In recent years, many of the activities I enjoy have been “corrupted” by my anxiety, negativity, perfectionism, and proneness to comparison.
Instead of loving writing, I’ve let myself be miserable about it: Will I finish this on time? Do I have any good ideas? Am I a total fraud? Do I have a career in this field?
Instead of loving reading, I’ve let myself get stirred up to unhappiness: I can’t compare to this author. My books aren’t like this. I’ll never have the readership this author has. Why does plot hate me?
Instead of loving recruiting, I’ve been stressed and discontent: I should be working on my novel. I’ve been doing this for too long. I’m washed up. Kids don’t think I’m fun anymore.
Part of it, I can’t help. I have an anxiety disorder and I do not play well with uncertainty.
But I’m so blessed: I’ve found the right medication, the right therapist, have found freedom through ERP, and have a league of people in my court.
All those resources are allowing me to finally start to chose joy and delight. To say, “Look, I’m going to read, I’m going to write, I’m going to work. I have to do all those things. So, as far as I can, I want to delight in them.”
I know I’ve been writing about this a lot of my blog. Bear with me. Or don’t. You can skip these posts if you want. I’m just learning so much and writing about it is helping me to sort through it and maybe even understand it a little better.
Take this weekend, for example. I’m reading a tremendously good book all while trying to graft a month’s worth of ideas, scenes, and revisions into my most recent draft. In one weekend. On Friday night, I was stressed and had all this negative self-talk: You’ll never write a book like the one you’re reading. It’s so much better than the one you’re writing. And there’s no way you can hammer through as much as you want in just one weekend.
Instead, I told myself: You don’t write fantasy. Quit comparing your unfinished contemporary to this published fantasy. Enjoy this book. And enjoy your weekend of hard work on your manuscript. You LOVE writing, remember? Do what you can before Sunday night and leave the rest for later.
And know what? I did.
I enjoyed the book I was reading and I had a BLAST writing. Felt like “the good old days,” back before I was writing under contract. I did as much as I reasonably could without killing myself, and then I sent my manuscript to my editor, knowing that I’d continue to brainstorm and work on things behind the scenes while she reads it.
Here’s to a great weekend. Here’s to choosing joy.