Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fear and the Writer - Part 2

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Last week, I talked about fear. For those of you who missed that post, you can see it here.

The question - in six words or less, what do you most fear as a writer?

So what was my "off the cuff" but uncomfortably accurate response to that question?

Revealing my heart.

Talk about scary, particularly for an introvert who had learned at a very young age that revealing your heart meant showing vulnerability, which was like blood in the water in a society where I'm surrounded by sharks (people who will prey on that weakness). Attention can be good, bad, or indifferent - I've known that my whole life. But showing vulnerability? Only stupid people who didn't value their lives did such things.

Thankfully, God doesn't give up on those of us who an evil, fallen world has taught to hide behind walls as high and thick as a European keep. He gently, with love and persistence, leads and teaches until the walls come down. Because He knows something VERY important....

How effective can we be as writers if we don't do reveal our hearts, bare our souls, expose our inner thoughts and emotions to a potentially hostile world? Whether we do so in blogs or other non-fiction works, or we expose our hearts through fictional characters and their stories, we put a piece of ourselves into everything we write. And readers can generally tell when that element is missing.

It's taken a LONG time to learn to share my emotions, imperfections, fears, and deeper thoughts with others. A very long, arduous, often painful process. Through it, I've learned two things:

1 - God doesn't want me to live in fear, closed off to those my life touches, unable to reach out to others who may be struggling in the same way I have. He wants us to step out in faith in HIM and not allow fear and the evil in this world to take us hostage and cripple us emotionally and spiritually.

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For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. - 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. - 1 John 4:18a (NASB)

The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? - Psalm 118:6 (NASB)

2 - When others act like "sharks" and try to prey upon me when I open my heart to them, IT'S NOT ABOUT ME. No pity party or wallowing allowed. Let it go. It's about THEM. It's a reflection of just how miserable they are in their own lives, and if I really watch, I'll see they tend to treat others the same way they've treated me. Their words and actions should NOT cause me to close myself off to the world again. To do so gives their negativity, hatefulness, etc. power over my life that those things don't deserve to have. More than anything, such behavior demands prayer for them.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. - Luke 6:27-28 (NASB)
I think most believers understand how these apply to our daily lives and dealings with people. But how do they apply to us specifically as writers?

One, negative reviews on published books. If we haven't (yet) received them on our own work, we've all at least seen scathing reviews written by those who just like to tear others to shreds (if you look at other reviews they've done, you can readily identify these individuals - they never seem to have a nice thing to say about anybody) or hate someone's work simply because it reflects Christ (even if they've never actually read the book, interestingly enough).

Should we let such reviews make us change what we write because we shudder in fear of receiving more such comments? Absolutely not! We should seek to please God first and foremost, above every person out there. If people don't like that, well, that's their problem, quite frankly. We're not to be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)

I'm not saying we should be sloppy in our work or disregard actually-constructive criticism, but that's a whole different ballgame from letting fear drive us to write other than as God desires us to.

Two, the writing itself. If we truly want to touch readers, we MUST be willing to share our hearts and souls with them. And, yeah, I know this isn't easy. Boy, howdy, do I know. This is my biggest struggle. Each layer of emotional depth we put into our work is that much more of us we're letting the world see in some way or another. That's not easy. But the Lord doesn't call us to reach out to others only when it's emotionally "safe" or we simply can't keep ourselves bottled up, so we should approach our writing the same way - with an open heart obedient to His leading.

I know my struggle is not the same as what others face. Some cling to fear of not finding an agent/publisher/editor for their book, not getting the cover design quite right, not getting a back cover blurb exactly right, the book not selling, knowing what promotional tools and techniques to utilize, and a slew of other things along those lines. God has all of that well in hand. Does He expect us to do work to get it all accomplished? You bet! But He's already handpicked the agent/publisher/editor for each author's work. (He also knows whether He wants your work to be traditionally or indie published, too - just ask Him.) He knows whose hands need to receive a particular book. He can and DOES provide guidance regarding cover designs, back cover blurbs, and/or promotion options.

He knows what He desires for the outcome of a given work. If we ask, He WILL lead us down the right path, to the right people, and put our books into the hands He desires if we seek His will.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. - James 1:5 (NASB)
That's a tremendous comfort to me. He asks me to take steps of faith, do some work with regards to editing, book cover design, back cover blurbs, and promotion as He guides me. He takes it the rest of the way. But for me it all begins with a mighty step of faith in revealing my heart in the act of obedience - the writing itself.

What fear do you find yourself struggling most with in regards to your writing? What verses have you found that help you stand against it?


  1. I think you quoted all my favorite verses! I struggle with the fear of success. What will I do when somebody wants to publish my novel? :) How will I handle it?

    1. What exactly is it that you fear about success? Are you afraid the stress will get to you? That you'll get cocky/arrogant? It sounds like you can take this a step further still. If you can figure out exactly what you fear about success and how you'll handle it, you can find specific verses to address THAT issue as well. :)