How to Avoid Developing Writer’s Apprehension Disorder (WAD) Part 1: Dread
Using last Monday’s blog, The Song that Silenced the Cappuccino Machine, for inspiration let’s delve into our series on progressing instead of regressing in our writing endeavors. Part 1 of our series focuses on dread. WAD includes symptoms such as dread, anxiety and worry. These are all forms of fear and these fears can overcome us as struggling, or even as published writers.
Last week I mentioned we all have a purpose in life and potential. When we allow dread, anxiety or worry to prevent us from fulfilling our purpose; writing, or to make us feel as though we have nothing to contribute, we must resist believing the lie and remember God said otherwise. In Write Away, bestselling author Elizabeth George states that, “Writing a book is terrifying. I can see why some writers go from book to book at a pace that allows them virtually no time off. I don’t want to live that way, and as a result, I have to face my demon fear each time I begin a novel. But Steinbeck faced it; Marquez continues to face it. If Nobel Prize winners can admit their fears, so can I.” (207; Harper Collins, 2004)
Have you stopped writing because you feel apprehensive about how others will respond to your work? Are you battling negative or anxious thoughts about who you are as a writer or questioning if you are a writer? If you have these symptoms or are hesitating to continue writing because someone gave you negative feedback, then you are probably suffering from WAD: Writer’s Apprehension Disorder.
In the first stages of dread you experience a sensation of panic at the thought of continuing your work, so you stop writing. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, dread is “a great fear or apprehension.” This sensation could keep you from continuing due to fear of negative outcome or fear of conquering the challenge. Dread makes us procrastinate or give up altogether and it can be crippling to a writing career.
Also in Write Away, George states, “When I was creating For the Sake of Elena, I became so incapacitated by fear that I was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I finally resorted to saying, ‘These are only words and I will not let words defeat me’ in order to get up and get to work. Thus I struggled to the end of the novel.” (47)
I find George’s words encouraging, since I experience the same feelings myself and spent the longest time believing I was the only one who did. I fell into dread’s trap and had to pull myself out. Dread keeps our stomachs in knots, our minds confused, and stops us from enjoying our lives. Most of all, dread keeps us from completing the task we set out to do; to finish writing the novel. If we do overcome the dread and finish the work, our joy is short lived because dread reappears to keep us from querying an agent or publisher. Dread feeds on doubt and insecurity. Simply put, dread steals our joy, ruins a good mood and leaves us with a sense of gloom or despair about our abilities as a writer.
How do we overcome the dread we battle and find ourselves succumbing to?
• First, we need to set our minds to recognize the symptoms before they overpower us. The best way to recognize dread is through prayer. We should ask the Lord to open our eyes and give us discernment when these unwelcome feelings begin creeping in.
• Another way to overcome dread would be to speak with a trusted friend, someone to whom we could pour out our hearts and receive encouragement. If possible, an established author or agent who is willing to offer advice to writers.
• One more way would be to change our focus the moment we feel hesitancy or dread appearing. The longer our thoughts are on our fears the more powerful the dread becomes. 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)
• Finally, the most powerful way to overcome dread is through the Word of God. Speak the scriptures. Hebrews 4:12 states “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” (KJV).
Throughout the Bible, God tells His people, as He tells our hearts today, not to fear [dread] or worry. Why, because He is in control. Let’s keep that in mind and keep writing. Next week Part 2: Anxiety.
What about you? Have you fallen into dread’s trap? Do you battle with dread? Do you procrastinate when it’s time to write or submit your work? How do you cope with your dread and keep writing? I would love to hear your responses.