If you haven’t noticed, it’s been about 4 years since I’ve released a new book. During that time, it’s been tough going. I’ve started and nearly completed two books, but to be honest, they didn’t shine. I didn’t want to release them because, well, they weren’t good enough.
I wouldn’t say I struggled with writers block because I kept to my discipline and wrote thousands upon thousands of words. They just weren’t great.
Still, I found myself getting worried. I love to write and want to continue writing but I was stuck. I couldn’t tap into that old flow I used to feel.
But gratefully God intervened.
I’ve a psychologist friend who, after hearing me speak at a conference, pulled me aside. At the conference I talked about how I’d written 1/4 of a novel and thrown it away because it wasn’t good enough.
He said, “Don, I think I know your problem. You’re being too careful. When you first started as a writer, readers loved your work because you said what you felt, you took huge risks. Now, you’re always so careful. We miss the Don who wasn’t careful.”
Those words nailed me.
He was right. I was being too careful. All the criticism and praise and attention had seeped into my brain and I started writing to stay alive, not to express what I felt and believed. I suddenly had something to lose and when you have something to lose, you start being careful.
The sad thing is when we’re careful, we are actually being affected by fear. People are careful when there is a risk. But nobody respects somebody who is too careful. People love writers who give us permission to be ourselves and to express our feelings. Sure, they may fail every once in awhile, but we admire their freedom all the same.
So, how are you being too careful? Are you too careful in your sermons? Does one elder control you like a puppet on a string? Are you too careful in your songwriting? Are you afraid to be called a fool? Are you too careful in your pursuit of a woman? Maybe she needs you to take a risk.
You know what? If you’re too careful, there’s a good chance you won’t leave a mark on the world. Now there’s something to fear.