Actor/writer/entertainer Spalding Gray’s untimely death in 2013 was shocking to many in his circle. Patricia Pharrel, author of How to Be Your Own Therapist: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Competent, Confident Life remembers Gray as a man of talent and complexity who had . . . . “a great deal of pain in his life, pain he managed to keep to himself and it was depression that drove him to take his life.”
When Swedish researchers combed through population registries looking for a link between creativity and mental illness, they found that writers have a slightly increased risk for depression and suicide, but their relatives do not.When Everydayhealth.com writer Madeline Vann unveiled this “strongest link” the Swiss researchers had found between bipolar disorder and creativity, she also underlined the role environmental factors play in writer’s lives, factors the researchers say is “a tough situation for writers.”
“The writing life is of necessity isolated, stressful, and full of rumination over the mystery of human behavior, as Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Tennessee Williams, and other famous writers’ life stories illustrate,” she pointed out.
Vann’s story highlights a subject that many writers/blogger choose to keep away from the spotlight. The sense of isolation, the inner struggles many writers battle with, bloggers no less. These are hushed, not hardly spoken about.
If you blog, the consensus on whether to share the dirty and ugly may be split down the middle. I have seen advice by top bloggers saying keep your sob stories out of your blog. No one wants to read it. There’s enough ugly in the world. Keep it positive and sparkly and engaging and helpful.
But how can you when your tortured soul refuses to let you, when you have just barely managed to survive one depressive episode before you are pulled under by another. When the torture comes from massive self-doubts caused by chronic situational depression; when procrastination has lived inside you for far too long.
Depression and Anxiety, Procrastination and a Loveless Relationship are three dream crushers that have been sinking their teeth into my writing dreams for the last eight years.
When they attack, they slurp at my joie de vivre, they roll over my concentration, they distract, they delay and delay and delay while I read, and read and read some more, because I have convinced myself that I am not yet ready for the big times. I need to learn more and more, and totally get it before I take the plunge.
Maybe like me, you are one of the victims who has had your dream of freelance blogging success snatched by these dream crushers. And you are plain sick and tired of being sick and tired. From one day to the next, you bounce from, “Yes I can do It’ to No, I can’t.” In moments of inspiration, you rapidly scribble great blog ideas and then do nothing about them.
Your coping mechanisms are not holding up well under the onslaught of a spouse’s spirit-crushing alienation and hostility.
And you give up. To the taunts inside your head,
“You are boring.”
“You can’t write.”
“You’ll never be a professional blogger or write with the ease of a Sophie Lizard or claim the big bucks Carol Tice does. Don’t even bother trying. You’ll just fail…. again.”
The challenges of becoming a pro blogger are not always based on writing skills. For some bloggers, it can be as simple and as complex as just being unhappy.
And how do you find your happy place and write from that place when all hell is breaking loose around you and inside you? Is there a chance in hell that you can win this battle?
How do you dodge the dream crushers in your life and release the problogger Within?
Sometimes a writer just needs chicken soup for the soul: a special therapy comprising of an anti-dream crushing prescription and sometimes a tender, other times firm reality check to heal a troubled writer’s soul.
Sometimes, therapy may mean learning how to be a dodger, which according to the Oxford dictionary is a person who engages in cunning tricks or dishonest practices to avoid something unpleasant. In other words, if you can’t beat these dream crushers, you may have to con them or fake it til you make it.
Maybe he or she just needs some soul cleansing advice every now and then to help face the grim prospect of writing dreams fading right before their eyes.
Maybe they need to hear words like Langston Hughes’
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow
Or the simple advice which blogging giant Michael Hyatt used to jolt me from self-pity at the start of the new year when he said, “Make your own bliss.”
These words changed my mentality from victim to dream chaser. Although I’m not quite there yet, every day that I hold fast to my dreams, I am making strides and taking control of my happiness and my dreams.
How does a crushed writer make bliss or hold fast to his or her writing dreams? You might need to some chicken soup therapy to rid you of the parasites that are dogging your blogging dreams:
Here are a few ways you can make your own bliss, find your happy place and increase your writing flow and beat three of the most dream crushing incidents in a writer’s life one cup of chicken soup at a time.
1. Dream Crushers: Depression and Anxiety (the Ugly Twins )
Effect on blogging/writing dreams: Depression attacks the serotonin levels in the brain. According to WebMD.com, serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another.
Most notable is this fact: “of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin. This includes brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behaviour.”
So you can understand why low serotonin levels can sap your energy and motivation, making you feel unworthy, hopeless, trapped and limp. It speeds up mental wheels in some people and bombards you with negative messages. You want to write but all you can do is look at the screen feeling like a total failure. There are words, but they are trapped inside you.
Chicken Soup Advice to Dodge It:
Take care of your health. See your doctor or mental health specialist and discuss your symptoms. Depression like any illness can be cured and according to WebMD, all depression are not the same. So go find out what’s ailing you. All it might take is serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, otherwise called anti-depressants to get your brain chemical rebalanced. With medication and care the sun will come out soon, free up your moods and gets you writing.
Hatch an escape plan. Fleeing an unpleasant situation, even temporarily can give you a chance to re-energize and get back your happy, so you can write. Escape when you feel a need to. Head to the beach. Leave the home for the weekend and spend time with friends who appreciate you.
Call up your mom, sibling or a good friend who always has your back, and just vent, cry, or chat. Good company and positive energy can quickly cancel the negative memories and emotions.
When you are depressed, getting out of bed can be hard to do. You don’t have the luxury as some freelancers boast of working in your pajamas. Unwashed face and bodies are detrimental to depressed writers.
Take a shower as you get up in the morning. The energy from water can prepare you to face a grimy day.
Find inspiration and support from joining a community. For me, religion works. In fact, psychiatrists have found that people with mental disturbances find some kind of catharsis and healing from going to church and worshipping God. Another kind of community you can obtain motivation from is a supportive writers community. I’ve found vicarious comfort from knowing that there are other writers who walked the same journey of self-doubt I do, but they survived and now run successful freelance blogging businesses. Join a writing community.
2. Dream Crusher: Loveless Relationship
Effect on your writing/writing dreams:
Living in a bad relationship or marriage puts a writer in constant stress mode. Stress and blogging doth not make good marriage partners. If you’ve tried to get your spouse to counseling, tried to appeal to his warped reasoning, and done everything else to achieve a peaceful home, and it’s not working, you may be really incompatible or you are dealing with a narcissist. You can’t fix those. They are pleasure seekers who are selfish and thrive on tormenting others weaker than themselves.
Chicken Soup Advice to Dodge It:
You have to make a decision whether you will allow this person to snatch your dreams. Narcissists can’t change. Take a stand. Decide that you will not stand for any more abuse and that you deserve better. You deserve bliss. If conflicts are frequently confrontational, stand up for your self. Your spouse may be the rabid-dog type with more bark than bite. Bark back. You’d be surprised what a wimp he or she is when you confront. I’ve proven this myself. I no longer wimper and cry when my spouse attacks. He spits venom. I spit back venom with equal and sometimes greater force. I’m not saying that will work for you, but getting loud -er and cussing long-er has definitely given me some breathing room until I can find more inner strength to leave the situation permanently. Every bit of aggression I retaliate with is ROI for my Happy Bank, less fear and more freedom to write.
Make sure you are financially empowered. Until you can live the freelancers life, keep your day job. Keep money in your pocket. I am currently unemployed because I chose not to renew my last contract. Big mistake. When you have money, you have independence. Hit the pavement, feel the fear and start looking for a that job. For me, not having a job has held me back from purchasing the website I need. I’m not an American. Cost of living is very high in my country. I’ve tried using Linked In to put my clips, and I blog at WordPress.com, but that has not been enough. For I still have to battle public enemy number 1 : procrastination.
Last Resort….Leave. Communicate your desires to your spouse and express how the stress of the relationship is stealing your joy and disabling your writing functions. Try counseling. If all fails, maybe its time to separate.
3. Dream Crusher: Procrastination
Effect on your writing/blogging dreams:
You might have heard it said before that ‘Procrastination is a thief’. It is. It steals time, opportunity and dreams. This is a self-created dream crusher that it’s time to stop in its tracks.
Chicken Soup Advice to Dodge It:
Use an accountable buddy. I have cultivated a bad habit of putting things off. One of my worst habits comes from spending too much time consuming information and not auctioning the advice I have consumed. One way to fight this internal enemy is to find a buddy who is super productive and who manages time very well, and ask him or her to help you to beat the procrastination habit by helping you to create timelines and deadlines to get tasks done, and checking in with you, even threatening to make sure you do not relapse into your old patterns.
Seek out and use productivity and organization tools. Procrastinators have highly undisciplined and disorganized minds.
Use timers when you write, online calendars to set and remind you of deadlines. I even set false deadlines like a week before the actual deadline to fool my mind and help me beat the last minute mindset.
See what other productive writers use and try it to see if it would work. Try everything until you beat your procrastination habit. It can be done. The rewards from your efforts will also provide more ammunition to empower your battle.
Use writing organizers
Make and follow a prewriting plan and use organizational strategies. Writing is a process. Get the prewriting step done and you’ll not be so overwhelmed when its time to draft. Some people use 5 w’s and H strategy, but clustering and an rough A-B-C- outline on a piece of paper can work just as well, as long as it clears the bottleneck in the process that makes things less overwhelming which is a dominant reason why many procrastinators procrastinate.
All three of the dream crushers I have mentioned here have been my constant unwanted companions. Maybe like me, you are being held back from releasing the super blogger/writer within. There are books that need to be released, but depression, narcissistic spouses and bad marriages, and/or procrastination is sapping your energy and disconnecting you from the river of words, blog ideas and freelance opportunities.Sometimes unhappy bloggers have to find it in themselves to find their bliss. The three bits of chicken soup advice I’ve shared are my therapy to find that bliss.
What is your strategy to eliminate or dodge these dream crushers from stealing your desire for the right to write? How have you overcome and found your bliss? Share.