Have you ever had one of those writing sessions where it all just comes together? Where the words just fly off the keyboard with such ease that you feel as if you can write forever? These are glorious moments when we have them, and we find ourselves thinking: If only it was always like this!
But we know that all writing is most certainly not like this. We know that much of it is characterized by the discipline of just getting the words out and sticking at it, whatever we feel like.
I was reminded of this need for perseverance last week when I realized that the two wonderful and interesting writing projects I am engaged in won’t come to fruition for another year; and they won’t come to fruition at all if I am not faithful and persistent with both them.
I confess, this waiting frustrates me. I long to get things done, and to achieve my goals without having to wait, but I know that writing projects don't work like that. And that’s true for all writers, not just me. As the host of the Creative Writer’s Toolbelt podcast, I get to speak with a number of authors, many of whom have been very successful in their chosen field. Without exception they tell me about the need to just sit down and write, and keep at it. They talk about discipline and perseverance.
As I hear this advice I’m reminded of St Paul’s words in 2 Timothy Ch4 v7 where he says:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (NIV)
What's true for St Paul is true for us, We are right to think of the Christian life as a race, and further reflection on this little verse shows us what kind of race Paul is talking about. This wasn't a hundred yard dash, this was a life; a steady and selfless commitment over years to the ministry and calling of God.
Those occasional bursts of enthusiasm we have as writer's only serve to reinforce this. A moment of creativity doesn’t persuade us that the writing life is a sprint, because we know that such moments represent us writing ‘in season’ rather than ‘out of season’, to borrow another phrase from Paul.
To be a writer is to run our race in the way that Paul ran his. It’s a long term commitment to keep writing whether we feel like it or not, and to keep the faith with our calling and our work. The writer’s life, like the Christian life, is surely a marathon not a sprint.
Andrew J Chamberlain is a writer, and creative writing tutor. He is the presenter of The Creative Writer's Toolbelt a podcast that offers practical, accessible advice on the craft. Andrew has worked on a number of ghost-writing collaborations for Authentic Media, including the bestselling 'Once an Addict' with Barry Woodward. He has also self-published a number of science fiction short stories. Andrew will be speaking at the First Page Writing Course this November.