How do you write through personal hardship? How do you stay motivated? Focused? Hopeful? Passionate? Creative?
If there’s one thing I’ve discovered as a writer, it’s the ‘power-through’ attitude. From the personal and professional goals of daily writing and coming up with new and inventive story ideas, to editing, meeting deadlines, marketing and promotion, and business administration. In a field where so much of your soul is required to function professionally, how do you overcome or ‘power-through’ when your soul is struggling, personally?
Within the past four months, life has thrown a few curve balls. My family has endured employment redundancy, and subsequent financial strain, ill physical and mental health, surgery, our firstborn starting school, as well as all the day-to-day happenings of running a household. These circumstances have been overwhelming, and certainly tested our emotional strength at times. So, how do I pick myself up, brush off, and continue my career as a creator in spite of it all? How do I lose myself in alternate reality to pen the next best-selling children’s book, or delve into the cockles and discover the winning piece for my local Writers’ Centre competition or sell my ‘brand’ to schools, proving to them that their decision to have me present for their students, is the best decision they will ever make in the history of picture book existence?
Up until about a week ago, I didn’t have answers to these questions. The unknown, indecisiveness, doubt, self-pressure and negativity was eating at me. My ‘to-do’ list quite rapidly grew into a ‘to-do’ novel (ooh, great! Maybe I could pitch it!). I became bitter, envious of those that ‘seemed’ to have it together (even though I know they’re struggling in their own way, as we all do!). I was ready to throw it all in. A great, big ball of fun, was me!
But one night, sitting alone in my many thoughts, I realised… I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to write the next bestseller or win the competition or drown myself in school visits to become Ms In-Demand-Presenter. I have to survive, and be realistic in what I set out to achieve each day. If there’s too much self-pressure to succeed all. the. time., I will buckle, and that will be no good to anyone.
So… some days, if I’m feeling fragile or overwhelmed with what life is throwing at me, I don’t write. I know I will again one day, but at that particular time, it’s healthier if I don’t. The Writer Gods will certainly not reign down and curse me for my lack of dedication. And I’m sure I won’t forget how to write if I miss a few days, but I will forget how to function if I continue ignoring the personal signs in order to ‘power-through’ professionally.
And that competition deadline? Who is it affecting if I miss it because I’d rather be out enjoying my kids and family? That’s right… no one. There will always be more writing comps… always.
And the schools? Well, last I heard, schools have been around for a gazillion years so a few more weeks without knowing of the great and wonderful presenter, yet to grace their library, isn’t going to result in their close of business. They’ll still be there after I’ve had time to properly and enthusiastically prepare for visits, rather than stressing-to-the-point-of-balding to get my act together just to ‘power-through’.
As creators, we all want to achieve. The level or type of achievement may vary, but this is our end-goal. We have to realise though, at times, when life is tricky (and we all know this happens more often than not these days), it is an achievement just to exist. To be as is, in that moment, and nothing more. If we do this, and place less pressure on ourselves to ‘power-through’ for that ‘If I don’t do this, I’ll never be a real writer’ deadline, we are allowing ourselves the opportunity to rejuvenate, recharge and reassess. And we’ll be all the better for it.
Do you have The Power? 🙂