Write without Crushing Your Soul: The Trap of Doing What You Love

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Sometimes we fall into the trap of believing that we’ll find personal fulfillment by throwing ourselves into a job that we’ll love. In fact, the lure of a “dream job” could even lead to justifying an unhealthy obsession with our work.

While freelance writing or book publishing could provide a much more satisfying and flexible career for many, it’s certainly no substitute for the fulfillment that comes from cultivating a healthy prayer life, family life, and interior life.

Writing professionally and sustainably should force us to make some tough decisions and sacrifices, but those sacrifices shouldn’t extend to our families and spiritual lives.

If anything, a healthy spiritual life has been extremely important in my productivity as a writer. If I’m ever feeling stuck on a writing project, the solution isn’t necessarily to work into the evening. I typically need some time to rest, collect my thoughts, read a book, or just let my mind wander in order to be fully present for my family and for others.

Today’s post was adapted from my new book, Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing.

The eBook version is on sale for just $3.99:

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Write without Crushing Your Soul: The Gifts of Rejection and Failure

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As you begin the writing process, remember this: nothing is wasted. If you want to write sustainably for years to come, every word you write is an investment in yourself as a writer.

Stop focusing on your output each month as the measure of your success. It’s more important that you’re learning and developing: creating healthy habits for outlining, writing first drafts with reckless abandon, and then revising with patience and awareness of your audience.

Over and over again, I’ve learned that there’s no shame in trying something new. Sometimes we fear the appearance of failure that we end up digging ourselves into deeper holes that make the sense of failure greater and greater. At a certain point we don’t just fear failure. We lose hope.

Rejection can be a terrible trial, but it can also prove extremely helpful for your soul. The rejection you face as a writer will force you to either live in misery or to find your soul’s true rest in Christ.

Any success you experience will fade with time, so the only real options you’ll eventually face boil down to disappointment in the counterfeit identity you’ve created as a successful writer or your real identity before God.

Today’s post was adapted from my new book, Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing.

The eBook version is on sale for just $3.99:

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Write without Crushing Your Soul: Fighting Envy with Faithfulness

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While every writer should learn from others and should be personally confident in his/her own abilities, once we give in to the scarcity mentality, we distract ourselves, discourage ourselves from doing our best work, and make our success about what others are did yesterday than what we can do today. There are plenty of opportunities for all of us to grow and succeed.

The best cure I’ve found for envy is to focus on my own gifts, calling, and readers. In fact, it’s quite an insult to my readers if I spend all of my time envying someone else’s success. I’m essentially telling readers that they’re following the wrong writer!

When I focus on serving my own readers and give up on the soul-sucking envy that is fed by unhealthy comparison, I can direct my energy toward my own calling and audience.”

We have the rather obvious and basic task of accepting that we can only move forward from where we’re at instead of wishing we were further along or had made different choices. In addition, we can only go so far as our gifts and personal callings.

The good news is that we can often do more and go further than we expect. The bad news is that we often focus on the wrong things and the wrong direction.

We see someone else’s accomplishments and begin to desire them for ourselves. Another person’s calling may be the worst thing for us since we may not have the capacity to handle what others have. That is a humbling and freeing lesson!

We each have to figure out our own paths, even if we can learn a lot from those who have been more successful in different capacities and callings.

As I’ve let go of my hopes to duplicate the success of others, I’ve found a greater sense of peace with who I am and what I’m called to do. That has made me a calmer, gentler, kinder person.

I don’t resent writers who have been more successful, and when the successful complain about the challenges they face, I’m at least aware of when I start to resent them.

Today’s post was adapted from my new book, Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing.

The eBook version is on sale for just $3.99:

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Write without Crushing Your Soul Preview: What Sets Healthy Writers Apart

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In order to write sustainably, you need to relentlessly be yourself. That isn’t necessarily the same thing as following a calling or your dreams. The difference is essential, in fact.

The writers who lead the most sustainable careers, at least in my circles, are the ones who recognize how they’re wired and have a sense of how God has gifted them. They know what kind of writing is their own true north, but they also recognize when they need to take on work in order to make ends meet. They also have a clear sense of what drains them and what their limits are.

We all have our parts to play, but we’ll only find contentment if we invest in seeking our own roles and joyfully carrying them out.

Sustainability means you can keep writing for the long haul even after receiving bad news from an editor, failing to land a client, or making a huge mistake on your website.

If you’re truly drawn to something and you know your role in the grand scheme of things, how can you stop yourself, let alone let anyone stop you?


Today’s post was adapted from my new book, Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing. Regular eBook price is $3.99

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Deliver Us from the Quick Fix


When I started to pursue writing full time, the first three years were filled with one punch to the gut after another. I genuinely wanted to know why in the world God would give me such a drive to write and then place nothing but disappointment and frustration in my path.

I wanted the quick fix.

I wanted immediate success.

I share in my latest book Write without Crushing Your Soul that writers have to embrace the process of writing drafts, editing, revising, and enduring rejection. There is no other way.

Even the writers who rise in the charts with a sensational first book release either spent many, many years working on their writing out of the public eye or faced a lot of rejection before finally breaking in.

The process doesn’t have a quick fix or a fast way to hack the system and win.

I have been obsessed with the quick fix.

The quick fix isn’t just tempting when it comes to a career or personal finances. The allure of the quick fix slips into our marriages, our friendships, our spirituality, and our health. In each case I am drawn to the glossy book, revolutionary app, or the sharp pen and journal set promising INSTANT RESULTS.

It’s true that an app or a journal or a book can play a small part in setting you on the right course, but I have hit nothing but frustration when I’ve expected a ten-year process to unfold within a year or two, a year-long process to unfold in a few months, or a life-long process to take shape within a week.

Perhaps my quick fix fantasy is fueled by the supposed success stories and exceptions to the rule—especially when they write books promising to unveil the secrets of a meteoric rise to the top.

And here is the worst part, the absolute worst part, of slow, imperceptible, almost stalling growth: you have to fail a lot along the way. In fact, sometimes truly growing means you have to classify a failure as a step forward nonetheless.

I can’t tell you how many times I have struggled to pray and wondered if anything happened before I started to find a sense of peace and connection with God. It’s not that I had to do anything special or please God in a certain way. I just needed to learn how to quiet my mind in order to listen.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to cut a run short because I ran out of energy or a snack at the café beckoned, only to leave me with regret and guilt ten minutes later. In each case, these small steps forward, struggles, and failures are signs that we are changing and evolving.

There will be epiphanies, “lucky” breaks, or unexpected windfalls, but I run into trouble when I expect them to be the norm.

Most importantly, if we have to really fight and claw our way toward strength and health in our relationships, work, or spiritual life, we’ll actually have a strong foundation in place in order to maintain the change. We’ll have to make all of the tough choices and make all of the day-to-day changes that will make them sustainable.

I didn’t enjoy my first three years as a freelance writer when I struggled mightily to earn a stable income and have to constantly battle insecurity.

I didn’t love a crisis of faith where I felt like prayer didn’t work, and I didn’t know where to turn.

I don’t crave conflict in my relationships where deep problems and insecurities are forced to rise to the surface.

In each case I had to work through my low points before I could take steady steps forward. The seasons of struggle unearthed so many parts of myself that I continue to deal with and need to deal with if I want to be a follower of Jesus, committed husband, and writer who remains faithful to his calling.

I don’t think I would have chosen the tough seasons of life. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to hit so many low points in my writing career. However, each experience, good and bad, has laid a foundation I find invaluable today.

I used to “theologize” about my career.

Maybe God wanted me to do something else with my life?

Maybe I needed to give up on the supposed call to write?

Was writing or publishing just a self-serving desire on my part?

Was God really in this if I was struggling?

I don’t ever want to speak for God, but the place where I’ve found the most peace today has been acknowledging that “struggling to write” is just plain and simple writing. It is what it is. If I hit a low point, it wasn’t necessarily because I hadn’t prayed properly or God wanted to crush my supposed calling.

A struggle could very well be caused by the simple fact that life is hard. Writing is hard. You can’t build anything of value in life without some struggle, failure, and missteps. You can’t make progress without hard work, discouragement, and more hard work.

I don’t know if there is an actual “quick fix” for a career or a marriage or spiritual growth. I used to believe in the quick fix, and now I’m agnostic about it. I can’t say for sure, but it’s not likely—at least for the majority of us.

In the midst of the failures and dark valleys, I am learning to see that God is with us in each one. I am trying to stop asking God to solve all of my perceived problems and to simply be present with me.

I need God to be present to give me wisdom and strength to stop thinking about my needs above those of my family and friends.

I need God to be present to save me from the traps of envy, resentment, and discouragement in my work.

I need God to be present to save me from the running leap of the quick fix so that I can be fully present for the small steps I need to take today.


Read a bit more about a building a healthy writing career in Write without Crushing Your Soul.

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The print version will be live very soon on Amazon! (Or order now via CreateSpace)

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