Last night I was on a quick run home from my husband’s hospital room and feeling discouraged. You leaped to the conclusion that my discouragement was about my husband’s health, didn’t you? You’re not 100% wrong. You’re not 100% right, either. Most of my thoughts were about how I wouldn’t make my self-imposed story deadlines. Almost immediately I realized two things: one I am being selfish and two I am disappointed but I am not discouraged.
SELFISHNESS IS GOOD
Before you try to defend my feelings rest assured that this was not self-recriminations but self-realization. To be a writer one must be selfish (at least part of the time.) Writers must guard their creative time. And my creative time had been taken from me by an important and urgent event. Before my retirement, I worked a day job full time, had a family, pets, and all the usual daily life commitments. After I put in the hours at the day job, everyone else’s needs came first. Writing got squeezed into the minutes between this and that. Since retirement? I have a writing habit where writing comes first. And on the days it doesn’t come first? I get cranky. I see that as a good thing. (I’m sure my husband doesn’t always agree but he understands.)
There’s a difference between discouraged and disappointed. To be discouraged is to be deprived “of courage, hope, or confidence.” Dictionary.com.
To be disappointed means to “fail the expectations or wishes of.” This is an important distinction. A distinction I haven’t always appreciated. I haven’t lost my courage or my hope or my confidence. But I could have had I continued to tell myself that I was discouraged.
Revise Your Self-Talk
Creative people tend to live in their heads, their dreams, their imagination. As a result, they do a lot of self-talk. Self-talk is often first draft and quite negative. Revision is possible but it takes work.
So next time your self-talk attempts to tell you that you’re discouraged, perhaps one of these quotes will help.
When you’re out of willpower you can call on stubbornness. That’s the trick. ~Henri Matisse
Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by TIRED and DISCOURAGED people who kept on working. ~Unknown
No matter what your creative endeavors are, make “I am disappointed but I am not discouraged” your mantra. Rise as the whole damn flame.
Good point about the difference between disappointed and discouraged! I am definitely disappointed in my (lack of) writing progress these past couple of weeks, but realizing I already met my third quarter goals helped keep me from being discouraged. Hope the life stuff lets up for you and you can get back into more writing soon, because I finished My Soul to Keep last night, and I can’t wait to read the next one!
I’m glad you’ve kept from being discouraged. Meeting goals really does help with that. And may I tell you how much your comment about My Soul to Keep meant to me today?! Thank you. I really needed that.
Lynette, I’ve been thinking about you! I don’t know how many times I felt selfish about my writing time when my late husband was ill. I wish I’d been more forgiving of myself back then. Your post has given me inspiration to do that now. Sending you all good thoughts!
Oh, Diana. I’m so grateful that my post helped you forgive yourself. Thank you for sharing that and for your good thoughts.