We live in a world of outsourcing. Have a kid and a job? Outsource that to daycare. Hate taking care of your email? Outsource that to a personal assistant. Can’t remember to eat? Outsource to your phone alarm. Don’t know how to deal with the physical presence of people? Outsource your social life to social media!
How often have you outsourced your inner strength?
No, really, how often?
Does this sound familiar? I need more support from other writers and from my family members to write.
Those non-writers reading, trade out the word for your dream of choice, and read on.
If the above statement sounds like you, you’ve outsourced your inner strength. So what do you do about it? How do you reclaim your strength, your motivation, your pride in your craft?
I don’t have all the answers, but the first one that comes to mind: Remember you’re a unicorn. Plan accordingly.
How To Unicorn
Ah, the successful author. He whiles away the hours at a coffee shop in Europe, sipping designer tea and craft beer at his leisure. Oh, I’m sorry, THAT would be a hipster.
The successful author works their tail off, and usually loses their mind to depression, anxiety, and a host of other ailments, and forget sipping the champagne. I’ll take three shots of the hard stuff and the bottle to go!
I’m sorry, that was Picasso. Or was it Stephen King? Anyway…what does this have to do with unicorns?
Emotionally and physically healthy authors are like unicorns. Both exist only to those who have already seen them.
Fortunately for you, your bathroom probably has a mirror. Go look in it. You’ve now met the unicorn author.
It’s no secret that authors, along with other artistic career folk, tend towards the darker banes of life. Mental illness, addiction, etc. Mostly because we spend a lot of time on the side of the mind that everyone tells us either doesn’t exist or only matters until we’re about six when it stops being cute. You know, the imagination?
Those messages take a heavy toll. I have good news, though.
Losing that battle is not a requirement. In fact, if indeed you find yourself there, it gives you a much better handle on the world you want to create. At least it did for me. So what’s the moral?
Stop Outsourcing Your Strength
Go read the first paragraph again. Think of anything that once required human mental effort that now uses a computer. Do you outsource it for yourself? Keeping track of your day. Remembering to eat. Not getting too caught up in TV To check your email.
I’d bet you even outsource your own strength.
I know I did.
I clung to others’ views of me, of my writing, of my success. I craved recognition for even the tiniest accomplishment. A part of me still does. Part of me is quite needy. I’ll admit it. Just don’t tell anyone.
Really, though, I’ve been in at least a few online writers’ groups, and I’ve noticed one common trend among those who cling to “support” from others. Often, the support they seek isn’t truly support, it’s recognition. It’s a pat on the back and a Great Job! sticker.
Again, I once did the same.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. If you want to keep your mental health AND make it as an author, you need grit. I’ll delve into just what GRIT means in another post. In the meantime, you need the inner strength and fortitude to keep pressing through not having support. Because sometimes, you build a fantastic network…
Only to lose all contact with them the second the internet goes down.
So what do you do?
Build Your Inner Fortress
There’s a Helm’s Deep somewhere in your mind. And it’s likely buried under a bunch of digital noise pretending at productivity. Here’s a weekend challenge. Or your next day off.
Get up in the morning. Turn OFF your phone. Unplug your Wi-Fi router. Turn off all electronics. Television, desktop, laptops, tablets, YES even your Kindle! Go to an ATM. Pull out some cash. $20 should be fine.
Now, walk around your town.
Then come back and tell me in the comments how long it took you to panic before you ran back inside for your phone.