Welcome to Part 8 of the Writing by Faith series for Christian authors! If you’re new to Authoring Arrowheads, be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future series posts!
If you haven’t yet read previous installments of the Writing by Faith series, you can do so here.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, KJV
Life is uncertain. Just when we’re flying high above the mountaintops, reveling in fulfillment, a gale knocks us down into a pit of despair.
Whether good or bad, seasons change throughout our lives. Some are longer than others. Some are more bountiful than others. Some will make you wish you were never born, while others will make you want to scream, “THIS is why I was born!” And, whether we’re prepared to accept it or not, this also applies to life as a Christian author.
God’s Purpose for Different Seasons
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18, KJV
Just as seasons of life change with the turbulence of a Category Five hurricane, our careers as Christian authors will experience unpredictable weather.
When you publish your first book, you may enter a Season of Euphoria: all your family and friends are supporting you, the book is selling better than you anticipated, and you truly feel as if THIS is the reason you were born! THIS is truly living our God’s calling for your life.
But then, a few weeks or months in, a cold rain begins to trickle. Sales drop. A couple negative reviews pop up. Family and friends ask about those supposed “millions” you’re making. You remind yourself you’re writing for God, and that’s all that matters, but the reality of it all is still discouraging. You have another book idea in mind, but now you wonder if writing and publishing it is even worth it. At this point, you’ve entered the Sulking Season.
Then, out of the blue, you feel a sudden pull to get back to writing. Words flow out of you with a vigor you’ve never experienced, and you know God is the One to thank. You’re not just fulfilling your calling from God, but thriving in it. You finish not only your next book, but get a hefty start on the one you plan to release after. This beautiful season is what I refer to as the Season of Potential.
In my experience as a Christian author, these seasons, and a few others, are guaranteed to change up your schedule and habits when you least expect them to. Sometimes it will seem like things go from good, to great, to depressing within a matter of months. But, don’t fret; God has a purpose for each season, and the seasons of depression and doubt won’t last forever. How can we tell? Well, sometimes when we’re in the midst of the season itself, it isn’t obvious. But, once the season has passed, we’ll look back and see that He was molding and making us when we didn’t even realize it.
Each Season Requires Change
At this moment in time, I’ve been a Christian author for four and a half years. Through this experience, I can personally attest that in each and every season I’ve been through during this career, that a defining change had to be made in order to grow, both in the career itself, and with my faith in, and reliance on, God. Let’s take some flashbacks.
About five months after releasing my debut novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl, my Debut Season of Euphoria came to an end when a life change hit: my boyfriend (now soon to be husband), changed from second to third shift at his former job. From the outside looking in, this Yay I Can See My Boyfriend Again! Season may not seem like a career-altering change for an author; however, in all actuality, it changed a lot in order to prepare for the next season.
When Josh was on second shift, he worked from 3:00 p.m. to around 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m. The only time we were able to spend time together during that time was on the weekends (and only then, if he didn’t have to work) and random days during the week, when he’d drive over to meet me on my lunch break. So, when his hours changed to 11:00 p.m. to 7 a.m., this allowed us a lot more time to spend together, but it took away the time I had been using to work on my books, and marketing, after work.
During those first few months, I struggled to find time to dedicate to writing and marketing. I even took a hiatus from blogging for a few months. Nevertheless, eventually God revealed to me that Saturday mornings were still an option, because Josh would be asleep then, and normally my family doesn’t have much going on at that time. So, then began the first Season of Renewed Vigor.
Okay, so now you may be thinking okay, so that was a long story. So, what’s the point? Where was the change? The change required here, you see, involved God prompting me to shift my priorities to willingly make time that I used to spend relaxing to make time for the calling He laid on my heart. In hindsight, the Yay I Can See My Boyfriend Again! Season was a test from God to see if I was serious about actively working on the His calling for my life.
But, Josh’s work hours haven’t been the only force that has inspired the change of seasons for my author career. Other aspects of being a Christian author that we’ve covered so far in the Writing by Faith series, such as comparison, opposition, lack of faith, and lust for money have each played a role in molding and making the woman who is penning these words. How did each of those seasons, which all look pretty bleak on the surface, prompt positive changes that were possible by God’s divine intervention alone?
|Season:||Season’s Story:||Reason for the Season:|
|Comparison Season||I felt the need to be like other, young indie YA authors on social media. I tried to post in the same ways they did, tried to write and publish as fast as they could. This led to feeling bad about myself when sales didn’t pan out like I’d hoped, because I had “failed” at what worked for others.||God allowed me to endure comparison to show me that I wasn’t following HIS purpose for me by following the paths of others. To enter the next season, I had to learn to rely on God’s guidance for decisions regarding writing and publishing, and figure out how to block out the world’s influence.|
|Opposition Season||Some content from my debut novel was not well received with some Christian readers. This led me to believe that my books were not “Christian” enough and therefore could not be used for God’s glory.||God allowed me to endure opposition to show me that He can use my writing ever how He sees fit, even if others don’t agree with it. To enter the next season, I had to learn that as long as I’m doing my best to honor God with my writing and represent His Word, opinions of other Christians, or non-believers, about content should not matter.|
|Season of Faltering Faith||After releasing my second and third books, my faith faltered after the releases, because the books’ sales quickly flat-lined despite my efforts. I felt that, if no one cares enough to read the books, why should I bother continuing to publish?||God allowed me to endure faltering faith to show me that I was relying on myself too much and not enough on His guidance. To enter the next season, I had to learn that being a full-time Christian author is impossible to accomplish on my own, and that I can only summon the strength to avoid pits of doubt if I hold God’s hand and let Him lead.|
|Money Hungry Season||Watching other authors on social media, who were able to be a full-time author, made me lust for the same type of success for my own author career. This led to an obsession with sales and depression from not selling as many books as I’d hoped.||God allowed me to endure a hunger for money to reveal the underlying self-serving feelings I’ve been harboring about being a Christian author. Though being a full-time author is my dream, to enter the next season, I had to learn (and am still learning this) that His purpose for me right now is to write for Him, and that, until/if He gives the green light for this career to go full-time, there is nothing I can do on my own to change that.|
Are you currently in a bleak season? As the verses above from 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4 says, this affliction is only temporary, though the good God will use it for is eternal. Have you considered asking God to guide you in the ways you need to adapt for the season to change, and to prepare you for the future He plans for you?
Please keep in mind that these periods are called seasons for a reason: in the grand scheme of things, they’re temporary, but they do last much longer than a day. Sometimes, it will feel as if you’ve been stuck in the same place forever. This is what many people refer to as…
The Waiting Season
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.Isaiah 40:31, KJV
The thing about our Life’s Purpose that frustrates so many of us is that the purpose itself can take an actual lifetime to fulfill. Because we’re used to instant gratification in most areas of our lives, we expect our calling from God to take off as soon as He reveals it to us; however, nine times out of ten, that just isn’t the case. Like we just discussed, God will mold and make us through different seasons to prepare us for our purpose. Still, that doesn’t make the Waiting Season any easier.
The Waiting Season, in fact, can occur simultaneously along with other bleak seasons, which doesn’t help anyone who is going through it. Faith is tested to the core while waiting for your purpose to take off as a Christian author. Despite working your butt off to make your books stand out, it feels like no one is paying attention. Then, out of the blue, a young buck prances onto the scene, and shakes things up from day one. Their books are being read by the thousands. They’re able to quit their day job to be a full-time author within their first year, while you’ve been at it for half a decade and haven’t even reached half their sales. It seems like God’s just showing them ALL the love and favor, and you’re trying your best to keep up the momentum with that mustard seed of faith you keep tucked in your pocket. What gives? Does God not want some of us to succeed?
Satan Realizes How God Can Use Us
Nope, that’s not it at all. God would not have laid the calling to be a Christian author on our hearts if He didn’t want it to make a difference in someone’s life. He knows the impact we can make through Him. But, unfortunately, so does Satan.
Remember when Jesus was fasting in the fourth chapter of Matthew, and Satan kept tempting Jesus with specific things he knew Jesus would like to have? Jesus was probably starving after fasting for forty days, so Satan tempted him with food. Satan tempted Jesus to jump from a high building and to save himself through the intervention of angels. Satan even told Jesus he would give him all his desires if Jesus would bow down and worship Satan.
But what on earth does any of this have to do with enduring the Waiting Season as a Christian author? Honestly, it has everything to do with it.
Jesus took this time alone in the wilderness to become closer to God and prepare for His purpose of dying on the cross for our sins. Our Waiting Season as authors for God prepares us to fulfill His purpose for us: reaching readers who will access information about God through the books we write. Just like Satan tempted Jesus with food, self-sufficiency, and instant access to all his desires, Satan tempts authors with 1) Food: AKA worldly things disguised as “nourishment” that promise to grow our careers, even if it’s outside of God’s Will, 2) Self-Sufficiency: The belief that if we work ourselves to death, we can make our careers skyrocket on our own terms, faith in God not required, and 3) Instant Access to All Our Desires: The belief that, since things are taking so long waiting on God, that we should go one step further past self-sufficiency and throw God out all together, because that will make our books more popular and therefore more successful.
Just like God does, Satan sees the impact you can make for the kingdom of God as a Christian author, and he will do his best to try to win you over to his side. The Waiting Season is a drawn-out, difficult test. Our faith will waver, and at times, Satan’s side will look appealing. But please know Satan’s side never wins. Satan’s side may offer instant gratification, but not eternal. In fact, Satan’s side will never be enough. True fulfillment and contentment, can only be found in a relationship with God.
How Can We Survive? Hope and Quietly Wait.
As Lamentations 3:25-26 (KJV) states, “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” So, how are we called to act during the Waiting Season? We should avoid Satan’s temptations, and instead hope and quietly wait. We exhibit hope by continuing to follow God’s calling for our lives as Christian authors by faithfully writing books that honor Him. We wait quietly by not boasting our own strengths, but by giving God the glory for every step along the way, with the quiet assurance that, even if it takes until our dying breaths, He will make a way for us to fulfill the calling He placed on our hearts.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
How would you define your current season as a Christian author? What changes do you feel God calling you to make during this time?
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.