|Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Five years ago I was about to attend my first ACFW Conference. Like this year’s event it too was in Dallas (a different venue) but was a nice direct flight home to Sydney. I went as a contracted author, my first novel, Angelguard, due to be released six months later in early 2013.
On the first morning (the event started the prior afternoon) a young lady shared a devotional. She was humble, funny, self-deprecating and clearly had a love for Jesus. She had a signed contract for a multi-book series but, like me, wouldn’t release her first book until the following year.
Last week I noticed a photo in this lady’s FB feed of “her pile”. The stories (novels, novellas and short stories) she’d published (both tradional and self). I was in awe. And proud of all that she had accomplished. Melissa has become a writing friend. I’ve read a couple of her stories and love them. Melissa writes rom-com style novels that feature characters who have a faith in Jesus.
Another Aussie friend wrote a post only this week where he mentioned he’d attended ACFW last year for the first time and he’s now in a position of having recently become agented and finaled in a competition at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference.
We read about this all the time and it can be challenging to not do it. Remember we have an enemy who will try to mess with our minds at every opportunity. Envy is one of those core “deadly sins” that he tempts us with.
“Your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
I did do the comparison because it was pretty simple to do … one published, one waiting to be (well I’m believing that to be the case!) and 40% of another. Hey, it pales in comparison. Could I have written more? Yes, I could of and should of. But I chose not to beat myself up or get down on myself, rather to regard it as the past and be stirred to produce more in the future.
Besides being in awe, Melissa’s post inspired me. Look at what we can achieve. Look what is possible. Even when you work two jobs which Melissa does. We all know authors who are similarly prolific. Our own Lisa Harris releases a couple of stories each year while being a missionary in Mozambique with her husband. Kara Isaac has had an extremely busy couple of years releasing three novels and giving birth to a bub! Carolyn Miller, another Aussie author, hadn’t released anything eight months ago but in October the third in her Regency Brides series is released. Sure, Carolyn didn’t write three full-length novels overnight, but wow.
Only God knows what we’ll be doing in five years time. I hope I’ll be getting ready to attend another ACFW Conference along with many other members of the ICFW family. And I hope to have more books, both fiction and non-fiction, published.
But more isn’t necessarily the answer. Something we always need to be conscious of. Too often we will place value on ourselves through our “more”, through our achievements. It’s important to remember that we are children of God and already are significant because of that. He created us and therefore we are significant.
Amongst the madness of writing, publishing, working and having a life I asked Melissa for a few thoughts on what worked so she maintained her sanity:
- Never put writing above the people you love. You will never, ever regret spending time with the people God has put in your path. They're there for a reason ... and they will always be more important than fictional people! That said... :)
- Know yourself! Know what works for you and what doesn't. What doesn't work for me is strict word count goals and deadlines (whereas I know others who thrive on deadlines!). What does work for me is finding a long weekend here or there when I can hide away from the world and just write to my heart's content. When you've discovered what works for you, you can lean into that and get so much more done than if you try to do what you see everyone else doing. I've been soooo much more productive since I quit trying to write on evenings after long days of work and instead just focused on finding three- or four-day stretches here and there where I can bang out a bunch of words at once.
- Don't be afraid to take breaks! When it comes to reaching for a dream, it's easy to feel like we need to do and do and do and push and push and push. But for me, some of my best creativity and best productivity has happened after allowing myself to step away ... whether for one night or one weekend or even one month. Those are the times in which God refreshes my spirit and I rediscover why I'm doing what I'm doing.
I love that … such great wisdom. We’re all different and understanding what works for each of us is important.
Go forth dear writing friends. Keep leaning into Jesus and keep believing. And keep writing. Remember writers write. (I always need to remind myself of that)
Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter