You’d have to be a fool not to recognize that life is full of ups and downs – it’s so well-known, it’s practically cliché. Writing is the same way. Sometimes you’re hot, following your muse, an idea, whatever it is and writing up a storm. And other times, well, those other times you wonder if you’re just a hack, a pretender, you were a fool to ever think you could write, etc, etc.
Just like the rest of life, the ups and downs of writing are an emotional rollercoaster that leads you where it will, how it will. It’s up to you to find ways to deal with the down portions, and not give up. Something I find useful are personal cheerleaders.
Who are these people? They can be a lot of people, but in a truly low point, they’re your heroes who provide perspective, cheer, and hope. Think about when you were at a low point in life. How did you get out of it? Who was there? Who did you turn to for comfort? Maybe it’s your mom. Maybe it’s a friend or spouse. They are your personal cheerleader. Use them to help you feel better – they’ll want to help!
I have a very dear friend who isn’t a writer, and in many ways has a very different life than me. It’s been some time since she even looked at my writing, and she currently lives over a 1000km away. But she’s always there to lend a kind word, to offer suggestions I might not have thought of, or simply commiserate whether via email or phone. A conversation with her always makes me feel energized and more alive somehow, and I always hope in some small way I can return the favor.
Can’t think of a cheerleader of your own? I’m sure you do have your own cheer squad, you only need to recognize them. Or, even if you have a veritable platoon, it never hurts to store up resources. So, where can you find your very own cheerleaders?
- Look close to home first. Literally or figuratively, what I mean is look for those who cheer you up whenever you’re down anyway. Again, this may be family or friends. They may be identified by the fact that just talking to them energizes you or can make your day.
- Look a bit further out. Maybe there’s someone you don’t contact frequently, possibly an acquaintance or co-worker, but like the familial cheerleaders, this person makes you feel good when you talk to them. Maybe you should think about recruiting them, or just making time for coffee and a chat, even an email.
- Look professionally. Especially for writers, this may be someone who you’re in contact with professionally who helps provide perspective. Maybe it’s not just your work that’s slow in selling, but the market. If there are problems, how can they be solved, and what directions should you look to? Instead of pointless negativity, get to work with constructive criticism.
- Look to your elders. Perspective often helps us all, and who better to provide it than someone who’s been there, done that. For writers, this may not necessarily be someone who’s older than you in years, but merely in experience of the market. Chances are good they – or someone they know – has been where you are, and they can help provide perspective about what’s really worth worrying about, and what’s just a typical writer mini-meltdown.
- Look abroad. Finally, look a bit further abroad for cheerleaders. The internet has made this much easier for many of us – especially those who aren’t in major urban centers. Find like-minded folks or join writers groups online, especially those with a on focus encouragement and positivity. Sometimes a quick post to them gets floods of positive energy back, even from hundreds of miles away.
So, found your cheerleader yet? Keep looking until you do – these folks are priceless. Please, tell me about your cheerleader, how you found them, or why you need to keep looking.