When Life Gets You Down: Therapy For Writers

I’m going to wager that many, no most, writers have some strong commonalities. We all have responsibilities outside of our writing. Pretty much every one of us has a family – whether it’s children, spouses, parents, grandchildren, siblings – who we gladly give our time and love to. Many of us have a job. There’s always laundry to do, food to buy, the next book waiting to be written. We live in a fast-paced, information packed world where we’re expected to balance the books, clean, connect online, communicate offline, care, cook, be average…but unique, and smile no matter what.

I think it’s safe to say, there are days we find life exhausting.

When we have the days where the juggling act, the weight lifting, the pulling and pushing becomes overwhelming, our negative thoughts tend to find a home. In fact, it’s during these times they tend to proliferate, spread and flourish within the halls of our minds until they grow into something that puts Sleeping Beauty’s wall of thorns to shame. And we don’t always have a knight in shining armour to hack it down and help us find a way out.

If you’re anything like me, it’s during those days that writing can be really tough. Some days the laptop never gets picked up, I ignore the blank paper waiting for me to give it life. My thoughts will tend toward the following:

I’m just too tired

I can’t think of what happens next

This is a load of rubbish

I’m never going to be good enough

Over time I’ve observed these negative thoughts, seen how easily they’re triggered, how readily I believe them; and every day I see my clients’ negative thoughts readily triggered, how easily they believe them. I realised something has made a difference in how I deal with them, and it’s something I share with my clients. So I wanted to share it with you too. It’s based on the following premise:

Negative thoughts are like weeds.

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Trees, shrubs, vines and creepers that nobody wants, that are so tough they grow anywhere and everywhere. Plants that need so little to flourish, the darned things can proliferate under the most adverse of conditions. They are adaptable, hardy, and resilient and come back day after day, week after week, year after year.

That’s why I call them weeds.

And you don’t need much to get them started. Just a few seeds.

Seeds that were planted long ago. Planted by your parents at home, by your peers at school, by our culture every day. Seeds that multiply every time we receive a rejection letter, get a one star review for all to see or someone puts down our book and walks away. And unfortunately our brains are fertile soil for negative thinking, primed by our evolutionary roots. Heck, we’re born with bountiful soil just waiting for those seeds to be sown (I’ll explain that all in an upcoming blog post, so for the moment, just take my word for it). Meaning all the hills and valleys of our brains are prime real estate for those seeds to catch, burrow and wait.

Just like weeds do.

Sometimes they grow into a jungle, a thick, tangled mess that you can barely see through, that you can’t get around, that you can’t go over. Some days it’s so much easier to turn away and wonder if you should be writing at all.

It’s a tough place to be.

The irony is that we fed those trees, nurtured those vines, helped that jungle thrive.

Dog
Flickr Creative Commons Theresa Alexander-Arab

How?

By giving it attention. Our focus on these thoughts are like warm sunshine, life sustaining water, every vitamin, mineral and nutrient they will ever need. Most of the time we don’t realise we’re watering, growing, fertilising these doubting, undermining, inspiration-sapping thoughts.

Each time they pop-up and we pay them attention, often believing them, we inadvertently give them everything they need to thrive, grow and multiply. Think about it. The last time your mind told you had no talent and were wasting your time, and you listened, did they get bigger? Did they get more powerful?

And the next thing you know, they were all you could see?

The good news is we have a choice. We have our own little shoots, our own fragile little saplings that are waiting to be nourished. These are your positive thoughts and beliefs, the ones that say;

I can do this
It’s worth a try
I am good enough
I have something worth sharing

And these thoughts grow the same way weeds do.

As the owner of this real estate you can use your attention to grow what you choose. You can take that nourishing beam of light and aim it where you want, you can feed and foster this potential, you can rain down nurturing hope. Mindfully, consciously decide where you will focus your attention, and grow the thoughts that will take you where you want to go, living the life you want to lead.

As you feed your positive beliefs, your hopes and dreams, you’ll be starving the doubts and fears. Without your attention they are nothing. They’ll dry up, shrivel up and give up (I wish I could say they die, but they lie dormant, waiting for when you are vulnerable and susceptible…waiting for you to turn your attention on them again).

Cultivating this sort of mind takes faith, courage and grit. Because without conscious choice, we default to negative thinking, the deadly nightshades of our mind. It means mindfully turning our attention to the hope filled, dream driven, fragile flowers our writing blooms from takes work. And when you’re tired and down, when the jungle keeps growing back, you’ll have to dig deep down and mine more faith, courage and grit.

But imagine the fruitful, vibrant, vital mind you’ll have, one with so many more possibilities. Imagine the fruitful, vibrant, vital life you’ll have.

Better yet, imagine the words you’ll weave, the worlds you’ll create.

I truly believe it’s worth it.

What about you? How do you find negative thinking impacts your writing? Have you tried to nurture the positive ones? Comments and feedback are always appreciated. Connecting with others is why I write. You can comment below, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Have a wonderful week,

Tamar

AMomentForTara_400x600.jpg

Did you know I also write fiction? You can sample my sweet, beautiful stories of discovering love beyond your comfort zones for FREE with the prequel novella (works wonderfully as a standalone) of my Prime Prophecy Series.

Check it out HERE!

3 comments

  1. A great simile, Tamar, particular in May here in Ireland, though you’re headed into winter where you are of course.

    My mind garden seems to have more weeds than flowers at the moment! They sprout faster than I can pull them up. I think I need a stronger weed killer!

    But the flowers never completely die out, though they can seem overgrown and strangled by the weeds.

    Like

    1. Hi John, I know the feeling! I think its why its so important to nurture the flowers, the weeds need so little to grow. I think the key is not waste energy on killing the weeds, rather focusing growing the positive thoughts, but I also know this is never as easy as it sounds. Best of luck 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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