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I am having an extremely hard time doing anything this past week.
It’s not like I am lying in bed sick or depressed or feeling lazy or something like that. Nope. My problem today is my mind, and its utter inability to quiet the F down at the moment.
Here’s the scenario: I came home last week after my third trip in a month and quickly realized just how exhausted I felt. I couldn’t write anything last week, but I did do my regular editing and also spent some time just reading other writers’ works and focusing on my freelancing. Yes, I didn’t produce words, but I still felt like I did *something*.
I did some really good reading over the weekend and have even established a new morning routine that I am pretty proud of (so far). So, basically, this week was going better until last night, when I was reading something about the different ways that writers can make money (short ebooks, podcasting, seminars, consulting, etc) and started to have an absolute mind meltdown.
Here’s what it looked like: Oh! Okay, I can do all of these new other things. But wait, which ones do I want to do? Do I want to do consulting? I do like giving advice… But is this thing what I want to give advice on for the rest of my life? And what about books? I still haven’t been working on my memoir, but maybe I should do an ebook on this other similar but unrelated topic? Or wait, what if I get bored of writing about this thing just like I got bored of writing about that thing? How am I ever going to build a personal brand or author platform if I can’t find focus? OH GOD, what if I am an unfocused mess? How do I find motivation? What’s wrong with me that I have so many ideas and can’t seem to commit to one for more than a day or two? Am I ever going to finish anything? Am I ever going to be a success? Oh nooooooo… What if in 20 years, I am still here and doing the exact same thing that I am doing right now? It’s not like I don’t love what I am doing right now, I really do, but I want my career to *go somewhere*. How do I figure out where it should go? Or how I should help it get there? What do I do? What do I do? How do I get there? WHAT DO I DO?
This went on in silence for about an hour while Adam and I were watching the Cubs vs. Giants game, until I finally spoke up. It was probably another two hours of intermittent word vomit on my poor awesome, incredibly supportive boyfriend who listened but admitted at the end of the night that he was a bit overstimulated with all of my crap. (He didn’t say “crap”, that’s my word for what was going on.)
I also took some time to re-read my favorite career-ish book, StrengthsFinder2.0. I took the assessment four years ago and it’s still something I go back to constantly because I find it such an inspiring reminder of what I am naturally good at: futuristic (meaning that I am constantly looking to improve and grow or help others or the world do the same), communication (I’m a writer, duh!), competition (guilty, but in a good way?), input (because I love to collect things and information, and this section even recommends an “output” which to me means writing about the things I learn about) and woo (which stands for “winning others over” because, as they say, there are no strangers in the world, only friends I haven’t met yet).
Reading through all of that last night was not as comforting as usual, however, and I went to sleep with the same confusing thoughts running around in my head. What do I do? What do I do? WHAT DO I DO?
I am still having that mind meltdown and trying to figure out where I want my career to go and how I want to get there.
I know the truth: That you can’t know the right path. That there actually is NO right path, especially not for a writer. There’s no guarantee that I’ll ever be famous (I wish!) or that I’ll even be regarded as someone halfway decent in my field. Sure, nobody can ever know that about anything that they do, but I am currently filled with this need to feel as if I am putting my best foot forward and doing everything that I can be to ensure my success.
And I’m okay with failing (I think). I know that I have failed in the past, and I can pick myself up and keep going. And I know that success may take much longer than I wish, and that it may not look like what I think it will look like. I also know that I may change my mind and want to go after something else later on, or that I can change my strategy at any point if I find that what I am doing isn’t quite working.
But currently, I am paralyzed in my writing efforts because I want some sort of direction, and I don’t know in which direction to go.
The funny thing is that I have no problem committing to a single person for the rest of my life. Cause, well, that was a pretty easy choice since he’s the best person I’ve ever met. But why is that SO MUCH HARDER in my career? Why can’t I commit to a writing project or idea or some sort of direction?
Instead, I’m sitting here and word vomiting some more and just at a loss of where to go. And I know that I’m not the only writer to suffer from this. I know that I’ll get over it, feel better and move on. I know that tomorrow or maybe the next day things will be back to normal and I’ll be feeling hopeful or accomplished or maybe even have some sort of idea about where I want to go and how I want to get there.
Then maybe in a week or a month or seven months, I might be back here again… With my brain feeling like it’s melting and freaking out and just no idea of what My Path is, even though I honestly don’t even believe that there is a single path for anyone. But I still want one, damnit!
Where’s my path? How do I find it? And in the meantime, how do I tell my brain to calm the F down because I need to actually do some work now?
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