Just about everyone I know is racing full speed ahead, myself included. Many of us fall into the trap of taking ourselves too seriously, and when life hits those ever-present road-bumps and fails to meet our expectations, we get stressed and cranky. Not only does that make life unpleasant for us and anyone unfortunate enough to be around us at the time, tension and anger usually serves to block access to the creative side of the mind. When trying to write, this kills productivity, which results in our becoming more stressed, and leads to a downward spiral that usually ends with any pages we’ve managed to write in that state having to be thrown away.
It’s time to lighten up.
Dr. Richard Carlson, in his best-selling book Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, said, “People are frustrated and uptight about virtually everything – being five minutes late, having someone else show up five minutes late, being stuck in traffic, witnessing someone look at us wrong or say the wrong thing, paying bills, waiting in line, overcooking a meal, making an honest mistake – you name it, we all lose perspective over it.
The root of being uptight is our unwillingness to accept life as being different, in any way, from our expectations.”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Sure, life is busy and there’s a lot to do. As authors it’s far too easy to think about all the pages we haven’t written, or to curse the fickle muse who led us astray, resulting in yet another draft.
But that’s no fun.
I’ve decided to focus on the other side of the coin. When I get in ‘the zone’, focused on nothing but the story as words fill the page as fast as I can type, all those worries float away. Those moments can be magical, and productivity soars. So despite the fact that I’ve been writing for seven years with nothing yet published, I choose to focus instead on the skills and mastery of craft I’ve developed that I didn’t even know I needed to know when I started down this road. I now have three viable manuscripts in various stages of editing, with clear goals to work them to completion. It’s been a long, difficult road to get this far, but it’s also been a wonder-filled journey I am deeply grateful I experienced.
Like Dr. Carlson says in his book, if we can learn flexibility and stop trying to control things we cannot control, we can evolve from battling life to dancing with it. Challenges will come, unforseen edits will be required, life will throw unexpected curves in our path. It’s going to happen anyway, and we already know we can’t control it. All we can control is our reaction.
I’ve decided to dance more and fight less.