Stress Attack

Facing Your Fears

Back in January, I blogged about our motivations for achieving our dreams and goals. I hope you've had time to think about your motivations for your project. This was a great time for me to evaluate why I write, too, and I thought I would share that with you today.

I write because I'm compelled to write. It's part of who I am. Through my writing I hope to encourage others who may have a dream but are so paralysed by fear of failing that they can't get started. Fear used to be a constant companion of mine during the transition from the numbers world to the world of words. If I was called to be a writer, I had to get over my fears.

I believed God called me to write when he was planning for my life on earth. Under his Laura O'Connell file he wrote "Fiction writer- experience required: numbers, deadlines, stick-to-itiveness, life experience, ie. trials and trauma that can be used as fodder for characters; and the ability to learn words".

He put me into the accounting field first so that I could learn the discipline of working on my own, what it means to meet deadlines, and how to work at a project until it was completed. There was no point in handing in a Balance Sheet to my boss if it didn't balance.

He gave me life experiences for making my characters into real people: he put me youngest in a family of twelve; orphaned at eight years of age; scoliosis; scuba diving; wife of a serving soldier; business owner; mother of Aspergers Syndrome child; stress attack that held me captive for eighteen months; unemployment; and the fear and uncertainty that comes with a change in career. All good stuff for drawing on when creating characters for a story.

Working on your own can be a challenge, especially when the day is hot and the surf's up. Oh why am I stuck in this claustropobic room when I could be out there riding a wave. So why didn't I get up from my desk and walk out. Because I wanted to achieve my goal of being a writer. That meant I had to sit at my desk and get the words done. No one is going to do them for me. How can I encourage people when there are no words written to encourage them?

That is the truth of the writing life, or any other endeavour that you may be undertaking to achieve a dream. It doesn't get done by itself. The job gets done by applying ourselves to the task and chipping away bit by bit until the dream is achieved. When motivation is strong and time is short it's easier to keep going. If you don't have a deadline to achieve stage one or stage six, the going will be harder. Set a realistic time frame to achieve that first stage and work towards that goal. Define what it is and make smaller goals along the way that have to be met.

My goal was to plan to write African Hearts in a year. I broke the year down into segments: six weeks for planning, two months for research; four months for writing the first draft; and four and a half for editing and polishing the work. This was my rough plan. The actual time frame ended up being written and off to a publisher within nine months. This now gives me a bench mark for subsequent books. I saved time on writing the first draft which only took 2 months and my research only needed a month.

So I want to encourage you to overcome your fear with a verse from Isa. 41:10:

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous hand."

With God anything is possible, it's the fear that holds us back.

Don't Worry About Tomorrow

Several years ago I had a stress attack that left me with a brain that I'd thought would never think again. Stress can have a negative impact on our lives and yet, stress is what gets us up every morning to go to work, to look after our family and to care for ourselves.

Stress is caused by the imbalance of overwork and little relaxation. I was too busy wanting to be super mum that I forgot about my own needs. I was running my own business, my home, and I was homeschooling. My husband got ill and needed surgery. His business also needed someone to run it. You guessed it, more responsibility for me. I had little in reserve to cope with this added stress. Something had to give, unfortunately it was me. I ended up in hospital for three days and it took two years to get back on my feet.

My stress was the bad kind of stress. I allowed it to pile up on top of me, ignoring the headaches and sleepless nights, saying I could do anything. I was pushing myself to an early grave and I didn't know it. I had no choice but to slow down.

I came across a Bible verse: Matthew 6:34 - "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I meditated on this verse for several months and the truth set in. I wanted complete control of my life so much I worried incessantly about situations that weren't under my control. As soon as I stopped worrying about these situations my stress levels dropped dramatically. My life turned for the better and I started planning for God's purpose for my life instead of mine. I planned my goals and schedules, but I lived my days in the present, hour by hour, working toward my goals. My mind became clearer because it wasn't cluttered by worry that robbed me of energy and life.

If you're a worrier, I encourage you to start meditating on Matthew 6:34. Worrying about tomorrow is time wasted because God has a purpose for your life. Put God in your plans, cease worrying, and your tomorrows will start to have a new sense of purpose and wonder you'd never thought possible because God is for you, not against you.