So one thing that my writer friends and I talk about ALL THE TIME is StrengthFinders. A close-knit group of us have all taken the Write Better Faster, and related courses with Becca Syme, and knowing your strengths and how they can work for you is one of the key takeaways. And it’s fun because we all know each other’s and can help each other see if our strength is working in the balcony (in top form) or the basement (bringing us down).
My #1 strength is Self-Assurance. No, it’s not what you think. I’m not hyper self-confident. According to CliftonStrengths, it says “people exceptionally talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to take risks and manage their own lives. They have an inner compass that gives them certainty in their decisions.” It says how I can thrive is to “Trust your gut, and live life on your own terms.”
But frankly, lately? My decision-making has been all over the map. I am spiraling and have no idea which way is up.
I was planning to take at least a couple years to give this writing gig a real shake. But when you’ve been in the corporate world for the past 15 years, it’s a little hard to make that shift. I was NOT looking for jobs, but then a dear friend saw a job they knew would be perfect for me, and it kind of turned my world upside down. Do I apply for this? But this is my year to write! But jobs like this don’t come up every day. In fact, I’ve seen ZERO jobs to this point that even tempted me.
And truthfully, I was feeling a lack of confidence about my decision-making around my book. My plot just hasn’t been where I want it to be. I don’t believe there is enough conflict, but I can’t seem to figure out the right way to introduce more. And when self-doubt enters the picture for a creative, the grass starts to look greener where the group health insurance lies. LOL.
But I convinced myself that I will stay focused on my writing and stop thinking about how I can help dream marketing corporate job achieve their goals. Then, I had my Wednesday Night Writes meeting, and my writer friends were like, what’s it hurt? Throw your name in. You don’t have to say yes! And I thought, oh what the hell, and applied the next morning.
Then, later in the day, I was thinking about how every job I’ve ever landed has been through networking. So… I called up the hubs, who happened to have charity work ties into this job, and asked him if he could pull a few strings. I knew there were almost 200 applicants and figured that he could make sure my application didn’t get missed, if nothing else. And the hubs said, “I really just want you to write.” I was like, wahhhh? I knew I needed to dig more into that response. Did he want me to write because it was my dream? Did he want me to write because he liked having me at home more, having a flexible schedule to support family home life and travel more, or what was driving this comment? Because these are important factors to know in my decision-making.
So the next day, I probed further into his comment. And he basically revealed that he wanted me to write because it was my dream because we’re in a good place in our life right now for me to give it a fair chance. He didn’t want me to take a job and a couple years from now and be like, “I wish I were writing…”
I was like, this makes sense. He’s right; this is what I need to do. And it’s so awesome and amazing he supports me in this way.
And THEN I saw another job on my neighborhood listserve. This one was part-time, 15-20 hours a week (supposedly), like a block from my home, something easy and fun that would give me health insurance. (Can you tell that I just lined up our private health insurance and am suffering from some sticker shock?) But I started to do the math on how many hours that would consume, and then picking up kids and running them to their activities, etc… and realized I still don’t think I’d have much time to focus on writing. This won’t work either.
So the good news is–I went through a week of questioning and self-introspection and found my way back to where I THOUGHT I was confidently headed back in the right direction, focusing on my writing. And I could remove these distractions and really turn up the dial with the writing.
EXCEPT… I started digging into my conflict and the issues with my story and literally pulled the rug out from under myself. I worked, and I worked pulling at all the threads to try to figure it out, and I was getting more and more frustrated when I couldn’t solve it. And that’s when the self-doubt starts really rearing its ugly head. And you start to question if you’re any good and if you can really do this.
Once again, I had a call with my Wednesday Night Writes folks. And what it did was made me realize what a mess I had made of my story. I had the two old versions of the book I wrote, and I had this new version with NEW, BETTER conflict! And I couldn’t even tell what my core story was. It was too complicated. I was losing sight of my original vision. (Let’s be honest, I lost sight of it a long time ago. That’s why I moved on to book 2 of my trilogy a while back.)
I have to admit I was disheartened the next day to realize my self-assurance compass was still spinning with no clear direction. My STRATEGY #3 strength and my MAXIMIZER #2 strength were all freezing me up… BUT I was also feeling incredibly driven–probably largely because I had just disbanded all whims of going and landing a “real job,” and damn it, was going to be a writer. So I went at it again, hard, the next day. I literally sent two of my writer friends in the next 24 hours three versions of my synopsis. Not to mention researching every aspect of the business ends of my book like a maniac to know what was realistic.
Today as I’m writing this (it’s Friday before this blog will go out), I had a call earlier in the day with one writer friend. We talked, and we talked, and it was so good to have someone to listen to all my doubts and insecurities, help me see what’s working and what’s not, and help me focus on both simplifying and staying true to my core story. To have someone remind me to trust my gut. But what she said to me that I really needed to hear was, “You’re closer than you think.” So thank you to that friend; you know who you are.
Here’s to me cracking this darn story’s nut… hopefully soon (or my ACHIEVER #10 strength is going to lose its mind).