About five years ago, I met Lesley McDaniel at a kids choir practice at the church across the street from mine. It didn’t take long before we both realized we were writers – and we were both deep the in throws of revision! I think it would be fair to say, we both taught each other a lot about grace and understanding. I’m very grateful she extended grace to me – when we met, I was still at a place where I thought I was a better writer than I was. She was kind and understanding. Thanks Lesley!
If you’re a writer, perk up and read … she’s got something to say about staying the course and not giving up.
I’ll be posting on Friday.
Persevering Through Times of Trial
How to Keep Going When There are No Visible Signs of Success
by Lesley Ann McDaniel
I am a writer.
It’s easier for me to say that now that I have a book coming out with a major publisher, but I’ve been stating those words with absolute certainty for the past eight years. I called myself a writer when I was writing very badly and learning to write well. Through all the years of “helpful” feedback, dismissive comments, and rejection letters.
It’s not the publishing contract that made me a writer. Writing is God’s calling on my life.
The truth is that it’s a good thing I didn’t know before embarking on this writing journey how much hard work and emotional turmoil I would have to go through. Would I have even started if I had known? Probably, but I wouldn’t have been happy about it.
Anyone who has ever had a meaningful goal knows what it feels like to want to quit. Those moments when you feel that nothing is going as planned, and there is no indication that the goal will ever be reached. How do you manage to keep going?
If a goal is truly meaningful, you might as well accept that you will have to climb a mountain in order to achieve it. The only way to do that is through perseverance, which Webster defines as “The continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” By its very definition, perseverance only exists in the presence of obstacles. Anyone can stay the course when things are going their way. It’s when challenges arise that we need to draw on our inner strength to forge ahead. Then and only then do we grow stronger and develop character.
So, welcome the challenges with open arms. And stock up on the necessary tools to see you through when times get tough:
Pray. Ask for guidance not only at the start of your journey, but continually. If God has placed this desire on your heart, He already has the plan mapped out for you, even when you can’t see it. Remember to ask, then wait for the way to be made clear.
Solicit Support. You’re not in this alone. Build a support system of people who understand and respect your goal. Remember that it’s okay to reach outside your immediate circle of friends and family to find support. Sometimes the people who are closest to you will unknowingly try to hold you back out of their own fears and insecurities.
Find Inspiration. Look to those who have gone before you to keep your fire of hope burning bright. It might even help to post pictures of people you admire. This can provide a great visual reminder that if one person can achieve greatness, anyone can.
Keep your goal in front of you. Write it down and post it in a prominent place where you’ll see it frequently. The act of writing something down gives it power and makes it feel more real.
Find an accountability partner. This takes the support system even further. Telling another person the steps you intend to take toward your goal and knowing that you will be reporting back to them can offer a tremendous motivation. The added benefit is that you will have someone with whom to celebrate your small successes.
Break the goal down into small, manageable pieces. Sometimes, that’s the only way to do it. Otherwise, it’s just a big elephant waiting to be eaten.
Be open to God’s surprises. Keep in mind that the path you think you’re walking might not be the one God has you on. Be open to His surprise detours and remember that He always has your best interests at heart.
Recognize when quitting might be your best choice. It has always troubled me when people say things like “quitters never win”. Who are they to judge someone else’s journey? The truth is, there are times when ending a particular course of action is the best next step. If you suspect you’ve come to that point, ask God and listen for the answer. Then if someone calls you a “quitter,” be sure to say “Thank you.”
If you are a person of faith, and you’ve been given a particular calling, you need to be obedient in spite of the obstacles. I’ve been called to write. I’m not always happy about that, but it’s God’s plan for my life.
Whatever your calling and your goal, keep in mind that your persistence will pay off. You just don’t always get to know exactly when.
LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL writes romance, romantic suspense, and young adult fiction. Her new book, “Lights, Cowboy, Action” is being released through Heartsong Presents in June, 2013. Visit her website at www.lesleyannmcdaniel.com.