Guest Blogger: Jennifer Slattery
Sometimes the words flow and our fingers can barely keep up with the creative bursts firing from our brains. Other times, it feels as if every sentence is a struggle and we begin to wonder, can I really do this? What if I don’t have what it takes to be a writer?
My first novel, one that may never see actual ink, came easy. But then I joined writing groups, went to classes, formed critique partner relationships, and all of a sudden, my creativity stalls.
I suffered from too-many-rules disease. It’s an insidious illness, one capable of strangling one’s inner muse. And stealing one’s self-confidence.
Four years ago our daughter developed math phobia. She had a difficult, often hostile teacher, who was hard to please, and this paralyzed her. Each problem was torturous. She was so afraid she’d get it wrong, so terrified of making a mistake, she couldn’t begin.
It took a bit of “worse-case-scenario” discussions to move her past this. Basically, I told her I didn’t care if she got it wrong, or even if she failed the class. All I wanted was for her to do her best. My straight-A student didn’t like to hear this, but once I brought it to a spiritual level, reminding her that her obedience to God was all that mattered, she was able to move forward.
We all have fears and insecurities that paralyze us. And we all have our comfort zones. So, we gravitate toward those things that come easily and are the most comfortable, and avoid those things that are difficult—like sending out queries, approaching agents, or writing articles. But that leads to stagnation and God calls us to continual growth.
In Dr. Senske’s book, The Calling: Live a Life of Significance, he encourages us to focus on our areas of weakness-to purposefully seek out new, challenging activities.
It reminds me of training I participated in in high school. I was a distance runner. The longer the run, the better. Those short, fast turn-outs about killed me. Because speed wasn’t my thing. If left on my own, I would have avoided the drills and speed runs entirely, adding more miles to my day in an effort to hone my strength. But my coach knew better. He saw a weakness in me and zeroed in on it.
How might this translate to your life? Take a moment to evaluate your writing and your writing habits. What are your areas of weakness? Do you respond well to criticism, knowing how to glean feedback, taking what is helpful and disregarding the rest? Or does constructive feedback make you cringe?
If so, you might need to intentionally seek out some harsh critique partners. This way, you’ll become accustomed to sifting through strong opinions. Then, when you receive your first contract and open an eight page document of suggested big picture edits, you won’t freak out. In fact, you’ll approach the changes with confidence because you’ve been there before.
Perhaps you’re afraid to speak in public. Although you can have a successful launch without speaking engagements, you’ll be avoiding potential platform-building opportunities. In other words, you will be your own limiting factor.
What if, instead, you chose to grow in this area, and purposefully sought out a few speaking engagements.
Finally, whatever you do, bring it back to your audience of one. No matter what you’re doing, each day make it between you and God–no one else. Don’t worry about what your editor will say. Don’t worry about your boss. Don’t even think about the end result. Focus instead on your Savior and make each moment, each task, an act of praise.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.—1 Corinthians 10:31
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Slattery/e/B00JKQ4ZTW/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and will give away a free chapter critique to one random commenter. http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.