Today at Novel Matters, Patti Hill posted about one of my favorite books for writers, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. If you haven’t read this book, and you’re an artist of any ilk, might I take a cattle prod to your backside and (gently) encourage you to do so?

Partly spurred by The War of Art, partly as a result of a recent conversation with a wise and godly writer friend, I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about work ethics and hope and expectations, and the wisdom of ceasing to hope in my expectations, but rather to hope in God, who because of His good nature has good plans for me, plans that I can trust even if they don’t line up exactly with what I think is best, or the timing in which I think it should unfold.

Here’s the comment I posted to Patti Hill’s blog post at Novel Matters today:

I read Pressfield’s book a few months ago and it changed the way I approach sitting down to write each day. Since 1991 I’ve faced down (and sometimes been beaten by) that nebulous resistance, almost daily. My resistance isn’t usually one thing or person, but innumerable little distractions, laziness, the desire to be entertained rather than to work. Now I have a name for it, a better understanding of it, and am stronger to overcome it.

[insert segue]

God has whispered to my heart lately about laying down my expectations when it comes to a writing career (and anything else, really). I’m not to be hoping in my dreams, or my own notion of what would be best for me, but in Him. If I hope in Him and trust to His good plans and loving nature, and continually lay down the burden of my own expectations and desires, I find I’m much less tightly wound about it all.

Just like overcoming resistance, I relearn this almost daily. 🙂

I hadn’t thought it through until I saw the phrase flow from my keyboard, but the burden of my own expectations is exactly what it is. When I’m holding on tightly to a hope, a dream, a desire that God either sees isn’t good for me, or the timing’s not right, it becomes a burden, because I’m left trying to make it happen in my own strength and wisdom. Or else I’m fretting over it, obsessing about it, cherishing it like a toddler with another child’s toy.

MINE! That’s a recipe for burn-out and frustration.

Not that as writers/artists we aren’t to work, and work hard, at the craft we’ve been called to. I want do my part (showing up each day on time to write; read as much as possible and study other writers’ craft, and at the same time fill my creative well; learn the industry as well as I can; keep a teachable spirit when it comes to the writing craft; give my agent what she asks for when she asks for it). But even more I want to let God do His part. That means giving over the outcome of my work to Him, trusting that whatever comes, it’s come through His hand, and it’s something good for me. Conversely, if I don’t get something I want, when I want it, then that wasn’t good for me just then.

It makes this whole up-and-down writing journey a lot smoother, at least in my soul. While I want to give my characters a roller coaster of an internal arc, I’d prefer my own be a bit more even-keeled.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

I so enjoy, learn from, and appreciate the Novel Matters ladies and their blog. If you haven’t checked them out yet, well… where did I put that cattle prod?

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