Paralysis prescription

All month I’ve struggled to write words in my newest NaNo novel.

I often fight what I call “paralysis,” when I simply cannot seem to write. It seems far more serious than mere writer’s block because it extends beyond the inability to write and freezes my thinking.

During these times of paralysis, I find it difficult to determine who wants me to give up on my current project: God or the devil? I think I may sometimes give up things too quickly when I actually need to press on through the spiritual onslaught.

I feel that I’ve been paralyzed for much of November. Part of the reason is due to a physical illness that still clings to me in a painfully stiff neck and a persistent headache. These symptoms seemed to be more intense than ever yesterday. Which, of course, makes perfect sense since a few spiritual sisters and I were fasting and praying. My experience with fasting has taught me that going without food is easy, but the spiritual warfare is excruciating.

Knowing that, I equipped myself yesterday morning with three hours of prayer and meditation. But I felt discouraged the remainder of the day because not even such Martin Luther tactics freed me from my pain and paralysis.

It was not until this morning, after I looked at a verse I wrote out yesterday morning, that I realized how much God showed his steadfast and active love to me. Here’s the verse:

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul (Psalm 143:8).

Less than an hour after I wrote those words, three people encouraged me in my work, the first in a way that seemed like direct confirmation. They promised to pray for me, expressing their belief that I will need it. To which I readily concurred.

Did I not hear in the morning of God’s steadfast love? Did that not make me trust him even more? Did not God make me know the way I should go with my project? Did I not lift up to him my soul?

That should have been enough for me, but I went through the rest of the day, trying to pray while fretting about my pain and paralysis. I became so discouraged late in the afternoon that I begged for advice and sent my first chapter to one of my best writing friends, Susan R. Lawrence, who wrote back:

I love the first chapter! Please don’t give up. I think this is definitely a story that needs to be told…. The chapter really makes me want more, to know what is going on and that is even more important than making [the main character] likeable. Tell her story and don’t worry about all the nuances, you can polish those up later. Also, quit worrying about any word count… determine to write some words and keep it going and then eventually … get the story told…. I love your story. So keep writing it.

What wise words! “…don’t worry about all the nuances…quit worrying about any word count…determine to write some words and keep it going and…eventually…get the story told.”

I know I’ve been worrying about nuances, word count, and a host of other things. I ought to just try to tell the story however God equips me to the task. Could other people tell it better? Undoubtedly. Will people, whose opinion I value, prefer other people’s writing? Certainly. But what do these things matter if I’m doing what I feel God calls me to do?

Lord, equip me to do it, not my way or someone else’s way, but your way.

Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.


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