Monday, July 29, 2019

Box Jumps in the Writing Life - Part 1

by Kristen Hogrefe @kjhogrefe

When my husband and I joined a gym together, he introduced me to the box jump. In theory, it’s simple, a metal platform that you jump on with both feet at the same time. You can move to higher levels as you advance in ability. At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

In theory, publishing is simple too. You have a great idea. You write it down on paper. You publish it, and it becomes a New York Times’ best seller. 

And you laugh. Of course, publishing doesn’t work that way. Mastering the box jump isn’t so easy either. In fact, it has many parallels with the writing life. 

Mental Hurdle: Fear
When I first step up to the box jump, all I can envision is catching my foot on the bottom and losing my front teeth. So, I stretch, procrastinate, and then finally step toward it. Deep breath. Swing arms. Grit teeth. And … freeze.

James gently reminds me, “It’s all in your head, you know.”

Mostly, he’s right. There are my physical limitations, but what’s really holding me back is my fear of getting hurt.  

We writers have our share of fears, don't we? Sometimes, we call them "writer's block" where try as we might, we can't find the next word of our project. We stress that we’ll never be able to finish, and our paralysis freezes up the wheels of our imaginations.

Other times, we face the fear of rejection from agents and editors. Although refusals are a realistic part of the writer's life, that doesn't mean they sting any less. Perhaps even more unnerving is the day we do publish something, and we fear no one will read it or like it.

However, as Scripture reminds us, fear is not supposed to be our focus. 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV). Although this truth doesn’t discount our very real fears, it does redirect our attention to think on what is true and what we can do through the power of Christ.

Physical Hurdle: Failure
Usually, what happens on my first box jump attempt is that I chicken out and jump just one foot onto the platform with the other available to stop my fall if I miss. By the third or fourth try, I often do make the third level.

But James has been challenging me to hit level 4. Oh, I hit it all right. Like a mental brick wall and also with my shin, which you’re not supposed to do. Ouch!

We writers hit failure too. I don’t even need to spell out what that looks like, because you already know. 

Perhaps you’re tempted to throw in the towel after a recent disappointment. My friend, may I encourage you to do just the opposite? Persist like the widow in Luke 18. Despite the many times the judge turned her down, she kept going to visit him. One day, she got her request.

Granted, you shouldn’t pester agents and editors until they shut down. That approach won’t work. However, you can ask if there’s an opportunity for you to resubmit after you make changes to your project. If not, then you can research other agents and publishing houses. There are opportunities out there. You just have to be willing to work hard and find the right fit.

Have you bruised your dreams on a figurative box jump recently? What encourages you to keep going?


Don't Miss Kristen's YA Trilogy! 
(It's one of my personal favorites)

Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner who enjoys starting her day with Jesus and coffee. By day, she teaches English for Alpha Omega Academy, and by night, she writes fiction for young adults and the young at heart. Kristen and her husband live in Florida, the perfect setting for their many outdoor adventures. Join her at


  1. Good morning Kristen, what timely encouragement. Thank you for creating the picture of challenge and the exhortation to persist. May God bless you this given day. In Christ, Julie

  2. Good morning, Julie. I'm so glad this picture resonated with you! Blessings to you as well, Kristen

  3. Wonderful, encouraging words young lady. Thank you for this morning's inspiration to take the next leap of faith. :-)

  4. My pleasure! Thank you so much for your kind comment. Yes, writing can be a leap of faith for sure. :)

  5. The perfect Monday motivational post to get over our fear of failure.
    Thanks for the post, Kristen.

    1. Thanks, Ingmar! We can certainly all use some motivation and encouragement. :)
      Have an awesome week.

  6. The worst time for me is right now, when the book is about to hit the market. Yeah. I freeze. Panic threatens. Thanks for this encouraging post, Kristen. I need to push through again, past the self-doubt so I can stand on that box (where I'm supposed to be) knowing I've accomplished something.