I wonder what keeps you motivated in your writing journey? What inspires you to stay glued to your computer, churning out hundreds of words day after day? What sustains you as you try to balance your writing with promoting your books and the demands of a job, family, church commitments and so many other things? I doubt it would be the lure of fame and fortune – at least, that’s not the expectation of most authors I know in Christian circles here in Australia!
I have come to the conclusion that, while the support of others and also some practical self-care measures have been very important in helping me stay the course, my prime motivation throughout these past seven years of novel writing has definitely come from God, the greatest Encourager ever. It took me a year to find a publisher for my first novel. Then I waited another eighteen months before it was released. So from early on, I realised I would need God in a big way to keep me focused and motivated in this writing journey. Now, three years later and with three more novels published, my greatest challenge is finding the time to write, in the midst of speaking and promoting my books. I have produced a fifth novel, by God’s grace, but simply cannot seem to find the time to complete Number Six. So right now, with frustration levels high, I definitely need God as my great Encourager even more than when I started this journey.
First up, I need to remember how God called me to write in the first place. I was sitting on a rock in little village in Turkey while visiting a friend there and God challenged me clearly through the words of Isaiah 42. If God has called me to write, then I can do it! God does not call and then refuse to give us the strength to complete the task we have been given.
Secondly, I know that, to stay motivated, I need to put time aside to read God’s Word regularly and find encouragement there. I keep my bible open on the desk beside me as I write for that very purpose – I love to glance across when I feel frustrated, as I have today, and read words that challenge me to be at peace in the midst of everything. Thirdly, I try to ‘practise the presence of God’ as I write, remembering God’s Spirit is in me and all around me, ready to give me the wisdom and encouragement I need. I believe too I need to cover my writing in prayer constantly, enlisting family and friends, if possible, who will stand with me in my endeavours. I have a wonderful little ‘email prayer team’ who uphold me in prayer whenever I speak somewhere – I value their commitment so much. But I myself need to be prayerful too. And as I pray, I need to remember how much God has done for me in writing journey so far – and be thankful! I think Paul’s instructions in 1 Thess 3:18 to ‘be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances’ are one of the surest ways of staying motivated and remaining positive, whatever the challenges and frustrations we encounter as we write.
So right now, as I yet again open the file containing my current novel, I am determined to listen to God and receive the encouragement I need. How blessed are we to have the greatest Motivator ever living in us, loving us and empowering us to do what we have been called to do?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen writes contemporary general fiction and lives with her minister husband in Sydney, Australia. To learn more about Jo-Anne, please visit her website, http://www.jo-anneberthelsen.com/. On 6th November, Jo-Anne will be presenting a workshop at the Word Writers’ Fair in Brisbane, Queensland on this topic of ‘Staying Motivated’ – for more information, see http://www.thewordwriters.com/.