Friday, January 1, 2021

Leave Space for Grace In Your Writing Goals

by A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless

I raised and trained 4-H market lambs for two years when I was in junior high. The profit I made helped me buy my first laptop, yes, but it was hard, exhausting, dirty work. (If you’ve never scrubbed the lanolin out of all a sheep’s nooks and crannies before a show, consider yourself fortunate to not have experienced that particular smell.) 

The second year, I ended up with a lamb who pushed every button I had. She was stubborn and scared of everything. I named her Meg, after a book character who (to this day) frustrates me with her hard-headedness. I couldn’t even train her using the traditional belly-rubbing method we’d been taught. No, Meg the sheep required my knee in her chest to get her to set up properly. It was a constant fight, a constant struggle to get this sheep to behave and perform. But we did it. We made it to the county fair. 

Here’s the problem: there’s a weight limit. A market lamb could only qualify for a premium at auction if it were 160 pounds or under. Without the premium, there’s no profit. Without the premium, the lamb is just a lesson in how to get the smell of sheep-gunk off of your hands.

Meg the sheep was 165 pounds.

After all the back-breaking work, the hours of training and walking, she didn’t qualify for a premium that would have made the project worth its time.

I was gutted. Disappointed. Discouraged. All that work, all that effort, for nothing? And then, the manager at the scales let her through.

She was in!

How had that happened? 

Well, I learned two things from this experience at the county fair: 

1) The judges very wisely included a 5-pound grace for extra chunky sheep, and 2) the man running the scales was my neighbor.

No, he didn’t bend the rules to let me in. With the grace area, I was still within the weight range that could be admitted, but I didn’t know that. He did. And gave me a solution I could use, but he also knew me personally. He knew my parents. He knew our family. He’d seen how hard I’d worked to be able to get to the fair, and he was glad to be able to help.

What on earth does that silly story have to do with writing?

Well, friends, have you ever set out with a goal in mind only to have life throw you an inescapable curve ball? Have you planned and strategized on deadlines and release dates only for events and circumstances to squash your hopes of productivity? Did you experience 2020 like I did?

You may be writing a novel or a devotional or a screenplay, and you have done everything right. You’ve talked to the right people. You’ve developed the right relationships. You’ve honed your craft. And you may still face trials and traumas that have nothing to do with the choices you’ve made and everything to do with the fact that we live in an imperfect world.

As you set your goals for 2021, remember to leave space for grace—not just for other people but also for yourself. Give yourself some wiggle room. You can do everything right, and circumstances will still rise up to stop you, delay you, and distract you. And believe me, if you aren’t in the right emotional head space, writing doesn’t always work. 

Grace is for you too, my storytelling brothers and sisters. 

When troubles and challenges knock you down, let yourself have the grace to rest, recover, and be restored. Otherwise you’ll flail and stumble and fall, and you won’t accomplish anything. You’ll just wear yourself out.

The Lord extends extraordinary grace to us. We should accept it. Allow ourselves to rest. Stop pushing so hard. Obviously, every situation is unique, but it’s important to know your priorities. And your mental and emotional health should qualify as a priority.

So, yes, set realistic goals. Do your best to achieve them. But keep in mind that the world we’re working in doesn’t work right, and difficulties will always appear in our paths. So be proactive. Decide now to value your health, your family, and your faith, because choosing to prioritize those things when the world feels like it’s falling apart around you is much more difficult.

Yes, deadlines are important, but you are more important. And let’s not forget that if storytelling and writing is part of your ministry, then you know the One who’s running the scales. There may be a grace period you don’t know about. He knows you, and He knows how hard you’ve worked. So maybe, if you ask Him, He’ll help you find a solution you haven’t thought of yet. 

Happy New Year, everyone, and may 2021 be blessed.

Leave Space for Grace in Your Writing Goals - A.C. Williams, @Free2BFearless on @EdieMelson #writing #writerslife 
(NOTE: Click to Tweet is down, so please just copy and paste this entire tweetable into your social media.)

A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless.


  1. Great encouragement to this girl, Amy, who is one week away from a publishing deadline. The thing about writing is that it is never enough. When I'm on a project, I feel guilty sitting down to a show at night, taking a nap, or even eating lunch. But I've found without those breaks, my brain becomes useless. Then I'm running on empty and can't hardly get anything accomplished. Wise words today. Happy New Year!!

  2. Great story and great encouraging words. I loved it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love this article! The sheep story will stick with me forever. Thanks A.C.!

  4. What a terrific message for Jan 1 2021. Thank you for this, it is really helpful! Trust and Blessings!

  5. Valuable advice to start the new year. Thanks!

  6. Thank you. I needed this reminder that my mental health is a priority. I really MUST stop listening to social media news!

  7. I loved your chunky sheep story and leaving space of grace is very needed.Thank you!