Why Every Author Needs To Make Encouraging Writing Friends
Have you ever been discouraged as an indie author? I need encouragement and have often struggled with finding the right friends. Over the years I have learned that having writing friends who are encouraging are paramount to an author’s success.
Proverbs 12:26 reminds us to choose our friends wisely, for we become like those we befriend. Naysayers are easy to find, but godly and gracious writing friends who rejoice in our successes—are the people we must seek out. We need good encouragement.
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2: 1-3, NIV).
That passage comes to mind whenever I think about a discussion I once had with a previous pastor regarding my Christian writing.
While he meant well, he was not a natural encourager for this aspiring indie author.
Geoffrey stared at me over his glasses, “Why are your poems special? Why do you think others wanna read your stuff?”
My jaw dropped in a combination of hurt and anger. Geoffrey was my spiritual authority, and his raised eyebrows demanded an answer.
“I thought my devotional poetry might bless someone.”
“Honestly, it feels like you think too highly of yourself.” Geoffrey smiled condescendingly.
My shoulders drooped. Was desiring to self-publish a sinful pride? Who was I to imagine that my writing might minister to someone? Shamed into seclusion, I spent the evening removing the poems with their accompanying scriptures from my website.
Although my devotional work had won awards, I struggled with insecurity. Over the years, I’d developed the foolish habit of sharing my work with dream killers. As a result, I wasted years of productivity believing lies about myself. It would be years before I would overcome these setbacks and become a published author.
Satan knows which buttons to push to make us ineffective, doesn’t he? In the Old Testament, Joseph made the mistake of sharing his dreams with the wrong people—his brothers. He paid dearly for it.
In my case, I discovered if I wanted to be successful, I had to be more selective about my friends. I must be diligent about protecting my gift.
Several years ago, I began looking for a critique group—a place where I could collaborate with others and safely share the words that God had given me. One group I visited seemed to have a spirit of jealously. Another contained sweet old ladies who weren’t serious about developing their craft, and they smelled like vitamins.
I wondered if there was a group of professional authors passionate about glorifying the Lord with their talent.
Then I heard about a professional Christian critique group that offered support and offered the truth in love. The organization’s name is Word Weavers International. I visited a local chapter and found a community of believers earnest about refining their skills and speaking into each other’s lives with grace and tact.
I soon realized these authors affected my writing. Their encouragement spurred me to produce better and better work for the glory of God. With the advice of these friends, I honed my craft, becoming a published author and editor of a magazine.
The confidence and genuine humility modeled by this new community transformed my hobby into a second career, but people aren’t our only problem when attempting to make our dreams a reality. Having bad friends can be harmful to our writing journey but having a discouraging mindset about ourselves can create roadblocks to success. Let’s look at other ways that help to encourage us fulfill our calling as authors.
Tips For Cultivating a Good Mindset
- Garbage in equals garbage out. Be careful what you absorb from media. In 2012, Facebook conducted a secret experiment on users. They manipulated status updates that users saw from their friends. Some were strictly positive updates, while others only saw negative ones. It affected their own status updates.
- Watch your self-talk. Negative words and thoughts are even more powerful than what you hear from others. Speak truth and life to your heart. Read and memorize scripture that encourages you and conceives hope.
- Discern spiritual warfare. Satan is out to stop you. Your writing threatens his plans for you and anyone else your words touch or inspire. Getting published—whether in a small local newspaper or becoming a NY Times best-selling author—means your influence expands beyond where you could reach before publication. So, if you feel under attack, pray. Ask God to dispatch his angels around you. Put on the whole armor of God. His Word tells us to resist the devil, and he will flee.
- Learn to say no to activities that delay or distract you from fulfilling that dream or goal. Sometimes even a benign thing, like yardwork or hanging with friends, can seem noble but leads to procrastination.
- Learn to say “yes” to undertakings that get you closer to finishing your manuscript. Faithfully attending a writer’s group, taking an online course, or merely reading a book in your genre develops you into becoming a superior writer.
- Write down your dreams and aspirations in a journal or laptop. Revisit them and say them aloud to yourself to solidify their power.
- Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Make sure the steps to reach your goal are Specific (don’t be vague), Measurable (able to track your success), Achievable (can you reach the goal?), Realistic (relevant to your dream), and Timely (give yourself a deadline).
- Create a vision board using photos, keepsakes, and images or text from magazine clippings to represent your finalized dream. You may or may not want to risk displaying it for dream killers to see. A great verse to post on that board might be Psalm 96:3, “Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.”
- Hire a coach. There’s nothing more encouraging and motivating than a trusted mentor who will meet with you regularly, challenge you out of your comfort zone, and spur you on toward greatness.
We have but one life to glorify God with our writing. We must be the writer the Lord created us to be and fulfill that calling. You don’t want to allow others (nor yourself) to talk you out of the influence you were meant to have. Protect yourself and go after your dreams.
Fortunately, Pastor Geoffrey quickly disappeared from that church and my life. Keeping and finding encouraging friends has been paramount to my personal writing journey. Don’t let the naysays talk you out of your dreams.
About the Author
He’s been called thoughtful, approachable, and fun. Tez’s passion for coaching aspiring writers is evident whether he’s working as a missionary journalist or writing another book. As a multiple award-winning author, international speaker, and filmmaker, his work appears in Guideposts, Power for Living, Clubhouse, Focus on the Family, Cru.org and more. His editorials have been featured on Jesusfilm.org and seen by over 30k readers every month. He is the president of two chapters for Word Weavers International. He and his wife serve as full-time missionaries. They have four children and live in Colorado Springs. You can learn more at TezBrooks.com.