Tag Archives: Morale

Take It Easy On Yourself

By writing a book, you’re tackling a challenge that many people talk about but never get around to doing.

Some of them buy the equipment and do the training—books on writing and attending courses—but you’re actually climbing the mountain of creating a story. There are a thousand ways to reach the peak, and nothing to prevent you backtracking to try a different route. To get to the top, you’ll need determination and self-belief to the point of arrogance; the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up. If you do that, you’ll stop climbing, crawl into a crevasse and freeze to death.

Our greatest weakness is in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always try one more time.

Thomas A. Edison

It could be that no one much will care that you make a successful ascent—that’s what literary agents are for, to bring you down to earth—but, you’ll know you did it and that’s what’s crucial. You’ll feel better for it:

“We write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our lovers. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely…When I don’t write, I feel my world shrinking. I feel I am in prison. I feel I lose my fire and my colour. It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing.”

Anaïs Nin

So, enjoy what you’re doing. Writing will always be hard work, but it shouldn’t be excruciating. You need to get on your own side.

When your book is written, you’re marked out as different—to be admired and, of course, criticised. But, you did it. Don’t be denied!

Benjamin Jowett

A Question of Attitude

This blog has a dozen posts about physical and mental health, but I thought that I’d contribute something about raising one’s morale. Just as it’s easy to become a myopic, spine-bent, jelly-bellied lard arse by being a writer, so it’s easy to turn into feeling like you’re your own worst enemy spiritually—a self-critical slave to drudgery.

I’ve been collecting quotes, sayings, poems and aphorisms for forty years, and sometimes haul out my ring-binder files to boost my spirit with the thoughts of others wiser than me. There are thousands of things been written about the process of writing, but my four quotes here come from some very different men and can be applied to tackling life overall as well as how to approach one’s creativity.

Everyone knows Steve McQueen the film actor, a man renowned for his toughness, derring-do with cars and motorcycles, as well as his womanising. Few are aware of the tough start in life that he had, with a father who deserted the family, a promiscuous drunken mother, a physically abusive stepfather and trouble with the law. He was behaving in a very self-destructive way, but turned his life around with the discipline of being in the Marines, followed by learning the craft of acting.
He later observed that :
‘The world is as good as you are. You have to learn to like yourself first.’

Henry Ford transformed the automobile industry through the use of the assembly line. He may have done wonders for popularising the use of the car, but he was a vile man in lots of ways. Although he claimed to be a pacifist, he was also an anti-Semitic fascist who supported Hitler. 

All the same, he was a go-getter and came up with some great advice about attitude:

Image result for henry ford 'Whether you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.'

Doctor Robert Schuller was Ford’s diametrical opposite, a Christian minister and motivational speaker. He authored over thirty books on the power of positive thinking. He was famed for his pithy sayings, but one of my favourites tackles the way that we tend to stop ourselves from doing things – often through self-doubt, laziness or fear :

Image result for dr robert schuller quotes

The last quote comes from a hard-nosed union leader, whose father did a disappearing act. To be more accurate Jimmy Hoffa was probably ‘disappeared’ by organised crime thugs, with whom he’d had dealings. His son James P. Hoffa took over the reins of the Teamsters some twenty-five years after his father vanished. This must have required some moxie, and I like the double-edged thought he had, (which could be applied to borrowing ideas if you’re of a literary bent), as well as being firm encouragement to stiffen your resolve :

‘You only get what you are big enough to take.’