Every time I begin a new project, doubts gather like June thunderheads in Alabama. Even as I collect the words I feel called to put on the page, other ideas and statements begin to pile up in my mind, eventually and effectually blocking the creative flow like flotsam in a drainage ditch. By the time I find a moment to sit down and open a word document, I am ready to cry at the tension between the undeniable call to write and the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and the pointlessness of my task.
I bet you feel that way sometimes when you write, or do whatever it is that you feel is your ‘calling’. So I thought I’d just remind you of something:
Lies. They’re all lies.
Yeah, those voices in your head that tell you you’re not good enough and that you will never succeed so why try? They come from the enemy of our souls, who hates when we take the grace God has given us and turn around to use it to bless others.
You would think that after one has written and self published three books, the voices might quiet down a bit. I thought the same thing once. That once I’d achieved success with the first book, I’d forever and always feel adequate for future tasks of that sort. Alas, it just isn’t so. The voices still come–like a mutating virus, they figure out a new angle to get under my skin and have their paralyzing affect.
Last week, as this post was stewing in my mind, my pastor preached a sermon on fear that kinda blew my mind. I got so excited about how it applied to the writing life, I could barely sit still, and took 4 pages of notes. The following ‘formula’ for facing our fears comes directly from Pastor Ryan Limbaugh of Redeemer Church in Oxford, Alabama. The applications to writing are my own. (I highly recommend listening to the whole sermon, which can be found as a podcast on our church website.)
How to Kill the Lies Writers Believe
We’re all guilty of giving to much time and mental space to the lies writers believe–here’s how to quiet them long enough to get your next blog post or book written.
1. Identify your fears.
When you sense doubts or have a vague feeling of anxiety when you even think about writing, pick up a pen right then and make a list. Like a sketch artist outlining a suspect’s features, we need to flesh out and identify what exactly we’re afraid of. Go ahead and look your fears in the face, and write down the top five. Maybe they’re something like mine:
- I’m afraid my writing isn’t good enough–maybe I only think I’m a good enough writer to attempt this book/blog post.
- I’m afraid I won’t be able to produce a perfect and professional end product–what will people think?
- I’m afraid of all the work involved, and if the fruit of writing will be worth the effort.
- I’m afraid what people with think about this use of my time and assumption of my own worthiness as a writer.
- I’m afraid I’ll do all this work and the blog post won’t even be noticed, or the book won’t even sell.
Yikes, that’s a lot of fear! But lining them all up in a row and getting a clear sight on them is the first step to slaying them. So go ahead–make that list.
2. Examine your fears.
Take each of your fears and cross examine them. Look at them from every angle–from ‘why do I fear this?’ to ‘what’s the worst that could happen if this fear comes to be?’ That last one is key. Go ahead and look at the worst case scenario with that fear, and ask yourself if will really be The End of The World.
- Your book doesn’t sell. Not one copy. If God called you to write it, can you trust that He has other purposes than financial success via your book?
- You blog contains a few imperfections, and people criticize your lack of skills. Is God big enough to manage your reputation when you’re doing what He’s called you to do? And can God use imperfect people and books to do His work?
When we look at our fear’s ugliest future, it’s amazing that we can always find that God is bigger than the worst case scenario.
3. Repent of your Idolatry.
Oy. Getting serious here. I just called my fears–and yours–what they really are. Sin. Pastor Ryan said,
“When we lay aside a wisdom and a critical attitude toward our doubts, and instead succumb to introspection and negative emotions, we dethrone God. Fear exposes that we have an idolatry problem.”
The key to slaying the writer’s fears is to repent of bowing down to them and turn to God and speak truth. Praise Him for being great and glorious and all powerful. Ask forgiveness for your distrust of Him and rejection of His providence. Ask for His help to cling to Him during your writing process.
Writing Without Fear
What if you could sit down at your computer today and not be afraid to write–at all?. Does that sound glorious? Freeing? So exciting it takes your breath away?
Then what are you waiting for?
“This I know, that God is for me…In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56: 9b and 11)
I hope that you’ll slay your fears today and write your heart out. If you do, would you leave me a link in the comments so I can have a peek at the words God gives you? Next week I hope to find the time to tell you a little about my next project–meanwhile I covet your prayers as we enter the ‘wrapping it up’ and editing stage!
Ya’ll know that I believe community is a huge part of walking forward in your calling without getting sidelined by fears and lies. That’s why I’m so grateful for my mastermind group. They care about God’s call on my pen, and have been known to speak truth into my calling when I can’t hear it myself. Have you got someone to speak truth into your writing? Check out these pages for how to start your own mastermind group.