Dianne Neal Matthews here, hoping to encourage you on the second Monday of September (can you believe it’s almost autumn already?). Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about “writer’s paralysis”—not that cramped feeling in your hands when you’re pushing against a tight deadline, but another kind that’s more serious….
This idea started a few days ago as I read the latest blog post from Chip MacGregor. (Note: If you don’t receive Chip’s blog feed, then I urge you to stop reading this and go sign up right now. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.) Anyway, Chip was saying that writers need a place (like an honest critique partner or group) to be bad, so they can learn to be good. His closing paragraph included this comment: “Look, don’t think about trying to make it perfect. Seeking perfection in writing is what freezes people and keeps them from writing (or even from participating).”
I could so relate to Chip’s words because right now I’m really wanting to try a new kind of writing that I’ve never done before. But I have to wrestle with certain thoughts: What if I’m not any good at it? What if I fail miserably? At that point, I feel paralyzed, unable to move forward.
So I decided to make a mental list of other things that freeze or paralyze me. Things like repeated rejections, low book sales, playing the comparison game, second-guessing my decisions, feeling overwhelmed by expectations put upon authors by the rest of the world (at least it seems that way sometimes).
Then I decided I’d better come up with a list of treatments for these different forms of “writer’s paralysis”. Here are a few: extended prayer time seeking God’s guidance, meditating on that moment when we knew we were called to write, counting our writing-related blessings, reading positive feedback from readers, asking for advice from more seasoned authors, and drawing support from communities like CAN.
The next time I suffer from writer’s paralysis, I plan to pinpoint the cause and then figure out which treatment is needed. How about you? What paralyzes you and keeps you from moving forward in your work and ministry? And more importantly, what do you need to do about it?