by Joyce DiPastena
I feel in a very non-creative mood as I sit down to write this. I don’t have anything useful to say. I may have written one good book, but my talent has all dried up since then. My mind is a blank. Who am I to call myself a writer? To think I have anything of worth to offer the world?
Hold on there a minute…didn’t I just finish teaching the monthly presidency message in Relief Society this morning? And what was the topic I picked, aimed at myself as much as anyone else in the room? “Overcoming Feelings of Inadequacy”, by Elder David S. Baxter, from the August 2007 Ensign. Good heavens, Joyce, were you even listening to yourself?
What was the point of that whole conversation we had in Relief Society about “divine discontent and the devil’s dissonance”? Elder Baxter defined “divine discontent” as “the Savior [inviting] improvement to encourage us in reaching our full potential.” Whereas “the devil’s dissonance” is “the adversary [deploying] derision to discourage us with feelings of worthlessness.”
What if I try applying our discussion to my first paragraph above?
“I feel in a very non-creative mood as I sit down to write this.”
Devil’s Dissonance: You don’t feel creative, so why even try? Just blow off your blog assignment, who cares?
Divine Discontent: Just sit down and try. Type whatever comes into your head and see where it goes. People are depending on you to keep your Monday assignment.
“I don’t have anything useful to say.”
Devil’s Dissonance: You’re right, who cares about what you have to say? Besides, you’re sleepy, go take a nap.
Divine Discontent: Everyone has something useful to say. You’re my daughter, and all of my children have useful things to say. Just keep typing. Something will come.
“I may have written one good book, but my talent has all dried up since then.”
Devil’s Dissonance: Yep, your mind has gone to mush, you can barely string two sentences together. Besides, trying is hard work. Do you really want to work that hard? Wouldn’t you rather do something (anything!) easier?
Divine Discontent: Just look at what you’ve already typed on this page. Obviously, your mind hasn’t gone to mush, and you’ve strung more than two sentences together. Keep trying. You’ll feel worse about yourself if you give up and quit, than if you just try, whether the end result is dross or gold. You’ll feel better, just because you tried.
“My mind is a blank.”
Devil’s Dissonance: You’re right. You have nothing to say. Go take a nap.
Divine Discontent: No naps until you finish this. You clearly had more in your mind than you thought—just look at all you’ve typed thus far! That didn’t come out of a “blank mind”, my dear daughter.
“Who am I to call myself a writer?”
Devil’s Dissonance: That’s right. You can write until you’re blue in the face, and you’ll never make anyone laugh the way you laughed at the books of Georgette Heyer, or write such a witty character as Brother Gregory in “A Vision of Light” (by Judith Merkle Riley), or write as poignantly as Diana Wynne Jones in “Charmed Life”—and while you’re at it, don’t forget the snappy dialogue in “The Three Musketeers”, that puts every dialogue scene you’ve ever written to shame!
Divine Discontent: Is your name Georgette Heyer or Judith Merkle Riley or Diana Wynne Jones or Alexandre Dumas? No, you’re name is Joyce DiPastena and I don’t expect you to write like anyone but yourself. Your talent came from Me, not from The World. Use the talent the best you know how, study, practice, share, and write from your heart. That’s all I ask from any of my writing children. The reason for your talent and who it will touch will be made clear in my own time. Be patient and have faith till then.
“To think that I have anything to offer the world?”
Devil’s Dissonance: You don’t. Give up. Think nap…nap…nap…
Divine Discontent: Re-read my last answer above. And while you’re at it, you might want to notice that you’ve successfully written a blog for Monday. Now don’t you feel better about yourself? (Yes, actually, I do!) Save what you’ve written to post for tomorrow, and then, my dear daughter…yes, you may go take a nap.
CHALLENGE: Then next time you feel inadequate about your writing or anything else, take the Devil’s Dissonance/Divine Discontent test. You might be surprised where you end up!