If anyone has ever said to you, “writing is easy,” I can bet without a doubt that you quickly and clearly corrected them.
Writing is not easy. Just like life is not easy and trusting is not easy and being a Christian is not easy.
Writing a twenty-five thousand-word outline is not easy. Writing a 100 thousand-word draft is not easy. Being consistent is not easy. Going back through and editing those 100 thousand words twice, three times, four times—that is not easy.
And yet, finding joy in your writing is possible, even in the tears and the ripped-up notebook paper, and the endless nights of editing.
You just have to know where to look.
Called To Rejoice
Joy is not an option. It’s not something that you could live without. It’s not a little gimmick or some writing hack—no, it’s a calling. A command. A mission.
Paul says to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4), and then continues to say “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Choosing to rejoice—choosing joy—brings us peace that guards our hearts. Don’t you want that?
You might be thinking well, that sounds all nice and pretty on paper, but Paul didn’t know what I’m going through. Paul has no idea what it’s like to be a teenager in this world. Paul had no clue how hard it is!
And you’re right, he doesn’t know what it’s like to live now, but he knows what it’s like to be a writer. He knows what it’s like to be exhausted and tired and just want to sleep—but he wrote down these words for us, to encourage us, to give us hope.
What’s more, he was in prison. He was in prison, and he was telling us to rejoice always.
If he can rejoice in prison—if he can rejoice while writing in prison, by hand, in the dim light of a dark prison cell—don’t you think you can rejoice where you are?
You may wonder, however, what this practically looks like. How do we rejoice always and obey this command?
Once again, it’s very simple: we choose it.
Joy Is A Choice
You can’t just wait for joy to come to you. You can’t wait for something to make you feel joyful—no, joy is a choice and you have to choose it.
It’s not a feeling, determined by what’s around you or how your day has gone, or how many words you’ve written today.
It’s not a measure of how good God has been to you today or if things have gone uphill or downhill.
And it doesn’t come to you—you have to go to it. You have to look for it, seek it out. Choose it.
As Corrie ten Boom so eloquently said as she prayed for the strength to forgive a Nazi soldier that had brutally mistreated her and her sister, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
And joy is just like that. An act of the will—something we choose regardless of how we feel. It’s a choice.
Unlike happiness, which is based on circumstances, it is not based on circumstances but is a choice that we are commanded to make—a choice that we are called to choose.
Through His Strength
And yet, if we tried to do this on our own, we would fail day, after day, after day. If we try to do anything in our own strength—whether it’s writing or working or loving—we will fail because we are broken sinful human beings.
To truly be able to choose joy, we have to lean on God’s strength. The strength of a Savior that gave his everything to save us. The strength of a Friend who made Himself low so that we would be made great.
That is how you can choose joy, regardless of the temperature of your heart.
Not in your strength, but in God’s.
How To Do This Practically In Our Writing Lives
We need to be able to do this practically because it’s often far easier to talk about choosing joy than actually perform the action of choosing that joy. Thankfully, like I already said, God has equipped us with all the tools and strength we need through the Holy Spirit to find joy in our writing.
There are just a few things we can do to build up our joy-choosing muscles so that choosing joy becomes a habit, rather than a last-ditch effort, when writing gets tough.
1. Trust God With Your Writing
The most important thing you can do—the most effective way to choose joy—is to trust God with your writing.
Trust that God is good and that whatever He brings you is in His plan, even if it’s a month of not writing, a crazy life circumstance that prohibits you from finishing your outline on time, or a chronic illness that just makes everything a bit harder.
Trust that His plan, His timing, and His will is best for you. Better than your plan, because “as the Heavens are higher than the earth,” so are His ways higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
When we trust that whatever happens, He is still good and He is still God, our hearts can be filled with joy because we know that no matter what, He is taking care of us, and He loves us.
2. Ask For Peace In Your Writing
The second way to effectively choose joy is to make a habit of asking for peace. Asking for peace about that plot point that’s keeping you up all night. Asking for peace about the huge pitching appointment coming up. And asking for peace even when you don’t have a plan and you sometimes feel like this world you’ve built around your writing is falling to pieces.
And I don’t mean just waiting for peace to come from God, or expecting Him to give us peace automatically but asking for it. Reading your Bible and asking for peace.
And when we receive that peace—that peace that surpasses all understanding—we won’t have to worry. Not about pitching or agents or that deadline.
You can let go of your plans and ask for peace, and all of a sudden, when you’re not thinking about everything that needs to be done and every tiny detail you’re stressed about, you will be filled with joy for your writing again.
3. Look For Hope For Your Writing
Thirdly, you have to hope. Hope in the future, set your eyes on the future, and place your joy in the future. Because right now, in this world, there’s a lot of sadness and heartbreak and it’s so easy to focus on that, instead of the beautiful blessings God has given us.
Maybe you have a chronic illness and all you can see in the future is long days of no energy to write. Maybe you’re just getting through college, or trying to pay off college debt, or trying to afford a writing school, and your joy in your writing is being sucked away by the weight of money and plans and life.
Or maybe the world around you is just so hard, and so dark, that you just… can’t write. You’re so heartbroken and saddened by the pain in this broken world that your joy is slowly seeping away.
But hope—hope for a better future in Heaven and a coming King and a world that is healed and whole in Him—that is something to have joy in.
Your hope will become your joy when you look ahead and above at Him, instead of down at the brokenness of this world.
Joy and hope go hand in hand because when you look to the future and have hope in God, you are immediately filled with joy. You can look through the death of a friend, or a hard decision about schooling, or a move across the country, or a chronic illness, to the future and have hope not in this world, but in the world to come, and a Savior Who gave up everything to save you.
As writers and Christians, as we put our hope in a future with a God that is good and just and loves us, we can have joy and peace.
And I’m not saying that in this life, everything will turn out and it will be easy. I’m not saying that God promises you instant success, a huge book contract, or fame and ease. I’m not saying that you should hope for that either.
But I am saying that even when it is hard and rough and messy, He is still good. Even when you don’t get published with your dream publishing house, and when your outline isn’t what you had wanted, God is still in control and He still has a plan. And we can rejoice and hope in that.
We can hope in not this world, but in the world to come. Not in the dreams of this life, but the dreams of a life in Heaven. Not ease and instant success and a fairytale life here on earth, but an eternity with the King of kings who loves us and cares about us and has a plan for each and every one of us.
That—that future with Him—is what we can hope in.
4. Have Faith In God When You’re Writing
And finally, to have joy—to choose joy and make it a habit—we must have faith in God as we’re going through the very real struggle of life and writing.
Faith that our God is good and is in control, even when we can’t see Him. Faith that believes there is something to find joy in, even when writing is hard, even when life is hard. Faith that clings to him even when we get rejected, or an agent falls through, or our writing plan for schooling is changed.
We have been given the Holy Spirit in our lives and all the tools we need to choose joy—we can choose it. You just have to make that choice. Your writing and your life can be filled with an out-of-this-world joy because of a God Who is far bigger than this world and cares about every single word you write, every single tear you cry over your outlining, and every moment of your life.
He cares about you, and in Him, you can choose joy.
Looking For Joy In The Right Places
Now that you know that you can in fact choose joy and know how to go about actually choosing it, let’s dive into where you can look to choose joy.
And the key is that you don’t look for it in anything of this world—not in yourself, or your circumstances, or how “easy” or “good” your life is.
Joy does not hinge on circumstances, and if we look for it in the broken, sinful world around us, we will never find it.
But, if we look through the lens of our Savior—look through the lens of his greatness and love—at the breaking, often terrible, usually ugly world around us, we can see beautiful things. A rough manuscript assessment becomes an opportunity to encourage other writers through their hard times. A rejection from a publisher can turn into another open door and a shifting of our perspective to make us lean on Him and trust His plan.
Joni Eareckson Tada found joy in the opportunity her injury gave her to minister and encourage countless others. She didn’t look for joy in the fact that she was paralyzed, but in the blessing God had given her to help so many others struggling with the same things.
Glenn Cunningham found joy in the ability to encourage and motivate people struggling with not being able to do the things they dreamed about. He chose joy in the blessing of pushing through and helping others push through, instead of dwelling on the fact that he had to push through something.
This world is full of heartache and writing is hard. You get so exhausted with cultural expectations and edits and critique and doubts and get caught comparing yourself with others that you tell yourself there is nothing to find joy in and you’re too tired to choose it.
But that’s because you’re looking for joy a joy not of this world in this world. Instead, turn your eyes to Jesus and find joy in Him because, in Him, there is always a reason to rejoice.
Look to Him—to place your joy and hope and trust in Him—instead of this world.
Finding Joy In Your Life Leads To So Much More
And when you finally find that joy, acting and choosing to rejoice always and seeking it in Him, your life will so radically change.
You will be able to turn your eyes to Him for assurance and joy when life gets hard or takes a turn for the worse. You will be able to smile and serve others and bless them, even when you’re not exactly happy on the inside.
You will be able to rejoice always, no matter what, in all circumstances, and there will be no room for bitterness, anger, or worry in your heart because finding joy is powerful and causes a domino effect of change.
Finding Joy In Life Leads To Finding Joy In Your Writing
When you have joy in your life and are able to make a habit of choosing joy, your writing will become a joy as well because your life directly impacts your writing.
Even if it’s a story that’s just not working, an outline that is taxing you mentally and leaving you exhausted, a deadline that you don’t think you will ever be able to meet, or an aspect of writing that drains you.
In all of that, you can find joy. You can choose to not let your writing suck the life away from you but choose to see it as a joy and a way to serve others and glorify God.
And Finding Joy In Your Life Leads To A Closer Relationship With God
No matter what God gives you, thankfulness and trust (even when it’s hard) leads to a deeper friendship with Him. A relationship built on Him and His blessings and His plans, instead of you and what you want and your desires.
Joy forces you to appreciate Him and His way for your life. Forces you to trust Him and hope in His promises and ask for His strength and all of that only brings you closer and closer to Him.
It’s Not Going To Be Easy, But It Is Possible
It’s going to be hard. Your life will not change miraculously overnight, and it won’t necessarily get “better.” But step by step, hand in hand with your Savior, asking Him for help to choose joy over and over again, your life will become more filled. You will never be perfect at this. You will never always say kind things and always smile with joy.
But, we are called to a standard of holiness. We are commanded to rejoice always. So right now, today, you can start by making the choice to be joyful, to rejoice.
One of the best ways to make this choice is to surround yourself with other writers who are also choosing joy. You can cultivate this response of joy so much easier when other people are doing it with you and encouraging you along your journey, as you are encouraging them along theirs.
And because we know just how important relationships are in writing and the process of choosing joy, we have created an amazing free resource for you with four tips on how to develop a writing community
So download that resource to learn how to surround yourself with an uplifting community, and rejoice in Him. Find joy in His care for you, turning every writing session and editing day and deadline into a reminder of His love for you. You can’t do it by yourself but you can develop a community that supports you and helps you choose joy.
But more important than anything else is the fact that your Savior is with you. He is helping you, and He will never fail you.
So, even when it’s hard, choose joy.