Car by Car: Encouragement for the #writerslife

Car by Car: Encouragement for the #writerslife by Wendy L. Macdonald

*Two years ago, I realized what fuels the engine of my writing desires and what makes publishing more likely to happen. (* I’m resharing this blog post I wrote in 2018 because it’s no longer available elsewhere.)

As much as I’m afraid to walk on or near railroad tracks, I’m also afraid of a train wreck concerning my writing aspirations.

It’s challenging to keep writing forward on book-length manuscripts, and I questioned I had what it takes to form anything longer than a blog post or podcast.

Perhaps I’m only meant to be a devotional writer?

A Time to Pray

I scribbled this prayer in my journal:

Lord, if You want me to keep showing up, please help me to do so.

Teach me to write for You, empowered by You, and for Your glory.

The same day I wrote those words, a friend—who had no idea I was having an inner collapse of confidence—messaged me these ones:

I cried when I read some of your blogs. Beautiful!

Her compliment wasn’t just timely, it was perfect because she’s not one to speak without sincerity. And nothing flatters my writer’s heart more than being told my words drew tears.

Timely Words

So, the next day when I read these words the writer/editor, Mick Silva, wrote on his blog: “You know now you should have stuck to writing shorter pieces,” a thought resurrected in me because I already wondered the same thing about my writing. However, after I read his sentence, I realized—anew—longer pieces such as memoir and novels are composed of “shorter pieces.”

Seriously though, if a blogger can write a hundred blog posts about one topic, that blogger can obviously hold one train of thought long enough to complete an entire book. I’ve already chugged page by page down the tracks of several completed manuscripts without giving up. Sure, they’re rough drafts; that’s where editing comes in. (God bless editors.) Plus, according to my WordPress dashboard, this is my 400th blog post here. In addition, I’ve produced over 170 podcasts on: Walking with Hope

And besides, writing projects don’t have to fall off the tracks because of lack of perfection or lack of faith; as long as we commit our work to the Perfect Father, He’ll lead us down the right railroad. He’ll prevent a derailment of large writing projects through the constructive critiques of others. (Anne Lamott says we should avoid critics who make us “hold our breath.”)

Whatever the length of the book train, if each chapter, paragraph, sentence, or word is carried forward by the blessing of God and the conductor’s authentic voice, worldview, and experience, it’s not going to skip the track. And if the cars are connected by a specific universal theme and unique story that only the author can write, it’s already on its way to becoming a book.

Funny thing is, while I worried that I had wasted my time writing several mystery manuscripts and a memoir, my husband’s been privately reading my novels because he’s as much a fan of mysteries as I am. He’s been reading them for pleasure; while I worried, they weren’t pleasing enough to bother with.

God already answered my prayer:

  • I need to stop tying myself to the tracks of author suicide
  • I need to climb aboard the manuscript and blow the train’s whistle
  • I need to charge full-steam down the line towards the next critique, edit, and query station

Car by Car: Encouragement for the #writerslife by Wendy L. Macdonald

Time to Head Down the Tracks

So, what’s the next stop for this runaway train?

I’m chugging ahead car by car.

I’m going to go back and self-edit each car that carries my story forward; I’m going to ditch the cars that don’t. I’m the only conductor who can toss coal into this engine’s fire. God hasn’t given me the gift of loving to sort thoughts through written words so I’ll derail a trestle and drown in a river of oblivion.

He wants me to pick myself up by my caboose straps and think like The Little Blue Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can” all the way to the top of the publishing mountain I’m terrified to climb—but more terrified not to.

Car by Car: Encouragement for the #writerslife by Wendy L. Macdonald

If we’re not afraid, it means we’re not climbing a tall enough mountain.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8 NIV

The best train of thought for writers is a car by car approach.

Car by Car:

God is good to lead us
Down the track of life
If we seek His help
And heed His wise advice
God is bold to say
Toss coal on the fire
For prayerful perseverance
Fuels the engine of desire.


The title for this post was inspired by Mick Silva and by a book that helped me finish my first manuscript–Anne Lamott’s memoir about writing: Bird by Bird. You can read my review of it on Goodreads.

Here’s the link to the post Mick Silva wrote that inspired mine: When the Waiting has You Clawing the Walls

God is good to lead us along the track of life if we seek His help and heed His wise advice.

Here’s another helpful blog post for writers by Kelly Balarie & Kelly Shayne: Not Good Enough

I’m nosy-to-know what writing advice or writing book you’re most thankful for?

Car by Car Blessings ~ Wendy

Car by Car: Encouragement for the #writerslife by Wendy L. Macdonald

P.S. (Feb. 2020) My writing schedule got temporarily derailed during a family crisis shortly after I posted the original version of this on another site; however, I kept blogging, kept podcasting, and kept my social media platform going because I knew I’d be back to my bigger projects once life normalized again. I think I’m back. Hooray!

28 thoughts on “Car by Car: Encouragement for the #writerslife

  1. My husband and I love trains. We enjoy train rides, watching trains and he collects model trains. Your message is a great one. I’ve never thought of my writing as being on the train tracks. Thank you for the inspiration. 🙂 I am blessed to know God is with me in every moment of my writing and always.

    1. Thank you, dear Melissa. One of my earliest memories as a child was of a train ride. I remember a man dressed in black from hat to shoes. It spooked me at the time. 🙂
      I was saddened when our local railway closed down. It was a relaxing way to travel.

    1. Thank you, dear Linda. <3 I'm hoping and praying I don't waste the extra time that's soon arriving. So many words, so little time, if we don't work with them like the wise. 🙂 I admire all that you've accomplished with words and with your life. Keep writing.

  2. Hooray for stepping back on the tracks for your longer projects! And praise God for His continued guidance. Just today, as I was about to hit “publish” on this week’s post, I heard His voice nudging me to pause and pay attention. I looked more closely at the date and realized that I had just missed my blog anniversary: 4 years as of Feb.4th. Only God could have kept me writing for this long. He truly is our Great Conductor! Blessings to you as you keep following His lead, and as you keep sharing beautiful encouragement for us here.

    1. Congratulations on 4 years of blogging. Most people don’t make it past two. 🙂 Thank you, dear Bettie, for your always kind words.
      Even if I didn’t write blog posts or work on manuscripts, I would keep writing in my journal. I suspect you understand this. I’m grateful for God’s gift to us of loving words. They’re enlightening, healing, and comforting. Books also make fabulous forever friends, as do inspirational bloggers (like you) I’ve been blessed to meet. <3

  3. Wendy, your post is a timely post for me. I was derailed last year as life kept me changing tracks. This year will bring more changes as I prayerfully consider the next bend. Meanwhile, I’m still working on my manuscripts. Blessings, dear friend. 💗

  4. Wow, Sister Wendy! Wow! This was a real encouragement AND timely for me as well. I wrote a book in the late 90’s and a printer friend of mine helped me to self-publish it. It started out as short “pocket books” or what he called them back then. I had them printed in batches of 100 (which was all I could afford even at a discount) and I thought I would have them around forever. Not so! I went through them like water almost! Several batches later, I started working with websites and the Lord directed me there because so many people were being left behind due to disabilities and other problems and weren’t getting support from local churches.

    Lately I’ve been thinking and writing down thoughts on Marriage and how it relates to the Bride (the Church) and the Bridegroom (Christ Jesus). There is a “type and shadow” in the Sacrament of Marriage the Lord instituted and His yearning and desire for the Church, His Bride, His Body! My wife and I are going on 48 years in a couple of weeks and that is where the inspiration comes from. You truly gave me some inspiration! I guess we’ll see where it leads!

    Thanks so much for being such a friend (and Sister) to so many and the willingness to open your heart and life. It IS truly an encouragement AND an inspiration!

    1. Thank you, Pastor Roland. I’m not surprised you didn’t have any trouble finding homes for your books. Your joy, love, and humble spirit in the Lord is winsome. Readers are drawn to engaging authors. When we care about the people God has inspired us to write books for, our readers will show up.
      Blessings, brother.
      By the way, I’m intrigued by your marriage book idea. You two have certainly earned the privilege to write about it. 🙂

  5. Hooray! 😀 I love your words and the inspiration behind them too! This piece was so timely for me, Wendy, as I try to be persistent with a fledgling blog and podcast.

    I appreciate your talent and your vulnerability.

    I’m curious too – would you attribute anything in particular to gaining readers / listeners and growing your platform?

    Or is that too, something that has come car by car while making small connections along the way?

    Thanks for your insight! Misty


    1. Thank you, dear Misty.
      Each writer, blogger, and podcaster journey is unique. Some people attribute growth to finding a topic that resonates with a lot of people. Others, like me, have grown their platform by showing up to share, year after year (car by car). I started this blog in May of 2012.
      I’m still discovering/uncovering my message and ministry. In the meantime I’m learning to write from the heart and striving to touch the heart of each reader.
      I hope this helps.
      Keep showing up to write what God puts on your heart to share, dear friend. He will look after the numbers and multiply them according to His timing and will.
      Sometimes I’m tempted to compare my slow and steady path to the fast and furious roads of others; however, I know God knows what’s best for me.

  6. Wendy, this was both wonderful and timely. As a fellow writer, I too know how it feels to want to give up, to occasionally feel like you aren’t good enough and to want to abandon your calling. This blessed me today. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, dear Tausha, for blessing me back. I recently listened to a podcast about inspirational writers needing to invest the talent they’ve been given so that it matures and multiplies. What a blessing to be able to bless others when we invite God to write with and through us.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly, especially with the part about investing our talent so that it can mature and multiply! The only way to develop our gift is to use it regularly and that is our responsibility as stewards over the gifts God has blessed us with!

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