author ● sojourner ● mother artist

author ● sojourner ● mother artist

Breaking the Cycle of Fear & Later

I write in simple rhythms of blue and gray. Quiet and uninhabiting, bordering on apologetic.   I slide into the back row, taking notes, hoping to go unnoticed. I leave my heart under my sleeve as I listen to wordsmiths spinning their wheel.

I am jealous of them and in the same breath think, ‘I could do that. I’m good enough.’ But I flounder in this back row. I chastise myself for the wasted moments, thoughts, weeks…for all the could’ves that should have been. I tell myself, “Later. There’ll be time later.”

But what if there isn’t?

What if I keep using the same excuses? What if I can’t find the balance between writing and living words? What if I continue to let Fear wrap itself around my waist, cinched tight as a budding antebellum belle? I keep waiting for an “Aha!,” a moment to break the cycle.

But what if the breaking comes in the stepping out?

We’re in this life transition. Moving from Kentucky to South Carolina (I feel my Southern roots drawing deeper), our family is not yet burdened by a set schedule. We haven’t quite formed a routine. So my husband, in his generousity, is giving me (more like telling me) a week to devote to writing. I’m to go somewhere and just write. Write, edit, research.

After all those times I’ve muttered, “I just wish I could write 9 to 5,” I’ll have my chance. I’m scared. What if I mess it up? What if I can’t stay focused? What if the words don’t come? What if I waste a week?

I keep thinking I need to come up with a plan, but I don’t know where to start.

Where would you?

How do you break the cycle of fear and self-pressure and 20 years of stalled dreaming? 

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12 thoughts on “Breaking the Cycle of Fear & Later”

  • I’ve often thought I would love a three day weekend away alone just to write and eat and chill. I would start by deciding what in progress pieces I wanted to work on. I would pick three because what I want to work on largely depends on my mood. But mostly I would let myself have freedom to read, edit, write and marinate with the only caveat that I’m focusing my energies on one of those predetermined pieces. I wouldn’t set a goal like “I will write x amount of words/chapters/pages.” That would get super discouraging I think.

    • I saw your new writing table–cute! That’s pretty much what I did/am doing. I have a principle project I’d like to make some headway on and then two others (one to brainstorm/outline and another to reread/edit). I’m trying to not think of word count or “I’ve gotta get x amount done” to make the week worth it. Word by word, I’m just trying to get them out there and find a good flow.

  • I can relate to this so much. The fear and faith intermingled in the dream. I think you have to be willing to write all those crappy first drafts. Just sit and write. Best to you as you spend the time finding the words.

    • I am definitely writing the crappy first drafts. I just keep remembering all of Anne Lammott’s tweets I see about just getting the words out (even if it’s only 500) and not worrying if it’s junk it can be weeded out later. Bird by bird.

  • I don’t know the answer to your question…but I will be praying for you and that your week is blessed!!!

    We Louisvillians miss you like crazy!

    • Thanks, Jess. I’m working on it…but that blank page can be so unnerving! And sometimes I get the edited end stuck in my head and forget about the mess it’ll take to get there. Of course, it’s the mess I’m working through now.

  • How cool! What an opportunity! I would take a book about writing with me for the times I get stuck or scared, like Bird by Bird, Steal Like an Artist, or Wordsmithy. Enjoy!

    • Thanks, Sandra! I’ve brought a few on my Kindle (On Writing, War of Art) and Madeliene L’Engle’s Walking on Water.

  • I remember meeting a young woman in the hotel lobby, quiet, demure waiting to meet me, but not to be intrusive. This gal who sits in the back row that you write of is how I would describe her as well. However, I know there is something, someone more deep within.

    Let you be you. Your God given design come to life. Like the phoenix who becomes an all new creature and more beautiful from the ashes. Let the ashes speak forth this week. Write without your pen leaving the paper for 20 minutes, and do it again, and again. Write sloppy. You have so much in you–I know it.

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