I’ve been frantically busy with contract work (learning and development writing) with a big trip looming next week, and so my deadlines have been very real. But at the same time I’ve been observing how I dealt with the stress.
Basically by working. Up at the crack of sometime when it was still dark. My concentration was 100% (if not a bit more), and a total lack of procrastination. If I could bottle that intensity to use at other times I’d have a dozen novels sitting on shelves now.
That got me thinking of how things and people influence us. A lot of times influence is subtle, and we don’t even recognise it for what it is. We like to think we are totally in charge of our thoughts and feelings. Think about the following example.
It’s a beautiful spring morning, the sun is shining and you’re feeling great. You’re in the car driving somewhere when a car pulls into the line of traffic right in front of you, and if that wasn't bad enough the driver then proceeds along the road about 15km slower than the speed limit, and you’re left watching the other cars disappear into the distance while having to follow this idiot.
Been there? Had that happen to you? If not that, then something similar.
How did you feel? What were you shouting at the other driver?
It can really spoil your day – if you let it.
And that’s the point. Someone tells you they think your writing is rubbish. Or you get, yet another, rejection. It’s hard not to take these things personally.
When I’m being objective it’s easy to tell myself that someone saying my writing is rubbish is not a constructive piece of criticism, so ignore it. Or that a rejection isn’t personal. It just means I need to look at the submission, and see where I can improve it. At the time it happens it’s all about how you feel.
We need a variety of influence and voices in our lives, and especially in our writing lives. Constructive feedback is a valuable voice and we should be cultivating that, but we should tune out the petty voices that just try to tear down rather than offer concrete help or advice.
Develop the relationships that add value to your (writing) life. Be that kind of person to others.
Okay sermon over now :)