It was within the last year or so I created some mantras as a reminder to stay focused.
I’ve been struggling with focus recently, so I figured a revisit to my mantras was due.
There are two that deserve mention today.
IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
As I navigate my aging body, and teenagers, and a house that is trying to suffocate me, and various relationship challenges, and the crippling fear and anxiety that inhibits my forward propulsion to do what I know, what I feel, I need to do, I keep letting myself get distracted and, more pertinently, I keep putting myself last. I keep saying when I have x I’ll do y. Or when this happens, I can finally do that.
It doesn’t work that way, I have learned. It, whatever it is, does not come to you. Have have to work for it, plan for it, set goals. Make it happen.
If not now, when?
I’ll tell you when.
Today is as good a day to start as any other day.
YOUR DISCOMFORT DOES NOT INHIBIT MY CREATIVITY.
This mantra is crucial to my mental health. When I first came up with this, and blogged about it here, I got some positive feedback. Seems many people felt/feel the same as me.
We’re all scared. Sometimes, you seek support from IRL people (friends, family) but in my case, although I do have some support, the writing communities I belong to have a deeper, more intrinsic understanding of my struggles. Especially with the creative, writing struggles. I think this is mainly because you are all writers/bloggers and readers, too. None of my family write, or keep a blog (although some should); inevitably, I categorize them differently than I do my blogging peeps. We live in different worlds.
Full disclosure: I have actually come to like it this way. I like that I have a tribe here in WordPress and beyond that is in tune with my written creativity, my writing struggles, and the challenges which I put into words (like some of you do).
It’s about the words, for me. (In case you haven’t noticed.) 😛
Lucky for me, writing and blogging across various platforms has been a positive experience.
You know what? Since I came up with this second mantra, I have done things I wanted to do. I may have been shy/inhibited/scared at the start, but did them anyway, or at least, took steps toward action.
Those would be baby steps. Teeny, tiny baby steps. 🙂
Here are things I learned during that year-long(ish) journey:
The internet may seem like a scary place but it is also an incredible tool for self-learning. I read, and read, and read and I never regret anything I read. The good, the bad, the ugly; it’s all educational.
Letting myself be vulnerable (to a point – no one needs to know everything that goes on about/with me all the time) has been a huge obstacle I have learned to overcome. Vulnerability is crucial (but also scary) for the creative writing process.
Yes, it can open you up to criticism, attack and other unpleasant encounters. That’s the scary part. But I’ve been fortunate as I have managed to attract a mostly diplomatic, polite, honest and very engaging community in this blog, even though there have been some people who have touched a nerve at times. I have learned that diplomacy and sometimes silence (no engagement) helps to placate those who want to stir up trouble, but have not come across much of that here on my platform. I strive to hear the globally diverse voices of all sorts of people who take the time to read, like and especially comment. I have, I think, succeeded with that. (Thank you.)
Overcoming fear of criticism is not a linear process.
It takes a thick skin to put yourself out there, especially if you show your vulnerable side.
In terms of progress on the writing front, I started and accomplished quite a few things since publishing this mantra, some of which I have shared and received feedback on.
Part of that journey has been via a pseudonym which is a chapter on its own (and I blogged about that here, if you’re interested; 40+ people liked this post, and many commented).
Another part of it is that I am putting myself out there more in terms of advertising my creations; I’m not a good self-advocate, but marketing is part of this gig and I have to learn to be more confident, self-assured and positive.
I do all of the above from my living room, bedroom or other nook or cranny without a locked door and surrounded by clutter and family life and…it’s a process. (ugh)
No I do not yet have a She Shed.
Have a look at my summer office; for the most part, I’m left alone out here.
Here are a couple of wonderful quotes that help me stay the course:
Maya Angelou “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” That’s beautiful, isn’t it?
Toni Morrison (1993 Nobel Prize for Literature) says “It is what you don’t write that frequently gives what you do write its power”. Yes, I do believe this. I also believe that reading between the lines is an acquired skill, and some of you are capable of this. 🙂
Thank you for reading. See you in the comments!