What Are Your Reasons? : Remembering Why You Persevere

Maybe it’s the dull day, maybe it’s a lot of other things, but I’ve been feeling pretty down about my writing lately, which led me to go back to my list. I think most of us – no matter what goal we strive for and continue to fight to achieve – sometimes feel like the battle is all up hill for too long, and you’re somewhere near the bottom, stuck in the mud (or maybe that’s just me, who knows). Anyway, what helps – and the advice I’ve seen for most long-term goals whether weight-loss or publication dreams – is to make yourself a list of all the reasons you can’t quit. Or if you like, perhaps it’s a list of why you started on the path to your goal. Whatever the case, it becomes a list of why you can’t quit. If the quest for the same goal continues on for a very long time, I imagine some of the reasons may change, or perhaps no longer apply, but they’re still important.

I thought today – since I was looking at it – I’d share my list, perhaps to inspire you to start one of your own. It’s easier than you think, since I’m only asking for ten reasons to start with (if you want to move up to twenty or fifty, bravo, and keep at it). But for now, let’s start with ten. If you’re in the down-swing of mud-slogging, than it may feel pretty hard coming up with any reasons not to quit. So, here’s how to anyway. Start with the title: Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Quit …. [insert your goal – mine was writing]. Then number the page 1 to 10. Then start filling in each number. Allow yourself the freedom of “stupid” or “obvious” reasons – especially for the first few. Just because they’re obvious doesn’t make them bad, and you can replace them later if you come up with something better. But, just fill in those 10. Okay, get started, I’ll wait ….

Okay, did you do it? Do you have your 10? Sign and date it on the bottom – it’s helpful sometimes to know when you last needed this list, and how current it is. Now either post or put it somewhere you can find and refer to easily. Especially on the hard days. And remember, not every day will be a hard day – there are always better ones ahead. And use your ten reasons to keep you strong, or at least keep you pushing along even on the days you are stuck in the mud at the bottom of the hill.

Here are my ten, completed just as I suggested you do yours.

Ten Reasons I Can’t Quit Writing

 

  1. Writing is a part of me. I wouldn’t feel complete or satisfied without it.
  2. Only those who don’t quit, who persevere, can succeed.
  3. It’s my dream to be published, to have readers other than just a close few.
  4. I want to make money doing what I love.
  5. I want to be an example to my children that you can follow your dreams and passion, and succeed: you don’t have to compromise.
  6. I want to be an example to my children of the merits of patience and perseverance (and that there is reward after all the hard parts.)
  7. I want to tell my stories, and I want my voice to be heard.
  8. I want to prove to myself and to those who have supported me that I can stick it out, I can be true to myself, AND I can succeed – and they can, too.
  9. My stories and my vision are unique, and deserve to be shared and showcased.
  10. I want to be one of the few. The few writers who persevere and succeed; the few people who follow their dreams and inner passion; the few people who don’t sell-out or compromise their lives.

–          S.C. Chalmers, August 14, 2011

What are your goals? What are your reasons? Is there a general theme to them? What does it say about you – I showed you mine, so what about you? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Are You A Control Freak? How to move past the Illusion of Control

I am a control freak. It’s why I don’t like getting drunk, I follow the rules, and I expect others to as well. It’s why I love order and discipline in the world, even while I’d rather sometimes that it was my rules everyone followed. And it is why I have my very own “bwahahahaha” evil villain laugh on the off-chance I become supreme ruler of the world: I’m prepared.

But, I am also a writer and someone who loves the sometimes random, unexpected places creativity can take us. It’s why I love dying silk and hand-painting wool, because despite what our desires may have been, we sometimes get something else entirely, and it is still beautiful, perhaps more so because it is unexpected, unplanned. It’s this same creativity and freedom that I love in my writing (sometimes), when the characters and the plot take you somewhere you hadn’t planned on, but it’s so much better.

That, of course, is the catch: how much do you get to control, and how much should you even try?

The simple answer is that control is a complete illusion. I can control nothing but myself and my own reactions, and sometimes even those seem to have a life of my own. To attempt to control anyone else –  their reactions, their emotions, their actions – this is an illusion that’s going to make us all miserable.

How does this apply to our art? Well, sometimes when we create something, we get caught up in the idea of wanting to convey something so precisely, so perfectly – like the scent of a flower, or the feel of a place – that we want to hammer that exact reaction and emotion we have into our readers or outside viewers. This, of course, is an impossibility, and the sooner we let it go, the better.

Yet again, this comes back to our creation of reality. What I see as a peach rose touched with the blush of pink on the tips of the petals may to someone else appear more orange, or more pink, or perhaps they don’t see the beauty of roses at all because it reminds them of an aunt who they always despised. The laugh we hear in our heads, the way some things constrict our chest with fear, these are out of our own experiences, our own memories, our own selves: no one else will ever, nor can ever, experience or see them quite the same.

So where does that leave a control freak like me, and perhaps you?

Recognize the limits of your control, and let the rest go (yes, even if it’s really, really hard). Describe how it felt to you, how it sounds to you, and be as specific and clear as you can be without going overboard, and let it be, knowing that everyone else will understand it, hear it, feel it in their own way. Give them the freedom to do so, rather than trying to force anything onto them: after all, would you want to be controlled by someone else, be subjected to the discomfort of confinement? Of course not.

Practice your “bwahahahaha’s,” control the exact degree of temperature in your house, and the way the tablecloth lays on the tablecloth, but as to controlling people, just let it go. Everyone has a unique and precious perspective, and even a control freak wouldn’t want to squash that, would they?

So, are you a control freak? What areas of your life must you exact control, and in which do you value freedom and randomness? Do comment below.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Is Resistance to Change Standing in Your Way?

I’ve been thinking about the idea that we are all responsible for our own experience and creation of reality again. (For a previous blog outlining the principles, please see: It’s All in the Perspective.) It led me to start considering how, for the most part, we all fear change to lesser or greater degrees. And the fact is, change is hard. It’s much easier to stick with something you’re familiar with, to what you know is tried and true, to follow the same path you’ve already broken that’s so familiar you could keep walking with your eyes closed.

The catch is, resisting change for too long creates stagnation. The same way the water in a bucket sitting on the deck all summer will eventually get green and slimy, so too do our minds and lives when we continue to resist change – especially when it means saying goodbye to opportunity.

I’ve always thought it was a silly idea that anyone could be afraid of success, until you realize that promotion can actually be very bad for your health in terms of the stress it creates in your life (here’s a link from the Daily Mail UK: “Promotion at work can increase stress and be bad for your health” – or try searching “job promotion” and “stress” for lots of others). Because while promotion is generally seen as a great thing (probably more money, high status position, progress in your career, etc), it also means leaping off of the path you’ve known and been familiar with for so long, out of your current position, and venturing somewhere you haven’t been before. You may wonder if you actually deserve the promotion, if you really wanted it, if you can handle it, if it’s worth it, etc, etc.

Here’s where creating your own reality becomes really important: It’s up to YOU to decide if promotion or any change is a good or bad thing.

Sounds simple, huh, when you’re not sweating over imminent potential change and all it’s ramifications? If you haven’t considered it before – or if you’d much rather brood and stay gloomy and Eeyore like – than it will be exceptionally hard. However, if you look at it and realize that what you have before you is an opportunity, than things start to look brighter.

I will use – particularly as it’s foremost in my mind right now – my husband’s situation. He’s received what is essentially a promotion, but it means he’ll be leaving a job he does very well and has done for 9+ years for something similar in the same company, but which not only has he never done, but which is a new expansion for the company. The company vehicle will be gone, and he faces having to go in to negotiate for some time of pay adjustment, including what the equivalency will be for a new vehicle. The stress of starting this new position, having to buy an new car, leaving what he’s familiar with, he’s about ready to toss the whole thing.

But, it’s all in the perspective.

Instead, he has the opportunity to do something new – which is what he’s been looking for, so he will no longer be bored in his current position. He gets to buy a new car. There’s a good chance of more money. He’s helping to create a new position, which means he doesn’t have to fill anyone else’s shoes. This is a stepping stone for further advancement, and an opportunity for the company to see how he works and the quality of his work up close, since he’s usually in the field.

All right. Long story short, my point is this: change is hard – I’ll be the first to admit I’m usually quite resistant to it, and massive change takes time to adjust to – it’s taken me over a year to finally be used to the idea that I’m a mom. BUT, as humans we need change in our lives, and change is the only way we’ll ever be able to keep moving forward to reach our dreams.

So remember: it’s all in the perspective. Change can be a fantastic opportunity and a stepping stone to further success, so long as you recognize it as such. Look for the positive side, and try not to get bogged down in the fear and uncertainty that is, quite frankly, easier. Every change is an opportunity to grow, to change, and to make sure you don’t go stagnant with slime growing over you. 🙂

Have a great week, and thanks for reading.

Perseverance or Tenacity: Keep on Pushing

This morning I read a blog post that I wanted to share because I think it’s something we all need to consider, especially if trying to succeed in an industry like publishing, or the arts, or … well really, if you want to succeed at anything, accomplish a particular dream, I don’t suppose it matters what industry you’re in.

Anyway, the blog post is: Taking Perseverance to a Whole New Level by Lara Schiffbauer

For me, it arrived at a fortunate time since it’s the end of the month, and in my accidental-wasn’t-planning-to-make-them goals for 2012, I’m trying to stick to sending out at least 3 queries a month, which usually means it falls on the last Monday or Wednesday of the month. Anyway, sending out things like queries can seem a very daunting task, since it always seems to take far more time than you anticipate, and there is that fear that it won’t get the result you desire anyway.

So, onto the blog post by Lara Shiffbauer. Go read her post first, then come back … okay, did you read it? Did you come back?

Anyway, she talks about the big-brother to perseverance, or at the very least, another close relative: tenacity. This being that you stick to what you’re doing without doubting the principle / reasons why you’re sticking with it. It means you can’t second-guess the quality of your work, the potential for failure (or success), all the insidious kinds of “what-ifs” that can assail us. And as I mentioned before, while “what if” can be a terrific friend when we’re working on a piece of fiction, it’s a dark and wily foe if you bring it into real life (you know, the same kind of thing that makes you wonder the horrible reasons your spouse is late, when really, they’re just picking up milk? Yep, that’s Mr. Not-so-nice What-if.)

Really, if you consider it, the questioning of our style of writing, the quality, the marketability, our potential for success, etc, etc, etc, while we do need to assess this at least a little I think, too much assessment (that becomes obsession or brooding), will quickly become the enemy of perseverance. Afterall, what’s the point continuing to fight onward if you’re just going to fail anyway?

Because you can’t succeed if you give up.

When I gloomily suggest all queries will result in rejections (uhoh – getting into superlative and unhelpful description  like “always” and “never” isn’t good), he’s quick to point out that they certainly can’t say yes if they didn’t get a query.

So, how do you need to keep on pushing? How could blind tenacity help you where perseverance might fail? What kind of queries or cold-calls do you have to make to make sure someone on the other end can say yes?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.