Thursday, February 27, 2020

Who Are You Depending on as You Write?

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

Over the last couple of years, I spent a large amount of time working on a novel. The concept was unique. At least, I’d never discovered any other book with a similar plot. The characters were fascinating. I even developed an exciting plot twist for the end that I had never envisioned during the writing.

I really liked the story and wanted to move forward with it. One agent asked for the full manuscript, but later turned it down. That didn’t dissuade me. I’m used to rejection.

But the feedback I received from beta readers also brought me up short. Something seemed off to them. One reader in particular thought the story was too edgy and thought the characters were too wrapped in the secular world and all its trappings. 
The more I worked on revisions, the more disturbed I got in my spirit. My mind told me it was a good story and to keep tweaking it. My heart told me there was something wrong with it and to stop writing.

Finally, I went to God in prayer about it. Notice I wrote “finally.” I waited until I was so stuck I couldn’t figure my way out. Instead of going to him first, I went to him last.

Our conversation went something like this:

God: “Did I tell you write that story?”

Me: “Well no, but it’s a really good idea.”

God: “Did I tell you to write that story the way you wrote it?”

Me: “No, but you know me. I follow my characters and let them reveal the story to me.”

God: “Did I tell you to use those characters?”

Me: “No, but they’re really good characters.”

God: “Does your story honor or glorify Me?”

Me: Long pause while honesty works in my soul. “No.”

God: “Then maybe that’s why you no longer have peace about it. Maybe that’s why 
you’re struggling through the rewrite. So, what are you going to do now?”

Me: Another long pause of meditation until the answer became clear. “I’m going to give it up. And I repent for not seeking you first and trusting you.”

God: “I love you.”

I immediately deleted all my files and backups. 

The lesson I learned is summed up in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT). I did not trust the Lord with the story. Instead I relied on my own understanding and ended up in a mess. He reinforced the lesson to seek his will, to trust him to show me the path to take in my writing and in every other area of my life.

How about you? How have you allowed God to lead you? What have you done when you discover you’re off his path?

Who Are You Depending on as You Write? - insight from Henry McLaughlin, @RiverBendSagas on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest.

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers. 

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.


  1. Thank you for this reminder to place my writing in His hands, not my own. :-)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Melissa. I'm blessed you found this post helpful.

  2. I had an opportunity to submit a short story to an anthology and this characters for the story took hold of my imagination and I began developing more stories for them. The YA novel that I had worked an reworked and re-reworked began to fade in significance. Over the last year, I prayed about whether to venture out with these new characters or stick with the ones from the novel. I felt the Lord wanted me to give up the old and go with the new. It didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, although I have spent half my life with the old characters. But the new characters and plot are so much better than the old ones. And the story they tell is much deeper, more needed by people who want to understand the nature of God, than what was in my novel.

  3. I needed to hear this reminder today!
    Thank you!!

  4. What a great lesson to all of us for every aspect of life, not just writing!