by Edie Melson
The writing life isn’t an easy one. It’s one filled with joy, but also has its painful side. With any lifestyle that requires the courage to follow a dream, there are frequent roadblocks and obstacles.
Many of these are imposed from others. Just announce that you’re following your heart and people seem to come out of the woodwork to tell you why it can’t-and/or shouldn’t-be done. In addition to the naysayers, we can also be responsible for causing our own stumbling blocks.
Today I want to focus on the things we can do-promises we can make to ourselves-that will make things easier.
I Promise . . .
1. I will not hold the past against me. Just like the rest of our lives, our writing journeys will be fraught with poor decisions and missed opportunities. Those usually aren’t things we can go back and change. Instead we need to learn from the past, but not choose to dwell there.
2. I will speak gently and kindly to myself. I don’t know about you, but I’m often my worst critic. I’m the first one to say things I’d never accept from someone else. I’ve been known to berate myself internally with thoughts of:
• I’ll never be able to succeed, I should just give up.
• I’m a horrible writer, no one wants to read what I write.
• Everything I write is bad.
3. I will spend some time every week writing something I WANT to write. As we progress in our careers (and sometimes even before) we get caught up in deadlines and commitments. It’s important to always keep the joy of writing somewhere in our lives.
4. I will let go of relationships that keep me from following my dream. This may mean letting go of a vicious critique group, or distancing yourself from a friend who discourages you from writing, or even backing away from someone who takes up too much of your writing time. I’m NOT talking about abandoning people we love (certainly not children and spouses) but about those other relationships that can suck us dry and leave us with little or no energy to write.
5. I will celebrate all the victories-large and small-on my writing journey. All too often we think something is too small to celebrate. Trust me, there’s nothing too small to celebrate. Give yourself a break and take joy in what you’ve accomplished.
6. I will stop comparing my journey to someone else’s. It’s just not possible to win the comparison game. There’s always someone who’s done it better, had it easier, and been more of what you want to become. Your journey and more importantly, your purpose is unique. Quit trying to be someone else. Be yourself and be proud of it.
7. I will reach back and help someone else. Nobody succeeds in a writing vacuum. There are people who have helped you (and are probably helping you now). No matter where you are-rank amateur to seasoned veteran-there’s someone behind you who needs a hand up.
8. I will anticipate the future, but live in the moment. Dream and dream big, but realize you must do the work now to fulfill that dream. Small, deliberate steps today will help propel you into living your dream.
9. I will remember that God created me to be a blessing and to be blessed. Our creator doesn’t want us to live in defeat. He wants us to fulfill the dreams He placed in our hearts.
10. I will not give in to the fear. We writers are a fearful, insecure lot. But that fact does NOT have to define our lives. We can choose to live a life or courage.
These are the things I try to remember and the promises I’ve made myself. I’d love to know what you’d add to the list.
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts.Com, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.