Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Staying S.T.R.O.N.G. as a Writer

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

How has the pandemic and quarantine affected your life as a writer and speaker? I can imagine some of your answers because they are probably similar to some of mine: cancellations, uncertainty, inertia, and trying out new ways of communicating. Everything that exacerbates our weakness, not our strength.

Things are changing constantly during this world health crisis and no matter what our profession, we are going to have to stay flexible and make wise choices.  To acknowledge hard truths and still live vibrantly in our new normal.  We go deeper than just surface responses – we garner strength of soul within to help us face the challenges without. 

Here are some ways I’m seeking to Stay Strong as a Writer:
S – Surrender Your Plans.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” 1 Peter 5.7

This is not the life you signed up for, but it’s the life you have right now. As many things get smaller (event opportunities, activities, finances) or non-existent, it won’t help to feed fears. Instead, try to hold all loosely – your professional plans, your loved ones, your need-to-control. Try this simple exercise: Open your hands to release all that to God by naming each one, “Lord, I release _______ to You.” Then, keep your hands open to receive what God will give in return, “Lord, I receive Your gift of   _________.”

T – Trust God’s Presence, Peace, and Power.
“For I hold you by the right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’”Isaiah 41.13

God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe who loves you more than you can possibly imagine. He is not wringing his hands in despair. He is, in fact, present through His Spirit – and nothing is impossible for Him. Can you say with King David, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You?” (Psalm 56.3) In the Bible God promises each of us His presence, peace, and power. You are not alone!  Use this enforced withdrawal time to be in His presence more, filling up with His power and peace that you will eventually share with others in remarkable ways.

R – Reach Out with Kindness.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another.” Ephesians 4.32

Tight spaces, deprivation, and anxiety can easily lead to bad tempers and self-centeredness. The perfect antidote is to make a deliberate choice to extend kindness to those in your household and community. Offer some writing or speaking services online as a free gift – just to serve others and make new connections. Think outside the box of how to show compassion to the servers and the suffering. Your light in the darkness will encourage, provide practical help, and bring hope.

O – Observe a Daily Routine.
“Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to You.” Psalm 143.8

Awaken each day, get dressed, and make your bed. This and other established routines will provide security and order to your household. Limit your intake of media and news. Use your most alert and creative time to at least write in your journal or brainstorm some new topics, or start researching something you’ve never had time to pursue. Who knows what might come of those planted seeds – even a book or new retreat series? Plan exercise, meals, reading, rest, chores, schooling, daily check-in phone calls, and projects. Hugs and listening to your children will go a long way to help them know you are their ‘safe place.’ How you handle this crisis may well be your last and greatest legacy.

N – Nurture Your Inner Life.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4.23

Take care of yourself – body and soul. Yes, do all the health mandates for physical safety. But also focus on your inner life through silence, prayers, Bible study, worship, rest, journaling, and those creative activities that renew and refresh. In addition to my morning prayers, I also have a hot cup of fresh brewed tea every afternoon with a favorite devotional book. Fill up your soul with deposits of that which is “true, honorable, lovely, pure, right, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4) Your strength of soul will then overflow to others. Please be okay with no writing productivity if that’s how your life is right now because you are sick, caring for others, or just too distracted. God is present at all times and in all seasons. 

G – Give Thanks Daily.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. And be thankful.” Colossians 3.15

No matter how bad life gets, there are always blessings. Look for the gifts you have. Name them. Rather than complaining about not hearing from publishers on that book proposal, why not start blogging again? Make a gratitude list each day and then offer up thanks to the God who provides. Be generous to others. Say “Thank You” to those who rarely hear it and pray for them. And then, embrace the peace that God promises to bring to your own heart and life. 

I confess, I don’t feel very strong some days. And if someone else tells me that Shakespeare wrote his best plays during quarantine, I think I will scream! But, by God’s grace, I am determined to live vibrantly through these unknown and unprecedented times as a soul strong woman. This is my prayer for you as well. 


Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 15 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her award-winning books include LIFE-GIVING CHOICESSOUL STRONG (2020), DWELLING PLACES (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional)ORDINARY GRACES  (2018 Selah Finalist), LIVE THESE WORDS, and Refresh! Lucinda, a member of the REDBUD WRITERS GUILD, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs for The Write Conversation, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog and (in)courage. Whether co-directing  “RENEW ~ RETREAT FOR NEW ENGLAND WRITING,”  pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at https://lucindasecrestmcdowell.com/ Follow Lucinda on Twitter: @LUCINDASMCDOWEL


  1. As always, Lucinda, you offer practical advice steeped in Scripture. Psalm 143:8 is my favorite morning prayer. Thank you.

  2. What a great way to start my day. Thank you for this wise and practical advice.

  3. Thanks for your wonderful advice. I loved the way you used the letters in s.t.r.o.n.g and the bible passages. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you for this easy to remember list of how to stay strong in my writing. You would think that this Stay At Home time would cause me to be finally writing what I didn't have time for before. But it isn't. I just can't seem to focus on writing (or even reading the stacks of books I have). Not sure the problem, but I'm going to print out your post and put it up where I can see it. Hopefully it will produce the boot at the bottom I need.

  5. Wonderful advice, Lucinda. Thank you!