I had occasion to send some encouraging words to a demotivated writer today. Why is that something of note? Because it’s ironic; I myself am somewhat of a demotivated writer. I struggle with all kinds of fears and misgivings about writing. A lot of the blocks I am dealing with are real ones – stress of a military deployment, health issues, school, work, personal issues – but a lot of those blocks are also psychological (e.g. “What’s the point? I really don’t write very well at all – not enough to make a difference.”)
My advice to the demotivated writer was this:
“… exposure would be good to help bolster confidence. One should never stop writing because one feels ‘there is no use’. One should always continue writing no matter what. Practice makes perfect. And a lot of mistakes one makes as a young writer get improved over time and with experience.”
I wish I would take my own advice.
The truth is, as writers, we all face one kind of discouragement or another. Especially for a profession that is mostly self-propelled, encouragement has to come from within. Which sounds a whole lot easier than it actually is. I don’t know about you, but I need some kind of inspiration in order to encourage myself, spur myself on. Inspiration can come from multiple places, but some of the places I get the most of my inspiration from is in nature.
The other day, I opened my back door on my way to my usual 10 minute sit out on the deck every hour or so. There was a female deer standing in the middle of my back yard. Clearly she was startled when I opened the door, but she didn’t move. She just stood watching me; waiting, I would guess, to see whether I was going to harm her or not. I stepped outside calmly and said softly, “Hello there!” with a smile on my face and in my heart. And then sat, as usual, at the deck table. Apparently, that was encouraging enough, for she bent her head and munched on the overgrown grass and weeds in my woefully unkempt lawn. A few seconds later, a baby deer came bounding out of the greenbelt and ran to head-butt its mother. I could see the moment he realised I was sitting there. His little legs sort of froze and he shivered just the tiniest bit. Then he turned to observe me. He stood looking at me for a few seconds, and I said again “Hello there!”, with a little lilt in my voice.
To cut a long story short, this mother and baby seemed satisfied that I was harmless and continued about their frolic in my back yard. It inspired me because that was a connection with nature. It doesn’t seem like much, because in human terms, there was no tangible evidence of communication exchanged. I didn’t really get a response to my “Hi there”. But, if you think about it in terms of nonverbal communication, I did get a response. The minute mom and baby turned away from me and continued on their path calmly was a communication in itself. It told me that I had succeeded in setting them at ease with my presence.
What is inspiring about this episode? Simply this: I just told you a story. A story about an interaction with nature at it’s best. A story that probably made you smile and say to yourself “Well, that’s beautiful”.
And isn’t that all story-telling is supposed to be about?
Go ahead – write, and write well.