Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Don't let Fear Paralyze Your Writing


by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

I have a confession. It’s not the kind that involves a lie or something terrible, instead, it’s something frightening and it’s affecting my ability to write.

You might ask, what is so terrible that a writer can’t write? What’s so frightening that she can’t manage to enter her office? 

Actually, it’s pretty simple and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll walk you through. 

A few weeks ago, I received some devastating news that sent me and my writing career into a tailspin. I was stunned. Shocked. A little angry. But mostly, I was terrified. 

God has blessed me in my writing career and grant you, He hasn’t just handed it to me on a platter. I’ve worked very hard over the years learning the craft, making my way through the ranks, receiving rejection after rejection. Yet, I’ve never given up. Never once quit (though I can’t lie and say the thought never crossed my mind. It has, if even so briefly in a moment of frustration.) My prayer has remained firm.

Lord, will you allow me to be a writer? I just want to be a writer. I’ll work hard. I’ll keep plodding along. I’ll give back. Will you just let me be a writer?

God has answered my prayer. Not only has He answered, but He has gifted me with the tools and a few rewards of success and I am grateful. But now, I sit on the cusp of a major decision in my career and I honestly have no idea what to do or where to turn. My peers would say, “What’s the problem? You have everything you need to move ahead despite this hiccup.” And I do. Instead, I find myself facing a crisis of faith. A crisis of career. Just sitting down to type a word on my nearly finished manuscript makes me a little woozy. I truly find myself wanting to throw up.

As I work to prepare for upcoming conferences, the things I teach tumble in my stomach. I’m reminded of a time I struggled to write a manuscript that was polished enough to show to an agent. And when I did show it to agents, it was. . .you guessed it. Rejected. Still, I kept up that prayer and I kept up the work – striving to learn more, write on a deeper, more engaging level, remaining true to the genre that had not yet been considered a “real genre”. 

I remember the late Ron Benrey, an amazing author and teacher, reading my work and saying, “You got something here. But it’s not time. Publishing is not ready for this. Stay true to what you write, and the market will eventually come to see.” He was right. It took eight years for the market to be open to the hard life of the Appalachians during the 1800s. It took the right agent making the right connections to the right publisher, who echoed Ron. “She has something here. Something we’re not sure publishing is ready for, but we’re willing to stick our toe in the water.” So, they did and, in that moment, God told a story through me that changed those who have read it.

You ask again? “What’s got you so scared?” My only answer is – the journey of the story. Not just the how’s and whys of the story, not the plot, but personal journey this story is taking me.

When that first novel hit the page, there were days I literally crawled to the keyboard. God had placed such a burden on my heart. He had impressed such an empathy on me, that I literally felt as though I was living the life of the character. And when the story was done, I felt a 1000-pound weight lift.

“God,” I prayed. “Why was this so hard?” 

His reply, “Because you needed to feel it, to understand the depth of redemption I hold in My hands.”

The second novel flew onto the page. Its impact was good. The story speaking to those who needed to find the type of forgiveness the story insisted they find.

Now, here I sit. 15,000 words from completion of the fourth novel and I can’t type another word on the story. It’s not writer’s block. It’s not a bad plot. It’s not even the hits I’ve taken personally as my career takes a new direction. It’s the fear the story brings into my heart and the message of truth God is shoving me to write. My feet feel like lead. I have a hard time taking a deep breath. I’m frozen as God holds me in suspension, working the empathy I must learn, to spell out the need He wants to me convey.

My guess is, you are wondering why or if there is any method to this madness of this post? There is.  I want you to take a minute and remember the moments you have been frozen in your faith. Those times God presses hard.

I want you to mull over the times you have, as a writer, said, “God, I want to be a writer.” I want you to remember the subject matter and the method you have used to place the words intricately on the page. How you emotionally connected to the story you were crafting. Remember how it tore at your soul, moved in your heart, and haunted your dreams because these were not only the ways God used for you to craft good words, but it was His way of changing you.

I’ve heard it said, “Fear is from Satan.” There was a time I believed that. Not now. My eyes have shifted to a different level in my relationship with Christ. I am seeing the fear of faithfulness. Taking the step to write the things I’m not sure our hardnosed Christianites will want. God is pushing me to write outside the box. He’s forcing me to understand the fear the world outside of Him feels. And it’s frightening. He’s asking, “Are you ready for the journey?” I’m shaking in my boots trying to lay aside what I think Christian readers want to read and open up to those who may not know Christ. He’s forcing me to get dirty and teaching me He’s in control. He’s saying, “Don’t be afraid. You wanted to be a writer – now write.”

After weeks of staring at my office door and never cracking it open, I walked into the world of the last 15,000 words, preparing to write through the fear. It’s not a testament to my faith, for God knows better than anyone, I’ve been a Jonah. It’s the call He’s given me, and it’s stepping through the fear to write what He demands. 

Our ship is put into motion when we untie the rope from the dock. We think we’re prepared, but maybe we aren’t as prepared as we thought. Instead we trust the One who tilts the compass toward the direction He’d have us sail. Even if it’s rough waters.

Your writing career is more than writing a story. We are Christian writers and because of that, God demands more of us. The weight is heavy. Will you grow afraid and then follow the navigator into an ocean where you cannot see the shore ahead? Trusting gets us to the shore so the question remains – will you write what He asks or will you try to grab the compass from His fingers? God shapes the world through our words and He shapes us as we write

TWEETABLES



Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of ChristianDevotions.us and the executive editor of ChristianDevotions.us and InspireaFire.com. Cindy is the managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is an award-winning and best-selling author and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.  @cindydevoted

16 comments:

  1. Wow, Cindy, I'm aching so much as I read this and all I can say is thanks for sharing your heart.

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  2. Cindy, you have expressed the raw agony of writing for God. It is Him, about Him, and for Him. Praying for you!

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    1. We have to stop worrying about preaching to the choir and preach into the world. Writing to the world is hard because so many don't know Christ. Our whole approach has to change...so yes...it is raw.

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  3. What a powerful message, Cindy. Thank you.

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  4. Thank for sharing this with us Cindy

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    1. My pleasure. If we cannot be honest about our writing fear...snd the path God leads us down...what are we?

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    1. Thank you for reading. I hope it spoke to you.

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  6. And I'm praying more for my writing friend Ms. Cindy. You know the old adage as well as any of us ma'am; "If He leads you to it, He'll lead you through it." God's blessings...

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    1. Thank you. Your prayers are appreciated...but more so, pray the world will hear a message that it vital.

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  7. Writing for Him today and always. :-) Fear will not get hold of me. :-)

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    1. Good for you. Stay strong and write what he leads you to write. Even when it's hard.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your heart, Cindy. I'm praying for you, friend. Sail on! There's much I can relate to in your words, but right now, all I have are tears ready to spill on another page.

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  9. You are sweet. Thank you...now write sweet friend.

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