Tuesday, May 18, 2021

When You are Overwhelmed or Discouraged with Writing, Read This

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

Hey, I’ve been there. After the high of a fabulous writers’ event where the formidable input was like drinking from a firehose, I settled back into my desk chair and felt totally overwhelmed. “Where (and how) do I even begin to build my platform/craft/brand/website/proposal?”

Or after hearing from such exemplary faculty, I feel like an imposter and mumble, “Who will even miss my words if I don’t write them?”

No pat answers from this end, friend. But the apostle Paul and I do have a few things to speak into your life today.

From Paul:
“Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immoveable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know the in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15.58
  • Be Steadfast: The NT Greek word Paul is using here for steadfast is hedraios— which means ‘firm or fixed.’ Other verses with steadfast use hypomoneo which means to ‘abide under pressure.’ A steadfast writer knows her divine calling and what she believes—Her firm foundation on God’s unchanging Word allows her to firmly abide no matter what the pressure.
  • Be Superb: We are called to always reflect God’s glory in all we write, all we do—excelling in the work of the Lord. Dorothy L. Sayers once said “No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth.” You may feel your small work doesn’t matter, but whether you are waiting on tables or hand-crafting all table, all work is of value. So, write that blog or church newsletter article with the same kind of excellence you would write a book proposal.
  • Be Significant: Your labor is not in vain. It may feel in vain—rejection upon rejection, low numbers, discouragement. Anyone can run and hide in the face of difficult people or challenging circumstances, but we as messengers of the Kingdom are to seek significance even more than success. Hold tightly to truth even if you are the last one standing.
From Lucinda (via the apostle Paul):
I turn often to this prayer from 2 Thessalonians 1 in the Message, “You need to know, friends, that thanking God over and over for you is not only a pleasure; it’s a must. We have to do it. Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. Why, it’s only right that we give thanks! We’re so proud of you; you’re so steady and determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you. We pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.”

There are 5 words from this prayer that I would like to lift up and remind you to embrace as you continue your writing journey.
  • Praise: It is easy to thank God over and over for you with praise that you are continuing to grow in faith and developing love for others. As we set out to intentionally see others as created in God’s image, we learn to ‘love everybody always.’ With kindness, mercy, grace, and forbearance. We choose to be magnanimous – going beyond what is merely expected in order to overflow with the very love and acceptance we have received. And then God turns us into love. Do not think your manner, your relationships, your attitude are not part of your writing. They are integral, and I’m glad we share “The Write Conversation” community.
  • Perseverance: You can continue to be steady and determined despite all the hard times. Did you know that Walt Disney was once told he lacked imagination? What if he had chosen to believe the lies, and didn’t move forth in what he knew he was called to do and create? In fact, it was after his competitors stole his first character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (whom no one even remembers) that he created Mickey Mouse! Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected 27 times but kept knocking on doors. He left behind a legacy of more than sixty well-loved books. Will you choose to find strength in your struggle, hope in your hurt? Keep persevering and make the best of your worst.
  • Prayer: There are several times in the Bible when we are told to pray all the time. The only way this can happen is that we develop a ‘praying life,’ not just a ‘prayer life.’ In this Scripture, Paul lists several ways he specifically prays for us, and we can literally do this also. I find that keeping a prayer journal is helpful to me in my writing projects—from beginning thoughts all the way through to publication and release. And beyond. Oh friend, in addition to all the social media and websites and marketing and publicizing, remember to bathe each word in prayer.
  • Provision: Not only does Paul say our work will amount to something, but he assures us that God’s grace and power will accompany our calling. In New Testament Greek, the three words we translate as power are hyperballo, megathos, and dynamis. Does that remind you of the English words hyper, mega, and dynamite? Imagine that your words will be filled with that kind of power if you keep writing! There is no such thing as standing still—as we move forward and do the next thing—He will provide. Most of us have a long to-do list, but please pray about the next right thing and then watch Him provide. Then, do the next one—in His power.
  • Presence: This 2 Thessalonians prayer ends with a triple reminder that God, the Master, and Jesus Christ all give themselves to us freely. They are always available through the Trinity. We are never alone. In the Old Testament, God told Moses not to be afraid, that He would go with him. In the New Testament, the last words Christ said before His ascension were I am with you always. The great good news is that we can always dwell deeply in the presence of the Living God.
One day, you may just remember today’s hard season, and be thankful that you chose to respond to God’s Word of encouragement. In fact, this week I recalled a time twenty years ago when I was sorely tempted to just give up and quit writing. I was discouraged and very close to believing that no one would ever miss the words I never wrote. But Paul reminded me to be Steadfast, Superb, and Significant. Daily obedience and determination turned into years, until I recently released my 15th book “Soul Strong.”

May I bless you with the words of the 2 Thessalonians 1 prayer today? Reach out for all God has for you as you journey as a messenger for Him—Praise, Perseverance, Prayer, Provision, and Presence.


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 Soul Strong, Life-Giving Choices, Dwelling Places, and Ordinary Graces. Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and AWSA, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for ‘The Write Conversation.’ 

Whether coaching writers and speakers, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. As a communications teacher, she has served on the faculty of Speak Up Conference, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Florida Christian Writers Conference, Asheville Christian Writers Conference and co-directs the annual spiritual retreat reNEW – retreat for New England Writing & Speaking. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, McDowell shares words from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at WWW.LUCINDASECRESTMCDOWELL.COM


  1. No matter where we are in our writing experience, we all need to hear this. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  2. Rejection and discouragement is a part of the publishing world. It took me nine long years to go from blogging and article submissions to a traditionally published book. Writing is a process...and God doesn't waste a minute. When we hang in with Him in the journey, He will provide what we need to answer His call. Thanks so much for this beautiful, encouraging article!! I'm saving this for those discouraging days. I could hear your enthusiastic voice throughout.

  3. This is such an encouraging post and I love the way you broke the prayer down into 5 topics we can remember. Thanks, Lucinda!