July 5, 2017
The Stumbling Block of Mediocrity
Do you ever have the experience of wading through a whole lot of constructive criticism-- all well-intentioned and ultimately helpful, but criticism nonetheless-- and just suddenly feel the weight of your mediocrity?
Do you ever suddenly feel like what you've worked so hard on for so long might actually just be a big pile of crap no matter how much time you spend reworking it?
Have you ever finished something that, in that moment, you feel is pretty good, only to take a closer look later and realize that it's not that good at all?
Can you tell from all of these questions that this is exactly how I'm feeling/what I'm experiencing right now?
I made the mistake of going through three months worth of writing critiques at one time. It was a time-management thing. But it was also not a smart decision.
In point of fact, I'm supposed to still be working on those edits/rewrites right now...I only have a half an hour of precious (and rare) worktime left and instead of advancing my work, I'm taking a break to write this (basically useless) blog post.
But I just couldn't read another (helpful) comment about what I'd done wrong in my writing. I just couldn't. My brain started to feel like it was going to explode.
(Sidebar: I imagine this might be akin to those days, for my husband, when I'm full of advice on what he could be doing better around the house.)
But I'm sitting here in my favorite coffee shop, on a beautiful sunny day, the smells of frying bacon and freshly ground espresso in the air, nursing the dregs of my now cold decaf Americano and I'm feeling a bit like a piece of ABC gum stuck to the bottom of a cheap, Old Navy flip-flop. Which is to say, a bit squishy and a lot tread-upon.
So, what's a girl to do?
1) Take a break and vent. (Hello, friends, and thank you for being my Dear Diary today. If only you came wrapped in pink leather and bound with tiny lock and key. Wait, scratch that. Sounds a bit dominatrix of me, and that's creepy. Forget I said anything.)
2) Regroup and rethink. My therapist would say I need to challenge my skewed, distorted thinking...my catastrophizing, shoulds, black-and-white/all-or-nothing thinking, etc. (She loves her CBT.) Which means saying to myself things like: Are these critiques really evidence that I suck as a writer and should probably stop doing it? Hint: The correct answer here is, No, Amy, this is just a natural part of the writing process.
3) Listen to something positive and uplifting. I'm between a short Danette May meditation on Success and a short Tony Robbins meditation on Gratitude. I'll probably do both. More is more, and all.
4) Get back at it. Once I've had a little breathing space, it's time to get back at it. I don't have the luxury of wallowing for too long. I'm too old and too time-constrained to give in for very long to this shit. So, back in the saddle.
And that's exactly where I'm headed right now. I still have 18 minutes before I have to leave coffee haven and head back into the real world. So...
Hi-ho, Hi ho...
Until next time, remember that you are great, as is; and don't give up on your dreams, no matter the obstacles (especially the ones that you put in your own way). xo