On Purpose, Perseverance, and Positive Reinforcement

February was a rough month. It started off on the right foot. I purchased an excellent day planner that helped with goal planning, gratitude with a multitude of prompts to get me thinking about expanding my book sales.

Yet a week after setting my goals for February I felt tired and deflated. All of a sudden writing started to lose its lustre. There’s this great line from the Lord of the Rings that resonates. Bilbo says to Frodo, “I feel tired, stretched. Like butter scraped over too much bread.”

A relentlessly cold winter has done nothing to help the situation. Well it turns out what I needed was a reset button. It came in the form of a sunny vacation to Florida, but it doesn’t need to be quite that drastic to achieve the same result.

No matter how passionate we are about something, when it starts to consume your life, it can quickly turn into a burden. Since writing isn’t my day job and isn’t going to be paying the bills in the near future, saddling it with too many ambitious goals quickly stripped it of its joy. I started to drift away from its purpose.

In my first book, I connected emotionally with the story. It’s an intimate portrait of my inner turmoil (with some cinematic flair of course). My second book, currently a work in progress, drifted from its purpose, chained down by the lack of commercial success of the first. Instead of connecting emotionally, I tried too hard to make it topical and by the end of January I was left with a mess to fix. Over the month of February I lost my way, wondering whether to abandon the 80,000 words I had strung together.

But every problem has a solution. This is where perseverence can prevail. My wife helped me sort out a pile of plot issues, while a good friend who recently finished my first book heaped on the positive reinforcement to keep at it, to not abandon my story. And for me, I decided to rediscover my purpose, reconnect with my characters and my story, and persevere through the edits necessary to make this book even better than the last.

If you ever find yourself resenting your creative endeavours, it’s okay to walk away to get perspective, find the joy in your creations, or abandon them if they truly are an anchor holding you back. Sometimes serendipity knocks, and someone gives you a positive comment that helps you remember why you persevere through the self-doubt. Whatever the case, don’t give up. Life is a journey, not a race.

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