It's day two. I got up an hour earlier than yesterday to write my morning pages rather than enjoying a long lie in bed on my day off – I want to be keeping good habits to stay committed to the course this time round, so I'll be up another hour earlier tomorrow to fit things in before my normal getting-ready-for-work routine kicks in.
After writing such a long — and quite mentally draining — first blog post yesterday, I decided not to tackle my monsters or blurts straight away. Besides the huge to-do list I had to get through, I felt like I needed a little nurturing and nourishment, so instead I opted to jump straight to the task where I thought about my champions.
This was a very encouraging and motivational exercise. It's easy to get wrapped up in your own paranoia of believing the world is against you, that nobody supports you and they all think you're crazy, your art amounts to nothing and you'll never make anything of it. It's also easy to forget that there are many people out there who champion what you're doing and really do support you.
The exercise calls on you to think of three old champions of your creative self-worth and to find positive affirmation in their words, actions and compliments. While I still have my fair share of monsters who allow negative self-doubt to creep in (and I'll return to them later), I'm fortunate to have a healthy pool of supporters who encourage me in my endeavours, with many of them happy to give praise and honest feedback.
Over the past few weeks I've been hosting a small exhibition of my writing, at which I recite some of my short stories and have previewed sketches from the play I am writing at present. An opening launch night was organised, and I spent two agonising weeks leading up to it worrying that not a single person would turn up. And once I started to hear back from a few people that they'd definitely make it along, I started to worry instead that I'd muck up the readings and make a fool of myself in front of the crowd regardless of how many people were there. I worried that they'd judge the writing I had selected to exhibit, or that they'd visibly hate the scene from the play right there yards from me while I performed it, giving me doubts about completing the whole project.
I needn't have worried.
I was told 25-30 people could attend, and 27 turned up. I had friends and supporters there from all areas of my life, past and present, home and away, who all turned up to be part of that special night. All I had to do was trust they would come, read well, speak clearly, and — the part I had been forgetting until then — try to enjoy myself in the now.
Several of those I consider to be my greatest champions were there. I wrote about one of them last night in my journal in great detail as part of this task, and I reflected fondly on the couple who took me to dinner after the event: they told me how proud they feel to have shared in the journey I've been on this past year. I honestly didn't know I had that affect on people, or that they cared so much about what I've been doing. Some of my oldest and dearest champions couldn't be there; one was simply too far away to make it and the other had a work engagement back home that couldn't be rescheduled, but they didn't leave it with a simple 'sorry I can't make it'. One sent a card with a beautifully written message of support and encouragement (which I have pinned above my writing desk where I will see it every day), while the other sent me emails and text messages and wanted to hear all about it on the phone afterwards.
I've never found it easy to accept compliments. I find it slightly embarrassing and awkward to have people talk positively about my work. This, in spite of my training as a counsellor and life coach — I find it easy to preach to people about accepting praise and positive affirmation when it is honestly and genuinely given, but have failed in the past to take good feedback on board myself.
I have my blurts, my doubts and my inner self critic to tell me that people don't mean it, they don't know what they're talking about and I don't deserve it. My 'monsters in the hall'. No point putting them off any longer — they will be today's task. It's time to drag them out of the dark and into the open where they can be dealt with.