I was in a slump. A big one. The only thing to blame was myself. Why? Because I had the audacity to doubt myself. I doubted my ability, I doubted my choices, and I doubted my strength. I do this almost monthly but this time it had a lasting effect. I didn’t read or write for 8 months, I barely blogged, and I almost followed through with life-changing decisions on a whim. I advise against this, it’s just not a good idea. Nothing had happened to trigger this other than a random surge of Imposter Syndrome. Why am I telling you this? For two reasons.
- In case any of you are going through similar and might benefit from hearing my story.
I needed somewhere to talk sense into myself and I do that by writing things down. It’s a writer thing, don’t judge.
My main problem with discipline and motivation is that I have two very different paths in life. They are running parallel and at one point in time were equally important to me. I have made huge life decisions based on them, and usually these decisions favoured one over the other. A classic tale I will always share is how I got into my first choice university; the University of East Anglia to pursue a BA in English Literature. UEA is known for the oldest and best creative writing courses in the UK. I had a chance to change courses to study CW alongside my BA or do an MA afterwards. It was a dream come true for a hopeful 18 year old who wanted to be a bestselling author. But the chances of that are incredibly slim, and a career in publishing (my secondary passion) was just as unlikely. So on the day I got my A Level results and my acceptance, I turned them down. Instead, I moved to Leicester and achieved my BSc in Psychology. Thus beginning my route towards becoming a Doctor of Clinical Psychology. Ever since, I have made professional decisions in line with the latter, forsaking opportunities for my initial dream. Upon reflection, I think this is a way for me to avoid taking risks and giving myself a chance. A chance to fall flat on my face in the never ending ocean that is rejection by agents and publishers alike. I’m safe in Psychology.
The reason I mention this, is merely because the title of this article rang true about 20 minutes ago. When I was 21 and nearing the end of my degree, I applied about twelve times for the training position I completed last year. I was rejected every time and ended up working on a psychiatric ward for minimum wage. I loved every minute of it. In December 2017, after six months of work, I was offered an interview for such a training post. In January 2019 I was awarded my postgraduate certificate, with merit, and am now working full time as a qualified practitioner within the NHS. I am living my dream. I worked so hard to be where I am and I had completely forgotten that. I didn’t just pick this role randomly, I spent hours rewriting applications, working long shifts with the most severely unwell children, and I faced down rejection multiple times. The interview I was offered came straight after two rejections for identical positions in other locations, I fought for this.
My mom asked me tonight whether I regret not studying English Literature. The simple answer is yes. When I mentioned acting on life altering decisions, I almost applied to UEA to study their MA in Creative Writing: Prose Fiction. My boyfriend offered to move to Norfolk with me to start in September. I emailed their admissions with questions, and looked at working my current job part time or maybe working in a bookshop in Norwich. UEA also offers the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, it was the perfect plan. Luckily I forced myself to reconsider as I factored in rent and the tuition fees. I was very conflicted. I still am.
So I’ve done some reflecting and decided that one of my biggest drawbacks is that I am all talk. Earlier this year I talked about instilling habits every month by doing challenges to change my routine. I didn’t get past February. I haven’t finished my first draft. I’m not blogging regularly. It was a really bad slump. So I have made three changes.
- I have drawn up a Pinterest board of quotes and affirmations to push me to maintain discipline.
I’ve reflected on all of the above and challenged myself to stop talking and start doing. I don’t need a degree to be an author, and I shouldn’t need a year of full time education to justify focusing on my writing.
I realised that past me would be thrilled to see my present as her future, and I am going to remind myself of that instead of doubting myself.
Let me know your best tricks to maintain discipline and keep your mindset positive in the comments!