by Emily Conrad
My very favorite part of the fiction-writing process is drafting the story. I love sitting at my computer and typing out a scene. I love rereading what I did the day before and then going on to the next portion. I’m on fire, and everything’s glowing—maybe the story isn’t perfect, but to me, throughout that process, it seems pretty close to it.
But then the initial creative part ends. Feedback points out faults with the story that I didn’t see myself. My confidence ebbs. Perfectionism rears its head and tells me the story will never be what I thought it was or what I hoped it would be when I created it. Discouraged, I struggle to maintain the fire I had for the story.
One way I’ve found to rekindle the fire and to shield it from further damage is to go back to the story’s inception. What inspired it? What did I learn along the way? What do I hope readers will take away? Why do I write in the first place? How do I know that was the right career path for me?
Just thinking about these things in passing doesn’t do it. I must actually dwell on them the way we’d linger by a campfire and stare at the flames. As a writer, I think best by writing, so I write my answers.
In this way, I remember what the story is really about. My fiction is not a quest for literary perfection. Instead, my stories are about knowing God and making Him known. It’s about the faithfulness of a God who pursues broken people with love and redeems them despite their faults.
This theme appears again and again in my characters, and it resounds through my writing life. Both my characters and my writing are beautified not by perfection, but rather by the lavish grace of Jesus.
Remembering that shields my creativity from the perfectionism that would smother it.
This applies on a broader scope, too.
Being perfect in our own might isn’t what our lives’ stories are all about. Our lives are about God, who pursues us, as broken and imperfect as we are, and redeems us. In Christ, we stand without blemish before God. His lavish grace beautifies us.
If your confidence is burning low because of standards you know you can never reach, try relighting the fire by asking yourself some questions. Interview yourself, and start here: What drew me to this endeavor in the first place?
If it was Christ, then don’t let perfectionism smother your joy and passion. Remember what the story of our lives is really about: knowing God and making Him known.