Do you ever get anxious and stressed about your current work in progress? Do you become so discouraged you are scared to take the next step? If I'm honest, it's a battle I face with every book I write.
I went to a workshop on Friday night where I learned that our actions are a result of our thoughts which come from our beliefs. And if our beliefs are wrong deep down, we will have issues. The challenge was to acknowledge the old, dispute it, then, with God's help, put on the new.
So, I’ve been searching my heart and I've come to the conclusion my writing issue are actually trust issues.
I don’t trust myself. As I write a book, I find myself questioning my ability. I question my plotline and whether I’m really qualified to write about issues I’m dealing with. I’m worried I’m not going to pick up any grammatical errors as I never learned grammar at school and really, I’m just winging it. Which isn’t enough if you’re writing a book that a grammar expert may read. And then I question the way I represent God. Is it theologically correct? Would God really do that in this situation? What if I lead someone astray because of my own ignorance?
So I get others to read the manuscript. And I take on board a lot of their suggestions, but I also wonder if they have really picked up the issues that need fixing. Is it enough?
So then I send my book off to a professional editor and I look at the number of suggestions and red marks and my heart sinks. Whatever made me think I could write? But then I also find myself filtering every suggestion the editor makes. What if they haven’t really understood the heart of the story? What if the changes they are suggesting won’t work with the purpose of my story, or what if it’s just their own personal preference that I change some of the issues?
Then I make the changes, but I’m scared. What if the changes aren’t what the editor meant? What if I’ve actually made the book worse when I tried to fix the issue? What if the changes mean I left something important out and there’s now a plot hole that wasn’t there before?
So I get some of my beta readers and family to re-read the book, but what if they’re like me and they don’t pick up on new issues because they still have knowledge from the original version of the story in their head?
I send it off to the publisher, and then I think, ‘What if the publisher is just being kind, publishing this for me? What if it doesn’t sell and I end up being a liability for the publisher?’
So, if I don’t trust myself or others, what is my real issue?
If I dig deep down, I realise that my action of being stressed and anxious is because whether or not I realise it, I am telling myself that what I write has to be perfect. It has to please everybody.
My belief is that if it doesn’t please everybody, then it’s not good enough. That if I'm not perfect I'm not good enough. I’m believing that my writing is only of value if it will have a positive impact on everybody who reads it and that it is my responsibility to make this positive impact.
I am not trusting God to use my gifts in His way, for His purpose.
So then I look at Scripture and what I know of God. Does He need me to be perfect for Him to be glorified?
No. He knows I’m not and that’s why He died for me and for every other person. It is His Holy Spirit who convicts and changes people and provides all they need. I’m not supposed to be meeting the needs of all people alive. He does.
And does my value depend upon what other people think of me and my writing?
No. My value lies in the fact that God made me. That He loves me. That I am His child. That I am surrendering to Him and accepting His invitation to walk with Him day by day.
If I make a mistake, have I blown it? Is that the end?
No. A mistake is merely another invitation from Him to look up, to reach for His hand, to be forgiven and walk with Him as best I can. I can trust Him with the other people in my life and those who read my books.
So do I have to trust myself? Or others?
No. I'm not trustworthy. None of us are trustworthy. But God is. I need to trust that He will bring about His purpose. To surrender to the process of being transformed into His image.
So now I know all this in my head, how do I live it? How do I allow the truths I've discovered to change the anxiety and discouragement I keep falling into?
Every time I feel discouragement or anxiety creeping in, I need to remember Him. To hear His invitation to engage with Him, to seek Him through every issue, through every doubt, through every moment of discouragement. I need to pour it all out to Him and ask for His wisdom and guidance.
And when I do this it’s amazing how peace comes and how the joy of writing returns. Because I’m writing with Him, hearing His whisper in my heart, seeing His hand in what I write. I am depending on the only One I can trust.
What I write will never be perfect. I’m not God. But I trust that He’s got me, that He delights in me using the creative gift He's given me ... and that is enough.
He is trustworthy.
What about you? Do you go through any of these issues as you write? I’d love to hear your thoughts. It's an issue I am still working through with God and I'm certainly not there yet!
Jenny Glazebrook writes inspirational YA Christian fiction. She lives in the country of Gundagai with her husband Rob, four children and many pets.
Jenny is the author of the Aussie Sky series and the Bateman Family novels (currently being published by Daughters of Love and Light, an imprint of Elephant House Press).
More details about Jenny's books can be found on her website: www.jennyglazebrook.com