Writing and/or Life, Both Hard


Either I’m not doing it right and still need to learn the universe’s secrets, or else the truth is that writing is masochism.

No, stop. I shouldn’t say that. Believe me, I love to write. Sometimes.

But it is really, really hard.

Why does it so often seem like other writers have their acts together?  They feel confident in their abilities.  They are clever and funny and smart … gahhh, I know I can be those things too.  But mostly I just feel insufficient and terrified that I’ll be found out.

Not just writing either.  Life.  I’m 32, and I feel like I know so little about how to be successful at Life.  I retreat in fear to my favorite things night after night: my bed, my prayer journal, my Jesus.

A few lines from Truest (as it stands today):

And while I sit in the stand and pray, I have the same sensation—that I am being outlined, defined, and that the definition doesn’t come from me.

I am trying to hold so many things—and failing—but this one thing is holding me.

Please tell me, people: do any of you get so overwhelmed that you become paralyzed? Have you fallen in love with a vocation that gnaws on your heart? Have you figured out any ways to be still and yet productive?

All I know is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus— thankfully, he’s more than enough.


24 thoughts on “Writing and/or Life, Both Hard

  1. I think every (or most) writers are hesitant about their work. I know I am! But you have a lovely writing style, keep it up 🙂

  2. Ah, yes, the travails of being or wanting to be a writer. Everyone has it. Everyone feels their work is crap. Don’t write to produce something others will love. Every writer, great or never published, failed/fails along the way. Every single one! I will leave you with this (my favorite writing quote ever!):
    “Write because you can’t not write”
    —Dennis Lehan


  3. Sometimes I want to cry so hard because I think my writing is crap and I’ll never be published. On days like this, I just keep writing – usually i’ll switch to a different story and get away from the story that’s making me depressed. I keep writing because I know it will pass. Because writing is all I can do, all I want to do. Sometimes I think we feel like we don’t deserve to be happy, to get published, to live our dream. But we do. If God has given us this gift, who are we to not use it?
    You’ve got to fight, keep going, not give in. Life will always be hard. Thank God for Jesus!

  4. Yes to feeling paralyzed and small and like I’m way in over my head with writing. Also with life and constantly with my day job. I used to worry all the time someone would find out how much I’m faking it as an adult. Sometimes I still do. It’s definitely a comfort knowing you are not alone, though.

    • We writers just GET each other. It is such an overwhelming vocation we’ve been called to. I’m glad for you and other writers who are willing to be vulnerable and raise your hands and say, “Me too.”

  5. To me, you definitely know how to be successful at “Life,” by the way you are living right now. We all have things we wish could be different, and struggles to go through. It’s how you handle those struggles that determine your “success” as a person. No question you are successful…in writing, and in your whole Life.

  6. Oh, yes, Jackie, I feel overwhelmed quite often–feeling like I don’t know what I want to write, feeling like I am so far behind from where I should be. I think it’s normal to feel like that sometimes. And the fact that you “retreat” to your comforts and truths–there’s no problem with that! We all have our struggles. You are doing a great job at creating a Life, in my book. 🙂

  7. Keep going! When I approach those kinds of feelings I try to tell myself that I decided I could do this (write the book, attend the conference, etc.) when I was in a better state of mind. I try to trust that state of mind over the part that is filled with anxiety and self doubt. And I try to remember that the only way out is through.

    I don’t always listen to myself when I try to remember these things, but sometimes it helps.

  8. I can’t relate to the writing aspect, but I can identify with that feeling in other areas of my life. Sometimes I feel like I will be “found out” as well…for posing as a real grown up. Lol
    I still feel 15 inside. 🙂 I sometimes wonder how I got to be a wife and a mom and a teacher….and it boggles my mind somedays. Am I qualified to be doing this? What if I mess it all up? Everyone else seems to know what they are doing…
    You are not alone in feeling unsure. Looking from the outside others would never know you have these doubts and they would be thinking, ” I don’t know what I’m doing but she is so confident and has it all together!”

  9. One of my dearest mentors would tell you you’re having a case of “impostor syndrome.” You are not an impostor! You experience these moments of self-doubt for many reasons, probably: because you care deeply about what you do, maybe because you have perfectionistic tendencies (don’t most OCD-ers?), because you’re human.

    I wish I could give you some really illuminating advice, but I struggle with this same issue myself on a fairly regular basis. All I can say is that I’ve discovered there is a very thin, but important line between productive self-criticism/analysis and the black hole of brain DOOM. When you find yourself thinking in circles, stop and take a step back — that overwhelming sensation is not going to help you make decisions about moving toward “success,” whatever that means for you (there is no perfect formula!).

    Remember to accept your experience and acknowledge all the wonderful things about it, because there are many. Sometimes we get so stuck in listening to our brains’ evaluations of things that we end up overemphasizing the negative. I don’t mean to suggest you shouldn’t ever question or analyze, but don’t forget how much you have to be thankful about!

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