At this stage of my writing career, I find that I am working full time in a job that doesn’t require me to do much writing but that nevertheless is very demanding. At the end of the day I come home and try to reach my daily writing target which, at the moment, is a very modest 500 words per day. If I have any time after this, I might devote some attention to marketing. As a teacher, I do have the benefit of more holidays than most which I usually use to prepare for book launches.
If I’m not careful then the result of a busy life can be added stress and frustration and this frustration can soon develop into irritation unless I employ techniques of maintain patience with students, staff and everyone else I meet in an average day.
I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about how myself, my wife and my daughter were all finding ourselves getting very stressed and anxious about what life was throwing our way and he told me about a book which had helped him when he was a teenager: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.
In small bite size chapters Carlson shares a whole range of tips to help you relax, develop more patience, put life into perspective and generally be a nicer person to yourself and those around you. It’s the kind of book that you probably need to dip into time and time again and, as I have downloaded the audiobook, I expect I will need to listen to it again from time to time.
Another demon who lingers around writers trying to put them off their work is the condition called Impostor Syndrome and it is something which afflicts the successful and famous just as much as the artist who is just starting out. It is typified by the feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing, that my manuscript is rubbish and that sooner or later I will be discovered for the fraud I really am.
Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn recounted a story of listening to a panel of speakers at ThrillerFest including Lee Child who writes the Jack Reacher novels and all of the successful authors on the platform admitted that they too suffered from this complex of inadequacy just as much as the first time writer. In fact, any good writer will have doubts about their manuscript. Only a poor writer would have absolute confidence in their work and have no doubts about its content.
My work in progress has a character who is so anxious that he his occasionally so overcome by his anxiety that he faints. I am enjoying exploring the character and hope that he is able to discover some of the techniques he needs to not sweat the small stuff.