Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What Are You Afraid of?

Hello Sandra Orchard here.

These days I’m spending time with my young grandson as he recovers from leg surgery. The first couple of weeks, he stoically endured the painful steps he had to take to begin the process of putting weight back on his leg, but by week three, he’d start to panic at the mere mention that we’d be doing it soon.

The fear of the pending pain became more debilitating than the pain itself.

As I started praying against that, I realized such fear hinders us from doing a lot of things.

Have you ever thought about how many times fear is at the root of procrastination?

Think about it. We know we have to get something done and it should only take a finite amount of time to do and once it’s done we’ll likely be hugely relieved it can be scratched off the to-do list. So why put off doing it?

Why play that game of FreeCell instead? Or check those emails? Or Facebook?

Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion fear is what keeps me from sitting down at the computer and writing the next chapter, especially when I know something in the story isn’t working, and, as much as I’ve been praying for guidance and inspiration, I’m not feeling it.

So I decided to think about what exactly I might be afraid of and came up with a few ideas:

-       I’ll waste hours writing scenes I ultimately won’t be able to
-       I’ll spend hours at the keyboard and make too little progress to show for it
-       What I write will be boring, uninspiring and useless

All three have happened time and again, so the fear is totally justified. But . . .

I also realized that unless I’m going to procrastinate by doing something else practical that needs doing, the reality is writing something gets me a whole lot closer to figuring out how to make the story shine than a game of Free Cell.

So I’ve made myself a two-part reminder note for whenever I’m dogging it:

You won’t finish the story unless you write it.
Every little effort makes the story stronger.

It’s true, too. Just as my grandson’s micro-inch steps make his leg stronger, so do my feeble writing attempts. When I write scenes that don’t work, they help steer me toward what will, and they usually help me to understand my characters better or to see what I haven’t figured out about them yet.

That said, I’ve also learned that it’s a good idea to quit for the day while the ideas are still flowing. I jot a few notes to remind me how to carry on the next time I sit down and then I’m far more eager to get back to it the next day, than if I’d written until my ideas ran dry.

Gotta run now. I have a story to write!

Your Turn: Have you experienced victory over a fear? Did your fear turn out to be worse than what you’d been fearing?

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  1. Hi Sandra! I remember one of my biggest fears was last year when I had to basically cold call (or cold email?) a bunch of authors to endorse my debut novel. Definitely NOT something I enjoyed (I think I was shaking as I pressed send). But thank God for their graciousness and God for His goodness I feel like I’ve made some lovely new friends! Maybe next year I might even meet them at ACFW! Thanks for this reminder to trust God and be brave :)

  2. This is so true! I've found that when I start panicking and letting fear reign in, I freeze and can't write anything. And it works in other aspects of my life as well. Fear does destroy. And then how many times to we worry about things that never end up happening, or at least aren't that bad. I've been trying to focus more on Him instead of my fears so I don't get caught up in life rollercoaster. He is the solution! Hugs to your sweet grandson. What a trooper!

  3. Great word, Sandra. Like you I'm put off writing because I feel what I'm writing is rubbish. But you're so right. it's in the turning up each day and writing that we become better writers.

  4. Oh, yes, so much of writing is dealing with fear. And after 40 years in the business I cadn say it pretty much stays the same. Just get on with it.