Woman on a Journey | Writing

When You Need a Pep Talk

writing pep talk

I’ve been working on becoming a published writer for a long time. It can be discouraging. Sometimes (a lot of times) I need a pep talk when I feel like giving up. Periodically, I also spend time assessing what is getting in my way. I came up with five problem areas to fix. Maybe you have something similar going on in your life…

1.) Commitments Interfering With Priorities

Looking back on my journal, I see that I committed to focusing on watercolor painting in September. Have I done even one watercolor this month? No, I have not. My artwork instead consists of coffee cups, cookies, and dogs. I have to admit that’s a pretty good lineup…

Crossing watercolor painting off my To Do list.

dog sketch and intentions

2.) Downsizing of Gurus and Topics to Follow

I’m always looking for time saving, how to do things smarter tips and tricks. And what is all that looking doing? It’s wasting time!

There are too many choices out there for experts to follow and information to take in. I am doing a major downsizing of the gurus and topic areas that I try to keep up on.

One writing expert I’m holding on to is Julie Duffy of Storyaday. I committed to participating in Julie’s Storyaday in September to motivate me to write more and stick with a routine. One recommendation from Julie Duffy is to limit the short story writing to 40 minutes, taking 5 minutes coming up with the basic idea, 30 minutes fleshing it out, and 5 minutes writing the ending.

That short sprint has worked well for me and my brain is happy with the novelty of writing fiction versus the non-fiction I’m usually doing. I feel like I have permission to take risks and do something badly, which I’m taking full advantage of.

But on days like today, where I want to get a blog post done, this is counting towards my Storyaday. When you sign up for a push (like 30 Days of Whatever), or a class, or read a book that you feel will help get you unstuck, I give you my full permission to take what you learn and make it fit your reality and personality. I have found modification is good, as long as I don’t turn it into procrastination.

3.) Regrets Over Past Actions or Inactions

It’s so odd that this is such a difficult thing to grasp — the truth that the perfect time to change your ways and do what you wish you’d done at age twenty is to start right now.

I tend to get stuck regretting the past, and thinking, “There’s not enough time left. I’m too old. The writing business has changed too much and I’m not the kind of writer that can work in this social-media-follower-numbers-driven, podcast interview, make-your-brand-clear, self-marketing world. Have you ever heard the saying that ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?’ I should have published before things got like this. I can never make up for all the years that I’ve lost.”

The perfect time might have been when I was twenty. Lord knows, I had a lot more energy then. But that doesn’t matter anymore because that day has come and gone.  Am I also going to waste the next twenty years or however long I have left? Or am I going to get off my ass and then work that ass off?!

dog snoozing sketch

4.) Perfection and All or Nothing Thinking

Sounds like I’ve worked things out and am getting my groove back, right? Well, sort of, but there’s a new challenge coming onto the scene — a Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE) Certification Program starts up this week and will last for 14 weeks.

Why would you do that Maery? I wouldn’t, but I signed up for this a year ago at a time when I was retiring and was considering starting an online business. Plus, I was concerned (actually, panicked) about my osteoporosis, thyroid disease and inflammation.

I’ve decided to face the program with a positive outlook that it will not throw my writing off course. I mean, real life, right? Events often interfere with our plans, and we need to learn to make modifications, while still keeping our foot in our projects. For me, this means letting go of my usual practice of having to do assignments perfectly. It also means that if my coursework requires missing a day of writing, that doesn’t mean I’ve failed and should give up.

hurried dog sketch

5.) Replacing the Inner Critic With the Inner Pep Talk

Although I’m happy that I’m sticking to the writing routine I’ve set for myself, I’m frustrated because I’m producing such crap. This is to be expected and would be fine if I was then able to pull it out of the swamp of stench or reach an “Ah ha!” moment. But this has not been the case, and that’s made it difficult to keep my spirits up and keep going.

I have a very loud and obnoxious inner critic. You already heard her, above. To drown out her voice or counteract it, I have some pep talks that I give myself:

“Maery, darling, if you quit, nothing will change or have a chance of improving. If you keep going, at least some work is being done and this work, no matter how crappy and frustrating it is, will teach you things along the way. You may not see huge daily improvements but I know you are building skills that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t doing the work.”

Odds are in my favor that I will find a solution to the issues that are fulumping me in my memoir if I keep going. And I will have my finished work. There’s still a lot that has to happen after I have revised the hell out of the manuscript but that isn’t what I need to think about right now. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about the future, but I think about it this way:

“A year from now you’ll look back at your art journal and the manuscript and all the other writing you’ve done and be SO GLAD you kept going. You will see your progress. You will feel good about how you spent your time doing what is so important to you. It will be ocean-sized better than how you are feeling now. So what are you going to do? Make it something that you value!”

When you are short of time, an abbreviated version of this is “Don’t stop! Keep going!”

Below is a Robby Novak’s, Kid President, pep talk. What a humbling and inspiring experience it was to learn more about this young man. Robby has osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as “brittle bones.” He’d broken over 75 bones by 2014 (when he was nine). I’ve broken four. Brings a different perspective to my concerns…

Robby tries not to worry about his condition or let the bullying he’s been put through change his outlook on life. He doesn’t want to be known as the kid who breaks a lot but, instead, focuses on making a difference in other people’s lives.

Okay. I admit it. I fell down a rabbit hole of videos while writing this blog post. The treasure below is by Montague Workshops, the creator of the Kid President, and other videos. Brad Montague gets to the crux of the struggles of being a creator and putting your work out there. If you don’t have time, save the link and watch it later. You’ll be glad you did.

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