Let’s face it: Drama is addictive.
Unfortunately, it does very little for our personal life or our writing life. Naturally, humans love gossip — they love to hear about the lives, and pains, and struggles of others. They enjoy it through their favorite television series and even more so between friends and coworkers.
Misery loves company, and you must be careful of that.
The truth is, it’s so easy to spend all this energy being miserable. It’s easy to sulk. It’s easy to complain. But, it’s still energy you’re wasting — energy that could be redirected towards something more productive like writing or healing. Or both, simultaneously.
Have you ever tried writing when miserable? It’s hard work. Impossible even.
I think what most of us don’t realize is that our dramas become big because we feed them — they’re often not big by default. They’re big because we allow it to consume us in a big way. Deflate your misery by talking about it less. Don’t invite others to fuel the flame. Change your focus. Consider that we can completely toss days or weeks of progress out the window by making a small inconvenience a big one. We begin fixating on how hard this issue is making our lives and it consumes us — every waking hour, and before you know it, we’ve fallen off track and lost our rhythm.
This is especially true for my writing life. It doesn’t take much for me to lose my momentum.
A small inconvenience turned big drama can make me stop writing for weeks, months, even years, really, if it’s substantial enough. And, all of this happens because I am not conscious of how much I am letting outside forces dictate my life. This is not to say that our problems are not valid because they are, but what much does that matter if we do little to help ourselves?
And, the truth is, this is not anyone’s fault but our own.
Don’t get sucked into other people’s problems, but also, do not blame them for having problems. Similarly, don’t get sucked into your own problems, but also, do not blame yourself for having them.
The problem is never nearly as important as the reaction or attitude towards it. We all have problems, but what are you going to do about it? That’s what really matters. Assuming you even need to solve it. Because sometimes we sign up for a battle that isn’t even ours.
Keeping calm in the midst of chaos is the ticket to a long and serious writing relationship. That is how we build discipline — by working when we don’t want to. As writers, we improve drastically by continuing our practice when life throws us a curve ball.
I like to compare the writer’s life to athletes in training.
Being miserable is exhausting. Writing requires your best self — your rested and focused self. The same can be said for any sport or activity. Writing is hard work, and I think admitting this fact is a step in the right direction. Knowing and accepting that writing is hard helps us understand that we can’t do it unless we’ve fully prepared our minds and bodies for it. We have to be ready to write, and being ready to write often means we need to take care of ourselves first.
Writing is the most demanding work I do, and I try to do it daily.
However, I know that for me to be able to do it daily, I have to eat 3 square meals, I have to be active, I have to prioritize my mental and physical health. At the end of the day, I find that this life — the writer’s life, is simply a healthy life. It helps to surround yourself with those who not only want to watch you succeed but also want to succeed themselves.
Again, this is why I say the writer’s life is much like the life of an athlete.
You must train like an athlete does. There is no doubt about it. Heck, you don’t have to be great. You don’t even have to be good. It doesn’t take a superstar to run a marathon, but you do have to train. And, rest. But, most of all, you have to conquer your head.
And, yes, this will make you unpopular. Why? Because putting yourself first in such a way requires a level of selfishness. You will ask others to step up to the plate and be better. You will also say no. A lot.
But, that’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to write a novel or compete in a marathon. Your training must come first — you can’t miss a day, or a week, especially not a month. Not if you want to reach the finish line. Protecting your writing schedule requires you to detach from everything else in your life, especially the drama, but before you can do that, you must believe writing can and will save your life.