It would be easy for me to compose a short post letting you know that I'm stepping away from my blog and social media activities for a short time to finish my novel. Better yet, I could cloak my announcement in a shroud of mystery by hinting at secrets that I'm regretfully unable to disclose. But that isn't the entire story. And if we're to gain anything of value from walking through this journey together, you should be able to count on transparency from me even if it means revealing my insecurities and weaknesses.
So, my friends, here's the raw truth:
Eighteen months ago, I had an idea for a novel that wouldn’t let go of me. I tried to ignore the persistent tugging in my heart. I told myself I didn't have time to focus my attention in an entirely new direction: I had a business to manage, a loving family and 4 adorable grand-babies to enjoy.
But the characters forming in my mind were fascinating, and I wanted to learn more about the mysteries that bound them together. As scenes began to take shape, I found myself enthusiastically scribbling action and dialogue on random scraps of paper at all hours of the day and night, wondering where their adventures would lead me next.
Working on this story awakened my imagination and rekindled my passion for writing. While researching and developing the plot, I simultaneously plunged into an intensive process of honing my writing skills and establishing a platform for marketing my work once the novel is complete.
I’ve received excellent training in the past year from some of the best writers and marketing professionals in the industry. Their input will undoubtedly strengthen my novel and ultimately my writing career. But lately, I’ve found that striving to satisfy the business expectations that accompany publishing a novel is stifling my creativity and suffocating the joy that led me to begin this journey in the first place.
I acknowledge that the problem originates with me. I've allowed my perfectionist nature to distort sound business advice into impossibly high standards. I've convinced myself that if I’m not blogging X number of times per week, getting X number of hits on my website, writing X number of magazine articles or guest posts, and gaining X number of followers on social media that my novel is unlikely to be successful. My passion has been reduced to a lifeless number.
The news isn't all bad. I’ve accomplished a lot while trying to hit these goals. I’m delighted with my redesigned website and thoroughly enjoy interacting with all of my new friends on social media. The problem is that my energy is scattered in too many directions to be effective. The time I've invested in checking off each of these boxes has slowed progress on rewriting my novel to a crawl. And to be honest with you, I’m sinking beneath the burden of the unrealistic expectations I've placed upon myself.
I began work on this novel feeling passionate, confident and intensely alive. But now I’m measuring my performance against unexpected criteria that have little to do with the process of creative writing. Worse, every target that I miss makes me feel:
Since I’m convinced that our mutual enemy is the author of these paralyzing accusations, I’ve decided to silence his voice by refusing to participate. Beginning today, I’m going to put my head down and reconnect with my Lord, the Source of all encouragement and inspiration, and finish writing this novel.
Perhaps you're struggling with the same issue: an internal (or external!) voice whispering death into your soul in an attempt to kill your dreams. I encourage you to take the same action: silence the enemy by stepping away and immersing yourself in the life-giving, dream-inspiring Spirit of God.
"'If you can'?" said Jesus, "Everything is possible for him who believes." Mark 9:23 (NIV)
So, now that I've bared my soul, will you forgive me if I drop off of the grid for a while to complete this work? I will miss connecting with you here in the interim, but I truly need to refocus, and I’d like to believe our relationship is more enduring than the time that separates each blog or social media post.
Teaser: Although the first page of my novel is likely to change before the book hits print, I’ll leave you with a glimpse into the world I’m entering for the next few weeks. Don’t forget me, okay? I promise that you, my reader, are never out of my thoughts and that you’ll be in my prayers daily!