a full-time counselor for nursing
students. I’ve been a practicing social worker for thirty-two years,
and I’ve seen many people who struggle with the difficulties and
unfairness of life. I bet most of you reading this article have endured
and overcome trials in your lifetime. Some of you have a higher level
of resiliency than others. One way to judge your resilience is to
explore a situation after you’ve come through it. What did you do to
keep going when situations threw rocks at you?
My first thoughts on what
resilience means is the power to bounce
back. When we get knocked down by a life event or an unexpected
occurrence, how long does it take us to bounce back? What does that
The ability to cope with loss
and difficult life experiences is one
of the things that make us stronger. After my parents divorced when I
was six, my new life on the farm with extended family had its
challenges. I found solace in the animals and being outside a lot. I
learned to ride and show horses and developed the discipline that it
takes to accomplish these things. I learned resilience.
resilience as “the power or ability to return
to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or
stretched; elasticity; ability to recover readily from illness,
depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.”
Writing can be learned just as
resilience can be learned. Keep this
in mind as you begin or continue the journey of your writing career. If
you’ve been writing and submitting your work for a while, you know how
easy it is to succumb to the doubt that rejection, negative feedback,
and poorly delivered critiques can cause. But if we are going to last
for a long time and continue on this road in the publishing world,
whether it be through traditional routes or self-publishing, then we
must become resilient. We have to learn how to bounce back when we get
Let’s explore some ways to
become a resilient writer.
• Identify Your Strengths
“Even though [insert difficult event] happened, I was still able to . .
.” This is an important indicator of what you’ve done when the going
got tough. It’s a sign of resilience. For instance, “Even though I had
cancer, I was still able to take care of my family.” “Even though the
editor rejected my manuscript, I didn’t give up writing and submitting
• Keep Hope Alive
I wrote a blog titled “Change Your Thoughts."
One way to stay positive and keep your dreams moving ahead is to have
something to look forward to. It can be as simple as a date for lunch
with a friend or something bigger, like attending this year’s American
Christian Fiction Writers Conference.
• Develop a Fitness Plan
Balance your writing time with exercise time. We writers are not good
at scheduling enough time to take care of ourselves. Choose your
favorite form of exercise and commit to it.
time with God in prayer and talk to Him
about what you want to do and what He wants you to do. Ask wise mentors
for guidance if you’re not sure. Sometimes it’s a matter of being still
Journal your way to resilience.
Whenever you go through a difficult
experience, write about it. And I don’t mean blog about it right away,
which could put you in too much of a vulnerable position. Work through
your emotions on paper; write a letter that you don’t intend to mail.
I’d recommend you do this for a month and then reevaluate. Then if you
still want to share this on a blog, choose your words wisely. You may
even want to use the emotion from your experience for scenes in
the book you’re writing.
Don’t let pride stand in the way of getting help. Sometimes the best
thing we can do for ourselves is to talk out our problems with a mental
health care professional. It’s healthy to get a perspective from
someone who is not a family member or friend. Ask your doctor or
another professional you trust who they would go to for help. Do not
count on the Internet or the yellow pages. I work in a multiple college
area, and counseling resources can be located by calling the counseling
centers of nearby colleges as well. Just make certain that the person
you plan to see is reputable.
are days when you narrowly escape death. You may have come close to
dying in a car accident, suffered a serious illness, or come close to
death by other means. The information on the above link is very
intense. You may not be able to watch it. The reason I include it here
is that the HBO documentary clearly demonstrates the resilience of men
and women coming home from war. It will give you some idea of how
soldiers survive and deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. They
As writer’s we are not in the
physical danger that our men and women
in combat are. But we face a different kind of war. We can choose to
develop the ability to be resilient, or we can ignore it at our peril.
If you are easily overwhelmed
and think you cannot deal with
difficult situations or problems, you can do many things to help you. I
hope that some of the ideas mentioned here will be helpful to you on
your journey of becoming a more resilient writer.
These resources may further help
you develop resilience as a writer and a member of planet earth.
Rachelle Gardner's Blog