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IWSG Post 21: The Human Flicker of Doubt

 

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[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner.

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

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  • I really wish I never screwed up.
  • I really wish my every last word and sentence I typed was exactly right on.
    • No typos. No forgotten punctuation, and every word flowed smoothly with purpose.
  • Why can’t my first draft be perfect? It’s perfect in my thoughts, right?
  • And why can’t I act the way I really want to act?

Every time I finish something I write, I want to believe inside it’s really great. After all, stories are alive inside of us, and why can’t we get it out perfectly the way we really want and mean to do the first time?

I just told my kids the other day no one is perfect, and we must forgive and admit we screw up and say sorry. Emotion is a tricky thing though, and in answer to this month’s IWSG question, “Did you ever say ‘I quit?’ If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?”

My answer is never on purpose. My philosophy is to try and to keep trying until the sport, the class, the project is over. Reflect. Think about what works and what didn’t. Ask others to help. But the honest heart felt thought should be, if you loved it, if you liked it, then I encourage continued steps. True, at one point in high school I walked away from writing. I think my own emotional chaos erupted and my thoughts shifted to graduation, college, and how to prepare myself for the real world. I walked away from me then, too, and always felt something was missing.

But I’m back, and I wake up every day with stories and words in my head. I can’t always write every day, but I know I will try as hard as I can the next time, the next day because there is always a next day.

Victoria Schwab, author of A Darker Shade of Magic, made a video about writing and how difficult it is to finish something and submit it to the world to analyze and decide whether it’s fit to print or not. Waiting is the worse step and a very emotional piece in anything we do. We practice. We perform. Then we wait for the evaluation. Yes, my head goes back and forth with whether my stories are good enough. One day I say, ‘of course it is.’ The next day, I find human doubt poking at me, and I say, ‘what were you thinking?’ According to Victoria Schwab though, writers never stop. The best way to get through human doubt is to create something new, and keep writing.

Question: Do you have words of advice you follow? What keeps your own fire burning past the doubt?

 

Monday Motivation: Four Tips to Stop the Downward Memory Spiral

believe-in-youMonday Motivation posts are monthly inspired moments from my life where I’ve learned something about me and hope to maybe help or inspire you in some way too.

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This past Saturday I stood on my yoga mat in the middle of a PIYO class at my community gym. It’s a new start for me after three years away from exercise classes to finally get back out, meet and connect with people on a weekly basis. Half way through class at the end of a series of poses, which are all coordinated to specific songs, I took a drink of water and waited for the new series to begin. The song Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson started to play. I sat my water bottle down against the wall as all sorts of feelings swelled in my heart. I remembered sighing out-loud, swept away with the soft piano, her gentle voice, her words tugging at my own memories of loss and disappointments. I wasn’t paying attention to the instructor any longer caught in a fast downward memory spiral.

No, I remembered thinking. I’m in yoga class. This is a new year. I don’t want to focus on what went wrong, but what I can do right now to feel right.

I did something funny then. I started to sing along to the lyrics. I focused on the teacher and pushed myself in each pose in the series, stretching farther, bending lower and it did in fact break that downward memory spiral. The song changed. I saw hope in the lyrics, and let go of the hurts.

Today, I’m thinking about motivation and what steps we might take when we choose to make positive changes in our lives to live our dreams. Our thoughts are powerful. They can derail us at the strangest moment, such as my own personal example in a PIYO class.

So what do you do to stop it?

I see potential for success in four tips I use:

First, recognize the moment at hand. How we’re feeling, what’s happening, and is it the way we really want to feel?

Next, a choice must be made. What is it we truly want and hope to achieve? Do we need to grieve, or have we focused on the grief enough and wish to switch focus to what we deserve. Happiness.

For me, I admit, I do my fair share of holding rough conversations in my mind often cursing people who have hurt me. You know, those perfect phrases where you know exactly what you want to say this time. It’s throat cutting. But then I realize, I’d never air these thoughts. Conversations are a two-way form of dialogue and I’m pretty sure, what’s flown through my head is one way. My vengeance. It’s not what I would really want to achieve at all moving forward.

Next step, Action. For me, some form of a diversion works best to break that sad memory string. We can switch the environment. Change the song when possible. Figure out a way to see the positive power instead of the darker side. Maybe it’s as simple as breaking out in a dance instead of sweeping or mopping the floor. The key point is to change the string of thought and generate a new emotion or moment when you need it the most.

Lastly, when you feel down, write out some goals, some sort of forward thinking or plan to help you do something great for you. Recently I was asked to reflect over my own personal writing objectives for where I want to be as a writer in 5-years.

You’ll find this post here, with the specific goals and steps I’m currently following each week. I planned the year out. I planned the next five. And you know what? This forward thinking helped me break my own negative cycle. I’m moving again in the direction I really want and need to go. I’m fueling my motivation by doing what I said I would do. Plus, I have a great writing friend Becky who steps up to help. A great partner Dave, who lends me a creative ear and helps me brainstorm scenes. And yes, my writing and blogging groups have cheered me on. Thank you all.

My successes thus far?

I completed my first online writer’s workshop in December. I’ve committed to facilitating a young writers workshop on the topic of diversity in May. I’m attending another writer’s workshop at a real live event at the end of March, so my goals have shifted, moving up a bit, since I’ll have to pitch my manuscript and see if I still have what it takes. Lastly, my goal to get published is actually happening again. Look for my next short story coming out in the Spring. I wrote it in remembrance of my grandmother, and all the things I loved about visiting her in my summers as a kid in a rural Kansas town. It’s a fairy tale. I always add a bit of magical sparkle and hope.

My Tips in a Nutshell:

  • Recognize the moment.
  • Make a choice in how you want to feel.
  • Divert your mind and body with something that makes you feel good.
  • Finally, Set goals. Break them down in doable steps. Find a partner to hold you accountable. Plug the dates and times into your phone calendar. Then check them off as you do them.

Am I missing anything? Do you have a tip on motivation to help you get started?

I’d love to hear it. Happy Monday, all.

~Erika