I was talking to a neighbour the other day whose close friend is a novelist. She was saying that her friend’s now given up writing because she feels so demoralised by all the rejection. I understand this. I have the same feeling sometimes, too. Until I remember – five minutes or a few weeks later – that when I’m not writing, I don’t feel like myself. It’s so strong that when I consider doing something else or try going against my nature, a voice in my head whispers: wrong, wrong, wrong.
What are some ways to alleviate the fear? I’ve found that meditation really helps. I usually do twenty minutes a day but sometimes manage to squeeze in a bit more. If nothing else, it’s a great time for reminding myself to breathe deeply and simply enjoy that brief time on my own before the world crowds in and I get caught up in the day. But at its best, it’s a time to focus on gratitude and trust, and finding peace with the unknown. I’ve only been doing it for about a year now – since the September before last – but I do feel in that time it’s helped me deal with things more calmly and helped in other areas of my life as well.
Another idea – and this isn’t original either, I think it’s one of the major principles of The Artist’s Way – is to go for walks. Similar to meditation, it helps me think about things in a new way and gets me out of my head (and home… very important when I work here and achieve most things through self-motivation). Even ten minutes seems to help when I’m feeling flat or low. That’s just a walk around the block. Twenty minutes is better, and an hour seems best to really improve my outlook. Lots of ideas seem to flow when I’m doing a circular bay walk, and I usually take a pen and notebook so I can write them down. I felt silly the time I tried doing dictation on my smartphone, so settle on sending myself texts at a pinch.
I’m reading Gretchen Rubin’s 2009 book The Happiness Project at the moment and one thing she mentions from her research is that writers tend to focus on more wordy mediums for inspiration or entertainment (reading, theatre, films, TV). She suggests finding more ‘wordless’ mediums to indulge in eg dance, painting, music, and probably certain sports. I really relate to this.
The one performance style I always seem to come back to and adore is contemporary dance; there’s something about it that just exhilarates me and seems to spark creativity. I particularly love anything choreographed or chosen by Rafael Bonachela (the Creative Director of the Sydney Dance Company). I’ve been an SDC season ticket holder for the last couple of years now and recently bought tickets for all the performances coming up in 2015. Just knowing they’re set in the calendar reassures me… something to look forward to is always good.
I guess the point is, it’s all about finding those things which work best work for you and at keeping you creative rather than worrying about outcomes. A new art exhibition – especially portraits – always starts me thinking what’s your story? and before I know it, I’m off.
That’s all you need. How do you stay firm and positive through all the ups and downs?