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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: depression, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 86
1. Depression: What's A Christian To Do? by Nancy I. Sanders

I am pleased to take to a bit of a break from my virtual book tour and profile Nancy I. Sanders' book 

Congratulations Nancy! 

Depression: What's A Christian To Do?

BY NANCY I. SANDERS

www.HopeWithDepression.wordpress.com


 

If you've experienced depression in your life, God wants to reassure you today that you are not a "bad" or "weak" Christian. On the contrary! Whether you deal daily with the deep darkness of depression, or have experienced isolated incidents of its ominous oppression, God wants to let you know you are a "much-loved" Christian. He loves you! He cares about you! He wants to help you.


*Stories from the Bible demonstrate how Bible-time heroes dealt with depression.

*Inspirational instruction provides 
practical help.

*Prayers based on the Psalms offer encouragement and strength.

*Scriptures build a solid foundation on God's Word.

*Fictional stories bring comfort and hope. 

*Questions for each chapter make this perfect for group or personal study.


________________________________


"Nancy gets right to the point regarding recovery and deliverance from this very powerful emotion that befalls so many today."
-Lisa Hibbs, Pastor's wife and Director of Growing in Grace
Women's Ministry, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills

"This book is high on my recommended list for any of my patients
struggling with depression. It is Spirit-filled, biblically accurate,
practical, and psychologically sound."
-Jennifer Norheim M.A., Marriage and Family Therapist

ISBN: 1493686087
Christian/Self-help
Paper, $12.95
192 pages
Available to order from your local bookstore or on Amazon

For more information, email: jeffandnancys@gmail.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist













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2. You Are a Broken Toy

Doll 2
Depression makes you feel like a broken toy. You once had use, but now, you’re forgotten, sprawled in the dust beneath a child’s bed. You can’t remember what it’s like to not be broken. You can’t imagine anyone fixing you.

So you lie there, tired, broken, and no one can reach you—not even mom’s feather duster.

Depression destroys you. It makes you forget how to work or how to eat. It makes you want to sleep but not cry. You are beyond crying. You feel nothing but a crushing pain in your chest. You feel nothing but aching muscles and the strange beat of your heart that seems louder in the silence.

It’s very quiet under the child’s bed. In the dust.

It’s not scary under here, not like the movies would have you think. There aren’t monsters under this bed—just you, the broken toy. You are in pieces. You can’t hurt anyone.

Depression is the bad thing you’re waiting for that never happens.

Depression is loss, but lost what?

Depression is the hope that this day will soon be over, because maybe you will wake up not so broken tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Maybe tomorrow, the child will find you under his bed. He will dust you off and sew you back together. He will play with you again and remind you what you’re here for.

You will remember how to work and eat and maybe even smile. Tomorrow.

For now, you lie in the dust and watch feet pass the foot of the child’s bed. You wonder: how do they do it? How do they go about their days? How do they keep their pieces together? When you are so broken.

You’re not even old! Barely played out! How did you end up in this dingy, under-bed place? How did you get here? But you don’t remember. One day, you were fine; the next, you weren’t.

Depression is the dark thing in your dreams, half remembered by morning.

Depression is the thief that takes and makes you forget how to give back.

Maybe you should rest now, sleep for a while, under the bed. Stop looking at other toys. Stop wondering how they stay together. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, you’ll be fixed again.


7 Comments on You Are a Broken Toy, last added: 3/14/2014
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3. Depression in old age

By Siegfried Weyerer


Depression in old age occurs frequently, places a severe burden on patients and relatives, and increases the utilization of medical services and health care costs. Although the association between age and depression has received considerable attention, very little is known about the incidence of depression among those 75 years of age and older. Studies that treat the group 65+ as one entity are often heavily weighted towards the age group 65-75. Therefore, the prediction of depression in the very old is uncertain, since many community-based studies lack adequate samples over the age of 75.

With the demographic change in the forthcoming decades, more emphasis should be put on epidemiological studies of the older old, since in many countries the increase in this age group will be particularly high. To study the older old is also important, since some crucial risk factors such as bereavement, social isolation, somatic diseases, and functional impairment become more common with increasing age. These factors may exert different effects in the younger old compared to the older old. Knowledge of risk factors is a prerequisite to designing tailored interventions, either to tackle the factors themselves or to define high-risk groups, since depression is treatable in most cases.

In our recent study, over 3,000 patients recruited by GPs in Germany were assessed by means of structured clinical interviews conducted by trained physicians and psychologists during visits to the participants’ homes. Inclusion criteria for GP patients were an age of 75 years and over, the absence of dementia in the GP’s view, and at least one contact with the GP within the last 12 months. The two follow-up examinations were done, on average, one and a half and then three years after the initial interview.

Depressive symptoms were ascertained using the 15-item version of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). We found that the risk for incident depression was significantly higher for subjects

  • 85 years and older
  • with mobility impairment and vision impairment
  • with mild cognitive impairment and subjective memory impairment
  • who were current smokers.

It revealed that the incidence of late-life depression in Germany and other industrialized countries is substantial, and neither educational level, marital status, living situation nor presence of chronic diseases contributed to the incidence of depression. Impairments of mobility and vision are much more likely to cause incidents of depression than individual somatic illnesses such as diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease. As such, it is vital that more attention is paid to the oldest old, functional impairment, cognitive impairment, and smoking, when designing depression prevention programs.

GP practices offers ample opportunity to treat mental health problems such as depression occurring in relation to physical disability. If functional impairment causes greater likelihood of depression, GPs should focus on encouraging older patients to maintain physical health, whether by changing in personal health habits, advocating exercise, correcting or compensating functional deficits by means of medical and surgical treatments, or encouraging use of walking aids. Additionally, cognitive and memory training could prevent the onset of depressive symptoms, as could smoking cessation. If these steps are taken, the burden of old age depression could be significantly reduced.

Siegfried Weyerer is professor of epidemiology at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. He has conducted several national and international studies on the epidemiology of dementia, depression and substance use disorders at different care levels. He is also an expert in health/nursing services research. He is one of the authors of the paper ‘Incidence and predictors of depression in non-demented primary care attenders aged 75 years and older: results from a 3-year follow-up study’, which appears in the journal Age and Ageing. You can read the paper in full here.

Age and Ageing is an international journal publishing refereed original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological, and psychological aspects of later life.

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Image credit: Grief. Photo by Anne de Haas, iStockPhoto.

The post Depression in old age appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Bipolar Characters in Children's and YA Fiction






It's World Mental Health Day today - so what better time to address the subject of mental health in children's and YA books? I'm going to focus on bipolar disorder, because it's a particular interest of mine. But much of what I say can be applied to depression and other mental health conditions.

First of all, let me announce that I'm a sufferer myself from chronic/recurrent depression. Although I've never been diagnosed as bipolar, I do have mood swings and have some idea, at least, of what the highs as well as the lows can be like (the highs in my case may possibly be the result of not getting the levels of medication right - who knows?)

I now believe that my depression started when I was in my teens, though I had no idea what to call it at the time. It was all put down to PMT, though I'm not sure that the term had been invented in the late sixties. The fact that I suffered from it at other times of the month - well, that's easily got around - there's always another period on the horizon somewhere!

Or perhaps it began even earlier, when I was five and my dad disappeared off to Singapore with the RAF and I was terrified for months afterwards that my mum would vanish too. I'm sure my parents did their best, but knowing me, a book would probably have helped, and there weren't books for kids about that sort of thing in those days.

Perhaps I became depressed when bullied at my new school at seven, when I was ostracised because of my 'posh accent'. The memory still brings tears to my eyes and the teachers didn't help.

My depressive episodes, never diagnosed or treated, recurred at intervals of a few years until eventually, in my late twenties and living in Edinburgh with two small children, I took myself off to the GP with stomachache and she had the sense to see that there was something more going on. I was prescribed anti-depressants (which I refused to take on that first occasion) and told to get a part-time job. The part-time job helped. But the depression came back after a couple of years. This time it was worse and I took the medication. I also had counselling and the combination of the two brought joy and colour into my life that I'd forgotten could exist. Just waking up in the morning feeling at peace with myself... free from the self-condemnation, guilt, shame, worry, and all those other horrible things depressed people suffer.

Since then, I've had further episodes, often but not always associated with times of difficulty and stress in my life. I still fear my depression and try to make sure I don't get too busy or stressed out - but it hits me from time to time. I'm adept these days at recognising the early warning symptoms. I have medication on hand and don't delay in visiting my GP. In fact my depression these days is like my bad back in some ways - I know that if I'm sensible I have less of a chance of setting it off - but there's always the possibility that something (or nothing) will trigger it. And I have to accept that I'll have down times when I can't do very much.

I'm very lucky in one respect, though. I have never been too depressed to read. I have several favourite books I turn to when I feel bad. William Styron's memoir Darkness Visible is one of them - where the great American author describes his own experience of depression. I'm not sure why it helps me, but it does. Perhaps it's just the putting into words of some of my own dreadful thoughts. The 'I'm not the only one' feeling. Whatever it is, I am so grateful to William Styron for writing it.




Anyway - children's books. I decided a few days ago to compile a list of characters in fiction who have bipolar disorder. Of course, it's difficult to be sure, if you go back very far, because the condition wasn't sufficiently understood. I asked for suggestions from various friends, contacts and writers' groups, as well as trying to come up with some of my own. I was partly interested in which books came to people's minds - i.e. the ones that had made a lasting impression. Thanks to all who contributed, I now have a list - and for the purposes of this blog I will restrict it to novels for children and YA.

This is my list, in no particular order (further suggestions most welcome).



The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson
A Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma
A Voice in the Distance by Tabitha Suzuma
My Mum's from Planet Pluto by Gwyneth Rees.
Red Shift by Alan Garner 
Boneland by Alan Garner (though I'm told this is not strictly a children's/YA book)
***Mental by Sherry Ashworth
Girl, Aloud by Emily Gale

*** Mental is actually about schizophrenia, I realise now I've read it, but I'm leaving it on the list as it's a very good book.




Remember, these are for children/YA and I've restricted the condition to bipolar (except for Sherry Ashworth's Mental - see above). And I certainly don't claim that the list is complete. Nor have I read them all (yet). I'm currently enjoying Gwyneth Rees's My Mum's from Planet Pluto, which I'd strongly recommend. But I can't help noticing how few titles there are...

It concerns me that there aren't more. I said earlier that it would have helped me, as a child, if I'd been able to read about someone like me. I'm pleased to say that books for children featuring other kinds of conditions and disabilities are growing in number (though we still need more). We need, in my opinion, both issue-tackling books and books that treat the condition as a background thing - not the focus of the book but something one of the characters just happens to have.

It's the same with mental health. We need children's/YA books that delve deep into the condition (in a way appropriate for the target age-group, of course). But we need characters in books who just happen to have bipolar disorder (or depression or schizophrenia, etc) too. We need books that treat these conditions with gentle humour - combined, of course, with respect. I can laugh at my depression, at least some of the time. Often humour is part of the way we come to terms with things. We need books with 'heroic' endings (character overcomes all the challenges) and ones that are more true to life, while always offering hope. And in order to get this variety - we need LOTS MORE BOOKS. Sorry to shout, but we do.

So come on, children's authors... and publishers. By the time World Mental Health Day comes round next year, let's see a lot more books for children, YA (and adults) on the subject of bipolar disorder and, more generally, on mental health.

I believe there's a role for many of us in helping to remove the stigma attached to mental health conditions that, almost unbelievably, is still present in our society today.

We all have minds, after all, just as we all have backs.

Happy reading
Ros

Note: My own contribution to the bipolar list has just come out. It's for adults and it's called Alexa's Song. You can see it on Amazon UK and download it for Amazon Kindle for £2.54.

My blog, Rosalie Reviews
My Facebook Author Page
Follow me on Twitter @Ros_Warren
I'm a regular contributor to Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?





 







12 Comments on Bipolar Characters in Children's and YA Fiction, last added: 10/26/2012
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5. Treadmill Desks: for a Writer’s Good Health

Look out! I’m getting ready to preach!

I’m so excited about an answer to my pain condition, a condition aggravated by decades of sitting at a desk. If you’ve read my blog very long (or my Writer’s First Aid or More Writer’s First Aid), then you know I talk about health issues for writers.

I’ve had headaches, upper back pain, and neck pain (and multiple surgeries)–and all these conditions are made worse by hours slumped at a desk. (Yes, no matter how straight my posture is at the beginning, it’s not long before my shoulders are rounded and my head is forward.)

I wish I had taken out stock in Excedrin years ago. I’m sure I’ve kept them in business.

Not anymore!

My New Exciting Work Station

My dear writing friend, Maribeth Boelts, wrote to me a couple months ago about her new treadmill desk. It was helping her with a chronic pain condition of her own, and she urged me try it. I researched the idea (see sources below), read about the benefits, saw how some writers had constructed their own inexpensive treadmill desks, and decided to try it.

Maribeth had assured me she got the knack of typing while walking in less than 15 minutes. I figured I would give it a week–I don’t think I’m that coordinated. But she was right–it took less than 15 minutes!

She also mentioned that the constant walking took care of her “ants in the pants” feeling while sitting at a desk. I have found that to be true too. I think better when I’m moving, and since you’re always walking, you don’t feel the “itch” to get up all the time. In fact, I use a timer now to remind myself after an hour to get off and walk on “dry land.” The first week I had the desk, I worked once for three hours without stopping, and it took a while to get my “sea legs” back when I got off. But what a nice problem to have! Concentrating too long!

Dangers of Sitting

A New York Times article sums up some dangers of sitting all day–and this also applies to people who exercise at a gym or run:

“It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting – in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home – you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.”

And consider this from “Sitting All Day: Worse for You Than You Might Think”: “If you’re sitting, your muscles are not contracting, perhaps except to type. But the big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly,” Blair says. And because the major muscles aren’t moving, metabolism

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6. Worse than fiction.

An elevator ride that’s too short?

Who ever heard of that? We all stare at the numbers on the panel waiting for our floor # to flash and then push out the doors rapid-fire. No matter how few floors, elevators always seem too slow, like watching a pot of water come to boil.

But today the elevator ride was too short. Too quick for me to act.

I’m in Denver, in the midst of some of the tallest young ladies under 20 I’ve ever seen. It is the US national volleyball tournaments and I’ve been surrounded by these impressive teens everywhere I go.  Healthy, clean cut, pleasantly mannered, each having lots of fun with family & friends.

Except one, who looked about 16.

She followed me into the elevator, then her parents. They stood in front of us with their back to her. Their daughter. Dad started saying she had her worse day ever, clearly talking about her performance in the day’s match. She said her serves were bad but her total day wasn’t bad. Not everything she did was bad. Her mom scoffed, glancing at her and made some cutting wisecrack. They stomped out of the elevator deriding her, and she following in their dust saying Fine, be that way.

When it first started, I waited to see how she reacted to them. Amazingly competent. Clearly hurt and hurting badly, yet maintained composure and didn’t lash out at them.  They couldn’t see how hurt she was BECAUSE THEY WOULDN’T LOOK AT HER OTHER THAN TO GIVE HER PARTING GLARES, but surely, as parents, they knew it in their hearts. I tried to open my mouth, to tell her how honored I was to be next to one of the best in the entire country regardless of how lousy her day was.  The doors opened and they left before I could croak out a sound.

She shuffled behind them with her head hanging down. Isn’t it bad enough to know her teammates will likely rib her too? That, in her eyes, the whole world saw her lousy serves? That she needed their hugs more than anything today and instead they ganged up on her like bullies? With parents like that, who needs enemies?

The elevator ride was just too short.

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7. FIVEnFIVE With Sherry Ashworth

FIVEnFIVE With Sherry Ashworth

Sherry Ashworth answers 5 questions about her new young adult novel, MENTAL, published as an ACHUKA(e)book, and 5 more general questions about her writing.

She also tells us what she's been reading, watching and listening to recently.


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8. Crystal Godfrey LaPoint Talks About “When My Mommy Cries”

Author Showcase

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 23, 2012

Crystal Godfrey LaPoint

Crystal Godfrey LaPoint is an accomplished composer and artist. For over three decades she has suffered from the dark legacy of depression. A survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, Crystal is now a tireless advocate for survivors of relationship violence and for destigmatizing mental illness. She currently resides in Fitchburg, Massachusetts with her husband.

TCBR: I’m of the understanding that you are an accomplished composer and artist. Can you share a little on your background and how you became a children’s book writer?

Crystal Godfrey LaPoint: I was a musician from the age of 6 when I began my training as a classical pianist. I continued my studies through my late 20’s, earning a BMus and MMus in Piano Performance as well as an MMus in Composition and Theory from the Syracuse University School of Music. Along the way I also studied violin, voice, and organ. I have always been very active as a performer, including solo recitals, choral accompanying, and chamber music concerts. And I am a widely published, commissioned, and award-winning composer, working primarily in choral, chamber, and orchestral music. My career as a visual artist began much later in life – my early 40’s – and I am entirely self-taught as a digital artist. My work originates with my own photographic images, which I then digitally transform into a very stylistically diverse portfolio. To date, I’ve created over 100 images, many of which have been exhibited, sold, and garnered several awards.

That is clearly a circuitous path to becoming the author of a children’s book in my early 50’s! The seed for “When My Mommy Cries” was planted when I began doctoral studies in Fine Arts & Social Justice Education at SU. I was taking a class called “Teaching Against Oppression”, and became intrigued by the notion of how educational materials designed for young people could be used as resources for the purpose of achieving social justice. My specific thought was about a children’s book to help inform young people about mental illness and help destigmatize it. As the book took shape in my mind, it almost immediately defaulted to my own personal experiences as the child of parents with depression, and being a depressed, single mother of three, myself. From that point on, the dream took on a life of its own.

I’m sorry to hear that you are a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. Your efforts of becoming an advocate for survivors of relationship violence and for destigmatizing mental illness are commendable. Your background is obviously your inspiration behind When My Mommy Cries. Was this a difficult book for you to write?

“When My Mommy Cries” was not at all difficult to write. In fact, as in all authentic creative expressions, it felt as though it wrote itself. It was a bit painful to revisit the experiences that had shaped my childhood and unfortunately, visited their oppression again upon my adult life. But the response I took

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9. The Thought-Feeling-Behavior Cycle

cir“Enthusiasm, motivation, and dedication are necessary for your success as a writer,” says Kelly L. Stone, author of Living Write: the secret to inviting your craft into your daily life.

But…what if you don’t have all those emotional tools (the enthusiasm, motivation and dedication) at your disposal? “Don’t worry,” says Kelly. “They can be learned as part of the thought-feeling-behavior cycle.”

Same Old Thing? Not!

I’ve heard before that thoughts cause your feelings which cause your actions, and you probably have to. However, Ms. Stone gives a very helpful twist to the “you can change how you feel and act by changing how you think” mantra. And this “plus” makes the idea instantly useful to anyone trying to improve her writing life.

How? By seeing this as a cycle, not a linear set of events. I’d always heard that you had to go in order-1, 2, 3. You change your thoughts first, then your feelings would change, and then your behavior would change.book However, this author claims (and I agree after trying it out) that it’s not a straight line, but instead a cycle that runs like a loop.

What does this mean to writers? It means you change any one element of the cycle, and you will by necessity change the other two parts. You don’t have to start with changing your thoughts if you don’t want to. You can change your writing life by changing whatever is easiest for you.

Practical Terms

For example, maybe you’re a Nike-Just-Do-It! kind of writer. You can’t bring your thoughts or emotions into subjection, but you can grit your teeth and sit yourself down at the keyboard right on schedule. If that’s true-if controlling behavior is the easiest part of the cycle for you-then skip worrying about your thoughts and feelings and hit the behavior first.

Maybe it’s easier for you to deal with feelings. I know a perky, sanguine writer whose depressed anxious feelings rebound to optimism just by taking a nap! However, maybe for a variety of publishing and non-publishing reasons, your feelings about writing are sour, and fixing those ricocheting feelings is a losing battle. Then tackle another part of the cycle that is easier for you. (Personally, no matter what I’m going through, I find controlling or changing feelings the hardest part.)

Of the three aspects of the cycle, thoughts are easiest for me to change. It means I have to tell myself the truth, but in a kind way. (See Pitch It to Yourself and In Your Write Mind.) Over the years, for many problems that I faced, I learned the importance of positive affirmations based on truth. I saw that repeating these truths daily for weeks and months could totally reprogram my brain and change my attitude, my feelings, and the resultant actions.

No Right or Wro

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10. Unlearning Pessimism

pessimismBecause pessimism measures (in part) your ability to keep going and not quit in the face of unpleasant or disappointing circumstances, I didn’t expect the book Learned Optimism to have much to say to me.

My whole life has been about not quitting in the face of severe physical problems, depressing family life issues, and major publishing downturns. It’s been about taking responsibility, learning from things, and moving on.

“I’m no quitter” is as much a part of me as my hair color (under the Preference by L’Oreal) and my brown eyes. Yes, I sometimes took on too much. Yes, my health wasn’t always the best. But I always pressed on even if things looked hopeless.

That should earn me a high score on the book’s lengthy optimism test, right?

Um…no.

This Can’t Be Right!

I was shocked. I called my best friend who had read the book and asked what her score was. She got a 9–meaning very high optimism. I’m not surprised. She’s a great encourager.

I got a 0. (Oh, I got +14 on some good stuff, but a -14 on the bad stuff, effectively cancelling out the positives.) The test and research are based on what author Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D. calls your “explanatory style.” It’s how you perceive the reasons behind the good things and bad things that happen to you-and your assumptions about the future.

It’s BIG

According to Seligman, “It matters a great deal if your explanatory style is pessimistic. If you scored poorly, there are four areas where you will encounter (and probably already have encountered) trouble.”

He mentioned that you’ll (1) get depressed more easily, (2) achieve less at your career than your talent warrants [listen,optimism1 writers!], (3) have poorer physical health and an immune system not as good as it should be, and (4) life won’t be as pleasurable as it should be.

The author assures me that there are many ways to change your thinking in all these areas of your life. Evidently my “explanatory style” needs a major revamping. I’m looking forward to the rest of the book. It’s very research-heavy in the first half, so I may skip to the chapters on “how to fix it.”

Expect to hear more about this in future weeks! In this time of publishing upheaval and downturns, might you benefit from some “learned optimism” yourself?

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11. Follow-Up on Optimism/Pessimism

optimisJudging from some questions and comments I got via email about Wednesday’s post, I think I should have probably explained more.

I believe that many of us–and definitely ME–have a slightly “off” definition of being optimistic. It isn’t about thinking more positively or saying peppy things to yourself to keep going. (I’m good at both of those things.)

The test I scored a zero on measured three things that make up your optimism/pessimism score:

ONE: Permanence

Pessimists come to believe a bad condition is probably permanent (”Diets never work for me.” “You never talk to me.” “Life will always be hard.” “Editors will never want my writing.”)

Conversely, pessimests also believe the good things that happen to them are transcient. (”I tried hard that time.” “My opponent was just tired that day.” “I got lucky that time–it was a fluke.”)

An optimist believes good events came from permanent causes (”I’m smart” and “I’m talented”) and that bad events come from temporary causes (”I was having a bad day” and “she’s just hormonal this week.”)

TWO: Pervasiveness

Pessimists let bad news or events in one area of life spread to other areas. (”I can’t write–I just had a fight with my spouse/teen/best friend.”) Pessimists make blanket judgments. “All editors are unfair.” “Writing books are useless.”)

Conversely, when good things happen, pessimists are very specific. (”I only did well there because I’m smart at math.” “The editor only agreed to look at my book because I was charming at the conference.”)

An optimist can put bad events in a box and not let a failure in one area spread out into all areas of his/her life. Specific events stay separate. (”I’ll deal with my teen later–I’ll write now.” “This writing book is useless.” “The editor asked for my manuscript because my pitch–which I worked on for days–was good!”)

THREE: Personalization

This is when taking responsibility for your part in things (which is good) becomes self-blame (where you take all the responsibility for a problem, whether any or all of it is your fault or not.) You may have been raised with blame or live with someone who makes everything your fault. Either way, when things don’t work out in some area of your life, you automatically assume 100% of the blame. (”I’m just stupid.” “I’m insecure.” “I have no talent.”)

An optimist is realistic about how much responsibility to take for a problem. She doesn’t feel guilty assigning blame to others or events beyond her control when appropriate. She feels responsible for herself, not everyone she knows. [This was my biggest downfall on the test!]

It All Works Together

The test I took scored you on all three aspects. I scored high on some and low on others, which is how I got a zero. Some things–like taking too responsibility for things–turned out to be a bigger issue than I would have guessed. A

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12. Regain the Passion

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re half-way through a short story revision, or the rough draft of your novel, or the research for a biography—and without warning, you lose your desire for the project. The passion evaporates.

You feel lethargic, sad, and brain dead (or least oxygen deprived). You put your writing away for a few days, hoping it’s hormonal or a phase of the moon or post-holiday blues.

However, when you dig it out again, it’s even worse. It doesn’t grab you. You’re sure it won’t grab anyone else either! It’s boring. It goes back in the drawer.

Does Time Heal all Drafts?

Unfortunately, over the next few weeks, the situation worsens. Lethargy turns to apathy. Boredom turns to dislike. You face the fact that, for some reason, you’ve lost your burning desire to write this story—or maybe even write anything at all.

And without the passion, why bother to endure the long hours, the potential rejection of your work, and the low pay? Once it’s lost, how do you recapture your passion for writing?

What is Passion?

The question is summed up well by Hal Zina Bennett in Write from the Heart: “How do authors connect with that passion, bordering on obsession, that drives them to finish even the most ambitious writing projects in spite of seemingly insurmountable handicaps? What is the secret creative energy that the world’s best writers can apparently zap into action the moment their fingers touch their keyboards?”

Some say this passion is tied to how meaningful the writer feels his work is. He feels passion when what he is sharing is deeply meaningful. He may lose his passion when his writing turns into what will sell, what the markets dictate are current trends, and what pays the most money.

Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts says, “The most salient difference between the regularly blocked artist and the regularly productive artist may not be the greater talent of the latter, but the fact that the productive artist possesses and retains his missionary zeal.”

Most writers would agree that a passion for writing involves enthusiasm, excitement, drive, and a deep love for your work. This passion makes writing a joyous occupation. It makes time fly while “real life” is shoved to the far comers of the mind. It’s being in the flow, enraptured in the present moment. For some, it’s being aware that they’re writers twenty-four hours a day.

Why Does Passion Dissipate?

Passion can spring a leak after too many rejection slips, too many critical comments from spouses or reviewers or critique partners, and too many crises to handle in your personal life.

Passion can also die when you repeat yourself in your work instead of exploring new avenues of writing.

Lack of passion can be caused by chronic fatigue. “Fatigue and the accompanying blockage also come with living the sort of marginal life that artists so often live,” says Eric Maisel. “The effort required to put food on the table, to deal with an illness without benefit of a hospital plan, to pay the rent, to get a toothache treated, to attend

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13. Divine Discontent

Learning how to be content with what you have brings great peace. I’ve discontentdone several studies on contentment, and it’s a state I try to live in.

That said, I also believe there is such a thing as divine discontent. It’s akin to the stirring of the nest when it’s time for baby birds to leave their comfort zone and fly.

That “I want something more” feeling is what prompted me to take the ICL writing course thirty years ago, the only writer’s “training” I’ve ever had.

Spinning Your Wheels

This divine discontent is a longing for something different. You may feel stuck in a job that saps so much energy that you don’t have any left over for your writing. You may have climbed to the top of the corporate ladder and found it less satisfying than you’d expected. Your kids may finally be in school all day, but your days are crammed with things that don’t fulfill you.

This restless discontent can be a sign that you’re being called to something else. If you’re reading this blog, perhaps it’s a career in writing.

Signposts Along the Way

According to The Practical Dreamer’s Handbook: Finding the Time, Money, and Energy to Live Your Dreams by Paul and Sarah Edwards, there are sixteen signs to look for that might mean something is missing in your life–and something new is waiting to be born. The signs include:

  • Not wanting to get out of bed
  • Feeling mildly depressed for days on end
  • Difficulty motivating yourself to do routine tasks
  • Overeating, using alcohol, drugs, or TV to feel better or escape
  • Losing interest in things that once engaged you
  • Feeling chronically tired, de-energized, and listless
  • Nagging doubts about yourself and the course of your life
  • Losing a sense of enthusiasm
  • Worrying about how you’ll keep things together
  • Getting frequent headaches, stomach upset, and other aches and pains
  • Feeling bored and restless
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Wishing you were someone else
  • Nagging and complaining
  • Having frequently bad dreams or nightmares
  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed and irritable

What if you identify with these signs of discontent with your life? Could this restless sense of “I need something more” be a calling to do something else? Something besides what “everyone” thinks you should do?

Finding Out

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14. Who’s in Charge? (Part 2)

attitudeHope you read “Who’s in Charge?” (Part 1) first!

On Monday I talked about taking charge of your negative thought because where the mind goes, the man (or woman) follows! And how will that help?

Attitudes

Changing your thoughts will change your attitudes and emotional feelings about writing. Instead of postponing happiness until you get published, for example, choose to be content with your writing today.

Choose to enjoy the act of putting words down on paper to capture an image. Choose to enjoy delving into your memories for a kernel of a story idea. Choose to enjoy the process of reading back issues of magazines you want to submit to. Choose to enjoy reading a book on plot or dialogue or characterization for tips you can apply to your stories.

Instead of feeling pressured to succeed quickly, choose to be patient with your learning curve. Choose to be happy about each small, steady step forward.

Zoom Out!

Look at the larger picture, how each writing day is another small building block laying the foundation of your career. Stay present in the present! Pace yourself with the determined attitude of the tortoise instead of the sprinter attitude of the hare.

You also need to choose an attitude of commitment. Commit to your goals and deadlines, to continued improvement in your writing, and to dealing with negative feelings as they come up. Commitment is more than “I wish” or “I’d like.” Commitment is “I will.” There is a huge difference! (Like the gap between a man saying, “Gee, I’d like to marry you” and “Will you marry me–here’s the ring–let’s set a date!”)

Move from the wishy-washy attitude of “I’d like to be a writer” to the commitment level of “I’ll do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to be a successful writer.” That one change in attitude can be what determines if you make it as a writer.

(Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday.)

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15. Are You on the Verge? Then Don’t Quit!

[Writing goes in cycles. I am tempted to quit every few years! This weekend when I was particularly frustrated with a revision that isn't going well, I went back through my blog and found this. It helped me--and maybe it's worth repeating for you too. This is from several years ago...]

What’s the Use?

Yesterday I dragged myself to the computer, bone weary, body aching, and tired of my writing project. The last few weeks I’d increased my writing hours a lot to meet my (self-imposed) deadline.

I imagine part of it was not feeling well, but yesterday I looked at the almost complete project and thought, What’s the use? This actually stinks. I bet I’ve wasted the last six months on this.

I couldn’t make myself get to work. So I did what most good writers do when they want to look like they’re working, but they’re not: I checked email.

Rescuing My Writing Day

And thanks to Suzanne Lieurance from “The Working Writer’s Coach” and her “Morning Nudge,” my writing day was rescued. This is what she sent yesterday that got me back to work.

The life of a freelance writer can be very frustrating at times. There are so many things to do and not enough time to do them all. Or - the writing seems to be going nowhere and you just can’t make yourself sit down and write. You work and work, seemingly to no avail.

So you begin to wonder - What’s the point? Am I really getting anywhere? But know this. If you’re starting to feel frustrated because you think you’ve been working WAY too hard for the few results all this work has produced, you’re on the verge (even though it may feel more like you’re “on the edge”). You’re on the verge of creating some powerful momentum.

Stick with it…  So many people give up, just when they are on the verge of great success. Just when they start to feel really frustrated. Just when they feel nothing is going the way they want it to. If that’s how you’re feeling right now - celebrate! You’re on the verge of wonderful, great things! You’re on the verge of creating that powerful momentum that will move your writing career ahead to an entirely NEW and exciting level!

Today, relax and let go of that frustration, knowing you’re on the verge of great things. Try it!

I urge you to sign up today for Suzanne’s daily kick in the writing pants, “The Morning Nudge.” You’ll be glad you did!

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16. Revolution

Revolution

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Delacorte, 2010
(review copy provided by publisher)

Revolution kept me turning pages and dialing up the audiobook, nonstop, until I finished. It is one of the most intriguing books I read in 2010.

Andi's little brother, Truman, has been killed (the reader does not know how or why) and she believes it is her fault. She wears a key that belonged to him around her neck on a red ribbon. Is it a tender remembrance or is it penance?  Her mother has sunk into deep grief and compulsively paints portraits of the boy on the walls of their home, neglecting everything and everyone else.

When her father, a world famous scientist and absentee father, learns that Andi is about to flunk out of her private high school, he takes her to Paris where he is participating in a scientific examination of DNA of a preserved heart, reputed to be that of the dauphin, Louis-Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Coincidently (or maybe not) Andi discovers the diary of a young woman, hidden in an antique guitar case.  Alexandrine Paradis, the author of the diary, was the companion of the same Louis-Charles. Andi is caught up in the events of the French Revolution as she reads the diary and Alexandrine's story merges with Andi's causing Andi (and the reader) to question what is really happening. Is there really a fantastical connection to the events in the past or is her mind reacting to medication and to her brother's death?

In the present, Andi meets a young cab driver and musician named Virgil (one of many allusions to Dante's Divine Comedy which is also quoted at the start of each section.) He shares her passion for music and her interest in him gives her a lift from her depression and an anchor in the present.

Still, her fury with her father, her depression and thoughts of suicide are painful.   As a reader, I wanted to reach into the story and stop her hand as she downs the prescription anti-depressants that are probably exacerbating those thoughts. Donnelly does provide some well timed, comic relief through Andi's best friend in the States, Vijay Gupta, who is seeking input from world leaders for his senior thesis

As gifted musician and guitarist herself, Andi has chosen an 18th century composer, Amadé Malherbeau, for her senior thesis. She is supposed to be researching him while in Paris.  This story is infused with music theory and music history, rap, and classical guitar.  Even though Malherbeau is fictional, Donnelly provides such a solid musical grounding for him that readers will want to believe in his historical existence.

Donnelly truly captures Revolutionary Paris and the Paris of today. The officious library clerk that Andi encounters at the library/archives is the quintessential French bureaucrat.  T

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17. What Fuels Your Writing?

painYesterday on a long Skype call, I talked with a writer friend about what fuels our writing.

For me, my favorite books (both in terms of the writing and how well they did after publication) were often fueled by some kind of pain or wound. Something difficult that I was going through (or one of my children) would spark an idea for a book, and the drive to solve the problem provided the passion and energy to see the story through to completion.

Negatives to Positives

Energy from hurts and wounds and pain can be very useful to you as a writer. But, if you’re just wounded, does that automatically translate into books others will want to read? No.

As Bill O’Hanlon says in Write is a Verb, “in order to have your wound fuel your writing process, the hurt or negative energy needs to be turned into creative energy, informing or driving your writing. It’s not enough to be wounded; you must find a way to turn that wound into energy for your writing.”

Pain = Energy for Writing

He quoted many authors (some quite famous) who had tragedies befall them, but they took the pain and turned around to write some of the most gripping books of our time on the very subject that nearly destroyed them.

It doesn’t have to be a wound the size of the Grand Canyon either (a child being kidnapped, losing your home in a hurricane, both parents dying from cancer the same month). It isn’t the size of the wound–it’s what you do with it that counts.

Just Let It All Hang Out?

In order for your pain to be useful to you as a writer, you’ll need to step back a bit and distance yourself from it. Otherwise you won’t be able to see the story possibilities in it. You’ll be too hung up on the facts. (”But it really HAPPENED this way!” you protest.) Yes, but facts need to be shaped a lot if you’re going to create a story or article or book from those facts. (The truth of your experience can shine through, despite changing some facts.)

Facts will need to change in order to create well-rounded characters, and the plot still needs a beginning, middle, climax and ending. Things will be added–and subtracted–from your experience to make a better story. If you can’t do that, you’re probably still too wounded to turn the experience into a viable story.

“Make no mistake. I have seen writing full of anger, self-pity, or hate that I think will never (and should never) be published,” says O’Hanlon. “They are simply expressions of the author’s pain, more like a journal entry than a book. They are self-indulgent and should be kept private… In order to turn that pain and anger into a book, the writing needs to somehow turn the personal into the universal.” In other words, the book needs to speak to other readers in a way that helps or nourishes them.

Identify Your Writing Energy

How can you tell if your pain and wounds might be energy for your writing? Here are four questions to ask yourself, suggested by the author. They can pinpoint sources of writing energy in your life just waiting to be tapped into.

  • What do you care about so deeply or get so excited about that you talk about it to anyone who will listen?
  • What upsets you so much that you are compelled to write about it or include the theme in your book?
  • Wha

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18. Treasures from the Web

treasureFor the last two weeks, I’ve bombarded you with long posts on how to make changes in your writing life–and make them last.

A Breather

Today I’ll give you a breather and show you some of the treasures I found.

Sit back and enjoy!

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19. Knowing When to Quit

quitWe don’t like to talk about quitting or giving up on our dreams. But let’s be honest. Will every wannabe writer eventually land big contracts,  snag a well-known NY agent, and be sent on ten-city book tours? No.

Maybe your dreams are more modest, but you’ve worked at breaking into publishing for years. Should you continue the struggle? For how long? How do you know when to quit?

Asking the Wrong Question

I came across an excellent discussion from a blog post that is several years old, but the advice is timeless. Called “When to Quit,” it’s a lengthy article by Scott Young on this subject. I hope you’ll read it to the end.

One factor the article said to consider was how you feel on a day-to-day basis as you pursue your dream. How is the process affecting your life, your character, your growth? “So if you are pursuing your dream and you don’t think you are going to make it, the question of whether or not to quit doesn’t depend on your chance of success. The real question is whether pursuing this dream is causing you to grow. Does this path fill you with passion and enthusiasm? Do you feel alive?”

You may not agree with all his views, but I guarantee that the article will make you think–even if you have no intention of quitting. It might lead you to make a course correction however. And it will make you evaluate why you’re pursuing your particular dream–and that’s always a good thing!

If you have a minute, give me your reactions to the ideas in his article.

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20. Does exercise really boost your mood?

By Michael Otto


In the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds posed the question, “Does exercise really boost your mood?” There is a clear, clean answer to this question – yes!  In fact, the evidence that regular, moderate exercise can boost your mood is overwhelming.  From population-based studies to well-controlled clinical trials – exercise is associated with better mood.  Specifically, exercise is linked with less depression and improved well-being, decreased anger, decreased anxiety, and greater feelings of social connectedness.  Exercise also improves brain functioning, and has dramatic effects on overall health. These findings have been documented repeatedly in both human and animal studies (in animal studies, depression and anxiety are assessed by behavioral responses to specific tasks).  So if the evidence is consistent, why question the effects exercise has on mood?

The motivation behind this question was a recent paper from German researchers that investigated the effects of a 3-week intense running schedule in mice.  The mice really were churning it out on the running wheel – pawing their way to an average of 12 kilometers (over 7 miles) each day.  But apparently they were not feeling cheery; the mice showed an increase rather than a decrease in anxiety behavior.  It is not clear what to make of these findings, and they don’t parallel findings in humans.  Even among marathon runners, who put in long distances similar to the mice in this study, the effects of exercise on mood appear to be positive.

This is not to say that exercise will always improve mood. For example, over-exertion and worries about physical appearance are great ways to sap motivation to continue exercise.  Also, feelings during exercise are highly variable, especially when the intensity of exercise is vigorous. The beauty of exercise for mood is that you don’t have to run yourself miserable to get the mood benefits.  Moderate exertion is enough to help you experience the desired mood benefits after exercise.

Yet the real challenge of exercise for most Americans is actually doing it.  Focusing directly on the immediate mood and stress-reducing effects of exercise can help with this challenge. Instead of drudgery directed at a distant goal of a fitter, slimmer you; exercise can be used to achieve the immediate goal of a happier, less-stressed you. But still people need to learn how to manage the thinking and procrastination patterns that can derail good exercise intentions. Motivation has been well researched, and there is an increasing role for psychologists in aiding the physical and mental health of Americans by helping them understand and change the many factors that can sap motivation.  It is now timely for Americans to take advantage of this accumulated wisdom for their own direct benefit, on or off the running wheel.

Michael Otto, Ph.D., and Jasper Smits, Ph.D., are behavior change experts and authors of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being.

View more about this book on the

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21. So what do we think? Waking Rose: a fairy tale retold

  WAKING ROSE: A FAIRY TALE RETOLD

 Doman, Regina. (2007) Waking Rose: a fairy tale retold. Front Royal, VA: Chesterton Press. ISBN #978-0-981-93184-5. Author recommended age: 16 +. Litland.com also recommends 16+.  See author explanation for parents at http://www.fairytalenovels.com/page.cfm/cat/116//

Publisher’s description: Ever since he rescued her from Certain Death, Rose Brier has had a crush on Ben Denniston, otherwise known as Fish. But Fish, struggling with problems of his own, thinks that Rose should go looking elsewhere for a knight in shining armor. Trying to forget him, Rose goes to college, takes up with a sword-wielding band of brothers, and starts an investigation into her family’s past that proves increasingly mysterious. Then a tragic accident occurs, and Fish, assisted by Rose’s new friends, finds himself drawn into a search through a tangle of revenge and corruption that might be threatening Rose’s very life. The climax is a crucible of fear, fight, and fire that Fish must pass through to reach Rose and conquer his dragons.

Our thoughts:

It is difficult to capture the essence of this story coherently because it touches upon so many aspects of life. There is the mystery, of course, and continuing depth of family loyalty amongst the Briers. The craziness of those first years experienced when young adults leave their nest and venture into the outer world of college life, whether as newbie freshmen or advanced graduate students. Unlikely friendships as the strong nurture the weak with Kateri mentoring Donna in her mental illness, and Rose guiding Fish through abuse recovery. Fish’s loyalty to Rose, taken to the extreme, becomes unforgiving. But then self-denigration turns into enlightenment and hope.

And after all of that is said, we are left with the relationship of Fish and Rose finally reaching a neat and tidy conclusion :>)

The girls have progressed in the series to young adults. Blanche just married Bear and Rose is off to college. Fish continues in his college program too. Doman shows us the challenges young adults face when they first enter the world on their own, particularly in making friends and exploring crushes. We can imagine ourselves engaged in the chit chat and horseplay typical in budding relationships. Important also is the picture implanted in our mind of courtship.

Throughout the story, we can see the existence of three pillars: faith, family and friends. Whenever one of these pillars is weakened, internal conflict and unsafe situations arise. Maintaining the balance, we see Rose’s keen ability for discernment that has been honed as a result of consistency in faith life, family home “culture, and choice of friends. Her discernment is key to good decisions, keeping safe, etc.

Going beyond stereotypes, the dialogue paints a clear picture of the perceptions held by non-Christians against Christians, countered with a realistic portrayal of the passionate young Christian student. Previous books portrayed ac

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22. Joan Didion on psychiatric trends and diagnoses

In her forthcoming memoir, Blue Nights, Joan Didion remembers the way her daughter’s (above, left) psychiatric diagnosis kept changing. Manic depression became OCD; OCD became something else, something she can’t remember now, but something that ultimately gave way to many other conditions before “the least programmatic of her doctors settled on one that actually seemed to apply”: borderline personality disorder.

Diagnosis never seems to lead to a cure, Didion observes, only an enforced debility. But as with a psychiatric evaluation of herself conducted in 1968 and excerpted in The White Album (and quoted in part below), Didion sees and reflects on the truths of the assessment even as she ponders it at arm’s length.

I’ll have much more to say about her new book when it’s out in November, but this paradoxical blend of skepticism, acceptance, and astringent detachment in matters pertaining to psychology and its insights and connection to the culture, has always characterized Didion’s writing. It’s one of the reasons I’m so drawn to her work.

In the title essay of The White Album, the one that begins with the famous line “We tell ourselves stories in order the live,” she recalls “a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common condition, but one I found troubling.” She continues:

I was supposed to have a script, and had mislaid it. I was supposed to hear cues, and no longer did. I was meant to know the plot but all I knew was what I saw: flash pictures in variable sequence, images with no “meaning” beyond their temporary arrangement, not a movie but a cutting-room experience. In what would probably be the mid-point of my life I wanted still to believe in narrative and in the narrative’s intelligibility, but to know that one could change the sense with every cut was to begin to perceive the experience as rather more electrical than ethical…


Another flash cut:

In June of this year patient experienced an attack of vertigo, nausea, and a feeling that she was going to pass out… The Rorschach record is interpreted as describing a personality in process of deterioration with abundant signs of failing defenses and increasing inability of the ego to mediate the world of reality and to cope with normal stress… Emotionally, patient has alienated herself almost entirely from the world of other human beings. Her fantasy life appears to have been virtually completely preempted by primitive, regressive libidinal preoccupations many of which are distorted and bizarre… In a technical sense basic affective controls appear to be intact but it is equally clear that they are insecurely and tenuously maintained for the present by a variety of defense mechanisms including intellectualization, obsessive-compulsive devices, projection, reaction-formation, and somatization, all of which now seem inadequate to their task of controlling or containing an underlying psyhotic process and are therefore in process of failure. The content of patient’s responses is highly unconventional and frequently bizarre, filled with sexual and anatomical preoccupations, and basic reality contact is obviously and seriously impaired at times. In quality and level of sophistical patients responses are characteristic of those of individuals of high average or superior intelligence but she is now functioning intellectually in impaired fashion at barely average level. Patient’s th

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23. Friday Follow-Up

stressWednesday’s blog entitled “Unhappiness: A Positive Sign” sparked more private email than usual! Glad it got you to thinking about this.

The tension you feel at the beginning of a project–that itch to “go for it!”–seems like a positive sign to me. So what is the “unhappy” part those authors were talking about in their book Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path? And, emailers asked me, why did I feel that tension after selling forty books?

Ignorance Was Bliss

During my student work for ICL, I told three of my class assignments. It was fun! I expected to sell them and kept submitting till I did. Thankfully, there was no Internet in those days, and I didn’t know any other writers who told me I couldn’t make a living at this.

I was naive, yes, but it helped! I just assumed that if I worked hard at the writing, I could have a paying career doing it. I saw setbacks and rejections as part of the process on the way to getting what I wanted. (And yes, it had to pay to make up for me not teaching anymore in the public schools.)

What’s Changed?

To answer one man’s email question, I think my excitement at the beginning is now tempered with reality. I’m not the naive writer I was at the beginning–and to be honest, I miss that phase at some points.

At this stage of my writing career, I realize that starting a new project IS exciting–but it brings other things along with the excitement:

  • hard work, neck cramps, and back aches
  • risks that may not pay off
  • loneliness as I get closer to the deadline
  • letting go of lunches, grandkid overnights, and other fun temporarily
  • having the project misunderstood and/or criticized

But is this bad? NO!! It’s good to know this!

Now I have no surprises that derail me. I’m not shocked when I get bogged down in the middle. I’m not greatly disappointed by having to give up some social things so that I can get enough rest and write in the morning. I don’t expect everyone to be as excited by my idea as I am.

I know the harder aspects are just part and parcel of the writing life. You acknowledge them when they happen and move on. They’re no longer a big deal–and to me, that’s a very good thing.

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24. Wounds from the Game

carverDuring the 1988 Jamboree encampment of 32,000 Boy Scouts, one troop (38 Scouts) led the entire Jamboree in cuts treated at the medical tent.

The huge number of nicks from busy knives sounded negative until someone toured the camp and saw the unique artistic walking sticks each boy in that troop had made. They led the entire encampment in other kinds of games, too.

Wounds simply mean that you’re in the game. It’s true for Boy Scouts–and it’s true for writers as well.

What Wounds?

I know an excellent writer who has revised a book for years–but won’t submit it, even though everyone who has read it feels the book is ready. What benefit does she get from that? She never has to face rejection. She never has to hear an editor say, “This is good–but it needs work.” She never has to read a bad review of her book, or do any speaking engagements to promote her work, or learn how to put together a website.

She will also never feel the exhilaration of holding her published book in her hands. She won’t get letters from children who tell her how much her book means to them and has helped them. She won’t get a starred review or win an award or do a book signing. She won’t move on and write a second (and third and fourth) book.

Paying the Price

If you want to be a writer, you have to get into the game and risk a few wounds. Figure out ways to bandage them and recover from them, but don’t be afraid of getting them. They’re simply a sign that you’re a writer. Wear the battle scars proudly!

What part(s) of the writing life make you want to stay on the sidelines and out of the line of fire?

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25. Learned Optimism

optimismAre you a pessimist? You might be surprised. Choosing to be an optimist, according to author Randy Ingermanson, can change your writing life. Read his article below, reprinted with permission. It’s long–but worth it!

What’s Holding You Back?

I recently discovered something about myself that surprised me. Something that makes me take a lot longer to get things done than I should. Something that sometimes keeps me from finishing tasks. Something that occasionally even keeps me from trying in the first place.

I’m a pessimist.

This came as quite a surprise. After all, I’m not nearly as pessimistic as “Joe,” a guy I used to work with. Every time I suggested a new idea to “Joe,” the first thing he’d say was, “Now be careful! There’s a lot of things you haven’t thought about yet.” Then he’d shoot the idea down with rocket-powered grenades.

After a while, I learned not to run ideas past “Joe” because apparently, all my ideas were bad.

I haven’t seen “Joe” in years, and I’m pretty sure I’m not as pessimistic as he is. But somewhere along the way, I definitely went over to the Dark Side. I became more like him than I ever imagined possible.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that pessimism is not forever. You can quit being a pessimist and start being an optimist.

But should you? Aren’t those pesky pessimists more in touch with reality than those annoying optimists?

Yes and no.

Yes, pessimists generally do have a better grasp of the hard realities of the situation. “Life sucks” and all that. You can prove in the lab that pessimists are better at recognizing reality.

But no, no, no, because in very real ways, you make your own reality. We all know about self-fulfilling prophecies. Those work both ways. Optimists are
happier, healthier, and get more done. Because they expect to. Pessimists are less happy, less healthy, and get less done. Because they expect to. Again, you can measure that difference in the lab.

If you’re a pessimist and you want to know what’s holding you back in life, just go look in a mirror.

It’s you. But you already knew that, and you were already down on yourself, and now you’re mad at me for blaming you, but realistically, you secretly believe it’s your own darned fault, so you’re really just mad at me for telling you what you already knew.

Sorry about that. I feel your pain. Remember, I’m a pessimist too, and I’m probably a bigger one than you are.

I’m a pessimist, but I’m going to change. Which is actually an optimistic thing to say, and it means the cure is already working.

What is pessimism? And what is optimism? And how do you know which you are?

I’m not the expert on this. Martin Seligman is the expert, and he has been for a long time. Recently, somebody recommended Seligman’s book to me. The title is LEARNED OPTIMISM.

I grabbed a copy off Amazon and began reading. Seligman hooked me right away with his account of how he and a number of other researchers broke the stranglehold on psychology that had been held for decades by the
behaviorists.

Behaviorists taught that people were created by their environment. To change a person, you had to condition him to a new behavior. A person couldn’t change himself merely by thinking differently, because thinking didn’t matter. Only conditioning mattered.

What Seligman and others showed was that the behaviorists were wrong. The way you think matters. Thinking optimistically, you could change thing

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