If you don’t know, I really like to write. 🙂 Right now I’m working on my fourth full-length novel, and it has honestly only gotten harder. It’s an absolute honor to have the time and resources to follow my dreams, but these past few years have taught me just how tough it is to put it all out there. So, I thought I’d write a little series on the roadblocks I’ve been navigating along the way.
So, here we are, PART ONE! Let’s start with one of the biggest roadblocks that I’ve been facing lately: the ANXIETY of not being able to control my creative output. In non-creative work, it takes some self-discipline, some circumstantial allowance, and I can force myself to get it done. Even in semi-creative work, there may be more easily controllable parts that I can choose to do first. But when it comes to writing something that lives and breathes entirely in my imagination, all the good productivity practices can’t promise a darn thing.
It’s like this. I plan out how many days a week I’ll write and calculate how many pages I need to write a day to reach my goal. I really do have a tendency to meet my Big Goals. (And that’s no Small Thing haha.) However, I have almost never done so in a linear or expected way.
Here’s an example of a very realistic progression chart for the beginning of a project of mine:
Day One – 3.5 pages
Day Two – 2.5 pages
Day Three – 3 pages
Day Four – Five pages
Day Five – 1 page
Net total: 14.5 (Goal: 15)
Here’s how it often looks at any given week in the middle:
Day One – 0 pages
Day Two – 1 sentence
Day Three – 0 pages
Day Four – 6 pages
Day Five – 12 pages
Net Total: 18 pages, one sentence LOL… (Goal: 15)
That second one’s actually far too similar to how my last week looked like. And you know, the first example feels alright–like maybe I have something good going on. But the second one!! No. The first three days are so stressful, filled with distraction, probably some low vibes, and a whole lot of ANXIETY.
It’s not like I don’t open my Google Doc or like I avoid the computer when I can’t focus. Most often, I’m right in front of the computer, fidgeting as if my life depended on it. My brain is mush. I can only think of things that have nothing to do with my pages, and I honestly might as well just step away.
Lately, my output has fluctuated because of my own negative perception of my writing or of other people’s perceptions of my writing. It’s literally like people are standing next to me, megaphones in hand, screaming in my ear about how much they disagree with me and will never support me.
Now, folks, that is it’s own ANXIETY!
And then I still need to write. No matter my insecurity. No matter the ground sinking beneath me. I still made a plan to write, and I’m not following it.
This brings me to my next thought. Sometimes things are actually going wrong–like a pandemic. And I actually need to put my energy elsewhere. Sometimes it shouldn’t be a season of productivity. Sometimes there are health issues and unrelated deadlines and emergencies and damage, and nonessential creativity just can’t happen. And it’s like, yeah, all of this is so stressful, and then not making my own personal goals just feels like a kick in the stomach while I’m already down from something far worse. And bad just adds to more bad and no, no, no, it’s the worst.
And it is so anxiety-producing.
But it’s also a chance for the peace of God to show me a way beyond my circumstances. It isn’t always a quick fix that God offers, but in confronting the anxieties of the writing life, God keeps teaching me more about His character and design and thought process. As you can see from my two examples of writing weeks, things can happen in different ways. Things can go closer to as planned, or everything can seem like it’s crashing in the beginning only to reap a greater reward in the end.
My writing isn’t linear, and neither is God. God didn’t make me to live a predictable life, but He’s always in the twists and turns. He can always provide great redemption for losses. He’s never afraid when things don’t look good.
Even on the weeks when I write nothing. Even when all I do is delete what I wrote last.
Even when the desert season of faith just won’t end. Even when I get the opposite of what I prayed for.
Jesus is on the way, and Jesus is the Way. It takes a lot of courage when the path provokes anxiety, and often courage seems impossible, but I’m trying to dare myself to do just a little bit more of what I feel is impossible. Nothing is impossible with God.
And I’m gonna see just exactly what that means.