Friday, October 14, 2011

Emotional Space For Rent: Negativity Need Not Apply...

Little update on where I’m at before I get to the actual post. 

At this moment, I’m in the mountains, on a mini-vacation.  But since I’m a bone-head and forgot to post this yesterday, here I am.

I’ve got 5 novels in the works, with 6 ideas in development.  My brain has been on double overdrive.  My unique protagonists are being nice to one another, but jealousy is brimming.  It’s hard to pay attention to them all at once, and placating them is becoming difficult. 

If only there were 48 hours in a day, maybe I could actually get everyone’s stories written and completed. 

As for everything else, I’m going to save that for my anniversary post, which is in just over 2 weeks.  Now, onto this post!

Negativity has moved in, and it’s not paying rent. 

For weeks I’ve been in this weird place, not sure where I’m going or how to even get there.  It started out as this little whisper in my ear, easily ignored by some good music.  Now it’s full-on yelling, all the time.  It’s gotten so loud, it’s actually making my loudest protagonist, Kat (though we’re still arguing over her name, but this is what I’ll call her for now), quiet down a bit.  If you were in my head, you would know that says something. 

So this post is going to be about negativity and doubt, and some ways I find helpful in confronting them.  I’m going to refer to negativity and doubt as one entity, negativity, because they pretty much go hand-in-hand. 

Most negativity is self-contained, meaning it’s you and your mind creating it.  Once it’s there, in even the tiniest form, it’ll grow like a Chia Pet, because it’s human nature to pay attention to it.  If it’s there, it’s for a reason.  It may not be a good one, but there is a reason.  The question you have to ask is why it’s there. 

It may take a little soul-searching, but it’s worth the effort.  Dissect it.  When did it first appear?  Was there an inciting incident or did it manifest on its own?  Is there a deeper meaning behind this negativity or are you just being hard on yourself?  Is the negativity misplaced?  What can you do to erase it and get back to a good place?  There are many questions to ask, many answers to find.  For some, it’s simple, for others like me, not so much.  These are some of the questions I’ve asked myself recently.  Here are my answers.

When did it first appear?  About 5 weeks ago, while working on my query letter for the hundredth time.

Was there an inciting incident or did it manifest on its own?  Both.  I got an okay critique on said query, made suggested corrections, sent it back and got another okay critique, questioning the very things that were suggested I change the last round.  Enter frustration.  I instantly thought “If it’s still not perfect, it’s never going to be perfect.  I’m never going to get it right.”  It’s been a snowball rolling downhill since.

Is there a deeper meaning behind this negativity or are you just being hard on yourself?  I think I’m just being hard on myself, like always.

Is the negativity misplaced?  Maybe—perfection doesn’t exist.  Getting frustrated is easy to do, but it’s not the solution.  Just because my query still needs a little work doesn’t mean everything I’ve written stinks. 

What can you do to erase it and get back to a good place?  I have to ask my critiquer about why she questioned my changes (that she had suggested) so that I can get a better understanding as to what she’s looking for.  Maybe there was a miscommunication.  She’s there to help me and I can’t get help if I don’t ask for it.  I also need to lean on my support system a little more.  It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a pat on the back, and I could really use one right about now.

There.  Negativity located, addressed and after a conversation with my critiquer, resolved.  I’ve got more negativity lurking thanks to this one small thing, so to get rid of it all, I’ll probably have to rinse and repeat.  Maybe I’ll have to do more than that, like below. 

Not so cut and dry?  Went through your questions, but not happy with the answers?  Talk it out with someone in your support system.  A fresh set of ears (or eyes, if it’s negativity over a piece of work like me) can give you the advice and perspective you need. 

Or maybe you need to step away from whatever it is that has you feeling this way for a while, clear your head.  Everyone needs a break; it’s learning when to take one that’s crucial.  If you’re burnt out, you’re never going to feel good about what you’re doing.  And negativity’s friend, resentment, may start festering.  For writers, this means turning off the computer, tucking the manuscript away in a drawer, switching mental gears and focusing on something non-writing related until you feel good again. 

If it’s coming from someone instead of something, the same rules can apply.  Ask questions, get your answers, or simply walk away.  Remember, no one should make you feel badly just because.  Take what they say with a grain of salt.  The world is full of negative people and it’s something we have to deal with, especially writers, but we don’t have to be defined or discouraged by it.  Criticism should only be constructive and meant to help you, anything less than that is nothing you need to be listening to.  People are subjective and opinionated, so not everyone is going to be a fan of what you’re doing, but that doesn’t mean they have to step on your feelings or that you have to listen to it.  Know that if they don’t like your work, there are two people behind them that do.  I don’t expect everyone to be a walking ray of sunshine, but no one has to rain on you, either.  And if it’s not already clear, these types of people probably shouldn’t be in your support system.

If you ignore the root of the negativity with no positive results, it could swallow you whole.  It may make you want to quit, and that’s definitely not the answer, even when it seems like the best solution.  Negativity never has good ideas, and quitting is the prime example of how not dealing with it can turn out.  Push through it, conquer it.  Negativity should never win, nor should it ever make it to your heart.  Once it’s there, it can become permanent (trust me, I know from experience) and then it’s got a piece of you forever.  And what did it take place of?  Some of your confidence, and that’s hard to get back.  Save yourself the pain and evict negativity now. 

Once you’ve dealt with negativity, keep it at bay.  I post quotes almost daily that help me keep the positive energy flowing.  Reviewing the work I’m proud of also helps.  Lean on that support system.  The thing that helps me the most, though?  Remembering why I do what I do and how it makes me feel, how much I love it.  It helps keep away negativity 98% of the time.  I get to follow my dreams and feel passion for my work.  In turn, I feel not just happy, but lucky.  That’s what you should feel, too.

Try thinking about why you do what you do, how it makes you feel.  Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Are you smiling?  I hope so.  J

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