By Liz, wishing for spring in Connecticut

Lately I feel like a walking self-help book. At least in my own head. Affirmations, sayings, mantras are all spinning around in a big jumble in my brain, the result of a desperate attempt to keep everything under control and smile while I’m doing it. IMG_0146

I have a tendency to get carried away by my thoughts – must be a writer thing – but when the deadlines are fast approaching, time seems to slip away and the to-do list is piling up instead of slimming down, those thoughts sometimes turn scary. Like, how the bleep am I ever going to get this all done?

But I knew this was a possibility. I planned for it. I tried – and succeeded – in getting a jump on both book deadlines. I am not procrastinating (that much, anyway). I am plotting like a fiend so I don’t get stuck in the mires of the middle and flounder, wasting time and energy. I am also constantly trying to reprogram my thoughts with the help of some of the greats.

IMG_0149Jessie Crockett wrote last week about bingeing on favorite TV episodes. Since New Year’s Eve, I’ve been bingeing too – but on motivational gurus like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and the like, all in hopes of keeping my monkey brain under control. I’ve dabbled in practices that I’ve either tried before or heard of that sounded good. Things like choosing an empowering word and focusing on that whenever my brain tries to derail itself. I actually picked two words: Inspired and effortless. Inspired to remind myself that the answers to all my plot problems will come if I just get out of the way, and effortless to remind myself that if I just focus my energy in a positive fashion, it will all get done.

I posted a quote in my writing area that one of my favorite teachers from grad school shared with us: Not without doubt, but in spite of doubt. A reminder that everyone in a creative endeavor feels that weight of “how will I ever get this done” but pushes on anyway, and gets it done.

I’ve also tried meditation in small doses – not my strong suit. I’ve latched on to Louise IMG_0151Hay’s affirmation There is plenty of time and space for everything I want to do today. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ve tried retreating to a quiet space, lighting some candles or doing something else aesthetically pleasing, and focusing on writing while keeping in mind the most important thing – this is what I love to do, and I’m blessed to be doing it.

Julie Hennrikus wrote a lovely post before the holidays about finding joy in what you’re doing instead of focusing on the next thing – a message I’ve kept in the forefront of my mind. In the same vein, I had a conversation with a friend recently who has been doing some coaching work. She shared a practice with me called The Power of a Better Question, all about corralling any negative thoughts and turning them into questions that promote positive answers. I’m still thinking through my power questions, but there is one that I’ve decided will be my mantra: How did I get so lucky?

This can apply to all areas of my life depending on where the overwhelm is coming from, but as the deadlines start to close in and the book doesn’t seem to be moving in the right direction, it’s especially pertinent. I am seeing my dream of being a published author come true. I have two series under contract, and countless possibilities ahead of me. And when I look at it that way, the deadlines don’t seem so scary anymore.

It will all get done. And I am very lucky.

Readers, how do you counter feelings of stress and overwhelm?

30 Thoughts

  1. Liz this is amazing. I love the “not without doubt but in spite of doubt” quote. I needed this to keep me moving forward — it came at just the right moment.

  2. I’m going for the “There is plenty of time and space for everything I want to do today” – love this. I like to make lists to keep me on track, but I make sure to put some little tiny easy things on there each day, because it feels so good to see things crossed off! You can do this, Liz – and you’re right, you’re lucky. We’re lucky – we’re living our dreams

    1. I do that, too, Edith! One of the great lessons of my life from my friend Paul Blumenfeld. “You’re not chunking things small enough.”

  3. It’s easy for me to do – I just grab a book and get lost in it. You six have to write them.

  4. Great post, Liz–we’ve all been there. What do I do? Make lists–somehow setting things down on paper makes them seem more manageable. Trust in my subconscious to unravel those tricky plot points (it’s worked so far). And, oddly enough, cooking, especially dishes that require a lot of ingredients and chopping. There’s something soothing about slowly cutting things into little pieces and making tidy piles of them. There is order, as you add ingredients to each other in sequence and watch the dish come together (hmm, seems to be a metaphor in there somewhere). And then of course there’s the eating!

  5. This is such a terrific post, Liz. “How did I get so lucky?” is a great way to refocus. That said, it is a lot, life is a lot, and self care is important. PS, I love Wayne Dyer’s “How to Get What You Really, Really, Really, Really Want”. That helps me refocus.

  6. A few years ago, I realized I was not going to live forever. I’d never get to write all the stories banging around in my head. So I chose the top 6 things I REALLY wanted to write before I hit the ashes heap. I’ve written one, have a second in final stages, a third in progress, a fourth and fifth in bits and pieces. Only #6 doesn’t have a word written. Once I get those 6 done, I can piddle around with anything else, but settling on my Big 6 calmed down a lot of internal angst for me.

    I also write every morning at (approximately) the same time, which is soothing.

    1. I’ve had the same thoughts, Ramona. The great thing about moving to writing much later in life than Liz is I don’t have all the same pressures she does. The bad thing is, I’ll never get it all done. It’s a trade-off, but one I can definitely live with. After all, “How did I get so lucky?”

  7. I find you very inspiring today just when I needed a push. I had the worse year with much devastation and have to now climb back and begin anew. I have begun a series of practices with mantras and self work. These inspiring words are going on my wall and in my inspirational journal. Thank you. As a fan of your books I look forward to your future work.

  8. Love both “How did I get so lucky” and “Not without doubt but in spite of doubt.” But very great things to remember no matter what else is going on.

  9. As you know Liz, I’m not one for introspection or self-help, or whatever. Not that I think I’m beyond help, I’ve just never found it did help. But your post reminded me of when I was your age and had a big job and little kids and people used to say, “You’re so busy. You should do something for yourself.” And I used to think, and occasionally say, “But I am doing all this for myself. Who the heck else would I being doing it for? Nobody put a gun to my head and made me do any of it.” Which was my version of “How did I get so lucky?”

Comments are closed.