Writing is amazing. You love it. You’re forming a concept for a new story concept, and it’s coming along great.
Until you read another writer’s concept. And then you realize that yours isn’t as good, and there’s a lot of work to be done until it’s perfect.
You want to write, you love writing, but suddenly it’s too much. Writing starts to become a burden, and every time you sit down at the keyboard, you just feel anxious and stressed out.
Well, I want to open my arms and give you a huge hug, and tell you, “It’s ok!”
If you’re struggling with writing anxiety, please sit down, take a breath, and read, because I am going to give you practical, stress-free ways to escape feeling anxious about your writing.
What Does God Say About Stress And Anxiety?
Before I dive into why you might be feeling stressed and anxious about writing, and how to treat it, I want to talk about what God says about stress and anxiety.
We must view everything through God’s Word. Why? Because God’s Word is objective. It’s outside of ourselves, and it’s Truth. It’s infallible and unchanging. We, however, are sinful, changing human beings.
We can’t view ourselves and our feelings correctly without God’s Word.
So, What Does The Bible Say About Writing Anxiety?
1. Trusting Our Anxiety To God
In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching His disciples. He’s teaching them about many things in this chapter: Giving to others, how to pray, being watchful of the Pharisees, laying up treasures in Heaven, and trusting God.
Right before He talks about trusting God (i.e. To not be anxious), He talks about laying up treasures in Heaven.
There’s a connection is in these verses: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20, ESV)
We don’t have to be anxious about anything if we are laying up treasures in heaven because those treasures will never be broken, never be lost, and never taken away.
God’s Word also says: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33, ESV)
We need to trust everything to God, and this includes our anxiety. When we are anxious about writing or anything in life, it can be for several different reasons. But in any case we need to trust what we are anxious about and our anxiety to God.
We can lay our anxiety, worry, and stress at God’s feet and surrender all to Him.
Ann Voskamp, in her book The Greatest Gift, says, “Worry is belief gone wrong because you don’t believe that God will get it right.”
By being anxious about our writing, whether the issue is perfectionism, comparison, or the future of our writing, we are not trusting God with our writing.
We don’t seem to understand that when we are perfectionistic about our writing, we aren’t giving ourselves the grace that God gives to us.
My dad is a certified Biblical counselor, and when he first counsels people, he gives them three statements. 1) My goal in life is to please God. 2) I please God by growing and changing into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. 3) God knows I’m not perfect, but He does expect me to be growing and changing into the image of Jesus Christ.
If God knows we aren’t perfect, but expects us to be growing and changing, shouldn’t we expect the same of our writing?
Our writing will never be “perfect” but, as long as we write, it should be growing and changing as we grow and change to be more like Christ.
2. What Are You Satisfied In?
But talking about writing perfectionism leads me to ask you, what are you satisfied in? Are you satisfied in growing in writing, or growing in Christ?
1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Matthew 11:31 says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
What do these verses mean? What does it mean that God’s “commandments are not burdensome.” and that his “burden is light”? And what in the world does that mean for writing?
Well, simply put, doing the work of the Lord isn’t burdensome or stressful, it’s very fulfilling.
Let’s go back to those statements I mentioned. Our first statement was,”My goal in life is to please God.”
Another way to say this could be, “My goal in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” You may recognize this statement from Westminster’s Shorter Catechism.
But the thing we don’t often realize is that we glorify God by enjoying Him. John Piper says in this message, “ God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.”
If we don’t write for ourselves but instead for God’s glory alone, and if we seek to be satisfied in Him alone (not the writing itself), it won’t be stressful.
Not only that, but we escape comparison, perfectionism, and fear of the future if we are truly satisfied in God. We don’t need to be anxious about whether or not our writing is good enough, or what’s going to happen in our future because we have Jesus, and we can trust Him with those things!
Escaping Writing Anxiety And Satisfaction in God
So what’s something we can do to find satisfaction in God and escape writing anxiety?
This sounds scary and painful, but take a break. This can be very painful sometimes, especially if you stop writing for a long time.
But by taking a writing break, we can submit ourselves, yet again, to God. If we say, “God, I can live without writing and only you,” we will begin to be satisfied in Him alone.
Recently, I’ve been listening to a song by Laura Story, called Open Hands. She says, “Take it all, everything, every hope, every dream, every plan. . .take it all, until all I have is open hands.”
Shouldn’t that be the prayer with our writing? And yet, at the same time, if we honestly can’t say this, we are too attached to our writing.
In that case, I believe that a break is necessary. Even if it’s just for a week, we can submit our writing to God, de-stress by trusting God, and align our hearts with His.
3. Falling Into Place
But this brings me to a third point about what God says about anxiety.
By investing in our relationship with God, He will make everything fall into place.
When it comes down to it, our relationship with Christ is the most important thing. When we invest in our relationship with Him, the most important thing is taken care of.
Martha, in Luke 10, is busy serving Jesus, while her sister Mary seems to be slacking off. But really, Mary is sitting and learning at the feet of Jesus.
Martha brings to Jesus’ attention (though He already knew) that she needs help, but Jesus replies, “Martha Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 20:41b – 42, emphasis added)
We are anxious about many things concerning our writing. Whether it’s perfect, what will happen in the future, what others think, but only one thing is needed. Our relationship with Christ.
When we are looking to, satisfied in, and trusting in Christ, everything else will fall into place. Including our writing.
Our writing will be used as God wills it to, our circumstances will turn out for His glory and our good, everything, even when it’s falling apart, will fall into place.
Write It Down
After talking about God working things out for His glory and our good, I want to give a specific way to apply this.
And this is to journal.
By journaling your fears about your writing future, submitting them to Christ, it’s almost like you’re letting them go.
Taking time to slow down and journal can also help us think through what’s causing our anxiety. It can also point us to the goodness of God when we sit down and journal about His goodness.
And for me, I love writing down my prayers to God. So, when I write about my fears of the future, letting them go, God just washes me with peace.
It can also help you sort out your thoughts and rationalize. I like to see what’s going through my mind on paper. It makes my fears seem less scary.
And sometimes, when we see our fears on paper, we can see things that we’ve never noticed before.
For instance, if I write down my fears about whether or not I want to write for the rest of my life, I might be able to see that I’m still very young, and that I have time to decide these things.
So go to the store and buy a journal, and write in it whenever you feel anxious about anything, not just your writing.
At the end of this article, I’ve included some journaling prompts to work through writing anxiety and stress, as well as to point you to Christ.
The Most Important Thing
Out of all of these applications, the most important thing is to pray and submit. You need to pray and spend time with the Lord.
Pray about your writing. Pray that God will increase your trust in Him, that you will be satisfied in Him, and that your eyes will be fixed upon Christ.
When we stop and pray, submitting everything to God, we get our hearts and our minds in the right place. Stress and anxiety are an issue of the heart. It’s not just a surface issue. That’s why I wanted to dive into what God says about stress and anxiety, so we can address the heart and mind.
Prayer will help you to stop feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious about anything, not just writing, because it addresses the heart of the problem and submits everything to God. Philippians 4:6 sys, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
And, keep in mind, that prayer is an act of submission to God. In submitting our hearts to God, we are saying, “God, search me, and rearrange my heart’s affections. Make my heart directed to you, so that all I do in life will glorify You.”
Your Next Steps
Throughout this article, I’ve given you a Biblical view of stress and anxiety, as well as practical tips to destress your writing.
One of these tips was to journal. By journaling, we can remember that God is in control, and keep Him the focus of our writing, remembering why we are writing. And when you remember this, anxiety will dissolve. At the end of this article, there is a resource titled, 6 Writing Prompts For Writing Anxiety. I highly recommend you download those, and with these resources we give you here at the Young Writer’s Blog and Workshop, along with anxiety free writing, your writing will grow amazingly.