I am knee-deep in revisions of my book right now, and by knee-deep, I mean that I’ve written a lot of notes, watched a lot of videos, listened to a lot of podcasts, signed up and participated in writing challenges, and read a few books about revising a story.
But really, I’m spinning my wheels a bit and fretting and talking a LOT about my book without making significant steps forward in the revision process. All of what I’m doing now is helpful and good, but there just is not much forward momentum.
And, I hate that.
I’m a do-er. A go-getter. I don’t procrastinate. Procrastination stresses me out. I like to start a project and then finish it. Long projects (like writing a book) sometimes put me on edge, even if I live for it. I can’t just check “write and publish a book” off my list at the end of the day.
I keep sitting and stewing about the revision process, and it’s just leading me to stress.
Why can’t I get started? Why does this feel harder than drafting? Why do I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall constantly? I have a deadline, for goodness’ sake, why can’t I just get this done?!
And then God – in the nicest way possible – hit me over the head with a sack of bricks this week.The one thing I have been reminding myself throughout this process is this book is about Him and others, it’s not about me and my dreams (though that is a very nice fringe benefit). God has orchestrated this from the beginning: from telling me to write, giving me a story, giving me a writing group, giving me a critique partner, and showing me through countless sermons and Bible studies that He is in all of this. I couldn’t have finished this first draft without His constant intervention. I couldn’t have finished that draft without His help in overcoming my self-doubt.
So, why did I jump back into this revision process assuming that I could just sit down and get this done myself? Why are we so quick to forget that God wants us to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33) and continually (1 Chronicles 16:11, Psalm 105:4)?
I’ve been getting the nagging feeling for weeks that I needed to sit down and seek God about this revision process, but I haven’t, at least, not really. Earlier this week, I had a friend remind me to leave the details to God with this revision process. Then Sunday at church our pastor gave a sermon focused on seeking God. Then at Bible study (which is not affiliated with my church), the lecture was the same passages from Sunday that my pastor used. One of the main illustrations both my pastor and the speaker this morning used is from 2 Samuel 5 where David defeats the Philistines. In that passage, there are two battles. For the first battle, David seeks God, and he gets the go-ahead from God to fight them head-on. The next time David and his army encounters the Philistines, he seeks God again, and this time God tells them to wait in some trees before they fight.
Logically, people assume that what worked the first time, would be good to do for the second time. Why reinvent the wheel?
But, sometimes God has a very specific reason to do things differently the second time, and we’ll never know we should proceed differently if we don’t ask Him constantly throughout our journey (whatever kind of journey that may be).
Now, it’s not that I haven’t prayed about this revision stage. I have said some short, cursory prayers asking for direction, but I never stopped to wait for the answer or search it out. I searched for the answers in all the other things I mentioned above (videos, podcasts, etc.). None of those are bad in and of themselves, but as a Christian, they never should have been my first resort. Sometimes, those things that are good, aren’t right. It’s not that those things are inherently bad, but if I forge on ahead, I might choose the wrong path that, though still good, isn’t God’s perfect plan.
When I set out on this writing journey, I knew I wanted to use it to glorify God. I know that that was why this was given to me. But, I am daily checking my pride. I have, throughout my life, been told that writing is a strength of mine. It is so easy to take that and run with it and assume that I can get to the finish line sitting on my laurels. But, that is not the purpose of this. If I get to the finish line without inquiring of God and using this for His glory, I have ultimately failed, even if a book is published.
It’s a humbling lesson, but it has been a lesson full of blessing. There are so many things that I shake my head at and am confounded by in this journey. The moments God has already brought about, the people He has already allowed me to connect with and talk to are dumbfounding. The fact that God is using me in this way is so incredibly humbling and rewarding. I still can’t believe that I have people who are starting to read my writing more (through my blog and through essays I’ve written that are getting published). I can’t believe I now have over 700 people who follow me on Instagram (that I will never believe). And, I can’t believe I have an entire first draft of a story that I know, without a doubt, will be published and will be used for a purpose.
But, before I get too far ahead of myself, I need to remember to stop and seek Him. So, though it may seem counterintuitive to some, I am setting aside my writing for a week, and I am setting aside my striving, and I am setting aside my worries about this revision process, and I am going to spend a week praying, seeking, reading His Word and journaling.
I am going to seek His will in this before I do anything else. Because, even though He has shown me time and time again, He sometimes has to put huge billboards in front of me and say: STOP. Take a break, and talk to me. Ask me for wisdom, and wait for my reply.
It’s the only way this all will work.