If you’re a writer, you’ve heard it before – and you’ll hear it over, and over, and over again. The Write Life is frustrating, sometimes depressing, and not a career path any sane person would choose. That’s how you know you’re a writer – you don’t choose this life, it chooses you.
But that doesn’t make it easy, and the worries and fears of failure tend to build up inside until the dam breaks. It happened to me last week. But there are steps that can be taken to keep your head above water – sometimes as simple as reminding yourself to breathe. (Wow, see what I did with that extended metaphor?) Here are my tips for reclaiming confidence and peace of mind:
1) Get a pet. Owning animals, particularly the furry kind, has been shown to reduce stress. I recommend dogs because they’ll sit by your side and just lend you their support, as long as they’re getting belly rubs. If you can’t have pets of your own, I suggest volunteering with an animal rescue group. I have two dogs and still volunteer with the Westside German Shepherd Rescue for the added endorphin rush. I spent Tuesday night at the mall with two shepherd/lab puppies outside Santa’s Workshop for “Santa Paws” night, and believe me, it helped.
2) Make lists. Whether it’s a mental one or one you actually write down, keep your past accomplishments in mind when facing a fresh rejection. Also take stock of the ways in which you might be more fortunate than others. This won’t always help – sometimes, you just need to feel sorry for yourself before you can move on – but a little perspective is usually a good thing.
3) Create something. Call it procrastination, call it art therapy. Sometimes, when the words aren’t flowing, bringing something into the world is the kick in the pants you need. Make ornaments for the tree. Design a scrapbook. Bake cupcakes (and then send some my way.)
4) Watch a comfort movie. We all have one. For my friend Rod, it’s a little film called Shelter. For me, it’s Die Hard. Dive into your DVD collection and pull out the one flick that makes you feel like burrowing into a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate. Then watch it as you do those things.
5) Call a friend. Sometimes, in this day of futuristic technology (we have arrived, people) we forget that we can pick up a telephone, dial a few numbers, and connect with an acquaintance. Of course, sometimes the phone goes straight to voicemail, so it’s not a perfect plan, but talking to someone in real time with your actual voice can be more comforting than it seems.