In my blog post, Overthinking is my nemesis, so why do I treat it as my friend? my optimism is palpable. I had identified that my overthinking was keeping me stuck and action was the antithesis to the paralysing fear I’d allowed to rule my brain. Action was the key to getting me out of my head and into the wholehearted living of my life. I was excited: I’d got the key, I’d got the secret, I’d got the key to another way-ay-ay (sorry, got a bit carried away in 90’s pop there.) But what I failed to realise in my eureka moment is that I may have the key one day, but the next I’ll have dropped it in the river and be flailing around trying to find it.
Despite the progress I’ve made in identifying my unhelpful thinking patterns and how to combat them, it’s always a work in progress. Lately I’ve been feeling well and truly stuck. I’ve found myself an action canoe and I’m paddling like crazy, but I’m going nowhere. There’s a sense of urgency building that’s telling me if I don’t make tangible progress soon, then I may as well give up.
The problem here is all a matter of perspective. Some big wins can come thick and fast when starting a new venture, like landing my writing job with Tillyanna, and more recently getting one of my articles published in an online magazine. But then my old nemesis, overthinking, accompanied by its trusty sidekick, fear, sticks its oar in with a whole array of unhelpful questions, led by a round of my favourite what if’s:
What if you never get another client? What if that’s the only article you ever sell? What if your blog is a waste of time? Who do you think you are wanting to be a writer anyway?
This negativity forms a thick, viscous mud on the bottom of the riverbed that holds my action canoe fast, as I start to doubt if I’ve made any progress at all, and struggle to free myself from the quagmire of my negative thoughts.
If you listen carefully, you’ll be able to hear my audible sigh. But here’s the good news. I’ve still got the key and I still know the secret: it’s all a matter of perspective. For instance, how do I define action?
An action can be big with measurable results, like applying for jobs or making pitches to editors, but more often they’re small, yet consistent and require a certain degree of trust that they’re taking me in the right direction. Every story I write, every blog post I publish, every rhyme I make up is another step forward. A friend told me to look upon everything I write as an investment, and this is sound advice.
So, if you’re feeling stuck, unmotivated or demotivated, you’re not alone. But take comfort in knowing that stuck is a state of mind. In a few days, a week, a month from now, however long it takes to see some of the fruits of your labour, you’ll have your mojo back and you’ll be flying again. Then maybe the next time you feel stuck you’ll remember, hey, I’ve felt this way before and maybe you’ll find your mojo a bit quicker next time. That’s growth. When we’re in it, we often can’t see the wood for the trees. It’s one step forward, two steps back, (I’ll stop with the cliched phrases now) and it may not be what the virtual salespeople are trying to sell us with their ‘find success quick’ Facebook and Insta courses, but it’s life.
The observant amongst you may have noticed that the title of my blog includes the phrase ‘short stories’ and yet I’ve never posted a short story. This is because I have a dream of writing stories for a living, and so naturally I think I’m terrible at it. I keep them safely cocooned on my hard drive, occasionally taking one out for a polish and even more occasionally plucking up the courage to reveal one to close family or friends.
But in a bid to free my action canoe from that noxious mud of overthinking and fear, I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone this week and posting a short flash fiction story. I wrote it for a ‘tales with a twist’ type competition in a magazine. The brief was to write a story about two strangers who meet at a bus stop, with the story ending as the bus arrives. I didn’t win, but I enjoyed writing it immensely, and now I get to share it with you.
What do you know? I can feel my canoe picking up speed already.
Here’s the link to the story.