Chances are good if you are a writer or have ever considered writing as a career or avocation, you’ve had some of the following fears:
- People will see what a bad speller I am, and terrible at grammar to boot.
- What I write will show me up as simple, unsophisticated, boring, etc.
- I’ll work long hours on a story or article only to find it’s all for nothing; my work will never sell.
- I won’t find an agent.
- What I have to say will get lost in all there is to read.
- The market is already saturated with writers; there isn’t room for another novelist (essayist, apologist, Bible teacher, devotional writer, etc.).
These fears, and many more, fall into different categories. For some (like the fear of being exposed as a bad speller) there are practical things we could do to allay (like getting a friend or spouse to proofread our work before we send it out). Others (like the fear we won’t find an agent) may take skill development, time, and perseverance on our part.
However, many writing fears are grounded in reality. I have worked for days on some pieces that never sold. With the ubiquity of personal computers and free self-publishing, there is an avalanche of reading material available. Anyone with a computer and a connection to the internet can write and publish a novel, devotional, memoir—and many do.
However, if we are Jesus’ disciples and we feel called to write, none of these fears need paralyze us. Let me illustrate with an incident from the life of Janette Oke, whose books have sold over 30 million copies and several made into movies.
When she began writing her first book in 1977 she prayed, “God, I’m going to write this book. And if it works and if I discover that I have talent, I’ll give it all back to you.”
Quickly she sensed that was not what God had in mind. As she recalls it, His response was this: “I’m not interested in your book after you’re done with it. I’m not even particularly interested in your talent. If you are really serious about writing as a ministry, then I want it all, right now, before you start.”
After some squirming (for she found it surprisingly hard to surrender her dream that she might have a talent for writing) and prayer she was able to say, “Okay God. We’ll do it Your way. … whether something exciting happens—or absolutely nothing at all—that’s entirely up to you.”
However, after writing her book, Oke didn’t sit back and wait for God to deliver her words to the public. She spent months learning about the publishing industry and how to submit a manuscript to a publisher. She waited for responses and got rejections.
Once the editor at Bethany House accepted her book, she did the requested edits and more to make her an editor’s and publisher’s dream—things like writing sequels to her stories when readers begged for them and sticking to a demanding schedule of writing two adult and one children’s book per year.
Through it all, though, because she had given herself and her work so utterly to God, “She was free. She was free to write without worrying about the outcome. She was free from the pressure of getting sales. She was free from the temptation of pride.”*
Perhaps we need more of this attitude. When we’ve given our writing interest and talent to God to use as He sees fit, done all we can to make our words the best they can be, and sent them out, let us too stop fearing about how it all turns out.
* Quotes from Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie by Laurel Logan Oke, Bethany House Publishers, Updated Version 2001, Kindle Location 3161-3178.
Violet Nesdoly uses fiction, nonfiction, meditations, and poetry to do what she is passionate about—bringing the Bible to life. Her debut novel Destiny’s Hands, a Bible fiction, was a finalist in the 2013 Word Awards. She blogs book reviews at Violet Nesdoly.com and poetry at Violet Nesdoly / poems