But this isn’t a movie review.
This is about faith.
In the movie, the characters repeatedly reference the hit song “Faith” by George Michael. (One of them is a big fan.) The song is a source of comedy, but of course the beat lifts you up, and you can’t help but leave the theater humming it.
I hadn’t heard the song in years before seeing the movie. But an interesting thing happened in the days following.
Every day for three days, I heard the song on the radio.
This was unusual, trust me. First, because I spent only about 30 minutes with the radio on each of those particular days. What are the odds it would play during that limited time?
Second, as I said, I hadn’t heard the song in years. Suddenly I heard it three times in a row.
This all just happened to coordinate with some major events in my life—including a sold-out book signing—that at certain times in my history, I had only dreamed about.
Being a fan of synchronicity and messages from the universe and all that, I figured I was being reminded of something important:
Sometimes, you just gotta have faith that it’s all going to work out the way you hope.
Writers and other creatives often go through long periods of work with little feedback.
Translation: years of toiling away hanging on maybe one editor’s positive comment, or sometimes even less.
I was one of those writers, writing novel manuscript after novel manuscript while hanging onto the few positive comments I received from editors and contest judges, hoping that I “may” not be completely wasting my time, though of course the jury was still out.
What gets us through times like these? Faith.
Faith that somewhere down the line, all the work will be worth it.
Faith that what we’re doing makes sense in some universe, even if it’s not the one we’re in right now.
It can be hard—really hard—to keep that faith going, especially when you’ve gone a long time without that critical encouragement we all need.
And unfortunately, there’s no way to know. You could write for decades and never get that coveted publishing contract. You could produce oodles of material and never reach that goal you have for yourself.
That means one thing: only faith will get you through.
I’m not talking about religious faith, specifically, but faith that your inclination to write is there for a reason—that your writing (or other creative calling) is part of your purpose.
But this can include religious faith, too. In fact, a recent study found that entrepreneurs—people who go out on a limb because of their faith in an idea (which is just what writers do)—are more likely to attribute their success to their faith.
In 2009, researchers from the University of Southern California released a report on what makes entreprenuers successful. Many of the over 500 participants emphasized in the written portion of the survey that faith was a key factor in their success.
In a later study from Baylor University, researchers examined data from a survey of over 1,700 people. They found that entrepreneurs prayed more often than other groups, and were more likely to believe that a higher power took interest in them. The sample included people from all types of religions.
Entrepreneur and business owner Tim Berry says in a US News article that sometimes, you just have to jump:
“I call it a leap of faith. You don’t get to know….you just jump off.”
We don’t get to know the future, he says. And that applies to anyone trying to make a dream come true. There’s no way we can know if it will or it won’t.
We have to be okay with either outcome—but at the same time, we have to have faith that if we keep working (hard), and keep getting better, one day we’ll get there.
It’s easy to lose faith as we go. Things can get so discouraging. Rejections, writer’s block, failed projects, poor sales, bad reviews—they can all make us question what we’re doing.
How do we maintain faith in ourselves and in our dreams?
Writer and editor Ali Luke says it’s about not giving up:
“Faith doesn’t mean you never have doubts. Faith means you wrestle with those doubts, and you don’t let them beat you.”
Freelance writer Diane Holcomb says you have to believe in yourself:
“What does it mean to have faith in your writing? It means that you hang onto your belief in your talent, even when the critics rip it apart. You hang onto that rope that tethers you to the chair, to the keyboard, to the notebook. And when the critics snip away at that rope, you make it stronger—through practice, through learning, through experience.”
Bestselling author Debbie Macomber didn’t think she would ever be published. She was dyslexic and didn’t do well in school, but she had faith in her writing dreams, and today, she’s sold over 100 million books.
The writers at writersjourney.com also talk about how important faith is to a writer, stating:
“Having faith in your writing means believing that if you put the writing hours in, you will will have a piece of writing at the end of it. It’s that simple. Good or bad writing – it doesn’t matter. If you keep showing up to the desk, bad writing will become good and good writing even better.”
No matter your journey as a writer, odds are you’ll need some faith along the way.
So how do you replenish it, if you’re running low?
You can try listening to George Michael’s song. Depending on who you are, it might get you going, or it might make you gag.
If that doesn’t work, try these five ways to spark hope again—hope that if you hang in there, you will find a way to make your writing dreams come true.
- Attend an inspiring event. One of the experiences I remember as being super inspiring as I was working toward my writing dreams was attending a Keith Urban concert. I’m a huge fan, and his music was incredibly uplifting and energizing. He ended the concert with signs of “believe” all over the stage and concert hall. I took that message to heart, and returned to my writing with renewed purpose. Watching another artist succeed so brilliantly and hearing his story of his struggles along the way helped me to realize that we all travel similar journeys. Attending an event by an artist you admire may help you feel the same.
- Do something that makes you feel young again. When we were children, we felt free to dream without censorship. We spent our days imagining the great things we would do and the amazing people we would become. It never occurred to us that we couldn’t do or become these things. Only as we got older and more mature did we begin to question ourselves. So to renew your faith in yourself and your dreams, do something that makes you feel young again. Tap into your inner child. Spend some time at a playground, get involved in a sport or hobby you took part in when you were a kid, or go for a ride on something (bike, motorcycle, horse, boat, etc.). Take a trip to some of your favorite teenage haunts. Walk down memory lane for a bit, and remember what it was like to dream without doubt.
- Create small successes. When your faith is low, you need a victory—even a small one. Set new goals for yourself, but make them less ambitious than usual. Instead of “publish a novel,” try, “finish chapter 2.” Instead of “submit to five journals,” try submitting to one. Try your hand at a short poem, or short-short story, just for fun. Remember why you started writing in the first place—because you enjoy it. Then once you accomplish your new small goal, reward yourself. Do something that makes you feel good. The more you generate good, positive feelings, the more your faith in yourself will return.
- Help someone else. There’s nothing like teaching or mentoring to help you realize how far you’ve come. It’s hard to realize your own progress until you turn around and help someone else who has similar goals. Suddenly you realize that you have gained a lot of experience and expertise over the years of struggle, and you can now use that to help another writer or even a student to improve. Find out if you can mentor students in your area, offer your assistance to family members and friends, or blog about what you’ve learned so far. Realizing you have made progress despite not having reached your goals (yet) can help you feel renewed hope that you can get where you want to go.
- Accept that your journey is the right one. Often when we start to lose faith, it’s because we think our lives aren’t proceeding as they should. We have our own ideas of how it all should go, and when life fails to meet our expectations, we can begin to lose faith and doubt ourselves. But faith is all about relaxing and letting go; trusting that the journey is proceeding as it is supposed to. As long as you’re doing your part—working hard, writing, learning, and trying—you can rest assured that everything is evolving in the best way possible. You can’t control it all. All you can do is keep at it. Try to remember that the desire to write came from somewhere inside you—a pure, creative place that connects you to life itself. Trust in that, and realize that there are other rewards besides publication. Writing has a way of making us better people, and if you’re doing it regularly, that may be the best outcome of all.
How do you restore faith in yourself and your writing when it wanes? Please share your thoughts with our readers.
“Luck, Faith, and God: Key Factors to Success, Say Entrepreneurs in a New Study,” University of Southern California, [Press Release], November 20, 2009, https://pressroom.usc.edu/luck-faith-and-god-key-factors-to-success-say-entrepreneurs-in-new-study/.
Mitchell J. Neubert, “Entrepreneurs Feel Closer to God than the Rest of Us Do,” Harvard Business Review, October 2013, https://hbr.org/2013/10/entrepreneurs-feel-closer-to-god-than-the-rest-of-us-do.
Tim Berry, “Business Success Sometimes Requires a Leap of Faith,” U.S. News, April 20, 2009, http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-small-business/2009/04/20/business-success-sometimes-requires-a-leap-of-faith.
Andrea Sachs, “Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber on Faith and Writing,” Time, May 28, 2013, http://entertainment.time.com/2013/05/28/bestselling-author-debbie-macomber-on-faith-and-writing/.