This post originally ran on the ACFW blog in June 2018.
As writers, we work with tension all the time—without tension, our stories would sag and our heroes and heroines would have very boring relationships. But this blog is about the tension we experience between what we want to work on and what we have to work on.
For many of us, writing is not our full-time job. Some of us work outside the home. Some of us work from home. Some of us work in our homes. Even those of us who can devote eight-plus hours a day to writing have other obligations on our time. All of that creates tension that pulls us in one direction when we want to go in another.
For me, the tension comes when my freelance writing assignments ricochet into my fiction writing time. When I have clients who need an article—and who will be sending me a paycheck when I send them the article—my obligation is to those clients, no matter how much I’d rather spend the time with my current WIP.
Then there’s the tension that comes when I have to feed my own website and social media accounts. Yes, I do employ tricks like scheduling blog posts, using guest blogs, and writing for my blogs and social media a couple of days a month to minimize disruption to my fiction writing.
Add to that mix the tension of living with others. Whether you’re married or single, have kids living at home or parents living away from home, you have family members, friends, and church friends/family who depend on you for care and substance. That too can cut into writing time, increasing your tension.
So how do you resolve this kind of tension when you’re itching to write but life and other obligations gets in the way?
Remember God is sovereign. As believers, we know that God is in control, but all too often, we think that only applies to life’s “big” things—not to the little things that derail our days or gobble up what time we thought we’d have to write. To combat that kind of frustration, I remind myself that God is sovereign and His ways are not my ways. So I can rest in Him and in the day He’s granted me—not the day I thought I wanted.
Rejoice in the path less traveled. This goes hand-in-hand with “God is sovereign.” I try to rejoice when my day goes cockeyed and tension threatens to mount because the time I had set aside to write got gobbled up with dealing with the hot water heater or an appointment at school or a sick child. When the path for that day or week or month (or year!) isn’t the one you started out on, rejoice because it’s the path your heavenly Father put you on for your good and His glory.
People matter more than words. I’m not saying you can’t guard your writing time—you should in most circumstances—but there are times when those we love require the sacrifice of time, and we should gladly give it…even though it often means we don’t finish that chapter or outline our next book. The time spent with family and friends, neighbors and others whom God puts in our lives, is time well spent. Many times, I’m inspired by a plot idea or snippet of conversation during those interludes that I use when I’m back at computer.
The writing time will come. Sometimes, it can be postponed by a few hours, while other times a few days. There can be seasons in our lives where it might be months before we put words on a page. But if God has called you to write, rest assured you will write.