His scars make me wonder what battles he fought and won.
The writing life is an adventure full of highs, lows, and plateaus. There are always risks and sometimes deep wounds.
Point to Ponder: We have to decide up front that If we let the hurts linger, they have the power to fill us to the brim with the kind of fear that paralyzes the words and stunts our growth as authors.
Rejections come. Negative reviews happen. The words come, but they stink like rotten eggs. Stories crumble. Life, grief, and illness steal our joy and rob us of energy. Our courage fades, sales dry up, and our hard-earned dreams dwindle into sometimes to the point of despair.
When they all happen in the same week or on the same day (yes – it happens) I wonder if it’s time to consider new job options like Walmart. After retirement as an engineer and computer programmer, my dad enjoyed his job at the local super-store. Maybe I could too.
Or not. But it’s where my mind goes when new hurts stir up old scars, and the doubts multiply into discouragement.
I can’t say for sure what will work for you as a writer, but here’s what I do when the writing hurts:
- I pray, and there are usually tears involved. And I read this verse because discouragement is exhausting. Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
- I walk a lot. If it’s nasty outside, I pace through our house. This is a private kind of walking connected to the point above.
- Sometimes I vent to my writing friends. We speak the same language.
- Other times I listen to my writing friends vent. For the same reason.
- I take my fears to the Lord again.
- Always, I talk to Jon. He is wise, and most of the time I listen to him. And even when I don’t, I believe him.
- Finally, the time comes that I can embrace the lesson the hurt is teaching me. And it’s not always the lesson I’m expecting because most of the time I realize I was on the right track before the negative stuff did it’s best to derail me and my stories.
- Finally, I consider the motive of the hurt-giver. In the case of a review on Amazon, I can’t always nail down the motive exactly although many leave enough of themselves behind to get a glimpse of what’s up. If the comments are intended to hurt, they must be dislodged and tossed the way one does a deep-rooted weed. It’s harder than it sounds, but they can only linger and do more damage if I let them. That part is on me.
These steps get me back to putting the words on the pages.
I read this quote by Stephen King again recently when I was considering applying for work, this time at McDonald’s . . .
“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”
For a while, I wondered which of his scars are in his writing, and I started to ponder The Green Mile. I thought about the courage and innocence of John Coffee. And the long walk. I sure do like to let my mind wander around for a few minutes. Yes, this is likely a form of procrastination, but it’s interesting to consider the possibilities.
The desire for a cup of coffee brought me back to my world. While my Keurig brewed a cup of Dunkin Donuts I “heard” King’s quote more personally – like words from one writer to another. No, I don’t know him, but I’ve read his book On Writing where this quote is from, so it sort of counts. I like to think that each of us who read books on writing by those more successful than ourselves are one of the million reasons they wrote them.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Those hurts and the scars have the power to stop or strengthen me as a writer – the choice is mine.
What is one scar in your life you can use to grow in your writing journey? If you are comfortable sharing, please leave a short message in the comments.
Until Next Time,
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