If you’re pursuing traditional publishing like me, it’s easy to get sucked into the numbers game and the ever increasing demand for celebrity status. You can push and push yourself to “succeed” until one day you realize you’re exhausted with little left to give. Since you’ve placed almost everything into acquiring your goal, you’ve failed to care for yourself adequately. And sadly, if you haven’t reached the proper numbers or attained a fervent following, well, you might just box up your writing dreams and move on.
Oh my, that sounds dramatic. Jaded. Even a bit depressing.
Yet I must be honest and share I’ve been there in one way or another. I suspect you’ve been there, too. Maybe you’re in that place right now. If so, I pray this post will grant you another perspective—one filled with hope, purpose, and power.
Over a year-and-a-half ago, I traveled to Nicaragua on mission with ZMI Family Ministries International. Shortly upon arrival, we checked into our immaculate, comfortable hotel. I felt enormous gratitude for such pleasant accommodations, and I still appreciate our leader’s perspective. Brenda Lancaster understood the importance of caring for our physical needs so we could accomplish the mission we aimed to complete. She stated it wouldn’t help anyone for us to stay in poor surroundings only to contract a sickness, which would hinder us from ministering to people. Sleeping and eating well granted our entire team the best support for effective ministry in a country our bodies weren’t accustomed to.
Similarly, we must take care of ourselves as we progress on our writing journeys. No one else will do it for us. The rigors we face in the writing industry can tax us tremendously, so we’re wise to offset those demands by maintaining health as a whole person.
Tip #1: Care for Your Heart
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23, NASB
God’s words of wisdom compel us to reflect on what influences our hearts. What motivates us to pursue our writing goals? Is God first, or has He slowly been relegated to the back seat as we steer toward “success”?
Caring for the heart includes consistent time in God’s Word. By soaking in the truth, we renew our minds and welcome the Holy Spirit to search us. It also involves sincere prayer—opening our hearts to our heavenly Father. God keeps our motivations pure and our priorities straight when we nurture our relationship with Him.
Tip #2: Care for Your Body
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The context of this verse deals with sexual immorality, yet we can apply it to all aspects of physical health:
Exercise – It’s tough to remember the importance of stretching one’s legs while writing. I’ve heard the recommendation to get up every 30 minutes. Goodness—hours can pass before I walk away from the computer. And too many days have flitted away while I wrote without pausing to exercise my body. Even a walk in the neighborhood offers great benefits.
Quality Sleep – Instead of lying awake and working in our heads, let’s ask the Lord to supply us with the rest our bodies require. We won’t function optimally if our bodies aren’t recharged properly.
Nutritional food – A poor diet deprives us of fuel to strengthen us, and it makes us more susceptible to illness. Let’s choose our snacks and meals with a desire to steward our bodies for God’s glory.
Tip #3: Care for Your Emotions
A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
Are you stressed out when facing a deadline? Are you depressed when rejection greets you in your inbox? These are just two examples of emotions influencing our attitudes and responses. Though meeting deadlines requires diligence and hard work, we often allow stress to affect our behavior. It doesn’t have to. By lifting our concerns to the Lord and asking Him to shape our actions, we can shine His light in the midst of pressure. As for rejection, Jesus experienced ultimate rejection when He walked this earth. He knows how it feels, and He tenderly cares for us in vulnerable times. Let’s take our hurts to Him rather than reacting in our flesh.
I tend to think writers possess intense feelings, which contribute to their ability to touch people’s hearts with words. These same feelings also can lead writers down the wrong path when hardship or pain enters the picture. It’s critical to recognize those emotions and handle them in a Christlike manner. Otherwise, we risk shriveling up inside and perhaps even quitting. We must learn the practice of taking our feelings to God and evaluating them with wisdom. The Lord is our ‘Wonderful Counselor’ who always will guide us correctly.
Tip #4: Care for Your Mind
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
The mind functions as a gateway for good or evil, and we can choose what enters. Just because we can access wicked or unprofitable information doesn’t mean we should. The Holy Spirit within enables us to seek “the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). As listed in Philippians 4:8, God’s Word directs us regarding the material we should dwell on. Heeding these instructions grants us a better outlook plus increases the value of our writing content.