take it back when I feel He’s taking too long. Surrender is definitely a daily, living sacrifice.

  10. Jacqueline Wheelock
    Jacqueline Wheelock says:

    I am so glad I took a break from my writing this morning to find an email from my agent directing me to your blog. Whether or not you know it–and I’m certain you do–this was a special ministry. It was as though you read my mind. I return to my half-completed story now, knowing I’m not alone. God bless you.

  11. Diana Wallis Taylor
    Diana Wallis Taylor says:

    This was an excellent encouragement to writers, especially Christian ones! My first book went nowhere until I realized it was God’s book and He could do what He wanted with it! You’re right in that we need to learn our craft and perfect it, we can’t just sit back and wait. Thanks for reminding us of who is in charge!

  12. Kristy L. Cambron
    Kristy L. Cambron says:

    Our wonderful agent shared this with us and she was right – I was moved beyond words. Prayer? I had a good routine down. Writing every day? Check. Trying to learn, meeting new people in the industry, attending conferences… I’ve been working on all of those things. But what’s missing? Yes, it was surrender. That’s not only a big piece, it’s the only piece of the puzzle that matters above the rest. This blog post has had a huge impact on me and if anything, will bring my walk closer to the Lord. For that, I sincerely thank you!

  13. Sarah Kohnle
    Sarah Kohnle says:

    Nick, thanks for posting this. So often I struggle with the idea of publication — am I doing it for myself? For the one reader who needs it? For the One who planted the idea? And then I get stuck in the middle of the self-publishing debate & wonder where does a humble spirit enter. If I am humble, why would I want to publish it on my own? If I am humble, why would I expect someone else to publish it? Yikes. I’d appreciate some Christian insight.

  14. Linore Rose Burkard
    Linore Rose Burkard says:

    Hi Nick,

    I love how God has each of us writers on a unique journey but that we share similar feelings and frustrations along the way (even our editors!). I believe big-time that periods of perceived lack of fruit (ie., contracts) are immensely important to the times when we’re experiencing “success.” But we do tend to forget this unless we stay at His feet, don’t we? SURRENDER is the operative word, for sure. Thanks for the great affirmation of this. And I pray for much success for you–publishing and otherwise.
    Hugs. 🙂

  15. Dana E
    Dana E says:

    I’m a little late reading this blog post and I am so thankful that I got around to reading it! There is great wisdom in your comments.

    I’ve got a book proposal (okay, really it’s just a title) for you – The Daily Devotional for the Christian Writer.

    I’d buy it!

  16. Evelyn B. Ryan
    Evelyn B. Ryan says:

    Hi, Nick. I am so glad I read your e-mail today. The message just hit my creative spot. I do pray for my writing, that it may praise and honor the name of Jehovah and His Son, Christ Jesus. I must admit I don’t write every day but I do write often. Since I lost my mother and my dear sister just four months apart, I have had a hard time with inspirational writing. I did write a couple devotionals about my mother in the last few months, but I need to write more often, as I used to do. I pray for God’s spirit to wash over me and give me the spirital ideas that I used to receive from Him. I have been published many times in Portions of Grace blog site from MCC writers group. It is my desire to do at least a hundred devotionals so I can publish them in a book. I pray that my work is pleasing to God. Thanks again for the inspiring message. Keep sending them out to us starving writers and artists who work to praise God. Evelyn

  17. Lorna Faith
    Lorna Faith says:

    Love the sequence…Surrender–>Pray daily for your writing–>Keep learning–>Keep writing–>Keep sending stuff out–>STAY surrendered. Definitely a timely post for me:-) Thanks Nick

  18. Jewl Westphalen
    Jewl Westphalen says:

    I’ve always said, “I won’t write something unless I have something to say, and that something either hasn’t been said, or hasn’t been said in that way before.” Then, I look at the overflowing bookshelves and discounted tables in an American Christian bookstore, and I think, “It all must have been said!” But I’ve been encouraged just to respond to promtings to write regardless. Sounds a lot like worship–bringing something you’ve been prompted to do back to the throne, and leaving it there. Thanks for your words.

  19. Lisa Simonds
    Lisa Simonds says:

    Hi Nick, I’m very late to the party, but glad to have found your site. I know how the writer you edited feels. It’s heartbreaking to leave it all on the page only to meet a “ho hum” reception. But I suppose The Lord Jesus Himself knows something about that. So, called with His calling, we write for “whosoever will” read it. Reckon that better be enough. Thank you, Sir, for your timely encouragement…even two years later! Blessings!


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