Writing any thing of any length, type, or purpose can be a lot of pressure. Forget the old tale of the author who has to follow up the success of a first novel with something as good or better. Most writers have had little to no success and even creating the first “notable" work takes all of their will power and self-confidence. It also tends to take all of your time as friends, loved ones, and the world at large can get lost in the shuffle. This creates tension from pretty much every side of your life. One method to keep you from giving in to the stress is to take some time to give back to the world. This motivation technique involves doing some good.
There are writers who are very involved in positive causes. They make the effort to promote awareness to various charities and they help people in distress. Most writers, however, are in it for themselves. Sure, sure, the world needs to hear your story. And maybe they do, but they definitely weren’t clamoring for it or else you’d already have a book deal. You are probably in the writing game because you love to write, or you want to become a famous novelist, or you’re trying to be Bohemian. As much as those reasons are valid, they can only really support you and your needs, until you get famous and can adopt kids from foreign countries or something :).
It is entirely possible to go through your writing process without worrying about anyone but yourself. Avoiding your friends, getting a loan or two to get through the month, putting the development of your relationship on hold, and not bothering with the problems of the world. But what happens when a few years go by and you’re still working on achieving that success? Your friends have become acquaintances, you owe a lot of people money, your boyfriend or girlfriend emulates your distance, and you feel a sense of guilt for avoiding any type of contribution to causes.
These typical buoys of your life become anchors. You get stressed about money and people. You were already stressed about your art and now you’ve been pushed closer and closer to the breaking point. There is now as much pressure as possible on you to succeed quickly, reconnect with your friends, pay off your debts, to win back your special someone, and to save the world.
Most people deal with this by not fully going for success. They concentrate on their relationships and their financial security. They only half-heartedly go for their dreams but they have a great time three or four days a week. This is a good recipe for enjoyment in the moment, but it could lead to life purpose regrets later on down the road. The way to keep a balance in your life without stopping your quest for success is to incorporate the act of “giving back" into your daily routine.
Taking and taking and taking puts a strain on your soul. When it continues for too long it pushes people away and increases a growing sense of guilt inside. This is how I felt after two years as a producer and writer in Chicago.
I love creating a project from the ground up. Getting a group of people together like a family and seeing what kind of magic they can make. Producing or being any part of a show means a lot of asking for help. Asking people to come to your fundraisers and to tell their friends about your shows. Then you end up doing several shows back to back which leads to begging these people to contribute another chunk of change to your cause. Of course, you’re too busy to make it to their shows, so this one-sided beneficial relationship deteriorates.
I was feeling the strain from the breakdown of these relationships. I was also trying to raise money for my biggest project ever, which caused me to borrow from friends, family, and other loved ones. The stress was getting to me and a meltdown was imminent. Something that did make me feel better and helped to stave off any personal fireworks was when I gave my friends life advice. As a producer-type with a sort of bird’s eye view, I was able to see when actors/friends/etc. were having problems. Being both an introvert turned extrovert and a sort of wannabe therapist made these sessions quite successful. The people I spoke with felt better and so did I.
I had created a way to make value and I was giving it to people one at a time. The positive feelings I experienced from this phenomenon made me wonder if there was a way for me to deliver this value to many people all at once. I stumbled upon
Site Build It!
and used it to create this website. The rest is still sorta recent history.
I have been so lucky and gracious to receive some wonderful comments through the site. I loved it when I received praise from friends, but I may have loved it even more when strangers contacted me. It meant that my messages were reaching beyond my typical scope. Believe me when I say that the realization of this fact has warmed my heart. I try to look at these comments every time my stress level gets too high.
I am still pushing towards success, perhaps more so now than ever. The lessening of my stress has increased my drive. Yes, I’ve had to spend a good deal of time to create and deliver my value. But the leftover time has been bolstered by this daily burst of good feeling.
How can you give back to your friends, loved ones, and the world at large? Could it be something with your writing or art or something different entirely? Start small. Give back just a little bit of your time during the day. Help out a friend with a problem or volunteer at a food bank. It doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment although you may find that it lifts your life and spirits up so much that its place in your life will become permanent.