Tackling a Writer’s Fears

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by Les Stobbe
Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency

Fear, like a ghostly apparition haunts all of us as writers. For some it is a memory of a parent’s or teachers deprecating comment, like “Don’t ever consider becoming a writer.” For others it’s the ghost of past failures that produced an involuntary response-shelving a project. For some it haunts the writer as the ghost of writer’s block.

Helping a psychiatrist with his book on what it means to be a Christian counselor introduced me to a ghost-revealing verse of Scripture-and a ghost-defying approach. This psychiatrist’s discovery of Hebrews 2:15 opened up a dramatically improved counseling approach and for me a new understanding of the role of fear in a writer’s life. Here’s the verse in three versions:

“and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (NKJV)
“and deliver all those who through the fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (ESV)
“Only in that way could he deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.” (Living Bible)

At the root of all pathologies, this psychiatrist insisted, is the fear of death. Applying it to writers, I recognize it in dealing with the ghosts of the past, present and future:

• An inadequate education killing opportunities as a writer
• Ever putting to death the voice that said, “You’ll never be a writer.”
• Overcoming rejections by those holding the power of editor
• Tackling the daunting task of delivering a 90,000-word novel
• Overcoming the seemingly impossible task of cutting a 150,000 word novel to 100,000 words
• Wrestling down the fear of ever having a bestseller

The psychiatrist found that when he introduced counselees to Heb. 2:15 and explained how every facet of their life was being controlled by the fear of death, the aha moment produced a healing process. He introduced his clients to the secret of dealing with the ghost of death in verse 14: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (NKJV). That establishes two realities, that of death because of the devil and victory because of Jesus’ death.

Life has always contained a series of opportunities for death to disturb our life. So how can we deal with the fear produced by the ghost of death?

• Meditate on Bible verses with promise in them.
• Gain a sense of calling through listening to the master of the universe, Jesus Christ, in meditation and prayer.
• Tackle your fears head-on in the power of the Holy Spirit and keep on writing.

The ghostly apparition of death pushed by the devil need not increase your fear of death. Jesus died our death for us to not only give us life eternal, beginning now, but also the courage to face our daily fears.

An active Literary Agent for 19 years and Executive Editor of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, Les Stobbe also serves as director of International Christian Writers. He has been denominational editor, newsletter editor, book editor, book club vice-president, curriculum managing editor, and president of a book publishing house. He has written curriculum, journalism lessons, 14 books and hundreds of magazine articles. He loves working with writers of both non-fiction and fiction. His website is at www.stobbeliterary.com

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