It’s a phrase that’s quite in vogue at the moment. We see someone having a tough time and we instruct them to be kind to themselves. I look back a decade to me with small children and wish someone had explained what that meant. That it’s okay to put your own needs first sometimes, without feeling guilt. That you are allowed to not be perfect, not aim for it even. To recognise that I spoke to myself way harsher than I would ever speak to anyone else.
Jump forward and I’m still learning how to treat myself with kindness. The process of writing, receiving feedback and trying to get your writing recognised can be tough on the emotions. The need to have thick skin when sharing your work opposed to the thin skin required to pick up on nuances and subtleties to see the world from numerous viewpoints can wear down your mental defences. I thought I’d conquered being crushed by rejection until a few months ago when one found a chink in my armour and floored me for a while.
So here are a few practical things to do when you’re feeling low, had a rejection, are asking yourself ‘What’s the point? Why do I put myself through this pain?’ or are simply needing to feel the love.
- Have a folder of all the positive feedback you have received. Print out emails, save editorial notes, write down comments made by beta readers – record every last one. It’s amazing how the bad comments sear into your soul yet the good ones slide right off.
- Find your tribe. Writers are a friendly bunch on the whole. You don’t have to be close friends with everyone – just a few who get what you’re feeling and hopefully will be able to remind you that the feelings pass. YOU WILL NOT FEEL LIKE THIS FOREVER.
- Remove the word ‘should’ from your thinking. No ‘I should be writing’ or ‘I should be reading’ – do what you want to do. When you’re stronger you can push yourself, but when you’re feeling delicate, just go with what you fancy doing.
- Find a new hobby – get out and meet people who have no idea about literary trends, what an agent does or writing in general. People who when you tell them you write, say, ‘oh, interesting’ then change the subject.
- Sometimes reassessing can help. Check you are on the right path and alter it if needs be. This is something that has helped me the most the last few months. I discovered that I was dismissing opportunities without even considering them. A change in thinking has meant I’ve sent my work out to places I wouldn’t have considered before, applied to a course that I’d assumed was impossible for me to do and taken opportunities that I was afraid to. And it feels AMAZING!
- Imagine yourself as your own friend and give yourself the kind of advice and love reserved for only the dearest people in your life.
Cut yourself some slack, give yourself time and make choices that bring you joy.