The real enemy of the creative

This is my younger daughter and I in a Zoom writing and editing sprint.

She was editing her cookbook, and I was free writing ✍🏼 to help figure out what is motivating my character (while my daughter was also motivating me).

Before we began our sprint, she asked me to read Psalm 37. It has a lot to do with trusting God and not fretting.

Who, me? Fret…?

What if my writing doesn’t measure up?
What if I never publish a book?
What if I do, but my books don’t sell enough? What if I run out of ideas? What if “writer” stops being who I am?

And on and on…

Author Sylvia Plath wrote that “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

In her journal, she ends a long paragraph about having the guts to write, to make a creative life, with: “You big baby.” I’ve said this to myself after long paragraphs of similar chidings.

But, “Don’t be a big baby” doesn’t really help me. Not in the long run, anyway.

What makes self-doubt the enemy is my focus on SELF, instead of on my calling to write and the joy of obedience to God and to the work. (You could apply this outside of a faith perspective.)

One verse in Psalm 37–which is not about writing, of course, but about enemies and wrongdoing, patience and peace—offers a better, if unsettling, take on self-doubt and worrying over our life.

“Do not fret—it leads only to evil.”


Wow. Evil. I say this to my daughter.

“Evil,” my daughter echoes.

Pride, envy, mistrust…even disobedience to God. I’ve experienced all of them, either as the cause of my fretting or the fruit of it.

The remedy against fret—and the great many other evils listed in the psalm—is a change of attitude and mindset, of practice and relationship. We accomplish this through a list of don’ts and the following do’s: trust, commit, be still, refrain from anger, and delight in the Lord…and he will give you the desires of your heart. (I heard recently that the primitive root of “delight” in Hebrew means to be soft or pliable.* How can I not picture the joy of being a messy draft shaped by an Author?)

Every day, every time I create, I have the free will to choose—self or God, fear or a future.

My daughter with an early edition of her devotional cookbook, The Most Memorable Meal, which she wrote for her senior capstone project; and me with the first two books in the Tree Street Kids series from Moody Publishers.

*”anog,” Strong’s Hebrew, Biblehub.com, https://biblehub.com/hebrew/6026.htm.

2 thoughts on “The real enemy of the creative

  1. So………. I think we’re leading parallel lives. I wrote a whole blog series on Psalm 37 and revamped it recently. Man, what a rich treasure!
    Also, I wrote in my journal this morning, “The opposite of fear is not faith; it’s trust.” Trust in a good God who delights in me…

    Write on, my friend! May the words flow.

    Like

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