I had a desire to write on my blog today.

I wonder if that’s because there is a struggling author or writer out there who needs encouragement. If you do, continue reading. I’m going to share some of my writing journey. If you are following the release of my newest novel, The Next Target, you might have seen the over the top reviews, including Publishers Weekly and other respected reviewers. A feature on the USA Today blog, radio interviews and all kinds of other recognition for my work. You might be thinking, wow, will that ever be me? Hmm, keep reading. As readers often find in my novels, things aren’t always what they seem . . .

People are always surprised to learn that I have sold everything I ever sent out. From that first magazine article in 2003 for Writers Digest, to my current novel, The Next Target. Yes, God was blessing my socks off and assuring me that He had called me to write. At least that’s what I thought . . . until 2008 when I began to write my fifth novel, The Shadow of Death.   

Though my previous books had won many national awards, suddenly their sales were not so stellar in the slowing economy, and my once rising star began to dim. My agent found she couldn’t sell my manuscript. The topic, Muslims, engendered fear in some and disdain in others. In some cases, publishers offered a contract if I would write something else. But I knew the Lord had called me to write about the need for safe houses for Muslims in Americawho convert to Christianity. Many of you reading this know what I mean about feeling God has a call on your life. God has given you a story and a passion to write it. But nothing is coming together. At every turn a door closes. You  now wonder if you have misunderstood Him.  

It had been three years since I began writing The Shadow of Death. Offers had not come together, my income dwindled, I’d rewritten the book three times, I’d fought writers block, and yes, even despair. Always coming back to the one thing that could sustain me if only I was sure—was I truly called to write? Finally, through prayer and a willingness to be broken, the Lord led me to the truth. 

I am not called to write. I am called to intimacy with Him. It is about letting your dreams die and being willing to live out His dreams for you. It is about spiritual growth that has nothing to do with the writing itself. It has to do with the journey. It has to do with sanctification, being set apart for His purposes, realizing that you are not meant to serve God, you are meant for God to serve man through you. 

I no longer wonder if He has called me to write. I know He hasn’t. He hasn’t called me to do anything in my own strength. He has called me to intimacy with Him. Everything else is just the fruit of that relationship. It was the dawning of this life-giving truth that finally assured me about my writing, about God, His purpose, and His timing.   

Seek Him and surrender the book He has put in your heart to Him. He will do the very thing that you think tests the limits of His power. Be encouraged. Your labor is not in vain. 

Oh, The Shadow of Death did sell after all! In His time, according to His plan. Which turned out not to be just a contract for one book, but a contract for two. And one other thing, the publisher renamed the Shadow of Death  . . .  The Next Target!

“O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”  ~ The Book of Isaiah

Please add your words for the journey

  1. Called to intimascy with Him! Amen! God has called us to be not do.

  2. Nikki, Thank you so much. What a great reminder to surrender everything!

  3. It’s fabulous to live in God’s will, Nikki! Thank you for sharing your intimate journey with the Lord–you’ve encouraged and blessed me today!

  4. I enjoyed your blog very much, it even brought a tear to my eye. Why? Because my journey is similar, even though I haven’t experienced the success that you have, I too, know that writing is not a gift from God, but a calling to write what God wants written. Our fingers are to be used for God’s glory, not our own.

  5. Sheila Bell says

    Thank you so much, Nikki, for writing this subject in your blog today….I’m sure many feel as I do…it was meant for me! I have been praying for guidance in my writing! I wrote a novel 10 years ago. I knew back then that God had blessed me with this. In the meantime…I went through a difficult divorce and put the book on a shelf. In fact, I began to wonder if God really had called me to write. I doubted what I originally knew in my heart. I stopped writing, writing means drumming up emotion and feelings, and during that time, that was the last thing I wanted to expose myself to. But there was a plan during those years. After going through the pain, God used that to transform my writing into inspiration, hope,faith….the power of God’s love and mercy. He changed my life, therefore, changing my writing. I knew that was the next step he was showing me. Now I’m looking for the next step from there. You’re wonderful words really touched me and I am taking them to heart! Thank you so much for following what you felt in your heart to share. Sincerely, Sheila

    • I’m so glad you posted. That encouraged me today. Just remember, God prospers what He ordains. Just pray with all your heart. Work with all your might. And release the outcome to Him.

  6. Thank you Nikki. I needed the encouragement as I have been questioning my “call” to write all week. Frustration at the mountain before me as an unpublished author. Frustration at the editing process to make my MS excellent, not just good. Frustration because although I know asked me to write this story, He didn’t tell me it would be published.

    Thank you for the encouragement. I need to get my eyes back on God and our relationship and let the timing be His, not mine.


  7. You’ve made such an important point. How often emerging writers focus on publication. They sometimes even change their books to meet a broader audience, thinking that will sway a publisher to perhaps buy their book. This is such a mistake. As Christians, we write for an audience of One. If God called you to write, it is His responsibility to inspire you, so surrender. It is His responsibility to bring His book to publication at the time He desires. So watch what He is doing in that regard and respond to it. Never initiate anything from your own thinking. Please write to me when you sell your book so I can rejoice with you.

  8. Wow, Nikki! What an awesome blog. You hit the nail in the head for me. I especially liked this quote, “He hasn’t called me to do anything in my own strength. He has called me to intimacy with Him. Everything else is just the fruit of that relationship.” AMEN!!! That is a good reminder.

    Blessings to you.

    P.S. I plan on getting your book and those of our TF group and start reading all of them.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Nikki! BTW I totally love your books 🙂 Can’t wait to read the next one. Your words that ‘through prayer and a willingness to be broken, the Lord led me to the truth,” spoke to me. That’s a hard process…to go through. I know I needed to hear that. I am just finishing my 1st Historical Romance and am feeling fearful and worried with a surge of excitement now and then. So glad to hear that even a great author like you speak of hard things that us newbie’s go through. Thanks for the encouragement:-)

  10. Thank you, Nikki for sharing your journey. It helps me know I’m on the right track with my writing. I’m going to take your advice to pray with all my heart, work with all my might, and release the outcome to Him.

  11. This blog came at a time when I have been questioning my own writing. There seems to be road blocks everywhere from a full time job, to a death in the family. I can’t find the time I once had when writing my first three novellas. But….God!!! Thank you so much for sharing your own journey, and reminding us it is all about Him and not about us! I must remember to put it in His hands and for His glory! Thank you, thank you!

  12. How we praise and thank Him for all He does in our lives. Everything from God is good. No matter what it looks like, it is good. That is a spiritual truth that He has shown me over the years. The very things that I once wondered – Why would God allow that? Why. – have become the cornerstones of my faith, joy and heart peace. Because now, with context and perspective I could not have then, He has reassured me it was all for a purpose . . . He reassures me with comments like yours.

    Today, you have caused God’s name to be praised.

  13. One word: Beautiful.

  14. Yummy morsels of truth… I gobbled them up! Thank you. 😉

  15. This lesson of intimacy with God isn’t an easy one to learn, but you’ve said that. But when we learn it, nothing is the same. I’m still in the process, but can ‘see it’-how sweet being in the center of God’s plans is. I’ve wrestled lately with decisions about writing and keep hearing this impression-“I have that covered, Jude. Rest.” I think I will.

  16. Beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Hi Nikki,
    You’re absolutely right. Intimacy with God is the Only calling of Chrisrtians, writers and non. Thank you for the reminder. It’s so hard to remain in awareness of that fact. That’s my goal, to praise God, and onlly God every minute of every day.
    Bless you and. Congratulations!

  18. Thank you all for your comments. Please share with others who are discouragd. We’ve all been there. But it helps to be reminded that we are not alone. Not only is He with us, but we have each other. We are all on a journey. I hope these are words for your journey, to help make the rough places smooth.

  19. Thanks for the post, Nikki. I’ve had a very discouraging couple of weeks. I needed this reminder.



  20. Let me encourage you some more. It is written in Ecclesiastes that He has made everything beautiful in its time. Notice the tense – He has made – He has already done it! He knew about your past couple of weeks before the foundation of the earth was laid. And He has allowed them for that thing that He has already made beautiful that could not come to pass without you having these experiences. And that thing that is coming to you will be more beautiful because of all that has happened. Please, set your eyes on Him, praise and worship Him for all that He is doing. Everything from God is good. Notice, I didn’t say that everything good comes from God. Everything from God is good no matter what it looks like in the present. That is a spiritual truth. Please faith into it and rejoice.

  21. “I am not called to write. I am called to intimacy with Him.”

    That one sentence alone has answered so many questions for me about my writing. Like you and so many others who have left comments I’ve struggled with doubts about whether I’ve been “called” to write. I’ve always felt that I’ve been called to encourage and have used writing to carry out that “calling”, but now I realize that it’s God who wants to encourage, He just wants to do it through me and the only way He can do that is if I foster that intimacy you spoke of.

    As I do that, my heart and spirit are in tune with Him enough that when He prompts me to write about a certain topic, I’ll hear Him. He has promised that His word will not return void, but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it. If I’m writing the words He inspires, they will accomplish the purpose He intended. He will bring them before the eyes of the very one(s) who need to hear them.

    What a great motivator to snuggle in close to the Father and relax, letting Him lead and guide our writing and them resting and trusting Him with the publication of our writing.

    I would love to share this post on my Inspired Ink blog. (http://inspiredinkwritersgroup.blogspot.com. Would that be ok?

    Thank you again for sharing your heart and your words of encouragement with us.


  22. MaryLu Tyndall says

    I really needed to hear this today, Nikki. Thank you.

  23. Nikki Arana says

    MaryLu, I always have a few days a month when I need to hear this : )We are on a journey, and we are not alone.

  24. Nan Rinella says

    Nikki, Lancia Smith recommended your blog.

    I was inspired by what you wrote about God’s calling. May I add another perspective, what Mark Batterson writes in The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears?

    “The issue is never, ‘Are you qualified?’ The issue is always, ‘Are you called?” . . . God qualifies the called. He writes that if you are called to write, “you need to write the book as an act of obedience. It doesn’t matter whether anyone reads it or not.”

    I do feel I am called to write, in His strength, and for His purpose, and to encourage other fellow writers. As Batterson says, “God can achieve through a humble servant who dares to dream big dreams and pray bold prayers.” And yes, surrender those dreams to the Dreamer-in-Chief.”

  25. Nikki Arana says

    Hi Nan,

    Thank you so much for commenting. I couldn’t agree more with the statement that if you are called to write it is an act of obedience. And beyond that, obedience is a form of worship.

    I pray for abundant blessings on all your efforts as you fulfill God’s dreams for you.

  26. Cheryl Klarich says

    I am on that journey of intimacy with the Lord, too! This was so profound.

    I wrote about Next Target on my September 11th blog post (Writing Remnants).

    Bless you! I want to read more of your work!!!

  27. Cheryl, I’m so glad you stopped by and I am so glad that you found encouragement through this post. Thanks for telling me about your blog post, I visited there and left you a note.

  28. Nikki…I suppose this should embarass me, but I think your blog is the first I’ve ever read! My friend, Ranell, told me I must check you out and I began doing that this afternoon! 🙂 I’m not even sure how it happened, but when I returned to your blog after dinner, it was on this June 3rd post. Ironically, (or perhaps NOT!) June 3rd is my birthday, and I am one of those struggling authors the Lord laid on your heart almost five months ago. I am working on a book, and I am certain this is part of God’s plan for my journey. Lately, however, I’ve felt discouraged and stuck! I’ve been meditating on “Trust” the past few days. I want to be a woman whose trust is completely in the trustworthy character of God. On some level, my encounter today with your blog has increased my trust! Thank you, and blessings on your journey!

    • I’m so glad you stopped by. If you live in the area I’d love to meet sometime. I attend Ranell’s Tuesday morning Bible study. May God bless your writing journey.

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