Recently, I met a writing goal (contest submissions) and the very next day, I had such low energy I could barely accomplish a thing. I stopped to consider: was this a result of my submissions? Or was I depressed because I simply accomplished my goals?
I read a Huffington Post article When Success Leaves You Feeling Empty by Adele Scheele: “Succeeding requires one set of skills. Managing success another set. Both are critical in your careering process.”
What a wonderful insight. As if there are two pieces to our inner puzzle (there's more than that but for this example...) Which leads me to thinking about writing itself. There is the creative spark, the idea formed, the letting it out on the page. This can feel natural, inspired, fun. Then there is the work itself. The sitting our butt down in the chair even when we dont feel like it. The hours of quietly continuing to sit there. To others, it looks like we're staring at a wall. Or our toes. Or the keyboard. But we're working. Thinking.
Finishing what we set out to write can be excruciating and exhilarating because there are different parts of our brain and creative spirit being utilized in order to get it done.
I learned by entering contests with rules, that the rules take the self-torture out of the equation for me. They turn it into a game. But when I reached my recent goals with enthusiasm, I crashed. I crashed like a runner across a ribbon.
I learned 3 beautiful things from this human experience :
1) The day after goal-reaching, I will feel low. Great information to be aware of! How can I handle this gracefully?
- Get cracking on making a list of potential story ideas. (I keep making this list and conveniently it goes missing.) I brought out the tin-box this time, and filed them on cards where they won’t be able to climb out once the lid’s shut.
- Play energetic music. Classical music from yesterday’s UP-day, does not work on today's LOW-day. Thank you, Diana, Tina, Aretha, Gloria Gaynor, Alanis
- Dance when no one (but my cat) is watching.
2) Take what you gained from reaching said-goals. For me it was:
Writing can be fun. For me, the harder the challenge the better. “24-hour writing contest” with 700 confining rules? Bring it on! So - get going finding another challenge/goal that puts that same fire under your a$&.
3) Start next task immediately. Do not spend days on couch. Repeat: Do not, whatever you do, spend the next week distracting self with any number of things like Netflix, fixing up the patio, rearranging living room furniture, deciding to paint another room, driving to Lowe’s, or selling vintage items on eBay requiring a day-long photo shoot and uploading of images.
You get a day to wallow. But you can still do at least one of the above. A day of rest, then get back up again. Go easy on yourself, but get back up asap. "Forge while the iron is hot" as they say. You can do this!