My Story of Grit

I debated long and hard whether I should include my own story of grit in the recently released Grit for Writers. In part because I didn’t want to make the book about me, it was always for my fellow writers, and in part because I haven’t reached the success bar I set in the book; I don’t make enough income from my writing to live off. But to be honest, those reasons are a smoke screen. It’s mostly because of the stigma that is associated with mental health and the vulnerability inherent in showing what some people perceive to be a choice. But I don’t believe in minimising the very real challenges of mental health and I wanted to show you that Grit for Writers came from my own experience of the value of grit. So here goes…

I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder over a decade ago (in retrospect, it was present way back in adolescence), and to top it all off, a strong vein of anxiety runs through my compromised ability to feel positive emotion. Depression is largely biological for me, a cycle my body goes through repeatedly irrespective of the privileged life I’ve been given, one that has required daily medication for 15 years for me to function.

Depression undermines my capacity to believe in myself — my inner critic is loud and persistent and very convincing. If I get stuck (and that would be every second day) because I haven’t nailed an original premise/a fabulous plot twist/a memorable character/an engaging blog idea (anyone noticing any perfectionism tendencies?), my brain promptly offers a reason why: You. Don’t. Have What. It. Takes. Next it gives the only logical solution – give up.

Because of these thought processes the desire to procrastinate is strong, and I don’t always win the battle. I’m tired a lot (irrespective of how much sleep I get). The thought of writing makes me anxious (every single time! I keep waiting for that edgy, taut feeling to go away, but it never does…). There are days that I’m can’t beat the voice and I don’t write a word.

I consider whether giving up is the logical solution.

But I set my alarm for 5:30 every weekday morning so I have an hour of writing time before my responsibilities as a mother kick in. Most evenings I edit or research or read, usually I write some more. Every Sunday I publish a blog post.

It’s my passion that keeps me going. As a writer and a psychologist and someone who truly knows what it’s like to live with a mental health condition, I believe words have power. That they matter. And I believe in the power of connection. I see it every day, and I strive to capture it in my writing. I keep writing by reminding myself of one thing — don’t believe everything your mind tells you.

Applying those seven words has enabled me to live my passion. I’ve published three books, a novella and a short story. I’ve won multiple awards and hit number one in a few Amazon categories. PsychWriter has made it on the Top 100 Websites for Writers and I’m a resident writing coach for a popular writing website. The emails I receive from readers and fellow writers are overwhelmingly positive and encouraging and truly touching.

This is why I truly believe that passion and perseverance are the keys to success. It’s true — grit matters.

Writers’ true stories of grit are interspersed among the chapters of Grit for Writers. I put mine last, but I thought I should share it with you all. I’d love to hear your story of grit, and how its made the difference. Comments and feedback are a great way to get a conversation going. Connecting with others is why I write. You can comment below, or connect with me on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Have a wonderful week,

Tamar

Grit for Writers Cover.jpg

 

 

Check out Grit for Writers HERE.

11 comments

  1. Whatever genre a writers writes in, she bares her soul and puts it out there for others to judge, and that takes a lot of courage. (No wonder we’re all so insecure! Rejection or “meh” reactions feel downright personal…) For you to share your personal story of grit in your book, as well as here on your blog, takes even more courage. Good for you! And thank you.

    I bought your book, but haven’t yet begun to read it. (It’s impatiently waiting its turn in line…) As for my personal story of grit? Maybe it’s the things in my childhood that I managed to overcome, (I think I have, anyway… nightmares still rear their nasty heads from time to time.) or maybe it’s the fact that I even bother to write at all now. I’m no spring chicken, to say the least. Maybe it’s a waste of whatever time I have left? Even so, it beats sitting on the front porch rocker watching the grass grow. Following one’s passion should never have an age limit.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susan, the responses have been so heartwarming, I’m really glad I did share my story 🙂 Following your passion will never be a waste of time, and I totally agree, it should never have an age limit. I think writing, even without extra hurdles, takes grit – because as you say, it involves being vulnerable and baring our soul. That is absolutely terrifying!
      Make sure you let me know what you thought of Grit for Writers, I truly hope it’s helpful 🙂

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      1. I finished reading your book, and what can I say? It’s like a book-long motivational poster! Very uplifting. The way you’ve illustrated your concepts with “stories of grit” is very effective and satisfying, too. Great job! I don’t know if it was “helpful” for me as much as it was a validation of beliefs I already held. Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the boost it gave me.

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  2. Beautiful words that anyone ca relate to. It’s not just writers who feel the pressure to produce creativity, although baring my soul through words makes me anxious too. Will it be good enough? Will people like it? Should I write more?

    Thank you for sharing and letting us know we are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Roxanne. Our vulnerabilities are what makes us human, huh? You’re right, its a wonderful way to remember we’re not alone. Thanks for the positive words, they made me smile 🙂

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  3. I think personal experience lends credibility to your book and almost any other kind of encouragement for writers and other creatives, business people, and so on. How can anyone offer advice about needing “grit” (or similar) if they’re not personally acquainted with it? True, someone can have a deep sense of empathy and relate her own, even if different, struggles to someone else’s, but still, sharing your story helps the reader feel understood, seems to me, or makes you seem like a “regular person” despite your accomplishments. I know what you mean about stigma, though. But depression and anxiety is so common I think most people (in my world anyway) aren’t the least bit shocked or surprised. And if they are, and if they judge, meh. Then they’re not part of your tribe. I didn’t blink twice although I hadn’t had even a glimmer you might have a particular challenge; I guess I assume everyone has some sort of challenge, somewhere in their lives. 🙂

    I have a story too, but it’s not easily described except to say “what else can I do but follow my passion and my dreams? No matter how hard it is or what challenges present themselves?” And I’ve struggled with anxiety, situational depression/grief, and so on though it’s more short-term, in relation to experiences and so on (as in YAY! I wrote a novel now how do I pay the rent :). Passion and perseverance–grit–has made all the difference for me, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Leah, thanks so much for your positive words – they made me smile. I do love the writing tribe 🙂 And yes, particularly as I psychologist I get to see that everyone has (or has had) a challenge of some sort. It’s the worlds greatest equaliser, but also what connects us all.

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  4. I am so glad you shared your story–thanks for having the courage to do so. I have a lot of mental illness in my family, so i know what it is like to have it always close. It is another thing to experience it first hand I know, which is why I have so much admiration for people like you and so many others who fight every day to keep moving forward despite such a difficult extra load.

    Vulnerability is such a strange and compelling thing, isn’t it? We fear sharing certain things about ourselves because we don’t know how it will be received, and because we are our own worst critics. We have been taught by life that baring yourself can hurt, and to hide and keep things within…that it’s safer to do so. But, a beautiful thing happens when we decide to cast that aside and open ourselves up to our truth, and share that vulnerability not because we have to, but because we want to: empowerment. We realize that by embracing vulnerability and self-acceptance, we gain a level of freedom and control that many others will never know or experience.

    You rock–never forget it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks Angela. And so true – from the courage to be vulnerable comes freedom (the fact that this parallels a character arc isn’t surprising, huh?). The positive words from everyone has been truly touching 🙂

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  5. Thank you for sharing. We never really know what someone else is experiencing by the outer signals. Although only a handful of people know, I have lived with depression for fifty years. We all get up, apply our strategies for living with it, and go through our days. Kudos to you for all the success you have created.

    Liked by 1 person

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