Monday, March 19, 2012

Losing Heart: Overcoming Discouragement

There is a word that writers hate. It’s discouragement.

Actually, writers don’t hate the word they hate the feeling – the doubt, self-doubt, the disappointment, the depression. These 3-D words are as hated as discouragement itself, but seem to accurately sum up the emotion. After all, discouragement is multifaceted.

Doubt & Self-doubt

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing a story the enemy of my soul’s voice drowns out those of my characters. He says, “this story stinks,” “no publisher will ever buy this novel,” and “you think you’re a writer? Ha!” It’s hard to stop listening to the lies and stay positive. Why is it so much easier to believe lies than the truth?

I think in answering that question, one has to ask, “What is the truth?”

If you’re a Christian and believe the Bible, the truth is that if a story is burning in your heart, God put it there. Seek His will for what you’re to do with it. Should it be in book form? Should it be self-published? Should it be posted on the Internet? A blog? Should it be hand-written on a legal pad and read to your child at bedtime? There are lots of possibilities. But we need to be confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

This goes for all our talents and gifts – spiritual ones included. Since every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17), we need to be confident – and not doubt or self-doubt.

Sure, you might think. Easy for me to say. NOT SO! I doubt more than the biblical Thomas! But that only makes me have to trust God more.


Sometimes expectations run higher than reality which causes a letdown. Book-signings, for instance, are a primo source of disappointment for me. Whenever I have a scheduled signing at a store I plot and plan, make brochures, announce it on FaceBook and in emails…and then six people show up. Six very important people, mind you! But when I expected twenty-five, six is a bit disappointing.

In writing, as in life, disappointments occur. We all experience them; however, some of us just feel them deeper than others. That’s where the discouragement comes in, the temptation to say, “Oh, just forget it. It’s not worth it.” It’s sort of the Eeyore syndrome (remember Pooh’s friend?). Always looking on the disappointment side of life.

As Christians, we ought to believe that even life’s disappointments are God’s will. He has a sovereign plan that includes the ups and downs. They all make us who we are and cause us to depend on Him.


When trust and dependence on God get tossed depression can set in. Depression can also be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. If you’ve been depressed for a lengthy time, consult with your physician. We live in a sin-cursed earth and just like people can develop pneumonia from a bad cold virus, people can develop clinical depression. It’s a horrible feeling and an uphill battle for chronic sufferers. 

However, if your depression has developed due to a situation, it might be time to take the bull by the horns and analyze the root of your feelings surrounding it.
Just like the waves are sure to crash against Lake Michigan’s shoreline, trials will certainly come our way. They’re inevitable. The question is how will we handle them?

I can tell you honestly that there are times I’ve wished I handled situations better, with more finesse and grace. Like the time my tenant called and yelled at me because we’d put our duplex up for sale and she didn’t want to move. Instead of being patient and diplomatic, I threw the telephone handset across the room. After having to purchase a new set of cordless phones, I proceeded to mentally beat myself up because I’d reacted badly. Depression set in. Not because of anything my tenant did, but because I’d lost sight of an Almighty God who, even when circumstances seem out of control, rules the world and all things in it (including us human beings). Discouragement followed and I found it difficult to stand my ground – which Christians are allowed to do albeit politely. The Bible says “Be angry and sin not.” Anger is human emotion. But when we start breaking telephones, we’ve crossed the line (pardon the pun)

I’d be lying if I said I’ve conquered the aforementioned 3-Ds. I haven’t, but please…who has? I can tell you that as a published author and certified Christian life coach, I am very well aware of them in my life and in the lives of others.

Recently had a friend announced that she’s giving up writing. After almost thirty books in print, she feels her work is pointless, meaningless because she’s not making much money. She took down her Facebook page and web site and she rarely looks at her emails. Why should she bother?

The opposite, however, is true for this dear friend. She has touched many, many lives with her fiction and nonfiction. It broke my heart to hear the discouragement in her voice when we talked that day. But she couldn’t hear my voice of encouragement over the lies pertaining to her check-less royalty statement.

So who did she trust? Where was her dependence? I respectfully submit to you that it’s not in an Almighty God but in the almighty dollar. Sure, money talks. But we’re not required to always listen.

As for my friend, I hope she’ll reconsider. I’ve been down the same sad road she travels and I know from experience that our God is also the healer of discouraged hearts. For myself, I plan to trust God with my writing ministry and persevere.


Lena Nelson Dooley said...

A very timely post. Thank you, Andrea. I'm sure all of us have experienced each of those situations. I know I have. Sometimes, I reacted in a productive way. Sometimes, I didn't. Isn't it wonderful that God can take the messes we make and turn them for good in our lives.

Bruce Hennigan said...

Thank you for your honesty. I think any of us who write suffer from the 3Ds. I suffered from depression and still battle it and wrote a book on how to Conquer Depression (

When I was going through my counseling, my counselor advised me to ask the question, "What is the lie?" All of these "stinking thinking" feelings come from the Father of Lies, Satan. He wants to stop u.

I am finishing the final edit on my second book and working on my fourth book and Satan has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at my family and at me in the last two months. I could get discouraged. But, I flip it around. If bad things are happening, then someone is trying to stop me. That means I'm doing the right thing! And as you said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Hang it there everyone. God is still in control and Satan is defeated. Flee, Satan, flee!!!!

Bruce Hennigan said...


I put Lena instead of your name. I'm tired, but NOT discouraged. Thanks for the great post.