I've been on a downward spiral recently, which is what inspired this post. When my personal life takes a dive or when I'm hurting, it's hard to bring my heart to my work. All I see are walls of doubt.
"No one is interested in my work."
"No one knows who I am."
"No one would notice if I wasn't here."
These statements aren't true. They're lies we tell to protect ourselves from rejection. The business of writing is the business of rejection. Know that. Validation and acceptance are things that we have to give to ourselves.
Visualization of imaginary scenarios perpetuate this suffering. Editors laughing at your submission, throwing it in the garbage or tearing it up. This is like living in a nightmare. Don't do this to yourself. Release these thoughts. Wouldn't you be happier without this false story you're telling yourself? Find that peace and the warmth that it brings. Then get back to work.
The truth is, even the people we look up to - professionals in whatever industry you're striving toward - have doubts and demons. Having a successful book mounts the pressure of the follow up. Or maybe a tighter deadline. Or a bigger deal falls through. There will always be another hill to climb. Happiness is in the journey, not the destination.
I've had multiple deals fall through and yeah, it sucks. It hurts more because my excitement got the best of me and I was shouting from the rooftops. I learned some valuable lessons and took some hard falls. But then, that's the game. That's the nature of this business.
Unfulfilled dreams can take a toll on you, with the potential to escalate year after year if you let them.
That cost can be emotional, spiritual, financial and, in some cases, physical. Pressure builds over time. Frustration breeds depression, illness, a sense of hopelessness and if you're investing your own money into your endeavors, funding is a factor too.
The tighter your grip on the things that are beyond your control, the deeper and further you can fall, but it doesn't have to be this way.
So what can you do?
Don't strangle your dreams. Let them be and do the work you love to do. You can't control it, so stop trying. Be the amazing person you are. Focus there.
DO YOUR WORK FOR YOU
If you're writing for fame or money, you're doing it wrong. Writing is hard. You either love it or you don't. If you do your work for you, you're elevating yourself.
Be what you want to be FOR YOURSELF. You are your writing and your writing is you. Being gentle with yourself is being good to your writing. If that means giving yourself a break or some space, do it without judgement. There are no mistakes here. If you're telling yourself lies that make you want to stop or give up, look at them as ask - "Is that really 100% true?" Examine that fear and find the root of it. Get clear on where it's coming from and you'll see it disappear.
Peace comes from within us. No editor or studio executive can grant you that. We all have to start somewhere. We should all be starting within ourselves.
Take care of yourself and get back to work.