Friday, May 24, 2013

Off With Its Head

Last Sunday my pastor asked us the question "What is intimidating you?" It was an interesting question, going a bit beyond "what are you afraid of?" By the time I was in the car headed home, I knew my answer. I told my husband I thought I had my answer figured out and that it seemed a little weird to me. But when I told him what it was he just nodded and said "Yeah" in this emphatic, no-you're-not-crazy-that-makes-total-sense, kind of way. (If I haven't mentioned it before, I'll say it now: I LOVE my husband. He's awesome.).

What intimidates me? One word: Success.

Once I'd figured it out, I jotted down why. Here's what I wrote: Because if you're successful, people will expect more of you. The voice of intimidation tells me, "You did it once, but can you really do it again?" What happens if I can't meet others'--or my own--expectations?

I just finished writing my first children's book. When I finished writing it, I was super excited to move onto the next project. It was going to be great; I'd figured out a method that works well for me, I knew what I was doing now, right? But as soon as I started planning my next novel, Intimidation came on the scene. It started reminding me that each project is different and this might not go as smoothly as the last story. Who was I to think I could ever become a full time writer? Don't I realize how hard that dream will be to accomplish? What if I run out of ideas? Are you sure that plot isn't a bit too complicated? And on and on, twisting facts and turning them into half truths that left me feeling powerless and weak.

In his sermon, my pastor used Goliath as his illustration for the character of Intimidation. He presented the idea that Goliath wasn't really there to fight. He was there to Intimidate--to cause the Israelites to run away or be frozen with inaction, ensuring they wouldn't reach their goal of victory. And frozen they were, until David came on scene.

The more I think about it, the more I've realized Intimidation is playing the same game with me. This last week, despite understanding what I was up against, I started listening to its voice. I ran to other manuscripts, trying to find a different story that would be easier to write. I froze, and essentially ended up with writer's block, feeling so stressed and anxious about my plot that I stopped working on it altogether. I allowed intimidation to overwhelm me. I let it dismantle the effective writing routine I had gotten into. And it sucked the life and the passion right out of me.

But I know I can't let it win. So I fought back. In his book START, Jon Acuff talks about answering the exaggerated lies of fear with truth. I sat down and organized all my hastily scrawled story notes that have been laying around in notebooks and on scraps of paper and filed them by title. You think I'm going to run out of ideas, Intimidation? I've got eight different book ideas that I've written down over the last three years. Think my ideas are horrible, that I'll never figure out my plot? Take a look at the original notes for my now finished book. They're a mess. They're horribly written. But look what came out of it. Think I can't handle the hard road ahead? Look at what I've already accomplished. I can--and I will--do it again. I went back and re-read the beginnings of my in-progress manuscripts and fell in love all over again with the one I had planned to work on in the first place.

Bit by bit, the drive and the energy and the passion has returned. The voice of intimidation may still be there, but that doesn't mean I have to listen to it. When Goliath shows up, I'm going to bring David to his house. I may have to slay Intimidation and cut it's ugly head off over and over again. But that's okay. Because I have a dream worth fighting for.

What about you? What is intimidating you right now? What steps have you taken to silence the negative voices in your own life? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

No comments:

Post a Comment