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? 🙂
10 thoughts to “The Power”
Renee, what a perfect article. I love your honesty and I can relate to many of the above points. It is so refreshing to hear your thoughts on life and writing. I as always wish you the best in not only writing, but in life.
Well done on another great blog article.
Thank you for such an encouraging response to my article. I learn most about myself when I read others’ experiences that I can relate to. It is heartwarming to know my shared experiences have relevance.
You’re a wonderful soul.
Brilliant article. I also struggle with the same thoughts, then have to pull myself to realise I’m only human and there are a gazillion other things that are demanding my time.
Hugs for the struggles, and I wish you all the best.
How true this is, Melissa. We are only human. I think at our most difficult times, it’s easy to forget this. We certainly need to be kinder to ourselves.
Thank you for your support and kindness. All the best to you, too! 🙂 x
Renee, your article is far more relevant that you will probably ever know. I’m right in the middle of a personal crisis that revealed itself back in the middle of November last year. I feel as though some days I’ll never achieve my goals with writing and art and then there are these delicious moments that present, and once again I begin to fly. You are right, it is interesting how we put so much pressure on ourselves…writing can wait, it must in order to have our truly best from head to paper. What I find interesting also, is how writing can actually help you through the crisis and in some ways relieve the pressure. But that’s a different kind of writing. Journalling is very healing…maybe nobody else will ever read it, or perhaps that is the next best seller, who knows. My picture book ‘Incredible Intimidation’ was a concept I had before I was stopped in my tracks back in 2012 where I took time out and wrote almost everyday at an old church that I used to attend years before. At the end of 7 months journalling, I was able to go back to the picture book and complete it…interestingly enough, the book is about my healing journey…I had to be healed before I could complete it. In the concept stage…I didn’t know this.
Well done in all your achievements Renee – you are incredible!
Thank you for such kind and uplifting words, Annie. I’m sorry to hear of your struggles. I too, find writing a healing concept at times. I used to write daily in a journal (I have about three filled and keep them tucked away if I need to call on them). Thank you for sharing such a moving part of your personal and writing journey.
All the best Annie, and thank you again. YOU are incredible! 🙂 x
Oh, lovely Renee, you are such a kindred spirit as Anne Shirley would say. I shed a little tear reading this. I know the struggles you mention, and I push myself to try to make creative deadlines but I often wonder why I even bother. The dark side tells me I will never make anything of it, so why even try. I write because it gives me solace. I write because I have a desire to have stories that will engage children and encourage them to view the world differently. As a fellow writer on this journey, you have so often brought joy to my heart through your honesty and willingness to share. Never give up dear one. Gigi has been looking for your book on her bookshelf for weeks, and she finally found it amongst the enormous pile. She was so excited, so I thought I would share that with you. You rock girly.
My goodness, Julie. Your message has made my week… My month, even! I am so thankful to have ‘met’ you on this journey, and share our joys and struggles. I admire you, your work ethic and your incredible talent and zest for the indie industry. It’s creators like you that keep me going in this crazy game. Thank you for your support, always. And tell Gigi she is delightful! 🙂 Happy reading… and writing! Xx
Thanks for your honesty in this insightful post, Renee. Now so many of us are connected via social media it is all too easy to get caught up in thinking the writing must progress regardless of what’s happening in our lives and measure our achievements against those of other writers. Sometimes what we need is time to refresh, rejuvenate or recover. The creative well won’t run dry if we don’t dip into it every day. Listen to your body, your heart and your soul. You will know what you need at any given time. Sending you best wishes. Be kind to yourself. Always. The rest will follow.
Thank you, Teena, for such a kind and encouraging message.
We certainly do need to be kind to ourselves and take time to stop for breath when we are running low.
Such lovely words. Thank you x