I don’t know about you but the fact that we are already 5 months in to 2018 fills me with a good few rushes of panic. Almost half the year has gone by. How much have you achieved since January and how much will you achieve by December? These are questions I ask myself on a weekly basis. As someone who is completely driven by the concept of personal success, I find it extremely difficult not to stop and evaluate myself on a regular basis. I wonder if any of you do this too.
I wanted to write this post because it’s easy to say that you want to achieve something but it can often feel like there are a thousand milestones between that aspiration and the actual reality of it. How do you keep yourself motivated when you keep receiving knockbacks and rejections. Or when, if you’re creatively minded like me, your brain just shuts down and you can’t actually create anything.
Ever since I was in secondary school, maybe even earlier, I have spent my free time writing stories. The number of stories (or sometimes just parts of stories, but that’s okay!) that I have written is ridiculous and I am so self-critical that a lot of them end up getting scrapped. I do a little clear out on my laptop and start deleting files and then those words are lost forever. If I’m physically writing something however, I’ll always keep it. I just stash my notebooks away somewhere and sometimes I discover them months or even years later. That’s always quite cool actually, being able to read through old bits and pieces that I’ve written and remember it as if I’m writing it as I read.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter that I’ve been writing for years. After releasing my first book into the world a year ago now, I’ve developed a strong dislike for it. I remember my most influential lecturer at uni, Alex Preston, telling us that the first book he ever published was awful. Sometimes I look back at Marbles and I think of all the things I would change about the stories in that book. And it makes me think that maybe, if I have to change so much, then I’m not a very good writer at all. A good writer’s words will resonate time and time again, not just in a single moment right?
Sadly, sometimes there is just this powerful voice in my mind that tells me I am never going to be a writer. That I need to find a proper 9 to 5 job, a corporate career and live a generic and comfortable life. Or, I think about blogging and what the successful bloggers out there are doing. They have a huge Instagram following and a clear aesthetic that centres around their clothes and their make-up. I enjoy make-up and fashion, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t want a life or career centred around it. It’s really nothing ground-breaking to me.
And that is not to say that I don’t have a lot of love for the fashion and beauty bloggers out there. I like their posts on Instagram, click on their affiliate links, but the stuff that I actually read is from bloggers who are talking about their lives or really just books. It might sound funny me saying all of this because I know that I have a few beauty and fashion posts here on this blog. But it’s true when I say that they’re not necessarily posts that I enjoy writing. In fact, they’re the most difficult posts I write because I genuinely have nothing to say apart from that I “love” this blazer or this new foundation or this lipstick colour. And I don’t find that I have much else to contribute other than that.
Writing about your love of a particular object is not enough for me. I would prefer to use words to write stories that inspire people and allow them to connect with each other. For example, I don’t put on a pair of false lashes and suddenly feel empowered and full of knowledge. I just feel a bit prettier. And feeling a bit prettier in a world full of people who place far too much emphasis on the idea of being pretty is just not something I care to be too involved in.
The things that send my mind into overdrive are books and films – I could talk about them all day. I love blogging book reviews, but they don’t get as many views as my beauty or fashion posts. Sometimes, depending on which film it is, my film reviews don’t do as well in comparison either. It’s such a shame because those are the posts that I love writing the most. The posts that I have to massively cut down because I’ve literally written a novel about how incredible a writer’s technique is or how beautifully shot a particular scene in a film is.
What I’m trying to say here, is that I love being creative and experiencing creative things. I can picture myself in a corporate role easily. Maybe heading a social media or content and brand manager department. Something of the sort. But when would I be writing? And what would I be writing – somebody else’s words? It just doesn’t fully feel like me. I don’t want to have to write in other people’s words to fit a brand that isn’t my own. The only thing that feels authentically me is when I’m with a pen and paper or with my laptop in a quiet room like I am now, writing this. It’s the one and only thing I do constantly without fail.
So, I ask myself, how do I keep myself motivated to keep going?
I go through phases. Someone will ask me if I want to be a writer and I’ll start listing all of the reasons why I can’t be a writer. “It’s not going to pay the bills,”. “I don’t have the time to write enough anymore.”. “I’m so bad at endings.” And then I just upset myself because I know that nobody can make this come true for me, apart from me. Stories don’t write themselves.
With creative careers, it’s even more difficult in my opinion to keep yourself going. It’s tough wanting to do something that doesn’t require you to tick a set number of carefully thought out boxes. Pass this exam. Read this book. Learn the basic principles of this and that. There are no principles for us. There is only your own mind, your own thoughts, your own ideas all vibrating and bumping each other around in your head. It gets pretty messy in my mind a lot of the time. And that’s when it’s easy to just shut down and think, you can’t do this.
But, I suppose, what you should remember is that all of that mess is also the core of your talent. That’s your creativity right there. How you choose to let things inspire you rather than deflate you in your life will determine your success. Nothing creative is ever easy. It’s not straight forward either. But you have to learn to accept that, to mould it and to turn it into something positive. I work full time in a head office, doing a job that for nine hours of my day does not allow me to be creative or exhaust any of my most valuable skills at all. That in itself brings me down a lot of the time.
But, there are still fifteen hours left in the day once I finish. The best things I’ve ever written have been written early into the hours of the morning. If you want something enough, you’ll work hard for it. You’ll find a way to get there and you’ll be incredibly bloody proud of yourself for making that dream into a reality in the end.