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 Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Have a wonderful week,
Check out Grit for Writers HERE.