Dear struggling writer/creator,
You are not alone. Those irrational thoughts you have— “I'm not good enough. I'm not as far along as I thought I'd be. I'm a failure at this. There are so many people out there trying to do the same thing and I am drowning beneath their successes and failures. I always will be..." You are not alone.
This is a really tough thing you’ve taken on, for many reasons. Writing is a beautiful and wonderful thing that comes with so much freedom. The only drawback to that freedom is that what you do is utterly meaningless to the world for about 364 days each year. Most people are depended upon by society daily in their jobs. If they don't show up to work, someone will notice. If they have a spectacularly productive day, someone will tell them. It's not the case for you. You are fully responsible for creating meaning in your work and in your life. That's what I struggle most with — providing the spark to keep my own candle burning.
What I’ve learned though is that maintaining good mental and physical health through this process is more about resiliency than about searching for someone else’s approval. Our place in this world, our importance to society, won't change. And that's okay. The only thing we as authors can control is our attitude—our resiliency—to this sometimes-crushing vocation we've undertaken.
My agent put it well to me on the phone the other day when she said this industry is built upon the foundation of seeing writers fail. We have to take our self-doubt, our struggles, our faithless hearts, and weaponize them against the industry instead of against ourselves. Use these feelings to fuel stories, to create sparks to keep our candles burning.
I know it's dark when you find yourself in this mental space, but I'm here with you too. We all are. And thank goodness for that. If there is anything I've learned over the past year it's that connection is the key to creative success, and that we are not traveling this moonless road alone. Not even close to it.