Aspiring Writer: The Fear

Fear gripped me in the pre-dawn dimness! Had I tackled a writhing anaconda? What made me think I could weave all the intriguing elements of fiction into flowing perfection? What made me think I could capture readers’ attention … entertain them … inspire them … make them feel my characters’ passions as they pursued their dreams?fear-trust

I squeezed my eyelids shut and burrowed my head into my pillow. Even if–by some fluke–I managed to do all that, what made me think someone would publish my novel? The marketplace grew tighter every day … the competition greater. I was getting older!

I groaned. Was I out of my mind? God, you gave me this dream. I’m doing my best, but I’m scared to death that I can’t pull it off.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.

Wha …? The words from 2 Timothy 1:7 (New English Bible) wrapped me like a warm blanket — words I had written on a note card and kept on my desk as a reminder that fear is not from God. His enemy uses it, pressing in to squeeze the life from my creative efforts … to stop me from accomplishing the good God gave me to do.

I threw back the covers and bolted out of bed, wielding the words like a sword. “God has not given me a spirit of fear!” I shouted, “but of power! Of love! And a sound mind!”

Fear slithered away.

Taking a deep breath, I marched into my home office, vowing to fight fear with the Word of God every time it showed its scaly head. For “I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13, New International Version)” and “with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26, King James Version).”

Sitting down before my computer, I prayed as I booted up. Time to get to work … with the Lord.

***

Thanks again, dear reader, for sharing my journey. Until the next time … Fight fear and work with the Lord!

~ Beth

Copyright 2004 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Please share your tips on overcoming fear. We can use one another’s encouragement on this one!

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7 thoughts on “Aspiring Writer: The Fear

    • Thank you for bringing up this important issue, Heather. Writers have struggled with it for centuries. When my children were young, I mainly wrote while they were in school. Decades ago, Grace Livingston Hill was a single mom who supported her children through the sales of her popular Christian romances. She wrote in the middle of the night while they were asleep. The important thing is that you find the writing time that works for you and your family.

      Is it worth it to write while you are raising children? I can only tell you that my children and grandchildren are thrilled with the success of my novel. Oh, and one other thing–when my granddaughter Kyra was a little girl, she stood in my home office with a big grin on her face and proudly announced, “My Grandma Olmsted works in a bank, and my Grandma Ziarnik writes!” In those days, I was still trying to get published. Imagine the Lord giving me validation through a child so precious to my heart.

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      • I first started writing in 2003 when my children were all preschool age. The youngest was barely one. At the same time, my husband went through a job loss, and so I went from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom, plus trying to be a writer. It was hard, but I had felt the Lord’s call on my soul to write, so I knew he would provide a way for me to answer the call without neglecting my earlier call to be a godly mother.

        Having a husband who is willing to help with the children or household chores makes a HUGE difference. But the most important thing to me as I navigated these waters, was to make sure my family always came before my writing. Sometimes my youngest would knock on my closed bedroom door and ask if he could come in and just be with me. That’s when I knew I’d been closeted away too long. I would set aside the laptop and pick up the boy.

        We have time for what we make time for. I make time for family, for church activities, for writing. But that means I say no to a lot of other things, many of which involve my kids. I don’t volunteer at their school. I don’t chaperone field trips or band trips. I protect my writing time by saying no to non-essential activities. And then work at not feeling guilty (ha!). My children are now 18, 16, and 14. They all still love me, are strong Christians, and are proud of their mom the author. We have daily hug fests and I make a point to know what is going on in their lives.

        So, all that to say, you CAN do both, but you have to protect your time for what is the most important and learn to say no to all the rest.

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  1. Heather, I started writing when my daughter was in preschool. She’s almost 12 now. Kids are important and young children need a lot of time and attention. I wouldn’t tell you to write to the neglect of your children, but I would say this–write when you can because your kids do need to see you pursuing your passion as you encourage them to discover and pursue their own. The beauty for me as a writer is that I am first and foremost a stay-at-home mom. The challenge then becomes respecting the time to write and not letting outside forces always take that time away. I still do hot lunch at my kid’s school (once a month), not because I enjoy that (I really don’t) but because THEY like it when I’m there. I used to go on all the field trips and attend acedemic competition. Just because you are in a busy season of life doesn’t mean you can’t write and writing while they play or nap, isn’t selfish. I’m an editor now as well and I have some authors who with very small children who write whenever they can and they are publishing books! I won’t tell you it’s easy – kids or not – writing and re-writing and editing and publishing and marketing, can be hard for anyone. If this is what God calls you to do though, obey the call in confidence. My kids may not get gourmet meals but they don’t care about that. They get me whenever they want me because I’m still here even if my mind is sometimes in another place with the people in my head. Blessings to you as you write! And enjoy those kids!

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  2. Heather, I’m kind of backwards from most writers’ stories. I wrote and put in my dues and became published by the time I reached 30, the same year I married. I wrote and put in my dues and have a small showing for my writing efforts — 7 published novels, 11 devotionals. I’m currently publishing a speculative romance series with Desert Breeze Publishing out of CA. Two and a half years ago, the same week I turned 47, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I was in shock and my husband in denial for the next, oh, 12-13 months. 🙂 My baby turns two this January. Two weeks ago I finished the rough draft on book 5 in my series, due in April 2015. My goal had been to finish it before Thanksgiving in 2014, a couple months before the baby arrived. I couldn’t accomplish it. I pushed my goal back for a year. Unfortunately I didn’t write fiction for a year. I pushed my goal back another year. My publisher is kind. Why am I sharing this? No one but God can tell you what He wants you to do with your time. Whenever I hear writers ask the question, “Is it worth it?” my gut response is always, “No. My word, if you can be happy without writing, then don’t do it. It’s an insane business. Quilt. Learn stain glass. There are billions of creative options. But if God has called you to write His story through His Spirit for His Son’s glory, then girl, no amount of stain glass is ever going to fulfill you.”
    That said, I’m leaving today for a writing conference in Harrisburg. This will be the first time I’m away overnight from my son. I’m teaching on Plotting — Figuring out your system for writing a book. Everyone’s is different. Because we’re different. We also all have a different system of actual, physical writing. So writing with kids will be different for you than it is for me. Our kids are different. Our homes are different. Our schedules are different. But our God is the same. And if raising children and writing is what He has called us to, then He will lead us into the individual system that will work for us. He always provides. Always. So when that fear tries to paralyze you into neither writing nor spending adequate quality time with your child, remember who Your God is, and as Beth wrote, He doesn’t give a spirit of fear. He who is in us is greater than the one in world. You can do both if You are yielded to God. Honest. Fight for your quiet time with God before you fight for your writing time. Keep God first and He will honor your efforts to glorify Him, through godly children and beautiful writing.

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